Here I am again, 12 months sober (well, unless you count the complementary thimble of red wine I had in Kefalonia after our Greek Tapas. Oh, and the five mini plastic cups of Pimms I had at a BBQ earlier this year. They don’t count; it was more fruit than booze). The point is, for the last 365 days, 363 of them have been completely alcohol free.
I could take this opportunity to write about the dialog I have with the girl inside my head. She is an alcoholic. She insists that I go buy wine, every single night, with the same old reasoning “go on, relax, it will be different this time, just one glass, you are in control now”. Yep, she is persistent, I’ll give her that much. But, she is also so worryingly deluded. We both know all too well that as soon as I take a sip, it will be the drink that takes control for the night, not me. And it won’t be just one glass either, that is for certain.
I could write about all that and more. But, instead I want to highlight the positive side to my 12 months of sobriety. I want to write about why I ignore the girl in my head every time she pipes up to tell me to go to the shop and buy a bottle of white zinfandel, ensuring me that I can handle it (this time). I want to write about all the good stuff that comes from staying alcohol-free.
So why do I stay sober? For one reason, I am an absolute nightmare when I am drunk. I am unpredictable, unreasonable and just straight-up dangerous, to myself and those around me. I have put my life at risk far too many times than I care to remember whilst under the influence of alcohol. I also have some pretty horrendous memories of drunken karaoke which those alone should be enough to keep me sober for the rest of my life.
But seriously, life without alcohol isn’t all that ‘boring – go to bed at 9pm with a hot chocolate and a book’ kind of thing. (Unless, that is what you want to do, then go for it). Life can still be as vibrant and rich and alive as you want it to be. Music still sounds good without a drink. Comedy is still funny without a drink. You can even relax and unwind and enjoy an evening without even having to open up that obligatory bottle of wine.
You get to experience hangover-free weekends.
Two whole days where you actually feel okay… all day! (not craving some stodgy greasy breakfast and an extra five hours in bed). You can get up, and make the most of your well-earned days off without the self-inflicted pain in your head and the dull lingering ache of remorse.
Okay, that might come across as sounding a little smug and conceited. Especially if you are reading this on a Sunday morning. But, after enduring hundreds of weekends throughout my early twenties feeling close to awful, and then gaining those two extra days back where I feel absolutely fine is really quite something. Sobriety has taught me that weekends can be productive too.
Alcohol is expensive. Being sober = money saved for better things. Simple.
Here is a good one. I get to wake up every single morning with a clear head. I don’t need to worry about checking my sent items on my phone. I don’t need to try and work out who I drunk dialled at 2.35am for 14 minutes. I don’t need to await the dreaded “Guess what you said/did last night” conversations. I don’t need to hide my face in shame for the rest of my weekend/month/life. Can you relate to that?
But now I can wake up, safe in the knowledge that my alcohol-fuelled persona didn’t go out and upset anyone the night before. And I can get on with my day.
So whilst drinking might seem to work for some people, it definitely doesn’t work for me. If I want to quickly mess up my entire life, then I know exactly where my self destruct button is. But, that isn’t what I want. I don’t want to jeopardize everything that I have worked so hard for, for the sake of a moment of weakness – which will inevitably lead to months of alcoholism and regret.
Getting drunk is the easy option. Staying sober and facing your own reality is always going to be a tough challenge. But it is a challenge I am willing to take on every single day.
In fact, it is a challenge I have to take on, as the consequences just don’t even bear thinking about.
If you are worried about your drinking, then check out https://www.hellosundaymorning.org/ It’s a community that allows you to check in and share your own thoughts and daily struggles on staying alcohol-free, whilst supporting others around the world. It’s purpose is to provide a platform for individuals to create meaningful change in their lives by taking a short break from alcohol. Try the 3 month challenge, and see where that leads you.