My relationship with alcohol has always been a love/hate relationship. I’ve loved partying, socialising, dancing, excitement, laughing, celebrating, connecting with others, and having the courage to do crazy things with no fear holding me back. Mostly, I think I’ve loved the confidence alcohol gave me. I’ve hated (savage!) hangovers, ‘wasting’ money, feeling exhausted, being unhealthy, doing things I regretted, and simply not being the best possible (aka happiest and fulfilled) version of myself due to being drunk or hungover.
I’ve gone through a couple of periods in my life where my drinking became problematic i.e. drinking took more away from my life than adding to it. The first was when I moved out of home when I was 18 and also during uni (pretty standard). However, my drinking also became excessive when I was living in London over the last two years as partying fully took over again. I was well and truly overindulging – all the drinks, all the lines, and all of the savage hangovers (icks, so not glam).
I’ve always had a tendency to overdo it when it comes to drinking, even in those times in my life where partying wasn’t a focus. I would always be down for a vino and would rarely turn down the next drink. Often I’d be one of the drunkest or party-hard gals at a dinner, party or event.
I’d relate to statements such as being an ‘all or nothing’ person. I can easily choose to have a ‘small’ night out and have 1 or 2 vino’s with dinner, but when it comes to ‘medium’ nights out (as a friend and I call them), more often than not I go ‘large’! When I’m in full party mode, I keep drinking all night and don’t stop even when I’ve ‘had enough’, and I go until the early hours of the next day, especially if drugs are involved.
While I was living in London the hangovers from these nights out got worse and worse, and also the frequency I was going out partying increased. I found myself in a very bad partying habit, and simultaneously I felt my whole life was also spiralling out of control. This wasn’t only due to drinking, but it certainly contributed to it greatly, especially feelings of ‘stuckness’ and ‘not knowing what I’m doing with my life’. It was pretty hard to get clear on what wasn’t working in my life, what I really wanted, and taking steps to make it happen, when I was partying every weekend and also during the week too.
At the end of 2017 I know I needed to make a serious change when it came to my relationship with alcohol. I was also feeling bored of partying and going to bars etc all of the time, as I wanted new and more deeply fulfilling experiences. I realised I had been seeking adventure and excitement with drinking, partying and dating – all of which came with negative side effects and my ‘need’ for adventure or excitement was never fulfilled this way.
At first, I decided to ‘cut down’. For New Year’s Eve, I was planning a ‘small’ night when it came to alcohol and I decided not to take any drugs. However, when I rocked up at the 1920’s themed NYE event, I felt uncomfortable and also a little disappointed as it wasn’t as amazing as the last event I went to. So, I started drinking more and more prosecco. Then, I asked a friend if I could have some of her coke. Then, we went to a party and I did more coke and nos, drank a lot more prosecco, and made it home around 730am. What followed was one of the worst hangovers of my life. I was vomiting all day and could barely move from bed. For the whole next week, I also felt physically and mentally awful.
This experience finally made me realise that when it comes to me and alcohol, I can’t yet balance it in the way I wish simply by ‘cutting down’. The partying on NYE simply wasn’t worth it, and I’ve had so many nights like this, with the negative hangover far outweighing any positivity I gained from partying. I’ve also had some really fun and incredible nights out, where the positives outweigh any negatives. But the more I realised my problematic (ie. overindulgent and excessive) drinking patterns, I more I realised these ‘good’ balanced nights out were a hit and miss.
So, I decided to take on Dry January. A couple of weeks in, I started thinking about my historic relationship with alcohol and read an article about a man with a drinking problem and I related to it so much that it scared me, so I decided to extend my sober pledge to 3 months. I also attended an AA meeting with a close friend and found it really inspirational. It gave me the boost I needed to know I was on the right path for me at the moment, and I received some great advice about what to say to people about my sobriety pledge and how to handle not drinking at parties.
I haven’t been in any greatly challenging situations so far as for the most part I’ve simply stopped going out, as I don’t really feel like it at the moment anyway. I’ve been out for many dinners with friends where they are drinking and I’m not, but I find that really easy and I barely actually even think about alcohol and don’t find myself wanting to drink (although, the red wine does smell so good).
It was challenging planning a sober evening for my leaving night in London with friends (as usually it would be centred around alcohol!), so we ended up going to a friends house and then out for pizza and a cute local pizzeria which was perfect. My leaving ‘drinks’ at work has been the most challenging evening so far. I told my team beforehand that I wasn’t drinking, and there were a few moments in the first couple of hours in the night where I really wanted a drink. But as soon as that past and people started getting intoxicated, I no longer had any desire to drink. I now know I’ll gain so much more from ‘partying’ and going out sober than from being tipsy/drunk/lit/fucked up.
I’ve now decided to take a break from alcohol and drugs for 6 months. I’m over 2 months in and so far I’m feeling so much more happier, calmer, centred, at purpose, productive and energised being fully sober. So far I’ve found it easy and a very positive transforming experience. At the moment I’m feeling pretty blissed out in the present moment, so I don’t want to consume any substances that will take me away from this, which makes refraining from alcohol or drugs easy.
It’s also made me realise how much I’ve relied on alcohol for socialising and ‘having fun’, how I’ve chosen and connected with friends who love to party, how I don’t actually have many friends that don’t drink, and how much of my (London especially!) life was focused on drinking. Since I’m no longer getting lit, I’ve discovered old and new passions that make me feel so much better (happier, productive, creative, fulfilled, inspired) than partying ever did, as drinking is no longer my number one hobby.
I also feel a lot more at peace in myself than I have for years, and I’ve noticed that during times of deep happiness in my life, I’ve gravitated to sobriety or have cut back significantly. And times when I’m feeling insecure, unhappy, a bit lost or just seeking excitement (in the wrong places) then I drink more, and more often.
I’ve chosen to leave the hardcore (binge drinking and stimulant drugs) partying lifestyle behind me – forever. As for me, the negative aspects far outweigh the positive and from this year forward I’m seeking new experiences and a higher quality version of living, which I’m currently loving. Higher quality for me means being present (as I feel incredibly happy whenever I focus on the now) and sans hangovers.
I might introduce alcohol in small amounts back into my life once I’ve completely re-balanced, as I fucking love a good red, and of course, alcohol can be a healthy part of, and add to a happy life. And I’m definitely not opposed to reintroducing dappling in drugs every now and then for enhancing spiritual or sexual (!) experiences (yolo innit).