What Drinking During my Alcohol-Free Challenge Taught Me

Hi! This is me, Nikki. Almost two years Alcohol-Free and only found Tribe Sober now! I have been a member of OneYearNoBeer and LoveSober from the beginning so I am happy to find a forum with more South Africans. I want to socialise with people on my kind of journey. This blog explains what I have learned being AF. Community is everything!

I Drank While Alcohol-Free During the Time of Covid

I came into The Time of Covid while on an Alcohol-Free challenge. Today, I am Day 280+2glassesofwine. Those two glasses of wine explain a lot about my alcohol-free journey, if you read between the words. From Day One, I was subconsciously waiting for that glass of wine – because when did my Alcohol-Free experiment end, and how?

Well, it didn’t end with those 2glassesofwine. It was strengthened by those 2glassesofwine.

I never said to myself “One Year” or “Forever”. Because I can test and change this experiment when I want. Because I did and learnt so much.  I learnt that I am still susceptible to life, even while Alcohol-Free, that I am allergic to alcohol and that giving away my newfound joy is pretty easy.

Stumbling into the Alcohol-Free Journey

In a god-send move, I went Alcohol-Free in October 2019 – well before Covid.

I woke up on a random Friday morning, to a sinking feeling before registering light. After a little party by myself the evening before, I got up dry-mouthed and scratchy-minded.  Kids, work, logistics. Same routine, so familiar, nothing out of the ordinary. But just a step closer to losing something, some rationality, the hope of something better than this. A step closer to crossing a line I did not know was there.

The uneasiness had been growing for a few years, and I remember asking my Hubby sometime in my mid-40s if he thought I should go to AA. But that is for alcoholics (!), he and I both agreed.  And I am not an alcoholic. If the definition of alcoholic is physical dependence. So no accident scene here – just keep on moving. Until that Friday morning, at the ripe young age of 48.

I didn’t think, I didn’t decide, I just did. The next day I signed up to OneYearNoBeer.

Lockdown and Financial Stress Taps into Old Wounds

So that first glass of 2glassesofwine was on a Friday after an angry week, the only time since going Alcohol-Free where emotions rolled through me rampant and prickly, like they used to.  I did not feel secure in my job in the early months of Covid lockdown. In my mind, the owners of the business were closing ranks and shifting me out to save costs.

This threw me back to when I was five. The ugly girl playing outside on the gym, only understanding that her playmates had changed their minds about her when she looked around, and found she was alone. Only this time, the boys had stolen her lunch money and Mom was certainly not coming to pick her up any time soon.

At the same time as my primary job was under threat, my second source of income – the family business – also came to a grinding halt, and started swallowing all available cash. Financial lack and loss came flooding back – a theme since my teens.  So I hit the button and had a glass of wine.

Drinking was Way too Much Fun and Then Not Fun at All, But I Wanted More

Hubby and I loved that first half an hour. We sat by the fire, reminiscing on the good old days of playing grown-up while having deep and meaningful conversations.  And the wine we had opened was a brilliant bottle of red we had bought personally from a wine farm in Cape Town. After hitting the button again and getting a top up, I found myself losing my train of thought and hiding the glass from my boys, as I had spent the previous months explaining the effects of alcohol on the brain.  After the wine, Hubby hit a mood downer before dinner, and I got a whopping headache within the hour.

Loved the Taste? Tick.  Loved the First Bit? Tick.  Hated the Drop? Tick.

The next Friday rolls around and, with the seal broken, we had another bottle of red. And suddenly I felt the well-worked road beneath my feet. I was back to having wine every Friday to unwind from a hard week. And I could clearly see the Thursdays and Saturdays and Wednesdays and Sundays and Tuesdays and Mondays creeping back in.

Because the question now would always be: ‘why not’? And I wanted to be back on the other side of alcohol, asking: ‘why bother’?

Giving up Too Much, and Knowing Too Much, to go Back

Thanks to those two [large] glasses of wine, I am now solidly, healthily petrified of losing what I have gained being Alcohol-Free. And it was apparently so easy to turn my back on it all!

Turning my back on the bright eyes and sparkly mind; wide awake start to my days; meditation as an anchor; the expansive space in my core. And on the flip side, no more underlying and constant anxiety (which I didn’t know I had until it went away, how is that possible?!) and no depression. I am fully present for Hubby and my kids, energy in the moment, not waiting to sit down and relax (with wine in hand). Steady-state and steady mood.

Finding the Peace that is Only Possible Without Alcohol

Free of alcohol and all grown up is the most peaceful I have ever been in my life.  A state I can always find my way back to, hopefully in the face of any global pandemic or personal depression which may be lurking around the next corner.

I mistakenly believed wine was a permanent life ingredient. Like milk. Which we all know now is completely a choice, even if you grew up in the 70s.  And drinking milk for some people brings on an allergic reaction. As does alcohol. Except alcohol plays with my mind making me want more.

And I drank a little alcohol, not milk, because of a very old, deep trigger. I unintentionally proved to myself that I am still susceptible even while positively Alcohol-Free. So note to self: stay alert. I proved that I am physically allergic, and that I have way, way too much to lose to play around right now.




The 11 Year Fact

Did you know that the average dependent drinker will struggle alone for 11 years before reaching out for help?

Don’t wait for 11 years – join Tribe Sober today!