Christmas Party

So I had my Christmas Party on Friday night. If this took place 6 weeks ago I would have probably not gone but now nearly 12 weeks done I am so much stronger. On the lead up I was apprehensive, very. I mean its a free bar. This would usually mean an endless glass of bubbles.

This year I made as much effort as I usually would to get excited about it, I tried to treat it no different just because I wasn’t drinking. I picked a outfit that I felt good in as I thought if I wear something I am not comfortable in then it could be the difference of me not enjoying myself as I would usually just drink loads of booze until I felt comfortable, but that wasn’t an option this time.

Another thing that made me anxious a little beforehand is that in social situations since I’ve not been drinking, when I am around large groups of people that I am not familiar with I feel really awkward. I have actually always felt like this but again I would guzzle down a few glasses then start to relax and talk a loads of shit to anyone who would listen to me. This time I had to rely fully on my real personality and I genuinely wasn’t sure if it was good enough to hold sober conversations for a length of time. This is silly I know but self doubt is self doubt and this is what was gong through my head. It also wasn’t just a bunch of strangers, my team were there who I just love and also another couple of good friends but I didn’t want to rely on people to be there just because I felt awkward.

The evening came and we all got glammed up, I was really feeling the vibe as I just thought to myself, Emma you cannot dread these events forever, I have to realise that I can have just as much fun without thinking I need to drink. I cracked open my first Heineken zero.

In my head I thought if I last 3 hours I will be happy.

Result – I lasted from 4pm and left at 9.30pm. 5 and a half hours. I was so pleased with myself and I genuinely had a really great time. I only left at that time because its such a mission to get home as I have to get the train and 2 taxi’s. I was fully alert and felt safe on the journey home, I didn’t fall asleep on the train nor did I throw up all over myself. I arrived home with a grin on my face, made some toast and debriefed the hubby on the night. I woke up the next day fresh as a daisy.

A phrase I heard recently. Nobody regrets not drinking the night before the day after. LOL how bloody true that is!

I had a few people asking my about why I am not drinking but not too many, I had one your boring comment off someone that I didn’t expect but I just laughed at him, I just didn’t care. I cant believe how far I have come.

What lane are you in?

I was listening to a podcast (ha ha I feel like that all I say) and it categorized drinkers into lanes and I just loved it.

Slow lane
Middle lane
Fast lane

I am 100% a middle lane drinker. I’ve dabbled in the slow lane from time to time and I’ve been known to crawl into to fast lane on holidays but as an overall average I would say I am middle lane.

Here’s how I see the lane’s (in my opinion)
Slow lane – You drink only on occasion. You can go weeks without drinking and not give it a 2nd thought. You can moderate and have 1 or 2 drinks easily but every now and again you have a binge and get hammered but that’s OK because its only every now and then. Slow lane drinkers have no issue with how much they drink at all. They do not use alcohol as a crutch.
Middle lane – You drink on the reg! You may have Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday off but as that weekend draws closer you use that as an excuse to have a drink. Its nearly weekend after all. You tend to not usually just have one drink, you’ve opened the bottle you may as well finish it! You feel like you need that drink after a shit day at work, you take that first sip of wine and all that stress melts away. You cant imagine not drinking at the weekend. You binge drink. You have at least one or two hangovers a week. You sleep shit therefore you then eat shit then next day. You feel shit. Its basically just shit. You feel rubbish Mon-Wednesday as you are recovering from the weekend then by Thursday you start to feel human again and you get back on the grog. However you like to drink because you enjoy it, you like the taste. You think about cutting back on your drinking weekly.
Fast lane – You rely on drinking and you drink daily. Enough to get drunk most likely. You cant imagine not drinking and you are waiting for midday to strike to pour your drink because you convince yourself its then acceptable.

