I did a poll amongst my friends recently and asked them what their biggest obstacle was to giving up alcohol for good. Some of the replies where obviously tongue in cheek, like my friend Gary who answered “I require alcohol in order to cope with people telling me how wonderful life is without it”. In the main, however, the rest of the responses were interesting and I will explore those in a moment.
When I was considering giving up alcohol, for me, drinking was the obstacle. Waking most days with a thick head or a hangover meant that I didn’t have the energy or willpower to do the things I really wanted to do with my life. After travelling and working in Asia for over four years, I had moved to Spain to create a lifestyle that gave me the chance to spend time doing all the things I loved to do. I wanted to be that person who wakes up in the morning and meditates, then does some gentle yoga, eats a healthy breakfast, makes some jewellery or writes or reads, before going to work in the afternoon and doing a good job. Drinking was my obstacle to all of that imagined and aspirational joy.
So, in my considerations, I didn’t really pay much attention to what I might have to lose, give up, or face, if I didn’t drink. When I did actually give up, I was so happy with the results – my state of mind, my improved sleep, my energy and bursts of creativity – that even then sobriety didn’t present itself as a problem to be dealt with.
To get a clearer idea of what obstacles others experience, I asked my own friends on Facebook, most of the answers didn’t surprise me.
These are some of the responses I received:
- Will power
- Social life/Celebrations/Being sober around drunk people/not being able to socialise on their level
- Self neglect/self destructive tendencies
- Pressure from others/Friends
- Giving up the idea that you won’t experience the ‘warm fuzzies’ or that life wouldn’t be as nice without it
Here are my thoughts on each of those obstacles:
I always thought I would never have the will power to give up alcohol. When I occasionally had the ‘giving up talk’ with myself I would instantaneously dismiss the possibility. I didn’t have the will power to do exercise regularly, or avoid eating crisps, or write every day, or to do or not do anything that I knew I should – so why should giving up alcohol be any different? When I started on my first 30 days alcohol free I told myself that I was just trying it and if it didn’t produce the results I was looking for then I would drink again. I was also advised by my lovely friend Sarah, to do just that one thing during the month, to ensure that I didn’t overwhelm myself with too many other challenges.
I honestly never thought I could do it.
What I found was that the rewards of not drinking were so plentiful that I didn’t need willpower, I just needed to not drink and enjoy everything that followed! Why would I deliberately give up feeling this great? For me, the risk and reward was worth it.
What about you? Do you think you don’t have the will power to give up drinking? I know you do. I know because there are so many other things that you have worked for, and achieved, in your life through sheer will power. Think back to something you achieved, think about what your thought processes were to push your way through to your goal. Remember how you felt when you achieved it – that sense of accomplishment, that punch the air moment when you realised you had done it. If you can do those things, I know you have the will power to give up alcohol if you really want to.
Social life/Celebrations/Being Sober Around Drunk People
One of our lovely Sobersistas recently attended her brothers 50th birthday party. Before the party she shared with us her fears of being around her family, knowing it would be a big drinking event, and knowing they probably wouldn’t understand her desire to give up – and certainly not to drink on such a special occasion.
She was so happy after the party and reported to us that she had drank mocktails all evening and no-one noticed that she wasn’t drinking alcohol. She did end up having one alcoholic drink by accident when she was misheard asking for a tonic and got a gin and tonic instead! She said that it would have felt churlish to refuse it, plus it would have meant having to explain herself.
Afterwards, she reported back to the group that she was so happy that she had been able to have a lovely time celebrating with her family. Yes, she used avoidance and subterfuge to achieve her aims but it worked for her. Obviously, this maybe wouldn’t work in the long term but I know from what she shared with us that it gave her the confidence to continue exploring a sober life.
When I go to social events now I have to rein in my enthusiasm about how great life is without alcohol. I really don’t care anymore what anyone else thinks of my life choices – my life is mine to do with as I please. Every action I take has consequences, good and bad, and I take responsibility for all of those choices. I have found that I still have a laugh, enjoy myself, get silly – all of the things I did with alcohol – except I go home when it all gets a bit over the top, get a good nights sleep and wake up the next day clear headed and bright.
Do you think your social life will be over if you give up drinking? It won’t be if you don’t want it to be. You can try one night with friends without alcohol and see how you feel, it doesn’t have to be a lifetime choice.
Self Neglect/Self Destructive Tendencies
I abused myself for 40 years with alcohol in an attempt to avoid dealing with an unhappy childhood and a variety of subsequent life stresses that always seemed to pile up. At the bottom of all of the crap I had to wade through, a lack of self worth was the root cause of the drinking, over-eating, failed relationships and blah blah blah. Being sober showed me that I deserve all the same things that everyone does – happiness, contentment, peace of mind and authentic relationships.
I have made huge personal leaps since my first 30 days alcohol free and I feel like I’m closer to being my best self than I have ever done. Prior to that I had done everything to try and overcome the past. Self help books and courses, meditation, yoga, counselling, writing wishes under the full moon – you name it, I’ve tried it. To a degree, all of these things helped to some level or another, but I can say without hesitation that sobriety has given me a personal boost of confidence that I am never going to give up.
If you feel that your drinking is a symptom of some type of past trauma, I urge you to do whatever it takes to heal. There may be another plane of existence that we all migrate to when this body fails us but until we have proof, I’m living this life, now, to the best of my ability. You deserve to live your best life and if giving up a toxic substance that makes your liver work needlessly hard to deal with, surely it’s worth at least a try? Getting sober will give you a clear mind that will be able to deal with healing your past.
Pressure From Others/Friends
No matter what lifestyle change you feel you need to make to improve your life, you need friends who will support you in your decisions. I haven’t lost any friends, in fact I’ve made lot’s of lovely new ones, since I gave up and suspect you won’t either. I would suggest not giving in to your fear and brave whatever comments anyone will make, confident that you are making the right choice for you. Those that truly love you will still love you – sober or drunk.
Giving up the ‘warm fuzzies’
The prospect of the absence of a ‘nice’ thing in your life is bound to generate some trepidation. How will I relax at the end of the day without my favourite GnT? How will I de-stress after work if I can’t share a bottle of wine and download my crappy day? How will I enjoy my monthly lunch with my favourite friends without our spritzers?
It’s true, a couple of glasses does give you that warm fuzzy feeling, takes the edge off a bad day and initially makes socialising seem a little bit more sparkly. Unfortunately, your liver doesn’t sympathise with you. Unless you are eating a purely organic diet, (and perhaps even then) your liver has to deal with a pretty hefty modern lifestyle in the processed foods, drinks and environment we now consume and live in.
Add alcohol into the mix and your liver is working double time just to stand still.
I know from my own experience that I turned two blind eyes to the health implications of drinking. When I did get around to checking it out I terrified the life out of myself.
I want to be fit any healthy for my kids, my family, my friends and more importantly for me. Don’t you?
There were some other friends who answered my poll by saying they enjoyed the taste of alcohol or just ‘liked it’. I am pretty sure I can’t persuade all of my friends to give up alcohol but if I can help and support one woman to make that life affirming, positive choice, then I will keep banging away on this keyboard.
To my friends who took the time to leave and answers, thank you.
Much love always , Jules xx
P.S. If you are ready for the next step and you want my help to overcome your own obstacles you can work with me on a one to one basis. You can find out more by CLICKING HERE.