By Sarah Newlands
I CAN’T TELL YOU HOW MANY ‘DAY ONES’ OF SOBRIETY I HAVE HAD, BUT THERE HAVE BEEN MANY
There were countless mornings when I woke up with a pounding head, bloodshot eyes and a truck load of guilt, exclaiming, “I’m never drinking again…”
What was different about the final time I said that? I honestly couldn’t tell you. But what I can tell you is that the work begins way before you reach Day One, before you even know it. This could be you reading this right now.
I was 37 when I gave up drinking alcohol, but I think the work began as far back as when I was 32. I had two young toddlers at the time and I knew my reasons for reaching for that glass of wine had changed.
Most of the time I wasn’t drinking to be sociable and fun (although I’ve since realised I was neither of these things when under the influence); I was drinking because life was HARD. The relentless doldrums of wrecked sleep, tantrums (them and me), potty training, fractious mealtimes, routine fixation, loneliness and fatigue led me to reach for that first glass of wine to calm all that noise down.
And after all, I DESERVED it, didn’t I? It was a heck of a lot of noise after all…
But did I really deserve the increased anxiety it caused me in the long run; the insomnia, the low energy, the poor judgement, the rubbish skin and the endless cycle of low mood/ drink/ pass out/ do it all over again?
I spent at least five years in a sober curious state, questioning my habits – the prologue to Day One, if you like. I didn’t realise it at the time, but I had already started the work.
If you are a grey area drinker like I was, you might tell yourself all sorts of stories about how you’re “not an alcoholic”, or that you can easily stop for a week/ month, so there’s no harm done. Sound familiar?
Those are certainly the stories I told myself. I became a self-enabler, perpetuating my socially acceptable habit, telling myself I couldn’t possibly be doing any short or long-term damage. After all – I did Dry January so I must be ok right?!
So why did I stop? Well I was sick of the cycle of guilt, shame and enabling. My thoughts were dominated by, “Am I drinking too much? Shall I have a drink tonight or wait until tomorrow? If I drink while I eat it’s ok… Am I doing my body damage that I won’t see until it’s too late? My friend drinks just as much if not more than me” etc, etc. I can tell you now that those stories were the real noise – not the tantrums coming from the living room…
Those stories were the start of something though. The start of my sober curious journey which led to my Day One. Yes – there was still hard work to do, but I think once you’re acknowledging that you want to get to Day One and discover the beautiful world that awaits you on the other side, that’s half the battle done. Once you’ve reached Day One, you’ve already completed your sobriety prologue.
So what next? Day One is where the magic begins… The better sleep, the higher energy levels, the clearer skin, brighter eyes, pure sober joy and laughter, lighter mornings, and time – so much more time!
What’s not to love?
Signs Of Addiction
- Diminished self-esteem
- Mood swings, unpredictable temper
- Agitation; quick to anger
- Poor memory
- Feelings of hopelessness
- Exacerbation of existing mental health conditions such as anxiety, stress or depression
- Decrease in self care; poor hygiene or disinterest in personal appearance
- Difficulty sleeping, including development of insomnia
- Dishonest or secretive behaviour
- Increased unreliability at work or in social situations
- Loss of interest in hobbies
- Prioritisation of time alone
- Continued use of substances or engagement in behaviours, despite negative consequences.
- Trying and failing to stop
This article was written by Sarah Newlands, a sobriety coach, meditation teacher and EFT practitioner.
Sarah decided to qualify as a sobriety coach after she managed to stop drinking alcohol altogether in 2018, having been a ‘grey area’ drinker for decades. Now, her main aim is to give back the support that she did not manage to receive herself whilst giving up alcohol.