As you can see, I had a lot to say about the middle lane because that’s me. I also think its very easy to slip between the lanes but once you get stuck in the fast lane you find it more difficult to go back into the middle lane then the slow lane. In fact, coming from the middle lane into the slow lane is difficult too, moderation anyone! I have tried that many times and failed. This is why abstinence is working for me. I cant moderate. I’m the same with food.

I went for a run this morning and whilst running I thought about this no drinking journey and thought how similar they are. I am not a natural runner, I prefer resistance training but I run once or twice a week for my cardio. Before every run I think its going to be a struggle, I’m tired, my legs ache, its to hot, there are lots of reasons not to go. Then once I get going the first km is a really struggle, its takes my body a while to get into it and I have a mental struggle with it. Once to get into the middle of the run you think oh yeah I’m actually feeling good I can do this. Then there is a hill or two and you are just like FML this is tough, I cant do this, I’m going to stop soon, no i’ll keep going and i’ll stop at the next lamppost, then you get there and you say no i’ll stop at that road sign. Then all of a sudden you start to go down hill and then you start flying again and you’ve got through the hard part. You feel great. The its the last km, home stretch, you up your pace to do that big finish. You did it! You even did a personal best and you cant wait to go for that next run.

This is the perfect analogy for my journey.

On top of the world

This week has been a reflection week. I’m nearly at the end of my 90 days of not drinking and I have to say this week I have been absolutely buzzin!.

I haven’t written about it because I didn’t want to sound smug but then I thought well surely its what people who are reading this and starting there alcohol free journey want to hear, that by week 11 you are feeling amazing?

I cant describe it. Its a calm feeling. I’m dealing with things that usually stress me the hell out (crowds in Sydney CBD at Christmas time, the overly busy gym, road rage to name the usual few) so much better. I’ve been smashing through my studies on my journey to and from work, I’ve been productive and motivated at work, everything is great at home, hitting PB’s in the gym with some lifts, I’m on top of life, I even finished my Christmas shopping. I’ve been annoyingly positive to the point where I have had to tone it down in front of people LOL!

I also felt confident enough to share my blog with some friends. 10 weeks ago this was top secret, I didn’t tell my husband about it until week 6 and only told my mum a couple of weeks ago. Its hard putting yourself out there and also because of the fear that I was going to fail I just didn’t want anyone to know. I just felt ready to tell them and I got some really good feedback, it made me feel even more motivated.

The reason for all the reflection this week and re-reading my blog from the beginning made me realise how far I have come without noticing. The first 6-7 weeks dragged and then the last 5 weeks have flown, old habits out of the window and new habits are in. The thought of continuing this journey after the 90 days doesn’t scare me anymore and I am seriously considering doing a year. I am going wait until the 90 days is done to decide.

All I can say is if feeling like I have done this week is what I have to look forward to I’m in! The last 11 weeks have been a really positive experience for me with some dips which is to be expected but way more highs, how can I not consider carrying on with it?

Judgement – part 2

I listened to a great podcast today, it was with the one year no beer founder and Dr Rangen Chatterjee. It was about his journey, I love to hear peoples journey’s to no alcohol, it really spurs me on and inspired me.

They talked a little about the peer pressure of drinking. How many times have you gone out with friends and said you are not drinking and then someone has called you boring and you’ve said o go on then? It’s certainly happened to me (although not often as I was always drinking) but I’ve been that person who has done it to a friend too🙈

It made me think about why we do this? Why do they care if I’m drinking? What difference does it make to them? Why is it bothering them so much?

He then went onto to say that those who protest the loudest are the ones you are holding a mirror up too. It’s so true! As I said I have been that person who make the non drinker feel bad about not drinking. Another one is when people say they don’t trust anyone who doesn’t drink. Omg I have said that, what an absolute dick I am! It’s the most ridiculous thing to say, how do I even have any friends!!

I clearly have been having an issue with how much I drink for much longer than I was letting on! I have been on both sides of the judgement and because of this I am trying to understand the people I am receiving judgement off currently.

