Exactly one year ago today I had my last alcoholic drink. I gave up because I thought I had a problem, and I’ve read that if you think you have problem, you almost certainly do. I had been thinking about stopping for over a year before that, and, if I’m honest, I think there was more shame for me about going sober than carrying on drinking! I faced quite a bit of resistance in the early days, being told that I was over-reacting (to a very boozy 50th birthday weekend), that my drinking was normal, and that everyone drinks like that. Some said I was becoming obsessed with my health, the word ‘boring’ cropped up, and the funniest one was: “You’ll have nothing left to give up at this rate, Lisa.”
So, one year on, I want to tell you how it is, how I am. Simply, it is BRILLIANT. I have only one regret – I wish I had done it 20 years ago. It is as if I am now living my life fully, properly and clearly, out of the fog I was living in before. If only someone had told me that drinking isn’t a crutch for parenting and a busy job, because, with hindsight, I now know it makes life harder because it numbs you. SoberMummy on Facebook says: “It feels like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, when her life gets switched into technicolour.”
I’m not saying it’s been easy. In the beginning I feared missing out at parties and celebrations (FOMO is real), and I worried that I actually was boring. Yet nothing could be further from the truth – I am now experiencing gatherings with more joy and energy than ever. Who knew? But it wasn’t that difficult either, because the benefits come thick and fast, and they are very hard to ignore, so very quickly you cannot imagine going back to being numbed or dulled again. Why would you?
You will have already heard and read about benefits to being sober, but please humour me on my birthday while I list the 10 best things for me:
- I have lost 20 pounds without changing anything else in my diet (apart from no longer stuffing my face with toast and butter the morning after to soak it up).
- I sleep 8 hours straight through – every night. No 3am paranoia, no insomnia.
- I am less angry/agitated because generally I see situations more clearly now, and I think before I respond.
- I am better off – I haven’t used my credit card in a year, apart from when I went to India in February.
- My hair is thicker/fuller.
- My gums don’t bleed anymore.
- I wake up the morning after a party feeling WELL (that is still such a lovely surprise) and I can remember all the conversations I had!
- I have much more time, so feel less pressured generally.
- My closest relationships are clearer and therefore improved, for me at least.
- People are still saying “You look SO well!”
Will I ever drink again? I don’t think so, I can’t think of any reasons why I would. I’d like to maybe be that girl (okay, middle-aged woman) at a wedding who can have just 1 glass of champagne, but what if I wanted more? And anyway, I’m really just fine as I am.
I have pondered on where Yoga fits in to all this? I’ve been a yogi for 20+ years so I cannot say that it directly influenced my decision because I’ve drunk through most it that. But this is how Yoga works, it’s a very slow burn, there is no quick fix, you just have to trust it and it works.