When we start thinking about changing our relationship with alcohol, it is easy to focus on what we believe the positives of alcohol to be. We then get really cold feet of when we imagine not having those things and begin to worry about the things we will miss about drinking.
Things such as feeling the buzz on a night out, relaxing into that first glass of wine when we get home, using alcohol to loosen us up and be more sociable, using wine to ease stress or anxiety.
In reality though, alcohol delivers none of what it promises but until we find ourselves in that beautiful place it can be incredibly difficult to understand that there really is nothing to miss about drinking.
I want to share with you what I genuinely don’t miss about drinking.
This is probably the main thing we can all relate to. There is nothing worse than lying in bed until 3pm feeling so ill that the slightest movement makes your head pound and brings on the urge to puke. Then there is also the deep feelings of guilt, that you did it again, the whole day is wasted and nobody at home can get on with their day because there you are, in your pit unable to move.
A while back I woke up feeling really ill with a headache and I had to be sick – it was just like a hangover and it brought back some terrible memories. I was just so grateful that it was some sort of bug and I can’t quite believe that I used make myself feel ill on purpose. Waking up hangover free the morning after you go to sleep on your very first sober night is a revelation, there is nothing better than waking up feeling normal, and it never gets boring
Lying about the amount I drink
Lying to the shopkeeper about who the alcohol was for, a party, a gift… excuses, excuses.
Lying to my family about how much I had drank. Opening a new bottle or can of beer pretending it is the first, hiding the empties somewhere they won’t be found.
Lying to family and friends, ‘oh I only drink at weekends now!’
Above all, lying to myself
Freeing yourself from the deception, the hiding, the sneaking around is so liberating and that is one of the main things I don’t miss about drinking, for sure.
Always having alcohol on my mind
I cannot tell you just how liberating it is to no longer be thinking about drinking, I was always fretting and worrying about how much alcohol we had in the house. Should I buy an extra box of wine just in case?
It’s Saturday, shall we buy 2 crates of beer instead of 1? Or maybe we can get some Gin, that’s cheaper and will last longer (as if!)
If I looked in the fridge the next day and there was nothing left I would look at my cash and make sure I had enough to buy more beer, even if it meant skimping on food.
Then there were the questions, how much will I have, how much have I had? Can I have a couple of beers and still go out to my class or shall I try and hang on until I get back.
Or, What time is it? Is it too early to have a beer? Shall I have some now and then none later on? Shall I pace myself or save them all up until the evening?
It is such a relief not to think about it anymore!
The negative feelings of anxiety, shame and regret
Since stopping drinking and talking to other sober folk, I have discovered that anxiety and negative self talk is huge amongst drinkers, as alcohol adds fuel to already negative thoughts and feelings we have about ourselves.
I actually didn’t consider myself to be anxious until I stopped drinking. It was only then that I realized that I had been living with horrible feelings of self doubt, constant fear and an underlying feeling that something wasn’t quite right with me.
by far the worst feelings would come at 3am when I woke up feeling full of shame and regret, needing the loo and needing to get a drink
However, by far the worst feelings would come at 3am when I woke up feeling full of shame and regret, needing the loo and needing to get a drink. My heart would be pounding in my chest, I felt shame if I had got out of control, guilt and regret at not having spent proper time with my kids and been the mother I knew I could be and of course, the self hate – why can’t I get out of this cycle? Why can’t I just stop?
Thankfully, and this is the one thing I am grateful for every day, is that as soon as I stopped, that very first night I went to bed sober, I was no longer plagued by these awful feelings and emotions. The peace I experienced was just out of this world. Even if I don’t sleep well or have things on my mind, I have never ever had to endure the 3 am terrors and that alone is worth any struggle I had to go through in the early stages of my sober journey.
When you’re drinking, if you’re anything like I was, you can’t imagine a whole Friday night or weekend stretched out before you without alcohol in it. I used to wonder what on earth people who don’t drink did with all that time.
Since quitting, I can’t really get my head round the fact that I wasted so much precious time.
I do not miss the wasted hours and hours spent on the sofa not moving except to go to the kitchen for refills.
I do not miss doing nothing but slowly getting more and more sloshed with nothing to show for it except bad telly which I would never remember anyway.
I do not miss false ‘me time.’ Proper me time is not time wasted retreating into yourself as you drink glass after glass of wine, it is spending time doing something that you love, doing something nice for yourself or blasting away the cobwebs on a solitary run or enjoying a relaxing yoga practice.
I do not miss having all my plans and ideas go out of the window as soon as the cork was popped or the can cracked open.
