On Feb 14 of 2015, Valentines day, I decided that alcohol and I were breaking up. It just was no longer working for me. I was out on one more night with a friend, where drinking came hand in hand with being out and socialising. I was still feeling hungover from my previous nights efforts and I really wasn't in the mood to drink. But my friend had made an effort to come over and because it was a special occasion like Valentines day, I figured we would have to include alcohol, namely a bottle of sparkling, to be consumed before we left the house. Even though I didn't even feel like it, I drank it. It tasted quite good. We then went out and she bought me a drink. Then I met someone random in the bar and he bought me a drink. Before I knew it I had had at least 4 or 5 standard drinks under my belt. This was nothing unusual and in fact this was a light night of drinking.
Alcohol had featured in my life daily for as long as I could remember. Actually I couldn't remember my last alcohol free day. I was using it to cope with a series of tragic circumstances that had befallen me, namely the death of both parents. Within 22 months both of my beloved parents succumb to the debilitating disease of lung cancer. It was horribly sad and one of the most difficult periods of my life. I used alcohol to escape my forever racing mind and to numb me from my reality. I was never so bad to drink on waking or much during the day, only the occasional boozey lunch, but most evenings around 5 pm I would crack open an ever satisfying and thirst quenching cider, or bottle of champagne, to announce that I was celebrating. Usually just the fact that I was alive was enough reason to celebrate, which felt like a satire of my situation.
Daily consumption during the week never got too out of control, sometimes it would but not often, but weekends were another story. I would binge drink with friends, or drink alone. It didn't bother me either way. People would say "oh I never drink alone", my rhetoric would be "well everyone is dead so I don't have much choice". I was depressed. Miserable. Lonely. And suffered from a massive case of a well known syndrome called "poor me". I felt so sorry for myself, and so overcome with grief that I would cry most days, and fall asleep drunk most nights.
I saw the movie "Wild" with a friend of mine, whose Mother dies from cancer and she goes on a fantastic journey of self discovery. After she has destroyed her life with heroin, promiscuity and near on wrecked her marriage. I thought to myself, "wow, I think I am dealing with my grief really well, at least I am not turning to elicit drugs and random sex with strangers." However, there is no magic formula to help you deal with grief, it's a process one has to go through whichever way one can. It's like a big black tunnel where it gets very dark, lonely, and isolated for a really long time and you can't see your way through. Then after a period of time, suddenly you can see a small glimmer of light right in the distance. Then it slowly and slowly gets brighter and brighter and then what feels like after a really long time, you emerge out of the tunnel. But now you look different, act different, you are very different to the person who entered this tunnel. And even still there are occasional signs that remind you of your tragedy. A flashing image of a shrivelled dying body, the whiff of a rotting dying foot, an image of your dead father in his tight fitting casket, the boney hug my mum gave me. Horrible reminders that can resurface at any time and can set you back and bring tears and deep emotion. But at least this time, right now, I can feel those emotions without the influence of some numbing drug, or oblivion creating substance to distract me. I feel it, see it, let it go, and replace it with a loving reminder of how awesome my parents were. I talk to them to. I used to play music or have the television on all the time, I used to like the noise. Now I like the silence. I like the calmness of the quiet, it allows my mind to be calm, still, remember, think, be clear, and process my thoughts without distraction. If I am very quiet and still and empty my mind from banal thoughts, I can hear my parents talking to me. Calling my name "Anit". "We love you" they say. They tell me they are proud of me, they are so pleased I don't drink anymore and that I am making so much progress now. They will always be there for me and one day we will all be reunited. I honestly can say I really look forward to being with them again as I loved them both so much. But now my perspective has changed. I know I have an exciting life ahead of me and I want to live it as best as I can. I want to make something of my life and do all the things I have dreamed of doing. I don't want to waste time sitting in pubs, drinking, feeling oblivious and totally unsatisfied with my day to day life. I want to feel empowered, confident, have focus and direction and achieve my goals, and be fit and healthy.
Since I have stopped drinking I have been going to bed early, rising by 530 or 6am, going running, playing tennis, golfing, going swimming, taking early morning trips to the beach, taking photographs, and being so much more active.
My mood has improved exponentially and I realise now how depressed I was; and how alcohol honestly made me more depressed. My mind is clearer and words come to me faster. I had daily blank moments where I couldn't recall names of people, names of objects, or even talk coherently. I feel like I am more intelligent now and can think of all those big words I want to use, so eloquently, and appropriately and embellish delightfully because my synapses are firing as they should be without alcohol washing them all out.
Just before I gave it all up I wrote a long list of words that described how I felt about drinking and being sober. He really they are:
Drinking: depressed, weak, directionless, no ambition, defeatist, lonely, sad, crying, emotional, tired, oblivious, forgetful, expensive, headaches, vomiting, bloodshot eyes, overweight, dysfunctional, promiscuous, bad choices, unmotivated, bored, no sport, time consuming, no reading, unproductive, waste of time, mix with other alcoholics. That's a pretty miserable descriptive list of words right?
Now let's read the sober list: happy, motivated, enthusiastic, ambitious, confident, strong, determined, healthy, in tune, focused, wake early, alert, high functioning, natural sleep rhythm, eating better, clear eyes, healthy skin, golf, tennis, active, reading lots of books, very productive, positive, hopeful.
As you can see from both lists there is a huge contrast in emotion and motivation. For me the positives of not drinking are far more outstanding and outweigh any drinking experience I could ever have.
My decision to stop drinking alcohol has been the most massive catalyst for change in my life. I have made the biggest changes I could possibly make in only 3 weeks of not drinking. At this stage I feel like I never want to go back to using alcohol as a way to cope. I never want to drink to get drunk to write myself off and be oblivious to my reality. Right now I don't even want to take another sip. I want to live my life with a clear mind, make good choices, feel empowered and be confident and happy and positive. I want to try new healthy activities, keep playing my sport and get my body and mind and soul fit and strong and highly capable again. I want to be adventurous and travel widely, infact I have recently booked a world wide trip and a camping trip to Uluru and trip to New Zealand. I want to keep rising early every morning and appreciate the simple things in life like a sunrise and sunset, a blossoming rose, a starry filled night, a beautiful landscape. I want to have clear eyes without them being red, dry, lack lustre without spark. I want to have clear skin and less body fat from ingesting liquified sugar. I want to wake up with no headaches, and not rely on Nurofen to get me through every morning. I am glad I don't feel sick anymore, that I don't want to spew on waking from drinking too much of every type of alcohol, champagne, cider, wine, spirits and mixers. A lethal, sickly, depressing, expensive concoction.
I am happy with my choice to not drink alcohol. It's only early days but I write this as a reminder to myself of how good I feel right now. I want to be my own best friend and not my enemy by abusing myself with this so acceptable social drug, and not continuing to mistreat my mind body and soul. I want my parents to be proud of me, and mostly I want to live a fantastic life.
I hope you too can relinquish yourself from the clutches of alcohol dependence. We all have the power to make these changes, really the choice is entirely up to you. Just a little warning, once you have made the decision to stop drinking alcohol, rapid and intense amazing changes can be experienced almost immediately.