A Year Without Alcohol. And This 7 Things Are What I learned
Kelly Fitzgerald is typical of many people these days – she works hard and loves to lead a full social life as well. That used to mean going to lots of parties and functions at which there was plenty of alcohol being drunk. However, everything changed for her on May 6th 2013 when she made the huge decision to give up the booze for good, because she could see what a bad effect it was having on her life.
This is what she had to say about the experience:
“I was sick and tired of being sick and tired. I was tired of being the party girl, I was tired of feeling like sh*t, I was tired of disappointing and embarrassing my friends and loved ones. I decided I needed a big change. Trying to drink in moderation hadn’t proved to be the best option for me. It never worked. Enough was enough”
It was a difficult and brave decision to make. However, she stuck with it and more than a year of sobriety has now followed. She has written an honestly-worded report about the unexpected benefits that being a non-drinker has brought her. This takes the form of seven “lessons”. Here is her report, with each lesson spelled out in turn:
That’s amazing! A whole year has gone by since I took my last drink. It’s hard to believe it, but here I am!
Why did I do it? Let’s just say that I was sick and tired of being sick and tired. I could see that I was turning into someone I didn’t want to be. My drinking, and the behaviour it led to, was embarrassing for my friends and family.
I had tried cutting back on the amount I drank but it wasn’t working. I was turning into an alcoholic – someone who is completely dependent on alcohol – and that was someone I didn’t want to be. It was a question of all or nothing, and the answer had to be nothing.
So I started on the journey of being sober and set myself the task of doing without alcohol for a whole year. Was it tough? You bet it was! But I made it and learned some valuable lessons along the way that I want to pass on to you if you are in the same position that I was. Let’s just say that the positives outweighed the negatives by a huge margin – and this will be your experience too.
Lesson 1. My senses have been heightened by a thousand times
Without the alcohol messing me up I am so much more aware of everything around me. I can smell, taste and hear so much better than before. Not only that, but I am much sharper emotionally as well. Sometimes that is not so good because I get offended more easily, but I also find much more to laugh at and enjoy. The new feelings are simply amazing!
Lesson 2. I am getting close to understanding who I really am
This follows on from Lesson 1. Without the booze mucking up my thoughts and feelings I have discovered so many things about myself that were hidden from me. I am finding, for example, that there are things that I really enjoy doing but which the booze stopped me from doing – going for runs in the park, for example. I can enjoy life and have fun with my friends and family without alcohol being involved. My main discovery is that alcohol and I do not mix!
Lesson 3. Alcohol may be fun to start with but it does not stay that way
Having one or two drinks with friends is all very well, but for some people that is not enough. I was one of those people. I might say to myself that I would stop after only two or three drinks but that proved to be impossible. I found out the hard way that if your body cannot handle alcohol it will take over and become the root cause of so many problems in your life. It’s better to give it up while you still can.
Lesson 4. Without alcohol I can manage my life
Alcohol was causing problems in my life and my solution every time was to have another drink. Of course that only made things much worse. After giving up the booze things were very tough to start with, but after a while it became clear to me that with my head in one piece I could work things out and get a grip. I also found I had far fewer problems to solve!
Lesson 5. I am worthy of being loved
When I was drinking I had the idea that nobody would ever love me because I was worthless. There was plenty going on to support this view, because I kept making bad decisions and ruining every relationship I tried to start, thanks to the booze. However, I now have a wonderful man in my life who loves me for what I am, which is a normal woman who deserves to be loved.
Lesson 6. Giving up alcohol means you find out who your true friends are
When I was drinking I hung out with friends who were also drinkers. When I stopped drinking I discovered that most of those drinking companions were just that – people I drank with and nothing more. I had plenty of support from a number of good friends, but those people who kept offering me cocktails when they knew I was “on the wagon” were people I no longer needed in my life. My best friends were those who stuck with me through thick and thin, who did not abandon me when I was at my worst and who did everything they could to pull me through.
Lesson 7. It’s OK to know you’re not perfect
When you live your life in an alcoholic haze you hide away from the things about yourself that you’re not happy with, and when the alcohol goes the realization that you have faults comes back to you. However, I discovered that getting back in touch with the real me, including all the guilt and shame that entails, is actually something beautiful in itself. Nobody’s perfect, but everybody needs to know that!
Although I have come a long way I know this is not the end of the journey. I still have plenty of bad days when I wish I could just have one little drink to make the bad feeling go away, but then I have to take hold of myself and be strong. It’s certainly not easy.
However, I also realise that being sober is so much better than being alcoholic. I will never be the party girl I once was, but then again I will never have those terrible hangovers either. I am now healthy and happy and I know my happiness does not need to come out of a bottle.
This is therefore my message to anyone else who is like I once was. Have the courage and willpower to give up the alcohol because life can be so much better without it. I know that, for me, the best is yet to come – and that can be true for you as well.