Having just reached 100 days without alcohol I thought I’d reach out to those of you doing Dry January, congratulate you, and hope you keep going for 9 more days. Well done.
If you are thinking of continuing, say until Easter, my advice is DO IT. It gets easier and easier and your life will improve, trust me. Everything you read in the books like The Sober Diaries & The Sober Revolution, and on Facebook in One Year No Beer is true – they are not conning you. You do sleep a lot better, your moods improve, you have more energy, the guilts go, you lose weight, you save money and you just feel more… like YOU. Life isn’t flat and boring, parties are great because you speak to everyone and remember conversations. The biggest motivator for me is waking early, ready to get up and go, EVERY SINGLE DAY.
Some of you may be surprised at this blog. Maybe you thought I didn’t drink very much, or perhaps you assumed that, because I am a yoga teacher and run a wellbeing centre, my entire life is pure and wholesome? Not true. We all have our ‘stuff’ and our own ways of dealing with it – mine was wine (and gin, and the odd beer). My drinking habit played on my mind a lot, and it had done for a long time – I knew the daily glasses of wine didn’t really match with the life I was aspiring to have.
Much of the rest of my is very healthy; I practice yoga daily, I take long walks, I meditate, I’m a vegetarian, I refuse to put anything on my hair and skin that I wouldn’t eat… and yet I was swilling down, on average, 4-5 bottles of cheap plonk a week. It was rather hypocritical and wasn’t supporting me in any way.
When I first gave up, 2 days after my 50th birthday, I told most people that the weekend celebrations had been a ‘car-crash’ and that I had to give up. It wasn’t actually that bad, I’ve had worse, but the weekend was a defining moment. It was a turning point, and I decided that I didn’t want this toxic relationship in my life any more.
As I reflect on the past 100 days, and my habit (addiction?), I think I just slowly fell out of love with booze. It was wonderful in the fast-paced days of my teens and 20s, rather like being with a wild but totally unsuitable boyfriend. But, like many women, that became a daily crutch in the years when the kids were young, and we couldn’t party like we had. I think in my 30s and 40s I’d settled down with that guy who really should have been an ex-boyfriend. Well, I’m 50 now, and he’s gone.
The theme for this term’s yoga classes is abhyasa & vairagya from chapter 1 of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra. Vairagya means detachment or letting go, abhyasa is practice & discipline or support. I am asking my students to consider which practices or habits really support them in their lives and which don’t. Drinking was a habit that I thought of as a support for years, but it wasn’t, and letting go of it has actually been a huge relief, leaving me feeling free and light.