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365 days of sobriety

Updated: Jun 11

As 2022 was coming to an end, we packed essentials, and with our dog and a cat went on a adventure trip around Wales in our camper van. It marked our first genuine holiday season in years, with a real break between Christmas and New Year – a rare opportunity we were eager to seize.

I began to realise that alcohol was not adding any value to my life, even though I still kept a bottle of wine in the sliding cupboard, just in case the urge struck. While I wasn't a heavy drinker, I occasionally enjoyed indulging myself to forget my worries and relax my busy mind.

Approaching 2023, I sought a new challenge, with the idea of saying "NO" to alcohol for the entire 365 days. I do like a challenge, it helps to break behavioural patterns, question current beliefs and work on the subconscious mind and a willpower. I knew mere month or two wouldn't suffice for this challenge, so with New Year’s Eve approaching I made a commitment to be completely sober in 2023.

At the beginning, I wasn't fully aware of how this challenge would impact my life or the realisations it would bring along the way... In this blog, I will recall three different situations that challenged me during this time, and explain what helped me to stay strong to withstand my challenge. So, if you are intrigued, please read on...

The initial three months proved to be the most challenging. In mid-January, during our trip to Tenerife, I faced my first test. A gift of wine and chocolates awaited us in the room, and my initial reaction was one of concern – "Oh no, we have to drink this, and it's going to break my challenge." This revealed a deep-seated belief that I needed to accept gestures and my inability to say 'no'. In my mind, not accepting the gesture was disrespectful. Upon reflection and with Nathan's support, I've realised that if we don’t drink it, it will actually benefit the hosts more, because they can give it to their next quest, or we can give it to someone else meet in Tenerife! By simply questioning and altering this belief, I stayed strong and carried on my sober challenge.

The next challenge came later in March;  involving peer pressure and the presence of people consuming alcohol that night. This does something to you. You crave it, and if it’s something you enjoy the feeling of, it’s very difficult to stay strong and say ‘no’ to. I guess the saying “you are the average of 5 people you spend most time with” is suitable here. When we are fully involved in the situation, we don’t realise the impact and the influence others have on us. Yet again, with Nathan's support and strength, I haven’t weakened under the pressure. Looking into the future in this moment helped massively. I knew if I had drank it, it would have given me a temporary pleasure, but when I woke up the next day I would be full of regret that I gave in to “just having one drink”. The focus on long-term rewards over temporary pleasure did the trick in this situation!

Lastly, being in the new environment during the Christmas party posed another challenge. This time was slightly different. Openly declaring "I don't drink alcohol" in a setting where it's the norm led to questions and potential judgments. How is it that alcohol became so embedded in our culture, that not drinking is so unconventional? That if we don’t drink others might think there is something wrong with us? Or, we feel like we have to explain ourselves. Despite these internal struggles, with the strength I gained throughout the year, I was strong enough to stay true to myself and not drink that night. It turned out, no one really cared and we all had an amazing time!

What is the take away from this experience?

I feel stronger, more confident within myself, and feel proud that I stayed true to my word for so long and never gave up! It was all worth it, and now with 2024 around the corner, I've decided to carry on my sober journey indefinitely.

Would you consider giving up alcohol for a year? Let me know in the comments.

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