1. I didn’t drink when I finished the detox
In some ways this was the hardest part. Sure the physical detox was an absolute nightmare I never want to repeat; and it almost destroyed me. But it was actually after all the attention had stopped, after the constant sessions of support ended, and after the peer group disbanded…that was when I was alone and that is when I had to decide on my own path forwards. I had to do it on my own.
In the physical detox I was substance tested every day, I had to attend group sessions and individual counselling. Once that time was up, instead of the help being provided for me every day, I had to find my own support groups. I experimented with many different types of support groups and some worked and some… I still haven’t decided on (looking at you A.A.)
2. I didn’t drink after losing my job
Throughout the last years of drinking and into my new sobriety I changed jobs. This also became a time when I built a new life in a new town in a new country. The change was good as I was away from many of my old drinking haunts but it didn’t mean I could escape my triggers. Those triggers were within me and travelled with me as I started a new life in a new country.
Sometimes that made it harder not to drink. I was alone, and no-one knew me. No-one would make any comment if I drank or not because I never said to anyone in “my new life” that I had stopped drinking. Again…it had to come from inside me. There were times of great loneliness and doubt and there still are. I struggled but I did it… I built a new life without alcohol in it.
3. I didn’t drink after splitting up with my girlfriend
My first year of sobriety was all about filling that void. I spent a lot of time thinking about what really makes me happy and I had to think about the hard stuff: what to do with my time, who to spend it with and what do I want my life to look like.
These questions were overwhelming at first. I read a lot, and I wrote a lot; and I “risked” a new relationship with someone who wasn’t a drinker. It didn’t work… It didn’t last long but it highlighted to me that there was no running away from my issues by running into someone else’s life. That relationship was an absolute disaster. A lesson I learned during this time of exploration is best summed up by this quote – “The love of another will not be able to fill the void left by not loving yourself.” – Anonymous. Learning to accept who I am, and who I am not, was the most powerful thing I’ve done in sobriety.
4. I didn’t drink after my sister was diagnosed with stage four cancer
This is hard. This is still new. There will always be dark moments in life when you are lost for words and do not know what to say, what to do, how to feel. This is one of those times. I must be strong for myself, and my sister. Drinking will not help me do that…
But I must finish on a positive note….
5. I didn’t drink after running a half marathon in under 1 hour 30 minutes
For non-runners, that is fast even if I do say so myself! But I have to find other ways instead of ‘raising a glass’ to celebrate these days.
Running has been a big saviour in my sober life and something that plays a huge part in my mental well being. I simply couldn’t face all the life struggles without the restoration I get when I am out in the fresh air, running. No music, no companions, just me.
But every year I run at least one “event” and this year I managed to run my fastest ever half marathon. I travelled to a town I had never been to and joined 30,000 other people of all walks of life. I am proud of myself and I am working on my mental health by using physical activity; and if can offer advice to anyone it is this. Find your own path, find what works for you… but a little exercise goes a long way.