One of our earliest #SITC family members and supporters, Sarah, turns 36 today.
I personally want to wish her a beautiful day, and also - I want to thank her for sharing some thoughts with those of us who are interested in looking at life with less or no booze.
Here are Sarah's thoughts:
SO, today happens to be my birthday - and it's not just about celebrating my 'birth date' but also about celebrating my anniversary of 365 days of total sobriety.
That's 365 days longer than most people may have expected me to last.
What started as a month turned into a year ... and I figured it was time to take stock, reflect, and share my experiences and maybe even help somebody else in the process.
It took about three months to actually start feeling the effects of sobriety for me. But I really can't say it felt 'good' until around the six month mark.
And then - I felt so good about the fact I'd chosen not to make bad life choices and I matured up and started feeling like I was (finally) emotionally an actual 35-year-old.
I got and followed some wise advice about the first year of being booze free which included: don't make major changes (such as moving house or changing jobs) and don't get involved in a relationship early on.
Those first two were pretty easy but the third wasn't.
My life became so simple and so drama-free and, dare I say, peaceful - that I almost struggled with the quiet! It felt almost weird, because I was so used to things going so wrong.
But I forged on with my awareness and focused on spending my cocktail money on massages and self-care instead.
I made sure I went out every few weeks to the pub or a dance, but found myself drifting to the coffee-scene for catch-ups instead of a 'winey' environment.
Most of the time I haven't felt like I was missing out but it WAS un-nerving and confronting at times ... watching drunk girls dance with their cleavage going everywhere - and seeing all the drunk blokes trying to hit on those girls ...
I worked out in the gym the same as before I quit drinking. My body started to let go of the inflammation and I dropped 10 kgs. My sleep improved, my eyes stopped being puffy, and my skin looks and feels bettter.
Best of all is that I have lost anxiety and I can function properly. This has flowed into my work and life in general. And I hope it will make finding my future partner easier, too.
I will end on this note: for me, stopping drinking wasn't about judging myself or about putting myself 'out there' to be judged. I just wanted this to be a healing journey that might help somebody else along the way.
Along the way I was tempted about three times, and I struggled with feeling 'weak' when that happened. When reflecting I saw that each time, a guy had been involved - and I was leaning onto some kind of false confidence.
It feels like my attitude there has changed in recent weeks and I am now beginning to see I just want to live my BEST life. I hope this heightened awareness will help me with future decisions and if I so choose to have a moderate drink that I will do so in the safe company of those I trust.
And if I don't drink again - well I won't be hard on myself either. Maybe I will have a drink and think 'WTF was so good about this?' Or maybe I will sit back and truly appreciate a nice glass of red wine. Who knows? All I know is that I reached my goal and I have never felt more free.
If anybody reading this needs some help when it comes to their own scenario - please reach out. There is help and support. I was never alone, and my family and friends helped me make this challenge possible.
I love them for coming along for the ride.
And I've never been more proud of myself than on this day.
A note and a safety disclaimer:
Please take note that this is Sarah's story, and that there is no ''one size fits all'' approach to what a life with less or no booze looke like. If you are amongst the group of people who have proven consistently that moderation is not possible and you continue ending up sick, in trouble, etc., then I encourage you to understand that quitting altogether is most likely your only option left for a life that is worth living. Moderation needs to be extremely carefully considered for some of us - and for those who are in end-stage chronic addiction, it must be excluded as an option altogether.