This week Mc D tells us how he got on with his sober challenge.
Confidence and Anxiety
One of the biggest revelations was in my confidence and anxiety. I have always felt that deep down alcohol was holding me back and making me jittery. I always used it as a crutch and at times literally hid behind a pint glass when talking to new people, as my self-esteem was so low I felt like a nobody. Only when I was a couple of pints down would I come out of my shell, slurring my words and thinking I was hilarious.
I was flawed
For a long time, I have believed that I was fundamentally flawed in some way. I never could muster a lot of self-belief no matter what I accomplished in my life. I realise these feelings can be caused by a number of different factors but for me alcohol magnified and exaggerated them.
Slip ups, restarts and learning
It wasn’t all plain sailing though, I had to re-start my sober challenge a number of times before I really started to get some alcohol free time behind me. As time progressed it became easier, life was shinier and I started to feel good about myself. The program not only got me to stop drinking but looked at other areas of my life that could be improved.
I no longer dreaded Monday mornings
In no time, I had started a regular mindfulness practise. I started journaling and increased my exercise. Anxiety that had been a constant in my life began to disappear. I no longer dreaded Monday morning and went into work with a spring in my step. I slept better and started to love early mornings.
I had to start dealing with emotions
I also had to start dealing with emotions and feelings that I would normally have repressed with alcohol. This for me was a steep learning curve and it is something I am working on to this day. Overall my confidence started to drastically improve and for the first time in a long time I started to feel comfortable and happy in my own skin.
Attempts at Moderation
I tried moderating alcohol after a slip up. The beer monkey had me convinced that I was not that bad and compared to other people I was practically teetotal. I understand now that this is common issue when people stop drinking and it’s only the addicted mind trying to rationalise further drinking.
For me it was pointless
It also took a huge amount of energy to start planning when, where and how much I would drink. It became emotionally exhausting and the few times that I did try to moderate, I failed. I had always liked alcohol for the buzz it gave and one or two drinks would inevitably turn to several. I would then suffer bad sleep, anxiety and the self-loathing hangover the next day. Trying to moderate would also undermine my new healthy regimes and turn me into an insufferable grump. In the end it was far easier to just stop completely as I knew it was not possible for me and therefore pointless.
Reduce or take the sober challenge?
Mc D discovered reducing his drinking just did not work for him. Everybody is different in what works for them. For some people, like Lisa Jean just reducing what they drink can work. If you’re trying to find out whether the sober challenge or moderation is best for you. Click here