This weekend I’m celebrating being booze free for one whole year! I’m a mixed bag of pride, that I lasted the 12 months, surprise, that I don’t know if I want to drink again and mortified that yet another year has passed. 

Here are a few things I’ve discovered, or rediscovered whilst not drinking for a year.

No one gives a fuck.

Everybody is so busy living their own lives, navigating their own problems that there is very little, if any time at all, to give your situation a second thought. Blunt but true. It doesn’t matter how wonderful we think we are or how proud we think others should be of our achievements, the reality is that everyone’s preoccupied thinking about their own wonderfulness to be too concerned with yours. 

This was beautifully illustrated by Matt the other day when I mentioned that I was about to reach my goal of 12 months of not having a drink. I was expecting a celebratory “good for you babe” or “well done babe, you’re so inspiring and I admire your perseverance” but instead he said, “well, of course you did”. When I complained about his lack of fanfare he simply stated that I pretty much do what I say, so if I said I wasn’t going to drink for 12 months, then I wouldn’t drink for 12 months. Case closed. Slightly underwhelming but to the point I guess.

I’m not a child.

Not drinking alcohol doesn’t mean I want a fucken lemonade. I still want fancy drinks with all the bells and whistles. This has been hit and miss all year. Some restaurants and bars have a great alcohol free drinks list and some just don’t. Good luck finding anything other than an overpriced pot of soda water with a paper straw and a crunchy, old wedge of lime in a majority of the pubs in Ballarat. 

There have been a few wins though with a barman in Collingwood making me the most extraordinary kiwifruit infused cocktail I’ve ever tasted served in a tiki vase. Lots of pubs now stock ‘heaps normal’ or other booze free beers. I’m yet to find a booze free wine that doesn't taste like turned Ribena but I’m sure they’re out there. To be honest my favourites right now are the fancy overpriced sodas that come in flavours like ‘yuzu’ and ‘cloudy pear and cinnamon’.

All of the emotions, all the time.

Being stone sober means that I’ve experienced all the emotions in their raw, uncut form over the last 12 months. The last year has been one of the most full on professionally, personally and especially, financially (like all the ‘ally’ I did there). I never used to drink to forget things but there have been plenty of times this year where it would’ve been nice to switch off. Turn the volume down a touch. Blur the edges a little. 

I’m lucky that part of the MBSR course I did earlier this year had a real focus on acknowledging hard emotions and learning to sit with them. No one wants to feel shitty so we quickly distract ourselves. Everyone has their vices, social media (big one for me), food, booze, ignoring your problems by solving others... 

Being able to sit in these moments of discomfort gives us the opportunity to acknowledge what we’re actually feeling. “Oh hey, I’m really anxious right now”, then start to stand back and look at what is happening to your body. “My breath is quick and I’m pacing a fair bit”. Removing yourself from the eye of the storm and starting to objectively access what is happening is how you take back control of that situation.

Leaning into the discomfort of emotions has been a powerful lesson this year. I’ve surprised myself by taming some really overwhelming moments by acknowledging what I’m feeling, thinking about why I’m feeling it and doing some simple breathing techniques (basically just breathing again!) to bring myself back to a spot where I feel in control.

Future Drinking

I always said I’d give drinking a break for 12 months to see how it goes. When I first wrote about this a few friends approached me saying that they don’t drink either. In fact they hadn’t for sometime now. They said that once you do 12 months you might not want to go back to drinking. 

This is where I find myself today. 

Proud of myself for having achieved what I’d set out to do but also surprised by how much I liked it. I don’t feel like I have missed out at all this year. Other than having to have a few more lemonades than I would’ve liked, not drinking alcohol (not surprisingly) has had an overwhelmingly positive effect in my life.

  • Matt and I don’t argue about who has to drive home. 
  • It's affordable to dine at expensive restaurants if you don’t buy the wine!
  • Waking up from a night out and remembering all that happened.
  • Waking up from a night out and being able to go for a run if I wanted.
  • I can still party till 4am if the party is awesome.

I’m going out for lunch this Sunday with a friend that I had my last drink with this time last year. I don’t think I’ll drink. I think I’ve done my 12 months and I might just keep going for a little while longer. In the end, no one really gives a fuck if I have a drink or not. I certainly don’t care how you spend your free time, and I mean that in the nicest way. 

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