One of our Club Soda members recently reached her first 100 days alcohol-free, and when she sat and processed all of the positive changes that she’s noticed about herself and her life in that time, she was dying to write about it. We love a good personal story from our members and from anyone who is exploring their journey into a more mindful approach to alcohol, whether it’s cutting down, trying out new booze-free options, taking a break for a bit or giving up longer-term – so we asked Nicky to write her story for us and here are her 100 notes for 100 days:
To mark my first 100 days of not drinking any alcohol since my twenties, when I was pregnant with my youngest daughter, I decided to write a blog listing 100 positive things that I have noticed or experienced since my alcohol-free journey began.
These are not in any order, just as they came to mind…
When you check a bill in a restaurant, as you are always prone to do, you can now be sure you are 100% correct and not going to embarrass yourself or who you are with!
The joy of reading “Quit Lit” that has really helped me in my first few weeks, and introduced me to Club Soda and Lucy Rocca from Soberistas, the author of the Sober Revolution book. Chapter 3 for me was exactly me! I couldn’t put this book down! OMG! I remember saying to my daughter, this could have been me!!! It was very emotional about day 7 and I cried on the phone to her and apologized for my behavior. It wasn’t the first time I’d apologized, but it was the first time my daughter genuinely accepted it and knew that I actually meant it! It was a pivotal moment in my change of attitude…no way could I go back now.
I thoroughly enjoyed Catherine Gray and Binkie Laidler has been my daily read every single day of these first 100 days (and what wonderful advice she gives), Claire Pooley (so much respect) and there are so many others. Podcasts have played a big part too, in my early days I’d walk every time I felt a bit uncomfortable and would listen to The Recovery Elevator, Russell Brand, Annie Grace, this really helped me in those first few days and it’s when I also discovered Sober Fish, who is also a massive walker. So many of us are on this journey, you realise you are not alone and this is extremely comforting.
Walking away from toxic friendships that serve no purpose to my life any longer, and not feeling guilty about it, has been so refreshing.
Putting me first when I need to and knowing it’s okay to do so – my recovery is more important than anything at this stage, as long as it doesn’t hurt anyone.
The amazing support from my GP’s at my local medical center, including the receptionists for their genuine kindness and support.
Newfound friendships with like-minded, amazing people who I really care about.
Enthusiasm, joy, and excitement about my future, of course, I still suffer from anxiety and fear, but nowhere near as much as I did when I was drinking and that’s not even excessive drinking…not being fearful, afraid or paranoid is such a joy!
Knowing I am capable, strong and can succeed! My confidence is returning and I’m getting to know the real me again.
My beautiful daughters – being the best Mum I can be for them, whenever, wherever they need me I now know whatever the future holds for them they can rely on me!
Not FOMO – I do JOMO – when you make the decision you’re not missing out, when not going to a party or event or whatever, because you can’t or you are not invited, but you experience the JOY of knowing you have the choice to make other plans, doing things that you want to do to that make you happy and enjoying your life right now!
Early mornings, dawn chorus, sunrises, no traffic, no people peace, tranquility, and meditation are all things that have re-entered my life since giving up drinking. I’ve taken some beautiful pictures early morning and it makes me very happy.
The return of confidence, pride, self-care, self-respect, ambition, and drive.
Clarity of mind, knowing you can make the right decision, and if you can’t, you have the confidence to say you can’t and not beat yourself up about it.
No more drunk texting, phone calls, emails, that you would never send in the cold light of day! This is so freeing, and so much less anxiety in my life, since I know that through my communication or whatever means I am always sober…I still might not say what’s right, but it’s honest, true from my point of view, and can’t be blamed on drink.
No more putting up with a toxic relationship and feeling guilty about it, when someone fueled your anxiety, making you feel you weren’t good enough, didn’t look good enough, blah, blah, blah, realizing that was their problem and not yours! Such a massive transition for me and took a good 3 months…after struggling for a long time…so for me, this has been a massive ‘C’ Change.
