Journey to Sobriety
Over a year ago, I wrote a blog post on why I no longer drink alcohol. I am happy to say that is still the case and I have been completely sober since 2019. The word 'sober' I feel makes it sound like I used to be an alcoholic when that couldn't be further from the truth. I have never had an issue with alcohol as such, however, I had enough of an issue with it for me to realise that me continuing to drink alcohol, no matter how much that was, was not a good thing for me and that it would be better for me to stop altogether.
Living in a society where anyone who doesn't drink alcohol is pretty much seen as a social outcast, despite the number of people who are fully sober/only drink alcohol on the odd occasion being on the rise, it is pretty difficult to navigate in this world when there are still many people out there who cannot seem to understand why you don't drink alcohol; especially when you are not an alcoholic. I recently read The Sober Girl Society Handbook (you can also follow the Instagram page - it is run by a girl called Millie who seems so lovely and manages to explain the bonuses of being sober, for whatever reason that may be for each individual, without coming across as being completely against alcohol - after all, we should all be able to make our own opinions when it comes to this stuff), and reading this book made me no longer feel alone in my sobriety and made me see that I am not weird for choosing not to drink alcohol.
My original blog post mainly focused on the events that happened that led to me making the decision to completely stop drinking alcohol. In this post, I want to focus on the reasons why I no longer drink alcohol (which aren't completely linked to those events I mentioned in the previous post) and how my sober journey is going so far.
Let's start off by taking a look at some of my reasons for no longer drinking alcohol. They didn't really happen in a certain order (at least, not that I can remember), but some of them happened around the time I decided to stop drinking alcohol, whilst others have happened throughout my sober journey. One is to do with my mental health. I have been very open and honest about my mental health and how I have had anxiety and depression ever since I started blogging. I know a lot of people say that drinking alcohol gives you the confidence to do/say things you wouldn't if you were sober and to care a lot less about those things, but I found this to be completely different whenever I drank alcohol. It would cause so much anxiety inside of me in the lead up to the event where I would be drinking alcohol, but I would always try and tell myself that it would be okay because the alcohol would give me confidence and that I would be fine once I got to wherever I was going and had a few drinks inside me. But part of that anxiety leading up to the night out (I only ever really drank enough alcohol to get me drunk when going on a night out, any other time I would maybe have a glass or two and possibly get a bit tipsy but never enough to be drunk), was me knowing I was going to be drunk and worrying about the state I would get into, whether I was going to be sick and if I was sick where that was going to happen - as well as with the typical thing of worrying about men approaching me and potentially taking advantage of my drunken state. There was also a number of times where I would feel anxious whilst drinking because I was drunk enough to do/say things I wouldn't do/say when sober, but I wasn't drunk enough to still not be aware of what I was doing/saying and it wasn't a nice feeling. I know a lot of us will get 'beer fear' the day after a night out and I am definitely no stranger to that and it was mostly this anxious feeling after a night out that led to me to decide to no longer drink alcohol. If I could remember what had happened that night, I would remain in a state of anxiety over what I did/said and was worried I had made a fool of myself to the point where no one would want to hang out with me again. If I couldn't remember what happened that night, I would be in a constant state of panic over what I had done/said and would try to piece together the night with my friends by what any of us could remember, but even then there would be a lot of blank spaces. Not only would alcohol heighten my anxiety, but it would also cause me to feel quite low as well. I wouldn't necessarily feel this way whilst drinking, but the day after I would feel quite low as I had (occasionally) had such a good night and at times was momentarily happy, but I guess this low feeling was all part of the alcohol come-down.
Another reason why I decided to stop drinking alcohol was that I don't like the taste of it. If there is a certain food we don't like, we don't eat it, so why would we drink alcohol when we don't like it? I liked it to the extent that I could drink it, but if I was given the choice between an alcoholic drink and a non-alcoholic drink, I would go for the non-alcoholic drink all day, every day. Plus, alcohol is too expensive to continue drinking if you don't even like it. Why waste your money on something you don't really like when you could spend it on something you do like? I'd rather save my money, thanks.