Most of all I, what I don’t miss about drinking is wasting time instead of enjoying quality time with my kids because although I might have been there in person, I was not actually there in mind, not fully, not really.
Letting my family down
Proper family time is hugely important and I used to do loads of stuff with my kids and husband, summer barbecues, sitting on the patio, trips to the village tapas bars or spending time at the pool.
Trouble was, all of these things revolved around drinking. Yes, even swimming because our local pool has a bar attached to it.
What always started out as a fun family activity would soon be taken over as the amount we had to drink increased. Take, the pool, we would get a bit of swimming in and then move to the bar, once we were there, there we would stay and because I was terrified of the children drowning, I wouldn’t let them back in the water and they would get bored, restless become naughty and we would give up and come home.
All the plans we would have at the weekend or on a school holiday would never come to fruition once the wine was flowing or the cans cracked open.
When I first stopped drinking I always thought I would miss the happy vibe, the holiday spirit.
But, this uplifting, joyous feeling happens naturally anyway simply because you’ve got a free day or weekend, what spoilt it was that family time would quickly become drinking time and my kids, most of all, would suffer, be left to their own devices and then get told off for sitting in front of the computer all day.
If you’re worried that the holidays or the weekends won’t be the same then ask yourself, will I miss breaking my promise to go swimming with the kids because I’m too hungover to move?
Will I miss not being able to take my son to sports practice because I had too much wine with lunch?
Will I miss all those broken promises I made to myself and my family to actually do something together which is fun, healthy and happy? I think not.
Lack of energy
Looking back I now realize that I was lacking in so much energy. I lived with the constant feeling that everything was a struggle, I was in a permanent fog and had to make a huge effort to do anything – I thought this was normal.
While drinking you just can’t be bothered to get off the sofa and actually get anything done, go anywhere unless it is a party or social gathering.
But the real consequence comes the next day. Even if you are not hungover there is just something missing, like a spark or a lust for life or a drive to achieve. I used to look at my kids and wonder how on earth they had the energy. They’d come in from school and immediately want to play or go out or just do something, it was hard to get them to settle down for any length of time. They would rush from one activity to the next just full of beans and enthusiasm.
I, on the other hand often found it a humongous task just to get out of bed and get the kids ready for school.
I would sometimes look at the tasks ahead of me, like making dinner or doing the laundry and would feel this overwhelming sense of pure exhaustion at the mere thought of it.
This was not every day but what I did feel everyday was just a general feeling of ‘meh’ what was the point? I’d hear people talking about their ‘super busy schedules’ and be part envious and part thank goodness I don’t do any of that. I would wonder how on earth they could fit it all in and when you are still drinking you can never imagine having such a fulfilled and busy day with the energy to do it all.
However, when you stop drinking, something magical happens. It might suddenly hit you or you may find the feeling creep up on you but all of a sudden you are raring to go. Lack of energy is definitely something I don’t miss about drinking.
Now, this is a huge one. Nobody enjoys wasting money but that is what we do when we drink, worse actually. We just pour it down our throats and make ourselves feel awful in the process.
I shudder to think about the exact amount of money I wasted but it has to be in the region of about 40,000 Euros over the 15 years we’ve been in Spain! So no I do not miss wasting money on alcohol.
Now, I am not suddenly rolling in it since I’ve stopped drinking but I am able to live responsibly and within my means and spend my cash on important things like food and clothes for the kids which we ‘could never afford’ while drinking.
Ask yourself how much do you actually spend on alcohol (don’t forget all the added extras like random Amazon purchases, take-aways, extra food, taxis etc) Now, is that something you will miss about drinking?
Also, the true cost of drinking is not only the financial cost, but the emotional, physical, spiritual and mental one, so take that into account too. What is your drinking actually costing you?
Think about this yourself, what do you think you will miss about drinking, really?
Constant battles in your head?
Trying to stick to self imposed rules that never work?
Being a shell of your true self?
Putting off the little things?
Being stuck in a rut?
The list could go on…
When I look at all of these things, I am actually quite horrified that they all came about because of me, because I chose to drink an attractively packaged poison. The great news is I am free of it all and you can be too. It is such a wonderful feeling.
If you’re still stuck in the mindset that alcohol is fun, relaxing, confidence boosting and anxiety easing or if you’re having a wobble during your journey to stop drinking, then I hope that by reading this you will know that alcohol robs you of so much and there are so many reason to be grateful and joyful to live an alcohol free life.
If you would like some coaching to help you to change your relationship with alcohol, and change your life forever, then do reach out.
What things will you not miss about drinking? I’d love you to tell me in the comments below.