The biggest and most hurtful one is your boring. I’ve mentioned it many times in my blog and still have an issue with it. Nobody wants to be boring. I know I’m not boring so why does it bother me so much?

Alcohol is the one drug we get judged for quitting! When you put it like that it’s crazy! When you quit smoking you get nothing but encouragement, everyone knows it’s going to kill you eventually and nothing good come from smoking, it smells, it’s expensive and creates anxiety. Sound familiar? If I was trying to stop a coke habit, everyone would be Yey thank goodness, we were worried about you and we support you. When you quit alcohol you get oh but why? I didn’t think you drank much? Have one it won’t kill you! Just drink in moderation. Don’t be boring. It won’t be the same if you don’t drink. You’ve got to live! You won’t have a good time. You need to let your hair down. Urgh! Like we need to hear any of the above!
Now I have to say this is a select few. Most people are cool and are encouraging because they understand it and the reasons behind it.
What I need to remember is those who protest the loudest are the ones who may well come to me for tips one day!

Who’s Judging – Part 1

I think this is an important topic. The reason being is that I still have this idea that some people think I am boring for not drinking. I can just tell, but I am aware that I could also be being a paranoid because I have a fear that I am boring.

I am just going to leave this list here. This is a list of all the people who we look up too for whatever reason. For there acting, singing, style, being outspoken, writing, we just automatically think they are cool! They are all sober! We don’t even think about if they drink alcohol or not. They are just cool! (in my opinion)

Blake Lively
Kendrink Lamar
Natalie Portman
Elton John
Demi Lovato
Shania Twain (big fan LOL)
Zac Effron
Bradley Cooper
Kristen Davis
Jada Pinkett Smith
Robert Downey Jr
Christina Ricci
Naomi Campbell
Leona Lewis
Lucy Hale
Rob Lowe
Calvin Harris
Eva Mendes
Daniel Radcliffe
Ben Affleck
Andy Murray
Brad Pitt
Jennifer Lopez
Pharrell Williams
Matthew Perry
Eminem
Gerard Butler
Chris Martin
Ewan McGregor
Jim Carrey
Jennifer Hudson
Colin Farrell
Samuel L Jackson
50 cent

I begin to stalk some of them on the internet and every single one says how they have found actual happiness since stopping drink alcohol. Very inspiring!

8 weeks done!

My stats so far
8 weeks
57 days
143 drinks not consumed
$431 saved
17,389 calories saved
WOW JUST WOW!!!

That’s pretty motivating eh?! The money saved so far I actually think is more than that. I get these stats from an app called I’m done drinking. When you register its asks you on average how much you drink and how much you spend on booze so I based mine on an average, not taking into consideration what I spend when I’m out for meals or drinks in the pub.

I had a very social weekend. Friday night I was out for a meal with friends. We went to a French restaurant. I drank water as they didn’t have any other options. I had a great night. Previously when going for a meal and drinking I would focus on the wine, I’d be like oooo I cant wait to have a big cold glass of white wine. This time I really focused on the food and it was great, the conversion was great and before I knew it we had been sat there for 3 hours and I didn’t miss drinking at all. When we left I walked to the station, clear minded and feeling fresh and arrived home happy. I couldn’t help think back to that awful train journey I had when I vomited. I felt quietly smug.

Saturday I had a friends birthday lunch. I wasn’t really looking forward to this one as I didn’t know anyone and usually I would throw back the drink until I felt comfortable enough t talk a load of shit. I arrived and it was a smaller group than I expected so that made me feel better. I had a mocktail which was nice. Again I focused on the food and it was so good! I only stayed a couple of hours at this one. I’ve decided that I am only going to stay in situations as long as I am comfortable, at least until I get used to it.