No more HANGOVERS or wasted days! No isolation or feeling depressed. From my late 40’s hangovers became much worse and harder to shake off, I stayed in bed for longer (too often), ate rubbish, isolated myself and felt very depressed…okay I was in a toxic relationship, I’d lost my best friend to cancer and wasn’t looking after myself, but alcohol just wasn’t doing it for me anymore, it had become my enemy. So if I could walk away from it, so can you. It’s all in the mind, that’s why your toolbox to support your recovery and journey is so important.
A newfound appreciation of my family and how important these relationships are.
My neighbours all 3 sets congratulating me on not drinking anymore.
A beautiful, kind and loving message from a young lady who has known me years – calling me a “Rock Star” and saying what a lovely person I am. I’ll take that, blushing! It meant a lot.
Meeting some truly wonderful and special people at self-help group meetings. You have to be strong minded with those sorts of groups – take from it what works for you and leave what you don’t feel comfortable with…I’ve tried loads of different groups but found just a couple I adore and feel very welcome at.
Bumping into people and holding my head up high, looking at them in the eye with happiness and pride that I know that I am now a better person and don’t need to feel ashamed. I’m in a happier place, and if people ask I tell them, they can take it or leave it. It’s okay by me…I know that I’m in a great place.
Picking up my camera again. My love for photography and the beauty that surrounds us in so many forms has become my favorite pastime. I absolutely love it.
Life up to my Day 1, when something finally clicked, had far too many lows. It was chaotic, exhausting, a roller-coaster of emotions. Too many incidents to mention fueled by too much alcohol. I’d lost me, my pride, my self-respect, my self-esteem. I put myself in dangerous situations, embarrassing scenarios, I didn’t care what people thought, but was always full of remorse, regret, guilt, and shame after every drinking incident. These are things I definitely do not miss and my life has no place for them or that sort of existence anymore.
No more UDI’s (we used to laugh about these in my 20’s) – Unidentified Drinking Incidents….not funny really. This normally involved falling over, falling downstairs (how I ever survived?) and so many bruises. I don’t miss any of this either, and I’m sure the makes of Arnica cream will notice a drop in sales in my area!
The fact I now wake up every day with excitement, no shame, no regrets, no “Oh my god, what did I say”, no falling out with people, being aggressive and having silly conflicts, arguments, just because I’d drunk too much. Buying things I didn’t need or want, just in-the-moment stupid ideas.
A great thing now is not being excluded from things because you can’t be trusted or people are worried about how you may behave. I know it’s embarrassing, but it is definitely something you need to recognize and face in this few months because it’s so true. People don’t want to be around loud, aggressive, gobby drunks, who behave like a loose cannon.
Making good choices.
Seeing things through, not over-promising and not delivering. It’s all about being reliable and trustworthy.
I love the fact that now I am more open, receptive, mindful. I’m interested and excited about life and what the future holds.
Building my toolbox and checking it’s with me every day is important to me. I learned a lot of these skills from books, Club Soda members, and knowing what works for me. You can do this too as it makes all the difference.
Replaying and recalling the first 14 days of not drinking reminds me I never want to go back to Day 1 of this journey. Finding this strength and replaying how it was quite hard at first…I just don’t want to go back there again an this seems enough to manage any craving moments that I’ve had.
Trying and enjoying Alcohol-Free drinks. There are so many to try and it’s exciting times for Mindful Drinking. The Club Soda Festival will be brilliant! So looking forward to it. Very important to attend these events as they give you so much confidence that you are on the right track and with the right people who are enjoying the same.
Reading, my love of reading has returned.
Amazing sleep, okay so I am suffering from an odd sleep pattern atm…but the quality of my actual sleep is fantastic!
Not afraid to try new experiences or adventures…even to travel to a faraway place alone! This is a big thing for me.
