I Quit Drinking and It Was a Gift to My Mind, Body, and Soul

“Sobriety was the greatest gift I ever gave myself.” ~Rob Lowe

I have tried unsuccessfully for years to build a wonderful relationship with alcohol.

My children were very young and I consumed far more alcohol than I thought was healthy. I believed I was having fun, relaxing, unwinding, socializing, or just enjoying the moment. I’d seen my life shrink down from a world with lots of freedom and vibrancy to a socially restricted void, and I wanted to feel normal. I wanted to share in the fun with others.

All my birthday cards had bottles of gin or glasses of fizz on them, all the Friday afternoon memes on social media were about “wine o’clock,” and I wanted to be part of that world.

After opening a bottle of wine in the evening, I believed that it was time to shift gears and relax. It was impossible to be more wrong. The alcohol caused me to wake up during the night, which resulted in low levels of anxiety and brain fog.

I’m not proud of the drinking I did when the kids were small. It’s a time that I feel deep shame for. I’d created such a happy life for myself—lovely husband and kids, nice house in a great town, wonderful friends. Was there anything I was drinking in order to get away?

On the outside I looked like I had it all, but I didn’t—I had overwhelm.

I was a wife and family member, a mum to two small children, an employee and a freelancer … I had all the roles I’d longed for, and yet it was all too much.

I didn’t know how to let go of some of my responsibilities, and I didn’t know how to cope with everything that was going on in my life. The alcohol felt like my reward. I was slow to realize that alcohol was the main theme of my poor decision-making, fatigue, and general grumpiness.

I’d spent a long time feeling trapped and stuck. I knew I wanted to stop drinking, but I was worried about what others would think of me, how I would feel at parties without a drink in my hand, and whether I’d be able to relax properly at the weekends.

I kept going back and forth deciding I’d stop then deciding I wouldn’t or couldn’t. It was quite a rollercoaster ride. It was a hellish merry-go-round. I quit drinking for a year when I turned 41. To see how it would affect my feelings over a longer period of time, I was curious.

It was Autumn 2019 when I took a risky step. In Autumn 2019, I decided to take a bold action. I shared my decision with a few online friends.

This accountability step really allowed me to continue my sober mission. In an attempt to figure out the outcome of this experiment, I counted down to 2020.

I noticed a shift in my outlook towards the end 2019 Instead of looking forward to 2020’s arrival, I began to fear it. Plans were made that would ensure a happy soberyear. I read books about quitting, listened to inspiring podcasts, and watched films or documentaries that didn’t show alcohol consumption in a glamourous light. On my sobriety journey, I followed others who had gone before me. I was open to asking questions, and followed their advice.

I had my last drink on 8th Dec 2019—nothing monumental, out with a few friends and no hangover the next day. The event was completely non-existent!

I wanted to have a year without alcohol to know if life would be stressful, lonely, or boring like I’d led myself to believe, or if it was possible to relax, connect with others, and have fun without a drink. My brain fog and hangovers were worsening. In my late thirties/early forties I just couldn’t get away with it like I had done in my twenties

I wanted to be a more patient parent—no more selfishly rushing the kids through bedtime because I wanted to get back downstairs to my drink.

My goal was to have a relaxing weekend, free from hangovers.

I wanted to maximize my nutritional choices—no more rubbish food choices dictated by low-level hangovers, or high-level for that matter.

I wanted to fall asleep deeply, wake feeling refreshed and prepared for the next day.

It was important to me that I gave myself the best possible chance of not developing high blood pressure, heart disease, liver disease, breast, stomach, throat or colon cancer, dementia, or compromised immunity.

The whole year 2020 was spent without drinking. It was difficult to navigate some of the most challenging situations, awkward conversations with my friends and some hard days, but I managed it all.

When 2021 rolled round I knew I wasn’t going to go back to how I’d drank before. My relationship with alcohol had been transformed. I was physically, emotionally, and spiritually a different person, and I didn’t want to go back to numbing my feelings.

It’s easy to name all the benefits to our bodies and minds when we cut alcohol out—deeper sleep, clearer skin, better mood, more energy, and less anxiety, to name a few—but for me, the real shift has come a couple of years down the line. I feel more spiritually open than I’ve ever felt before, and I cannot wait to see what unfolds next for all of those of us on this sober-curious journey.

Sarah Williamson

Sarah founded Drink Less. Live Better. She’s a life coach supporting people who’ve concluded that their drinking is doing them more harm than good. You don’t have to be at rock bottom in order to make a change. Sarah delivers powerful 1:1 programs online. Get a free 5-day Drink Less. Live Better test here. Find her on Facebook, Instagram and her podcast.

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