Well, where do I start? I have to pinch myself sometimes. Never in a million years did I ever think I’d reach one year sober, but I have and I am so proud of myself. It’s not been easy, I’ve really struggled some days and I’ve had to make some drastic changes but every single one has been worth it. I’m actually 1 year and 11 days sober but I wanted to let the feeling sink in before writing this post.
Moving to the Isle of Man was the big one. Even though I had to sell almost everything I owned to get over there it was definitely the right decision. I genuinely feel I wouldn’t be sober today if I hadn’t moved. Living on the island took me away from temptation and gave me the chance to reevaluate things and decide where I want my life to go. Being away from friends and family was definitely tough but I was only a few hours on the boat or plane.
Quitting the booze is easily the best decision I’ve made but it certainly hasn’t been easy. I’ve had some pretty major wobbles and I’ve had to stick at it and keep convincing myself life can be fun without alcohol. Some days I’ve had to force myself past bars. Especially in the summertime when people are outside in beer gardens and I can see the pint on the table. I’d walk past that nice cold pint and the little devil on my shoulder is saying “imagine how good that would taste right now”. Or when I’m at the bar asking for alcohol free drinks and sometimes I feel it would be so easy to ask for a pint or glass of red. But then I think about it for a minute and it really wouldn’t be easy. It’s a strange one staying sober. In fact, I know I probably contradict myself in a lot of these posts but that’s what recovery does to you. One day you can feel one way and the next completely different. I’m always questioning whether I’m an alcoholic or not but that’s another post 😉
I regularly wish I was one of those strange types that can try the new offering on sale and stick at a couple but I can’t. I love real ale and I used to enjoy trying all the different varieties but unfortunately I don’t know when to stop. Sometimes I wonder how I’d react if I tried a glass of my favourite tipple but then in the back of my mind I know the answer really. That tipple will turn into another tipple, then a bottle, then another bottle, then the beers will follow and before I know it, I’m wasted talking to people I’ve never met and making a prat of myself. Don’t get me wrong, I’d be having a fabulous time (I always did) but it’s the feelings and actions that surround the drink that’s the problem. Not many people saw all that part. The depression the morning after, the anxiety that tipped me over the edge, the waking up in police cells and causing all sorts of hassle for my loved ones. At no point in the last twelve months have I ever actually considered purchasing alcohol for myself. Not even at the worst points when I’ve been really lonely and struggling. It is tough, especially when I’m in bars and they’ve got new beers/wine/shots available to try. It’s not that I can’t have them because if I really want to, I will. But after the first few months of being sober I realised how much my life has improved without alcohol. For 376 days I’ve woke up without a hangover, gone for the coffee straight away and had whatever I want for breakfast. I’ve not had to worry about eating or drinking something that makes me feel dodgy and it feels amazing! I know I’ll never have to wake up with that groggy feeling ever again knowing I need to stay away from coffee for a few hours in case it goes straight through me or makes my anxiety and beer fear worse. The guilt, shame, embarrassment, dread of checking my phone or bank account. Some days I’d feel so depressed and anxious I felt like I couldn’t cope with life anymore and wondered if I’d be better off dead. It’s so sad really because I wonder how many other people in the world are going through the same and don’t have the love and support I have.
Over the last year I’ve dabbled with the idea of moderate drinking. It’s crept up on me a few times. The parts I miss about not drinking alcohol is the Irish coffee after a meal, sharing a bottle of red over dinner and the new drinks on offer as I mentioned earlier. I’ve had several discussions and I almost convince myself I’ll be able to drink in moderation because I’ll be drinking for different reasons this time. I went out for my birthday to a lovely restaurant and was on the verge of ordering an Irish coffee when my friend interrupted and said “are you absolutely sure? After staying sober all this time?”. Very quickly my sensible side kicked in and I realised how ridiculous I was being. Of course it would be stupid and of course I cannot ever drink alcohol again. Well, I can but my life would end up out of control again. Something I don’t want!
I now realise how amazing and precious life is. Today marks 5 years to the day my lovely Dad was diagnosed with a brain tumour. Apart from the day he passed that was the worst day of my life. My Dad was 76 when he died so had a lot longer life than some people but the feeling you get when you’re told your beloved Dad is terminally ill and doesn’t have long left cannot be put into words. Losing my dad so quickly and getting sober has definitely given me a completely different outlook on life. The one thing I do regret is not kicking the booze sooner. My Dad hated me drinking so much and I’d love for him to see how far I’ve come. I feel so lucky to have the friends and family I do. I wouldn’t have got where I am without them or the wonderful network of people I’ve met through writing this blog. Some days it’s the people of Twitter and Facebook that have kept me going!
One year on and I’m loving life, feeling great, healthier than I’ve ever been and making the right decisions for me!
I now know that I cannot drink, not even in moderation. Today I’m choosing not to drink ☺