I now care about how I look, feel and what I am doing just for me, for others too! But it’s nice to focus on me and being mindful of how I feel so I can be a good Mum, Daughter, Niece, and friend.
I love exercise, walking, steps – it keeps me motivated and enables me to enjoy the fooooood I like!
No wasteful takeaways, I eat healthy because I can be bothered and I enjoy preparing meals from fresh local produce.
The wonderful and not so wonderful memories that return. They pop up in dreams or just completely out of the blue. I am handling the good, the bad and the very ugly in a journal as not quite ready to share so much that has happened. What I would say though is that dealing with these memories has been very cathartic and rewarding in many ways…It has also helped me get to know me and to forgive myself for my mistakes. Letting go of suppressed anger has been very positive too.
Knowing that it’s okay if people don’t like you or they don’t want you in their life…just walk away and let them go.
No more paranoia, or beating myself up. Don’t get me wrong I still get this from time to time, but I’m human and I’m working on this…it takes time.
Enjoying what sobriety brings with it…FREEDOM to do so much, when and where you like.
I can drive my car anytime, I like not having to worry or work out how much I can or can’t drink. Not having to pay for taxis or public transport (which I don’t like).
Feeling you’ve been given a second chance, a new life, fresh start, you’ve joined a special club, a super-power within you to be the best of your for the rest of your life!
Remembering how alcohol fooled you. You were lost and stuck in a rut. You wanted to escape but didn’t know how to. People used it to blame you for incidents, situations and make you unhappy. They tried to convince you that you were a bad person. Making your angst and situation so much worse. You now see the picture clear, you now see in HD their own selfishness, lack of care for you or kindness and understanding was, in fact, their own issue. They were not right for you but served a purpose. This is so refreshing and to share that for me is a very big step. A great positive experience in my 100 days.
Forgiveness, yourself, other’s – it’s a long time that you have been hurting others, letting people down, fallen out etc…so making amends is good for the soul and rewarding but can take a very a long time…my advice would be to just take every day as it comes, put your trust in the universe you will get those opportunities to make amends when the time is right. There is no rush. It’s a blessing if you are given the chance to do so. Remember you don’t control how other’ react though, so be respectful…they also need time to accept the change and you, your behavior and how they feel about it.
Being available to help others, give advice, support and guidance is extremely satisfying and part of my positive journey I also find it extremely rewarding and makes me very happy.
I love this saying….”if it doesn’t serve you well and you were doing it for so long, what have you got to lose by changing direction, changing your life and your drinking now”
I don’t want sugar or sweet things (okay I do really), but I want to lose weight I gained through excessive drinking and eating in my self-destruct mode. So the alcohol has to go! They are just wasted calories, empty calories that add no value to my health or happiness whatsoever!
WOOP – whoever created this deserves a medal!
Wish, Outcome, Obstacle, Plan
HALT – use this a lot and share this with friends and family it’s my new go-to saying in times of angst for anyone!
Are you Happy, Angry, Lonely or Tired? Resolve
Exercise – it doesn’t matter what it is but 30 minutes a day can make all the difference – also have one day off as a cheat day/reward it makes you feel better!
Plan, Plan and Plan some more….there is a bit of a superstar at this in Club Soda….she has been a major influencer for me in this area, whether it’s planning drinks, where you are going, do you have the drinks, stocking up your cupboards, for holidays, she’s got this!
Writing a journal, it doesn’t have to be daily but tends to be at the start as you notice so many changes, good and bad experiences, but then you forget because you are so busy but it’s nice to know it’s there…it’s also where I would write things down for this blog/posting to give something back to others. Get yourself a lovely little book and pen and make it a special event.
Cooking with great ingredients, new cakes, sugar-free, etc. I even made an elderflower cordial, I picked the elderflower made the cordial, then made apple and cordial cake, for family, friends, a cordial into bottles for family and friends…all felt so rewarding.
I’ve started eating lots more fruit by having juices (homemade) every day…it’s so easy in the Summer.