I do believe that I only really started, and continued, drinking alcohol in the first place because it was seen as the 'cool' and 'normal' thing to do. I started drinking alcohol at a very young age and as a teenager when you're seeing what adults drink and you think of yourself as an adult (even though you're definitely not), you decide it's a good idea to drink alcohol because you want to present yourself as an adult. I wouldn't say that drinking alcohol makes you a cool person because you can be cool without drinking alcohol. As I got older, I started to realise that drinking alcohol didn't make me cool and that people should like me for me and not because I drink alcohol. If people find me boring because I don't drink alcohol, that's a them problem and not a me problem. You can't be boring just because you don't drink alcohol and if anything, surely you're a more interesting person if you don't need alcohol to be fun because you're not having to rely on a substance to make you turn into a fun person? I'm not saying that those who do drink alcohol are boring when they don't have a drink inside them, what I'm saying is that it's unfair to call someone who is sober boring and only put it down to the fact they don't drink alcohol when there is more than likely plenty of things about them that make them an incredibly interesting person to be around.
When you first decide to turn sober, it's not easy by any means. First, regardless of your reasons for stopping drinking alcohol, you have to accept the fact that you can no longer rely on alcohol in cases where you may have felt the need to, for example, in social scenarios where you maybe feel the need to have a drink of alcohol to feel a bit more confident or to 'fit in'. You also have to decide on how you are going to react if someone offers you an alcoholic drink. In some cases, it's easier than in others. For example, you may find that if you are going to a friend or family members house and they offer you an alcoholic drink and you say no and explain to them you no longer drink alcohol, it is more than likely that they will be more understanding than if you were in the presence of people you don't know that well. Having said that, as drinking alcohol is such a normalised thing and being sober isn't, you will come across many people in your sober journey who really struggle to understand why you don't drink alcohol and they may even try to force you to have some alcohol. But it's important to remember that you don't owe anyone an explanation about why you are sober and regardless of whether there is a reason or not, it's none of their business.
One thing I have noticed since deciding to become sober (and something that was mentioned in The Sober Girl Society Handbook), is that if someone offers you an alcoholic drink and you say you don't drink alcohol, people start asking you questions and wanting to know why. However, if the same situation occurs and you say that you're sober, people tend to not ask any questions and offer you another drink instead. I have no idea why this happens as saying you don't drink alcohol and saying you're sober are the exact same things. I guess in this regard it may just be easier for you to tell people you're sober instead of saying you don't drink alcohol. But like I said above, if anyone does question your sobriety, you don't need to give them an answer. You can ignore them, tell them why you're sober, or just say it's because you don't fancy having a drink right now.
As for my sober journey, it's been going quite well so far. I guess it helps that for a large chunk of it we have been in lockdown so I haven't had any temptations for going out and getting drunk (for context, I decided to give drinking alcohol a bit of a break at the end of 2018 but fully gave it up mid-way through 2019). However, there have been a number of occasions over the past couple of years where I have been tempted to have an alcoholic drink or two just because I feel like I need it. The reality is I don't need to drink alcohol, none of us does, and I know deep down that my life has been so much better since I decided to give up alcohol than it was when I was still drinking it. I just have to remember that I know what is best for me and even when there have been times where people have continuously offered me an alcoholic drink, despite me continuously insisting that I don't want one, I have still persisted with saying no. If you ever find yourself in the same situation, it is perfectly okay for you to remove yourself from it.
There is never really any part of your sober journey that is easy, but for me at least it has definitely been most difficult at the beginning. I guess this is because I was still getting used to no longer drinking alcohol and when the temptations were there, it was difficult to not give in to those temptations. If you find yourself not wanting to put yourself in those situations where there is alcohol available, then don't put yourself in them. If you're already in that situation and it gets too much, you can take yourself out of it at any time. Don't feel like you have to remain in those situations or put yourself in them just to keep other people happy. Your happiness is the most important thing and you should never be made to feel uncomfortable over a bit of alcohol.
If you have any questions about sobriety, are considering becoming sober yourself, are already sober but are finding it difficult, or want to know how to support a friend or family member in their sober journey, please do not hesitate to contact me. You can find all of my contact details in the contact tab at the top of the page, or you can click on the Twitter or Instgram icons to take you to my social media pages. I would also recommend checking out The Sober Girl Society Instagram page, which posts really helpful tips regarding alcohol sobriety and positive sober quotes to help keep you going.
Wherever you're at with your sober journey, I just want you to know that you should be so proud of how far you've come and how far you're going to go. You got this!
Love Beth xx