The Oxford Dictionary describes recovery as, “the action or process of getting something back that has been lost or stolen.” There are many descriptions of what recovery means, in different scenarios. However, this one for me, laid heavy.
I started drinking from the age of fifteen. As I suppose most teenagers do. I had just finished my GCSE’s and left school, and I was free. Alcohol had never really appealed to me. I watched family drink it, and always wondered “why?”. I used to sit and observe, like a David Attenborough documentary. Watch the watering whole, full, empty and always re-fill. It looked fun, it intrigued me. Then fifteen years later, that watering whole slowly drowned me.
When I started my journey of sobriety on 7th June 2019, I initially wanted to get to thirty days to see how I felt physically and mentally. I thought I just needed a break, to realign my thoughts and productivity. If I’m being honest, I was scared I couldn’t even last thirty days, so set it as my benchmark. I had done Dry January in 2018, and enjoyed the journey so much that I continued into February. Sixty four days dry. However, when it came to March 2018 I went back. I went back, hard. The months started to go by so quick. I couldn’t recall what I had done from one month to the next, or what I had achieved personally and professionally. My mood spiralled, and once again I was back where I started. Despondent, down, hopeless, anxious and fed up. Fed up of myself and my lack of willpower to moderate. One bottle started to turn into two, then two and a half, and then blackout. Morning’s were horrendous and painful. My thoughts wouldn’t escape me, and all I would look back on were those two months where I felt alive, free and reborn. I desperately wanted them back.
Today marks day sixty-three. One day away from my longest sobriety spell. However, this time it is different. I can feel that is different. I have no desire to get to tomorrow, or next week, or next month and decide to go hard again. To drink, again. The cravings have slowly diminished, alongside the dark thoughts. Alcohol enters my thoughts, considerably less than it did on week one. It is still there, I am still aware. However, I choose strength. My willpower is increasing daily and the appeal of alcohol is diminishing daily. This time, I feel alive and free. However, the main thing I feel is support. Support from my family, friends and the online communities who all feel what I feel. A strength to succeed. To not look back, but forward. This time it feels refreshing and exciting.
I wanted to collate and document how leaving alcohol behind, has had a positive impact on my life month by month. In June, when I first started my journey I was in a bubble. I was absorbed by sober literature and inspiring podcasts, and just taking it a day at a time. Slowly building my strength and finding myself again. I was in my own sober bubble, and oh it was good. Lots of chocolate, ice-cream, self care and fresh air. I gave myself love, and a lot of it. Just so I wouldn’t drink.
Below is a Recovery Round-Up of July:
- I pushed myself physically. With wine, comes weight gain. Prior to drinking, I used to be in the gym every other day and completely active. I used to buzz of those natural endorphins, which from what I remember far outweighed the feeling of drinking that first glass of wine. So, in July – I got out. I walked, I worked out and I set a bench mark of hitting 10,000 steps a day. I started seeing results, physically – just little ones, but it spurred me on, and I loved it.
- I attended my first work event completely sober, and I loved it. With work events, comes a free bar. I had worked myself in a state weeks before, focusing on the ‘How?’. How can I go and not drink? People will think I am really boring. I need to drink to fit in. Will they think I am strange? All of these thoughts circulated around my brain for days prior to the event. The reality, was that it was absolutely fine. It was enjoyable. I immersed myself in interesting conversations, and engaged with confidence, real confidence. Not that false confidence that comes with alcohol. This was a big step forward, as the first time is always the hardest, but I now have confidence for future events.
- I chose to spend quality time with the people I love and care about. When drinking, I didn’t really care who I was in the company of, as alcohol was the main focus. As long as alcohol was present, I knew I would enjoy the occasion. Until I had that one glass too many, and my mouth would run away with me and it would turn on me. It almost definitely, always ended badly when I was drunk. Throughout July I cooked for friends and family, and enjoyed giving, rather than taking. I went on beautiful days out by the seaside, and to the cinema on a Friday Night! Shock horror. So much more enlightening and enjoyable, than rinsing my money away in the pub. Who doesn’t love ‘The Lion King?’ especially in 3D.
- The extra money I have, to spend on whatever the hell I want. On average, I was spending around £350 a month on alcohol. Buying wine to drink at home, going out drinking four to five times a month. Wine, Wine, Wine. I am almost ashamed about this sum, as I was always skint. Looking for the next pay day so I could live like a Queen for a week, and then scrimp and scrape for the remainder of the month. Borrow, be late to pay back. If at all. I was irresponsible and irrational with money. The irony now, is that I choose to spend my money on things that will fulfil me, and make me grow. Not brake me.
- I immersed myself in the sober world. I purchased sober literature (with my new found savings). Two of my favourite reads from July are:
“The Unexpected Joy of Being Sober” – Catherine Gray
“The Sober Diaries” – Clare Pooley
I listened to podcasts on the drive to work. Relatable, and inspiring podcasts which would make me grow, make me think and make me believe that I could do it too. A few of my favourites from July are:
“This Naked Mind” – Annie Grace
“Alcohol Free Life” – Janey Lee Grace
” We are Recovery” – Russell Brand
“One Year, No Beer” – Ruari Fairbairns
Overall, in July I feel I have grasped life in every way possible. I have been missing out for so long, and for what? To feel terrible, to be skint and to have regret, embarrassment and a sense of self-loathing. I cannot wait to see how I can develop in August. How I can grow. How I can push myself in every way possible, to become the best version of myself.
A favourite a quote, from my favourite fellow M: