OK, this is a biggy. I’m nervous just typing this.
I almost copped out and called this post ‘Why I’m cutting back on binge drinking’ or ‘Why I might just get drunk every now and again’. But believe it my friends, because I mean it. This isn’t just another hangover-fuelled declaration of sobriety, but for reals.
Let me tell you why.
The gut wrenching burden known as ‘The Guilt Trip’ and I, have been acquaintances for some time now. It usually rears its ugly head after a night of pizza and chocolate, shopping trips or days without exercise. I’ve dealt with these feelings and that’s a story for another day, but the surprising thing is that up until 10 months ago, I never felt guilty after a big night out. Drinking and partying have always been my ‘vice’ and I’ve always allowed it to be so. Doesn’t everyone need their vice? Plus, it was fun!
Long story short, I’ve been drinking alcohol since I was 13.
So that’s ahhh, half my lifetime. And like a lot of Aussies, mostly bingeing on the weekends. For someone who has suffered serious liver inflammation, it surprises even me how many black-out drunk nights I’ve had. Or how many drugs I’ve taken. My family and friends are big drinkers; I’ve always said ‘Oh, it’s just what we do.’
Let’s catch up for a beer, meet you at the pub, I’ll bring a bottle of wine, maybe two. Have you got any pills? Are they any good? OK, just some speed or caps for me.
It goes without saying that there is an abundance of health problems related to alcohol and long term heavy drinking, but some of the facts definitely hit home more than others.
Believe me, I’m not preaching, just finally listening.
For example, it’s been brought to my attention that alcohol is the most common cause of death for females in Australia aged 25-44 and is heavily linked to an increased risk of breast cancer in women of all ages. This scares me.
So does the damage alcohol can do to your fertility; heavy drinking affects a woman’s menstrual cycle and ovulation. And for the boys, alcohol causes a reduction of testosterone levels in the blood, not to mention *ahem* poor performance levels in the bedroom. Yes?
On a more personal level, alcohol dependancy played a very large part in the deterioration of my Dad’s family in the form of relationship breakdown, financial burden, depression, disease and death.
Over the years, I’ve lied to boyfriends about taking drugs, spent entire weeks of pay at the pub and made mistakes while wasted that have really hurt people. Way back in the day, I’d drink from Friday afternoon to Sunday night non-stop because I didn’t want the party to end. I’ve rocked up to work on an hours sleep or even worse, driven myself hours down the highway, still high, on no sleep whatsoever. And none of this was out of the ordinary at the time.
I thought it was all wonderfully rebellious.
And I’ve watched as people close to me have literally changed personalities from abuse of drugs and alcohol. There’s a dark side to all the boozing, partying and piss-ups.
Call it getting old or needing a detox, but last April I decided to have a month off getting drunk. Not drinking all together, just not getting wasted. And you know what, it was great. I got stuff done and it felt awesome. I was hangover free for about 6 weeks and can say in all honesty, that was a big deal.
I got a solid taste of what it could be like to be someone who doesn’t get pissed every Saturday night. Helloooo farmer’s markets, more money in the bank, picnics, clearer skin and eyes, breakfast dates and enough energy for early Monday morning yoga.
For awhile it was great. Really great. But then I started to get anxious.
I would become stressed before meeting up with mates because I knew there would be temptation to drink. I started avoiding social occasions. I didn’t trust myself because I knew deep down, I was afraid of missing out. I gave myself a number of drinks I was allowed to have before going out, but it rarely worked.
I had a few (OK, more than a few) BIG nights. Black-out, don’t-know-how-I-got-home nights. Or who I kissed nights. Which used to be fun, but suddenly weren’t. And the more I tried to focus on not drinking, the more they would happen.
I spent far too many Mondays at work last year, drinking detox tea and juice-fasting to cleanse my body from the weekend.
My beautiful friends kept telling me not to be so hard on myself, but it was too late.
Mr. Guilt Trip had reared his ugly head once again, and I remember the exact morning I woke up thinking ‘Yep, now it’s alcohol too… Crap.’
I bawled my eyes out to my Mum that night, because I was shit scared. I knew I wanted to stop, but I didn’t know how. I was so afraid of what would happen if I stopped drinking.
I was afraid of losing friendships.
I was afraid of not being able to connect with people anymore.
I was afraid of not being the fun, social person I become after a few wines.
I was afraid of becoming boring and losing my identity.
I was afraid of not having the confidence to talk to cute boys. (Or that I’d never even meet cute boys if I wasn’t at the pub!)
I was afraid of not being able to relate to my siblings.
I was afraid of spending real time alone, just me and my thoughts.
I was afraid of what people would think of me.
I was afraid I would fail.
Enter Tara Bliss. As my beautiful life coach for the past 8 months, one of the biggest lesson I’ve learnt from this fear-busting mega babe, is the importance of simultaneously apologising to and forgiving yourself. Not to have regrets or feel guilty, but show yourself some compassion and understanding.
It takes time to change, to face your fears and move forward.
And in this time, sure I’ve occasionally slipped up and accidentally had a bit more to drink than I’d intended, but I’ve been kinder to myself and ever so gently, nudging myself back on track. It’s all a process and it’s just one step at a time.
And most importantly, it’s not about perfection. Right now, I have no desire to seek total sobriety; I’d rather sanctuary.
So this week marks the end of week 2 of the Party Girls’ Guide to Peace, Tara’s 6 week e-course to turn from tequila to tranquility. Sure I could do this process on my own (and I’ve well and truly begun), but it’s much more fun being surrounded by other like-minded, gorgeous and supportive humans who are chasing the same freedom, radiance, peace, health and love. Power of community peeps. You can find out more about this here.
I’m looking forward to more time for writing, reading, travelling, playing, creating. I’m looking forward to having complete power over my choices. Finding more meaning. Trying new things. Get this, I went stand up paddle boarding (SUP) last Sunday! So much better than being totally hung with a killer headache to boot.
I’m looking forward to getting to know myself better and love myself more.
That doesn’t sound too scary does it?
But hey, maybe you don’t feel the way I do right now and drunken shenanigans are still the highlight of your week or month? That’s totally sweet, I’m not here to tell you what to do and I ain’t coming from no place of judgment. Enjoy I say!
But maybe you have considered what it would be like if the distraction of alcohol wasn’t confining you to the pub on Saturdays and the couch with KFC on Sundays.
Maybe you have even begun to imagine the life you could create for yourself.
Imagine being comfortable enough with yourself and your life that you didn’t need to get drunk to relax or have fun, to be yourself, to connect, to live and to love. Imagine finding that there is so much more potential for all of these things, without booze.
That’s what I am excited about. Still a little scared, yes. But mainly crazy, mega, beautifully excited.
So here it is folks. I’m ready.
I will never get drunk or take drugs again. No more energy drinks, shots, sculling or hangovers. I’m done with the guilt, the regrets, the anxiety, the partying, the come downs, the waste and the bullshit.
Hell, give me a couple of cold beers on a hot and sunny afternoon, a wine with cheese and catch-up chats or a whiskey with my sis, but I’m done with the rest.
Well and truly.