Growing your own veg, fruits, watering the gardens, growing plants, flowers, Sunflowers, it’s extremely rewarding.
What I love is being in control and making good choices.
Knowing that if you have a craving it will pass – in 10-15 minutes…so go do something else! Sing, walk, bath, bed, read, knit, crochet….whatever it takes
“I hate poison, so why would I drink it”
“I’m not going back to day 1 again”
“I love my new life”
“I can always celebrate with AF bubbly”
My saying now is I do not want to drink, I control it, it doesn’t control me
Compare – The comfort of not drinking vs the discomfort of drinking! SIMPLES!
My past is relevant, but not relevant to my future. It is the PAST for a reason – I have changed and am now enjoying a new future.
I will not allow myself to be treated badly or be in an unhealthy relationship again, EVER!
Waking up refreshed, rejuvenated and ready! I absolutely love that feeling.
My skin looks amazing, my teeth look whiter, my eyes are brighter and I am so happy.
Decluttering house, room by room, in the same way, I am decluttering my mind.
Sticking to goals, and making new goals. Determination to stay on track.
Committed, decisive, reliable and measured all good behaviours.
The best of all is feeling CALM, even when anxious I am finding ways to centre myself to being CALM this is so much easier to do when you body is without poison and you mind is free to positive thoughts and vibes.
A relaxed approach to work stress, situations, knowing I can solve or find a solution to most things in life that we have to deal with…at least now I know I will be able to handle it all without letting myself or others down.
Appreciating beautiful places people, flowers, gardens and most of all TIME!
Not being afraid to be me and to be honest.
New adventures, visiting old haunts to make better memories.
Having your blood tests including liver and chest x-ray and finding out everything is “normal”
Surround yourself with positivity
Listening to Headspace, learning from other’s experiences, knowledge is power…
Setting personal goals, new exercise plans, new adventures, something you can and want to achieve
Realising you’d actually got bored of pubs, restaurants, drinking & eating too much, being with people who didn’t have your best interests at heart and you were just going with it, not really living, not being true to yourself or your happiness.
PMA – cultivating a positive mental attitude
Going to a Lido on my own and enjoying it
Posting on Facebook to show the change in me at 3 months was very satisfying and rewarding and I felt such pride in knowing that people that never believed I would be able to stick with it…well, I have and will continue to do so.
Sorting out my finances
Facing difficult tasks I’d been avoiding and tackling them
Knowing when I’m not in a good place or feeling comfortable I can walk away, I can post on Club Soda, I can connect with my best friends…I will be fine
Confidence in saying I don’t drink, let me have my favorite soda in my favorite glass, smile no one bats an eyelid..if they did I didn’t notice and tbh doesn’t register with me.
Realisation – Drinking and Love didn’t work for me…it/I/Drinking me ruined so many special times, special occasions, opportunities, friendships or future with special people that came into and left my life. Face it, deal with it, accept it, forgive it and don’t let it happen again
Time is a precious gift! It is wonderful to have so much of it again.
Sobriety is a gift, the gift that keeps on giving.
Enjoying Dark chocolate down to 1 piece a day from a whole bar since Day 1 so now I can manage my chocolate intake
No more road rage
Going with the flow
CBT – Cognitive Behavioural Therapy – I’ve revisited books and a course I did on this
Sun on my face in the morning, jumping out of bed with a spring in my step like an excited child
Not afraid of the future or money or being alone, knowing that I will be alright and that’s good enough for me
Open to new experiences and activities…most of all learning to love and like me again!
Reading, reading, reading, so much to learn from others and to enjoy
And lastly not sure if I’ve got to a 100 or more but it took a long time to get to my Day 1 for real, this Day 1 was different, my last drink was on my 53rd birthday a glass of red I said to myself, I’m not enjoying this, it’s just not fun anymore, I’m done with it….now on Day 100 I am so glad I made that choice.
Nicky D Davis