What will I miss about drinking? If you’re thinking about not drinking, whether that be for a period of time, for good or just on weekdays, then it’s easy to focus on the perceived benefits that alcohol brings us and worry about all the things we will miss out on. It is scary, trying to imagine how on earth you will do all the things you’ve always done without the help of a glass or three of wine or a few beers to ease the process or lubricate the situation.
While it might be tough to do all of these ‘firsts’ without alcohol, the more we do them, the easier they get and in fact they get better and we become stronger because we are truly present in each situation, truly ourselves and the tough becomes so much easier to cope with and the good is much more enjoyable without the false veil of alcohol to hide behind. What will I miss about drinking was a question I asked myself over and over before finally quitting and the answers I came up with were just excuses really.
If you are sat here asking yourself the exact same question, then let’s look at some of the things we fear we will miss out on and discover that there is nothing really to miss about drinking.
It’s true that alcohol loosens us up a bit and gives us a little boost which if you are naturally shy like me, then we believe that having a drink while we’re out is essential to being able to talk to people and come across as fun and bubbly. In fact all alcohol does is remove our inhibitions and loosen our tongues so after a few drinks while we might think we are the funniest, or the life and soul, we might actually become very boring, cracking the same jokes again and again or worse, we might become offensive or rude or put ourselves into dangerous situations that we wouldn’t normally do if we hadn’t been drinking.
If you really think about it, the first half an hour or so of any social event is always a bit awkward anyway whether you are drinking or not. It’s like kids at a party, they always stand on the edges for a bit before finally throwing themselves in and having a good time. The beauty of not drinking is that you remain your true self throughout the whole event, that might be a party or getting together with friends or just being at home with your family. If you love the people you’re with then you can be social and have a great time, a better time even without alcohol because you know you won’t go too far and spoil it by saying or doing something you regret or falling asleep and missing out on the whole thing – now that is antisocial.
Coping with my kids
Whether you’ve got one or four, grandkids, nieces or nephews, then you’ll know that kids are hard work. One of my friends once said that she never drank until she had kids and all the memes about Mummy’s Little Helper etc have led us to believe that we need alcohol if we’ve got children. I myself used to have wine or beer to do anything with my kids – homework, bathtime, storytime, playtime – whatever.
since stopping drinking, I understand that parenting is much easier without alcohol getting in the way and most importantly, my children appreciate the new sober me a heck of a lot more.
I believe that playdates now include compulsory wine for the mums to cope with it all. However, since stopping drinking, I understand that parenting is much easier without alcohol getting in the way and most importantly, my children appreciate the new sober me a heck of a lot more. It is not easy, but easier. I have a 17 and a 9 year old, each with different challenges and the thing with using wine to help me be a mum, it actually made me a worse one. I wasn’t clear headed, or patient or rational. I was selfish, inconsistent, grumpy and not completely there. Things are so much calmer now and if issues need to be dealt with, they are dealt with clearly and properly.
The beautiful thing about being a sober parent is enjoying my time with my children, wholly and completely, being silly but genuinely so and not missing out on a single moment. Alcohol does not help you cope with your kids, all it does is block them out for a bit and because they grow up so fast, it is vital to be present for every second. Yes, being a parent will always be hard work but the rewards far outweigh the tough times you go through.
Coping with stress
When you ask yourself, what will I miss about drinking, coping with stress, anxiety and other negative emotions is often the first thing that pops into our heads. Because we are so used to blotting these feelings out with alcohol, we believe that it is the only way to deal with them. However, if you always cope by drinking, then all you do is squash these emotions below the surface and if left undealt with, when they do pop up, they do so bigger and scarier than ever.
Alcohol actually increases stress and anxiety so the more we drink to try to alleviate them, the worse they become and so this vicious cycle goes on and on. It’s only when you step off the merry go round do you realize that there are much healthier, helpful and more positive ways to deal with these emotions. We do get them, they are a fact of life and can even be helpful in certain situations – if dealt with properly and not just buried away to fester.
Getting out of my head for a while
I live in my head a lot and there is loads of stuff going on in there, even now when I don’t drink. I used alcohol as a way of escape and I know that most of us do. A few glasses of wine or a couple of beers can quieten things down a bit, give us some peace, give us a welcome break from out to do lists, problems at work or any number of thoughts that might be running through our heads. For me, it was a chance to close the curtains of life for a bit, to retreat away from the world and get a bit of inner peace. Ha! It never lasted and like the difficult feelings and emotions, my thoughts always came back with renewed vigour because I hadn’t sorted them out properly.
However, there are much better ways to deal with our thoughts and ideas – ideas which can come to fruition unlike my drinking day ideas. Since stopping drinking my inner chatter has changed, it’s still there but there is far less negative self talk. My favourite ways now to deal with this inner voice are journaling and of course meditation!
Those first sips of alcohol do give us a hit that’s because alcohol causes our brains to release more endorphins making us feel good and the pleasure/reward part of the brain is activated – hence the association with alcohol and having a good time. However, we all know that this feeling doesn’t last and it is impossible to get back that feeling of the initial buzz of the first drink.
The more we drink, the more tolerance we build up which means it gets harder to maintain that happy feeling and we need more and more alcohol to achieve those same buzzy feelings, that high. In the end we end up chasing this with drink after drink and it stops being fun anymore and over the long term, we find that we need alcohol just to feel normal. There are much better ways to get a genuine hit of happy hormones, a healthy high and once you rid your body of the poison, when you do get a genuinely happy feeling, it is far more intense than anything you can get from alcohol. Even on my bad days now, I still feel better than I did with any drink – even the first.
When you’re not drinking, you may have noticed that you don’t fall asleep as quickly as you do after a drink and if you’re in early sobriety, poor sleep, or finding it difficult to get to sleep is one of the issues you will face. That’s because we’re so used to anesthetized sleep, we find it difficult to go to sleep naturally.
