If there’s one thing I’ve learnt in adopting a vegan lifestyle, then eating gluten-free, then starting my health coaching practice, it’s that having a great support network can mean the difference between weeping alone in the corner, and rocking it out and actually enjoying the challenge.
Before embarking on an experiment of this magnitude, I knew I’d need help, and lots of it.
My Tools of Choice
:: Like the true geek I am, I wrote a 10 Things Better Than Wine list and referred to it every day.
:: I joined Hello Sunday Morning (such a great initiative!) and read stories from others who were undergoing the same challenge.
:: I ordered and read Jason Vale’s book: ‘Kick the Drink… Easily!’
:: In a very happy accident (while reading an article about the increasing number of ‘dry’ cafes opening in the UK), I discovered the Soberistas website. There, I was amazed and oh-so relieved to find oodles of incredibly helpful sober blogs (including my now-favourites: Carrie on Sober, Mrs D is Going Without, Unpickled, and Fit Fat Food).
I’m not sure why I was so surprised to find these blogs. Did I really think I was the only woman in the world struggling to put the glass down?
:: I also stumbled across Belle’s blog and 100 Day Challenge:
I will not drink for 100 days. No matter what. I can cry, but I will not drink. I can go to bed or go home early. I might feel distressed… but I will not drink. Bad things might happen, but I will not drink. Incredibly shitty things may happen to someone around me, or my neighbor, or my friend’s friend’s grandmother. But there will be no booze. Funerals? Weddings? Amputation? I’m not drinking for 100 days no matter what happens… No matter what.
~ Belle, Tired of Thinking About Drinking
This challenge instantly appealed to me. Quite honestly, the thought of never drinking again was terrifying. Even thinking about it made my chest constrict and the waterworks start again.
One hundred days. Now, that seemed manageable. Long enough to have a proper break and then reassess the situation, but short enough to seem achievable (and a whole lot less scary than ‘forever’).
:: I downloaded a Day Tracker app onto my phone and decided 100 days was my goal.
The Hardest Part
I’m not gonna’ lie. The first 30 days were tough.
I hadn’t expected to feel so insanely tired all the time. I’d only been drinking (albeit to excess) a couple (okay, sometimes 4 or 5) nights per week, so I didn’t expect a physical detox. Very naïve on my part, especially since it took my body a good 30 days to detox from dairy, and then again from gluten. I should’ve seen it coming.
I didn’t think I’d cry so much but I did. I threw a couple of tantrums in frustration at not being able to drink like ‘normal’ people (and cried). I replayed all the stupid, drunken things I’ve ever done over-and-over in my mind (and cried some more).
I was upset that I’d let alcohol have such a huge influence over me and I hated the fear I felt in taking it away. I was frustrated that it felt so hard to go without it, and that I didn’t really know how to deal with my daily emotions. I hated that reality felt so relentless without the option of ‘cutting loose’ on a Friday night. And I hated that I wasn’t sure who I was in social settings without a drink in my hand.
Feelings reinforced by the reaction from friends and former colleagues, generally along the lines of: “Are you insane? I’d rather go without food for 100 days than alcohol!”
The very same reaction I would have had before I embarked on this challenge.
Would people still invite me out if I stopped drinking for good?
Would I always feel like I was missing out?
Would I ever have – or be – fun, ever again?
I was afraid of what would happen if I stopped drinking. But I was more afraid of what would happen if I didn’t.
And I got through it.
Day 30 fell on my birthday, and for the first time since I turned 17, I celebrated it sober. Instead of my usual cocktails, champagne and dancing-on-tables celebration, I spent the night cuddling on the couch with my love, my favourite dinner (fajitas), some fancy raw chocolate, a crystal goblet filled with sparkling mineral water and fresh lime, and an 80’s flick.
And you know what? It felt really good. Wholesome. Healthy. Right.
Little did I know, the real discoveries were yet to come…