Published On: September 30, 20221458 words7.3 min read

 

Nerina and her husband have created a new alcohol-free life. They do the Park Run every Saturday morning they do weekend breakfasts, walking, and hiking. Nerina and her husband do AF family holidays, less socializing and more gardening. Nerina and her husband have ditched the booze for a fun healthy life! Hubby’s sinus has improved, and Nerina has ditched her anxiety and anger. This is her story…

“What’s truly exciting is that this growth just keeps growing!  I have so much more to understand and do.  I feel like the shackles are off and I am stepping into myself.  It could also be that I am in my 50s – but combining ‘caring less’ and growing confidence in my AF mind state is a forceful blend!”

Since Nerina stopped drinking, she has realised these enormous changes in her life:

  • Present for my boys and Hubby… This is my number one, and is reason enough all on its own
  • I get out of my own head and am more interested in others (what a relief )
  • Mornings! I have a new early morning routine of journaling and meditation which has changed everything
  • Stronger body… More time and energy for exercise and better eating habits
  • Growing pride in what I can achieve if I set my mind to it
  • Clarity of thought and more effective at work
  • Time for family and friends… Just so much more time and energy for the people I care about
  • Time and motivation to focus on hobbies and develop new ones
  • NO MORE ANXIETY! No More Anger!

When the Wheels Fall Off

Nerina decided to stop drinking one fine morning when the wheels had fallen off yet again. She joined OneYearNoBeer (OYNB) which really helped her to achieve her 90 days of sobriety. Then through these AF channels, she came across Janet Gourand’s Tribe Sober podcasts and just loved the close-knit community of Tribe Sober. She is a very active Facebooker for the group and enjoys the monthly meetups too.

Nerina drank most of her life from the tender age of 15. In the beginning, it was to boost her confidence, have fun with her friends, and do something they weren’t supposed to be doing.  She was a teenager in the 80s… everyone was drinking Esprit! She joined the London party scene in the 90s with all that booze; she met her husband at a rave in Johannesburg, very much not sober.  “I suppose this was a sign of things to come. I actually used red wine to come down in the mornings after being out all night. Sounds disgusting now, but I remember recommending this to friends.  The mind boggles,” acknowledges Nerina.

The drinking continued through her 30s and married life and having kids.

“I remember drinking wine at all the kid’s birthday parties (that’s what the parties were about… drinking while the kids were entertained) and at braais/ barbecues at our friends with kids’ houses every weekend.  It scares me to think about the lack of attention we paid and the open pools at everyone’s houses.  I am also assuming we drove home not sober with the kids, as there was no Uber around in the 2000s.  My husband and I had a to-be-envied wine collection which was always well stocked, and we often hosted.  For one of our parties, we brought in a cocktail bartender to keep the drinks and entertainment flowing. I also remember telling my youngest that he could play on his tablet in bed before bedtime, instead of us doing Storytime, as I was having adult time with Hubby (in other words, drinking wine).  What message was I giving him and what other opportunities were missed?”

Good point, Nerina!

Drinking in our 40s

Nerina remembers being in her mid-40s and asking Hubby if he thought she should go to AA.  Soon, the habit of outstripping Hubby’s drinking started to surface. She would continue in the evenings, with her laptop, TV and wine in hand, and go to bed a few hours after he said goodnight. She was starting to chase something.  And the end of the day she was about to open a bottle before dinner, to make sure there was maximum impact.

“In my 40s is where I think the ‘real problem’ started.  Or, as made clear in Alcohol Explained, the journey sped up.  Hubby and I loved our weekend dinners with wine and getting home in the evenings to a bottle of wine.  Any stressors created by blending families were dealt with through wine.  Work stress was dealt with through wine.”

She can only see this in hindsight now that she has done all the research and understands how alcohol works. Everything changed one morning in 2019 after a particularly bad night when she awoke feeling extremely crap. She looked up OYNB, joined and started the 90-day challenge.

“One of the first recommendations on the platform from fellow travelers was This Naked Mind.  I listened to the Audiobook while walking, walking, walking (my first few weeks’ entertainment and savior). And if something had clicked before, now it was cemented in place.  I was hungry for knowledge and change.”

“Since going AF three years ago, the major win has been the material reduction in anxiety.  I didn’t KNOW I had anxiety until it went away. I thought what I felt inside was normal and didn’t even recognise I was highly strung.  It made me incredibly judgemental and angry. Not feeling angry all the time is truly amazing.  But I have also grown up while AF and made sure other aspects in my life support my calm mood – from sleep to exercise to healthy emotional distance at work.  Which actually leads to better performance and decision making!”

Nerina is an executive at a Financial Services Technology Provider! She cannot afford to drop any balls! She is now ultra-fit and loves gym, Pilates, walking and hiking. Her values are many and have come to the fore since becoming AF: security, influence, contribution, energy, growth, self-improvement, spirituality, health, empowerment, work. She grew up in a wonderful family that remain close.

She is very lucky. She is divorced and has 4 teenage kids now which is a challenge in itself. She was 40 when she got divorced but it was part of her life path. She then took to the booze again, partying like mad, and acting like a teenager. She fell in love again and tried to reign herself in a bit. But, the 40s is a huge hormonal time for us women and she found herself skidding off the rails somewhat with her penchant for alcohol.

 

WHY, WHY, WHY – Keep Asking Yourself This

Thankfully, Nerina is now AF and loving her sobriety. She has learned so much and is in tune with her own needs. She has these incredible tips for people who want to stop drinking, or who are simply drinking too much:

Revisit your WHYs. They never get old and your biggest power tool.  Make them easily accessible and get back to them even if you are not thinking “why am I doing this again?”.  My biggest WHY is my mental health – which has improved a hundred-fold since going AF.

Get educated. Alcohol is a fascinating topic. This Naked Mind (audio version) and Alcohol Explained (book) are insightful. This Naked Mind is my number one recommendation for all things scientific, logical and psychological.

Get immersed. Slack, Podcasts, Blogs, Testimonials.  Other people’s stories and experiences let you know that this is much bigger than you – and there are many people walking with you. The Unexpected Joy of Being Sober (audio version) and LoveSober podcasts (for moms) are my favourite.

Replace, replace, replace.  AF drinks, exercise, hobbies, whatever works.  I got active with my boys, and wonderfully having fun while creating memories for us.

Treat this as an experiment. Use your blips to learn. My two glasses of wine were the best learning of all. It became clear that the next step was back to wine every night. Your stops and starts are all part of the experiment. We learn by doing and experiencing the fantastic things AF brings.  While revisiting our old habits shows us personally that we generally go back to the place we left off.  But me telling you that doesn’t really cut it.

Nerina sums up her life like this: “I don’t regret my youth or my journey. I would like to have been educated earlier on alcohol, but at the same time, I feel so empowered and thankful now, it was almost worth it.”

We are all on our personal journeys – alone and together. Connect with others like you and you will sail.

*Not her real name

 

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