Published On: September 27, 20191024 words5.3 min read

“Giving up smoking is the easiest thing in the world.  I know it because I’ve done it thousands of times”  

  Mark Twain

 

Many people think they have this “giving up drinking” thing nailed.  After all they do “Dry January” every year don’t they?

In fact “white knuckling” your way through 30 sober days once a year is quite different to ditching the drink for good.

After a lifetime of drinking and four years of sobriety here are some things I know for sure about Staying Sober:-

 

Moderation doesn’t work once your drinking has crossed a certain line.  If you’ve ever found yourself googling “how to moderate my drinking” then the chances are that you can’t.  If you could you just would.  I couldn’t bear the thought of losing my best friend alcohol so told myself I could “moderate”.  It took me a decade to finally accept that I had no “off” switch and would have the ditch the stuff entirely.  Once I had accepted this harsh truth and decided to stop drinking I found peace and never faltered in my journey.

Find your SoberSquad.  Its SO hard, if not impossible, to do this alone.  SoberMummy FB page is a fantastic source of inspiration and WorldWithoutWine have just launched their annual SoberSpringChallenge which works simply because the Challengers are connected via a WhatsApp group.  Always remember that “connection is the opposite of addiction”.  Before we find our tribe we tend to think that there is something wrong with us because we keep failing in our efforts to drink less.  Once we start talking to other people who are struggling we realise we are not alone in having trouble resisting an addictive drug.

In early sobriety the Wine Witch is going to come calling.  That glass (or three) at 6pm is a deeply ingrained habit and getting sober is all about building new and healthy habits.  The way I sent the Wine Witch packing was to leave the house at 6pm every day, stick on my headphones, connect to Spotify and then power walk for one hour.  Every.Single.Day.  When I got home the craving was gone.  Now I do it quite simply because I love it.

Not drinking hurts.  Be ready for it.  Socialising Sober can be especially hard.  But you must do it – you can’t become a recluse (because connection is the opposite of addiction.)  How I coped was by treating every event as a Challenge.  I didn’t expect to enjoy myself.  Although it might have looked as if I was “socialising” I was in fact “doing the work”.  I went out again and again until one evening (about 6 months in) I was on my way home and realised that I had actually had fun – yay!  This was a personal breakthrough and the beginning of my subconscious (finally) accepting that I could socialise sober.  Who knew?

Get ready to feel those feelings.  Did you know that our emotional maturity stalls at the age we start drinking heavily.  That means I was 18 for a long, long time.  If we’re in the habit of chucking ethanol down our throats every time we want to celebrate, comfort ourselves or relax then we will never actually learn to feel joy, cope with pain or deal with stress.  Alcohol numbs us and enables us to bypass our emotions.  Feelings are important signposts to connect us with what is going on deep inside us.  They may be telling us to change a job or a relationship but if we miss the signpost we will stay stuck.  Difficult emotions help us to grow, become more resilient and develop as humans.

Remember we are not put on earth to be happy 24/7.  This quote from Viktor Frankl was a game-changer for me and completely transformed the way I looked at my life:-

“Life is not primarily a quest for pleasure, as Freud believed, or a quest for power, as Alfred Adler taught, but a quest for meaning.  The greatest task for any person is to find meaning in his or her life.”

Shake things up!  You can’t carry on living exactly the same life without alcohol in it or you will always feel something is missing.  Use your sobriety to re-configure your life.  Make new connections, discover new interests and find activities that will give you a “natural high”.  Be a volunteer, do something creative or take a course.

Get ready to have time on your hands!  I was either planning the drinking, doing the drinking or recovering from the drinking.  Week-ends would start with cocktails and evolve from there.  No planning required.  Be ready to feel a bit low for a while but be patient and you will discover new and more productive ways to spend your time.  Book a couple of sessions with a lifecoach if you are stuck for ideas.

Perspective is everything.  For many people the quest for sobriety involves a few tough months and then you are done.  It doesn’t have to be a lifetime struggle but if you keep stopping and starting remember that you are just doing the hardest part – again and again – as Clare Pooley explains so well in her fabulous Bunny Blog.

Keep reading!  Treat your sobriety as a research project.  Get on the internet and learn exactly what alcohol does to your mind and your body.  Spoiler Alert:  It’s not pretty.  Read the QuitLit.  “The Naked Mind” by Annie Grace, “The Sober Diaries” by Clare Pooley and “The Unexpected Joy of Being Sober” by Catherine Gray are my top three.

In fact “The Unexpected Joy of Being Sober” just about sums up my journey.  I had expected sobriety to be dull but in fact it’s turned out to be just the opposite.  It has brought me a sense of purpose and given me a second chance at life!

Janet Gourand (founder of www.worldwithoutwine.com)

 

 

Janet facilitates South African Workshops and will be running a workshop in London on 12th October – more info and bookings HERE

To sign up for a 30 day Alcohol Free Challenge tap HERE

 

 

 

 

 

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