Tuesday, 1 January 2019

ONE YEAR ALCOHOL-FREE: WHAT I LEARNED & WHAT NOW?


In 2018 I decided to do a year completely alcohol-free. Prior to this, I had gone for months at a time without drinking alcohol, but the most I would go is for four or five months. Then I would have a month of just getting drunk a few times a week again after. Alcohol affects me in terrible ways. Physically it makes me ill with a hangover and at one point I had stomach tears so I would bleed after a night on the tiles and be in crippling pain for a few days. The worst affect of alcohol however, was most definitely emotionally and mentally. After my Dad died, alcohol would send me into the deepest spiral of depression, so much so that several times I considered joining my father when I was battling with my emotions on a hangover.

So, I decided to quit, to stop abusing myself and cut the endless extra bullshit out of my life. The losing things, the drunken bickers that make no sense when you're sober, the money and time wasting and the unproductivity of having to nurse myself better all the time. Seriously, some people are unfortunate enough to have a disease that prevents them from living, but people will intentionally do it to their perfectly healthy bodies on a weekly basis - and for what? To gain what? Fun? Self-abuse is not fun. I understand SOME people can have a few drinks, but the majority of people I have heard say that, drink far too much themselves and exceed any recommended unit allowance. 

So, after a whole year alcohol-free - here is what I have learned:

I drank to shut up and put up.
I realised over a year ago that I drank to put up with things. To put up with venues, situations and bad company. I had my epiphany in Belize a year ago when my friend turned to me in some grotty club and said 'We are going to have to get really drunk to put up with this place aren't we?' - and then it hit me - No, no we are not, because we have legs and we can just leave? So I did. The club was full of drunk dribbling women pushing their way to the bar with their breasts hanging out and leery men staring at them waiting to use their bodies later to get their end away. Sorry to be so crude, but it is the harsh reality of certain drinking environments that need to be seen for what they are. I'm not about that soulless life and it makes me incredibly anxious. Which is why I probably drank my way through them in the first place, when I thought I had no choice. I also thought back to the times where I'd be out with one other person and got silly - and truth be told - they bored me, so I drank my way through it. So, this year has taught me - I don't need to drink to put up with anything, Nowadays, I just leave any situation or person who doesn't feed my soul and put me in touch with my higher self.

When you don't drink alcohol, you are 300%+ more productive.
My productivity went up by the hundreds this year. I held down my teaching job, travelled to 14 countries, passed all my exams with flying colours, gained qualifications, kept up blogging, kept myself healthy, maintained my friendships and relationship, looked after my dog and maintained my home and chores efficiently all year. It feels like you have so much more time when you're not wasting time drinking, forgetting and then nursing a hangover in bed. Plus you have more money to invest into yourself too, meaning being productive, whatever your definition of that may be, is far easier and readily available to you with more cash. 

When I quit drinking, I quit a multitude of bad habits too.
I used to smoke socially - I know - disgusting. I would smoke 20-40 cigarettes on a night out sometimes and then not smoke sober ever and find it hideous. I didn't smoke for the whole of 2018 either. Nor did I drink any fizzy drinks for the first six months because I only had them with spirits in pubs and bars before. I gave up hanging out with company that bored me shitless just to be out and about. I gave up eating endless shit and junk to try and pick myself up on a hangover. Finally, I gave up making excuses for why I wasn't doing things. 

Getting drunk is a loser's game.
For real, I wasted so much time, money and energy on getting drunk. You lose time, money and energy every single time you intoxicate your body. The energy you gain from alcohol will have to be paid back later anyway, sometimes with triple the interest. It's like getting an energy loan from provident and paying back four times the amount because you didn't just make it for yourself. Bars and restaurants make a 300% profit on alcohol, so you're lining the pockets of some rich man while you thin your own. I would rather give my money to charity than spend it in these shitholes any longer. The time I would have wasted drinking was spent reading, practising yoga, walking my dog and studying this year. When I travelled, I actually got to see the places instead of missing out because I was drunk or hungover. 

I still feel the same good feelings.
You know that buzz you get when you have a few drinks? I still get that. You know that excitement you feel when you arrive on a night out? I still get that. That hyper feeling you get when your favourite music comes on? I still get that. The lust you feel for your partner with a few drinks? I still get that. That burst of confidence you feel on a first date/ interview/ social event with new people? I still get that. I don't need alcohol to make me feel any less or any more of anything. It all lies within. 