The truth is that alcohol is really, really bad for proper, restful deep sleep and if you think a glass or two of red wine will help you get it, all it really does is help you to pass out. Being unconscious is not the same as sleeping! Added to the fact that alcohol doesn’t let you have enough deep sleep, waking up to go to the loo or to get glasses of water, then go to the loo all make for a poor night’s sleep.
It doesn’t matter how long you stay in bed either, the damage has already been done. While you might miss the ability to fall asleep easily at first, once your body gets used to sleeping without alcohol, you will get to sleep quicker and easier and have genuine, deep sleep to boot – in short you will sleep like a baby and wake up feeling awesome!
Being grown up and sophisticated
When my husband and I first moved in together, guess what our priority was – a nice wine rack on the kitchen counter. We had made it, we were officially adults! Whenever anyone came around, ‘would you like a glass of wine or a beer?’ was the first question asked. Nursing a glass of whisky or cradling a brandy in front of a roaring fire was the grown up thing to do.
Having nothing else to offer or being offered nothing else except coke or juice or water makes us feel a bit like a kid, and not in a good way when you see all the other folks with their fancy wines, glasses full of bubbles or craft beers. That’s why children often sneak sips form our glasses or slurp the froth off the top of a pint – it makes them feel grown up. Happily though, times are a changing and there are more and more beautiful, sophisticated, non alcoholic drinks coming on the market, mocktail menus are becoming more exciting and if you like the ritual of drinking, you can have lots of fun and be extremely creative fixing your own posh, grown up, gorgeous alcohol free drinks at home that anyone, drinker or not would love to try. Because, after all it’s the image we have in our minds of holding a nice drink that makes us adults – we soon forget that too many grown up beverages will make us throw up, be obnoxious, rude, feel like hell or pass out – it’s not very grown up to have to be cared for or told off like a child is it?
Aahh, there’s nothing quite like relaxing into that first drink after a busy day at work or once the kids are in bed! But hang on, doesn’t alcohol lift us up and give us a buzz? How can it do both? It can’t.
Needing alcohol to relax is one of the biggies that people say they will miss, myself included, and that’s because we have been so used to associating having a drink with being relaxed, that’s what we think it does, it’s all part of the brainwashing and social conditioning we’ve been exposed to. In reality, the simple act of kicking off your shoes and sinking into the chair or flopping on the sofa after a busy day is relaxing in itself – you just need to learn to appreciate it without a glass in hand.
Like all the other firsts we do when we give up alcohol, relaxing without it takes practice but the more we practice, the more we repeat these new healthy behaviours – finding other ways to relax us, the less we will associate alcohol with these feelings and the easier it becomes. In fact when we properly relax without the aid of alcohol, the relaxation is much deeper, has a much more profound affect and is extremely enjoyable. Find something that you really enjoy, something that you used to do to relax before alcohol took over, like yoga or reading or colouring in, playing the guitar – whatever it is and enjoy it.
Filling in the time
One huge benefit of not drinking is all the extra time you find yourself with. Now, in the beginning this will probably seem daunting – it did to me – What on earth am I going to do all weekend/evening/Friday? When we’re drinking it is all we think about. As long as I have beer or wine or whatever, then my evening is sorted or I’m set for the weekend. Before stopping I asked myself the question, ‘what will I miss about drinking?’ and one of my excuses was that I would miss out on afternoons sipping wine on the patio or evening with friends getting drunk and dancing or just Saturdays at home with nothing else to do except drink. However drinking isn’t filling in the time, it’s wasting it.
Drinking made be boring and I drank because I was bored. One the one hand I am so, so happy that I have all this time to do everything I want to do – who knew how beautiful 6am was? Also because I want to do so much I worry that there isn’t enough time in the day to fit it all in. Thinking back to my drinking days, I feel sad and really pissed off with myself that I wasted so much time, days, weeks just sitting around doing nothing, just drinking. All the wonderful things I do now with my time were just unimaginable at the time, in fact I wonder how I got anything done at all. All those missed opportunities because the days just rolled into one, get up, work, drink, go to bed, repeat. – What an absolute waste! But, most of all I miss the time that I didn’t spend with my children. We are so connected now and I know what is going on with them all the time, in the past I sometimes couldn’t remember if I had bathed the little one or read him a story – those are special times that I can’t get back and that hurts. So if you think that you will miss having something to do if you’re not drinking, then focus on something that you want to do, something that you enjoy because believe me when you put down that wine glass you will have loads of golden hours to do beautiful, meaningful things.
Alcohol is Dutch Courage as they say, but all it does as I mentioned before, is to remove your inhibitions so you might feel brave or confident in certain situations where you might otherwise be scared but in reality the alcohol is numbing your real emotions or making you somebody you’re not. Alcohol also numbs our fears which gives us the sense of feeling strong and confident but without fear and the ability to face it properly it just gets worse and you end up feeling less and less confident as time goes on.
In the midst of my drinking days, I would be scared to do anything without a drink first, I didn’t want to go out, I put off small tasks like, using the phone or complaining or writing emails. I only felt confident enough to do them once I had a few beers inside me but then I would come across as somebody I am not, my reactions would be extreme, I would write or say something I really didn’t mean to believing that my new found confidence was coming out, making me stronger. In reality I just had more problems to deal with afterwards. As with everything surrounding alcohol, it is all false and having false confidence, not being the real you is not a good place to be.n But, without alcohol you are forced to face your fears head on and get through them which you will, and you will come out the other side with tons more confidence which is real and empowering.
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What will you miss about drinking? Leave your thoughts in the comments below and let’s see if I can’t change your mind!