My relationships are so much more satisfying now.
Giving up drinking after being a heavy drinker will really show you who your true friends are. The ones that aren't so true will try and pressure you back into drinking. The ones that aren't true will stop inviting you to things when you no longer lower your vibrations to match theirs. You will build stronger relationships with your true ones though. My best friends and I have spent so much more time together. I have got closer to people at university because we actually have things in common and I have the time and energy to invest in fulfilling things now. Trust, intimacy and fun within a romantic relationship will be even better too. You'll cut the crap and realise that you actually love one another's company without having to be drunk. There aren't any trust issues and it's so much easier to love someone who shows themselves that kind of respect. 

Everything is clearer now.
Everything in my life is clearer now. My brain, my heart, my mind, my home and my life in general. My home is always in order, I find time to go to the skip and charity shop and clear out the excess clutter. My washing and washing up is always up to date and I never have to deal with the state the house gets into after a night out. I am always conscious and organised. I always get shit done and I can focus better than I have ever been able to before. I sleep better than I do when I even just have one drink without it. My body feels better and cleaner. My intuition is back too, I see people for who they really are and see what they do in relation to that. If you think fluoride blocks up your third eye, see how you feel when you remove fluoride AND alcohol from your system too!

Drunk people are boring.
My friends and I went out at the beginning of the year and some forty year old builder, who looked a bit unhealthy to say the least started talking to us. He told me I was beautiful and then said - 'are you not drinking because you're driving?' and I said 'No, I don't drink' and he said 'Oh Jesus, you're too boring for me love'. Okay so first of all, you weren't in the fucking run up mate and I'm shocked you thought so. Second of all, what you don't know is I'm a bilingual feisty intellectual who travels round the globe on her own cherry picking wisdom and knowledge? but I'm definitely boring - okay then mate. The truth is, people spitting in your face, repeating themselves and chatting pure nonsense is boring. I don't want to listen to waffle, as I said earlier, I want to feed my soul. If that's boring then, so be it but getting out of your mind to feel interesting doesn't seem like the most exciting thing to me. 

I give back to the Community now, instead of taking from it.
If you have ever been a binge drinker like I was, it is likely that you may have needed the hospital for some reason. Perhaps the police spoke to you or perhaps you've been sick on the street after drinking. Maybe you've made noise or visual pollution as a result of drinking. Whatever it is, I gave back to my community this year. I volunteered with the elderly and acted in a respectful and responsible way to my environment always. Thus giving, instead of taking from my community. 

You have to face your problems.
In many ways, I used alcohol as a crotch to handle certain situations. Family illness, an abusive relationship, crippling insecurities and the death of a loved one. Your problems aren't going to go away if you drink over or through them, they are only going to worsen. I see a deep sadness in drunk people, and I get it, life is tough, however the only way to come out of an issue a stronger and better person, is to sit through it and face it head on. 

I have only gained from quitting alcohol. 
Some other benefits include: 
- I am happier
- I feel healthier 
- I fully trust myself now
- I don't feel shame or regret about the night before
- I love myself more
- I am proud of myself
- I have more respect for myself
- I am always conscious 
- I am never ill
- I make real, meaningful connections with people
- I don't put myself in unnecessary danger (emotionally, physically, financially, spiritually or mentally)
- I don't have to put poisons or toxins in my body 
- I don't feel so unsure of myself because I don't have to mask who I am with a booze blanket
- I am much less annoying to my loved ones 
- My belly is flatter and more toned
- I have more energy
- I have so many more nights in and I LOVE them
- I am out in nature much more - nature therapy is key
- I achieve my goals and dreams more easily 
- I am closer to where I want to be - with my degree, travelling, buying property, my spiritual growth, my health, wellbeing and fitness
- My periods aren't as awful as they used to be
- My skin is better than before
- I don't have to make up for lost time so I never have to rush - if you know then you know
- A life without hangovers is a beautiful one
- I hang out in far more inspiring places 
- I hang out with far more inspiring people
- I have more interesting experiences 
- I can put more effort into everything I do
- I spend more money on new adventures and self-growth
- I never argue with anyone (I have the occasional bicker with my close ones but we never row and we talk it out)
- I don't constantly loose things anymore
- I don't fear what I have done or said because I remember everything 
- I take better care of everything (my dog, myself, my home)
- I have more time for the things and people that matter
- I have broken the vicious cycle 
- I have more fun.

THE VERDICT - Will I ever go back to drinking alcohol?
Absolutely not. I'll be real with you, on New Years, I had a tiny glass of vegan baileys (it was a gift) to see how I would feel, and while it tasted nice initially, ultimately I hated it. It burned my throat, it was acidic and I had all these memories of hangovers flooding back to me. Just like I gave up animals and their secretions years ago, I have given up alcohol. It doesn't serve me, and if it doesn't you - maybe you should give it up too. 

Peace Out Potatoes xo
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