I’ve really noticed that if I am with people that I don’t know that well and if we have no connection or chemistry /no common ground then its hard work. It can actually be exhausting. It nothing against that person at all, or me either its just that not everyone can be best friends. I have been beating myself up about this lately. Thinking that I have lost my conversation skills, why don’t I have anything to say? I end up interviewing them, asking them a heap of questions just to feel like we are having a conversation. I need to learn to make my excuses and walk away from these people. Instead I’ve been thinking its because I’m not drinking, if I was drinking we would be having a deep conversation now about how their dog died 10 years ago and they are seeing a counselor about it. LOL. Isn’t it funny how you can go from being a complete stranger to absolute soul mate in 1 night, well until the next day when you cant remember any of it and realize it was all fake. That’s happened so many times to me.

It makes me feel sad but I think its unrealistic to think that this won’t affect some of my friendships. I can see it already. I struggle with it a little but it is what it is. I am gravitating towards my friends where drinking is not the base of what we are doing. One particular awesome friend is taking me to a flotation tank, we decided that as I am not drinking that once every 3 months we will do something new such as a cookery class, a hike or whatever!

I’m learning lots on this journey and I am really enjoying it, so much more than I thought I would. A lot of people are asking me what will I do after the 3 months, the answer is I really don’t know. Saying I won’t drinking alcohol for ever is a daunting prospect and not a decision I am ready to make yet but I feel like I am heading in a good direction. Bring on the final 4 weeks!

Gratitude

I woke up this morning thinking about gratitude. Its a big thing at the moment across social media isn’t it? Some swear by it some eye roll at it and some just dont believe in it.

I have been doing it on and off for years and personally love it. This is how I see it. Its a way of thinking. You are either positive or negative. The glass is either full or half empty. The universe is against you or the universe is for you. I am positive, my glass is half full and the universe works with me. If you don’t think of it like that then your thoughts are negative which in turn makes you a negative person and you think everyone and everything is against you. I know these people. They are generally unhappy with how there lives are going. Its just a mind shift.

Don’t get me wrong, I have low days and I am not one of those annoying chipper people all the time but overall I am a positive person. I put this down to the shear gratitude I feel for every single thing in my life.

At this very moment in New South Wales we have bush fires everywhere. Most are North and I live in the southern suburbs of Sydney. Its 40 degrees and I am sat in my house, boiling hot but feeling grateful that my house has not been affected by the fires and my family are safe. I am grateful for my health, my job, the coffee I drank this morning, my clothes, my laptop I write on, my family and the food I am having for dinner.

Just to bring the post back to how this relates to me quitting the booze. I mentioned that I have practiced gratitude on and off for years. Since I stopped drinking I have been doing it without realizing, I have been thinking about gratitude daily, easily, without trying. I’m not sure why but I think it could be because I feel overall wellness so my mind is clearer, my mood is higher therefore making me happier. Things seems more achievable to me rather than a massive chore. There are so many positives that I am getting from this experience and this one is a biggy.

Support!

This week has been one of the the harder ones in regards to being sober.

In Australia Melbourne cup is one of the biggest events in the calendar. We get to finish work early, we get super dressed up and head off to whatever venue has been booked for us. Its a really good day. The free drinks flow, the food is usually delicious and everyone gets hammered. I am usually the one who is most up for it. This year was different. I wasn’t drinking. I was determined to still enjoy myself and not dread the event.

I called the venue ahead of arriving to ask what non alcohol drinks they have, they had Carlton zero, I was happy as! It make a difference if people think you are drinking then you don’t have to explain yourself.

We arrive at 12.30pm, the race is at 3pm, I left at 3.30pm LOL! I have 3 Carlton zero’s, had a nice time but I started to feel the turn in the way people were acting and knew it was my cue to leave. The main reason of telling this story is the my manager didn’t drink and stayed with me the whole time. She wanted to support me, it meant a lot as I would never ask anyone too or expect anyone too. It helped.

I am finding that a lot of people are very supportive, more so than I expected. My best friend is great and really understanding as to why I am doing it. My work colleagues get it. My 8 year old daughter who obviously doesn’t understand the main reason behind it but I think is benefiting from me not drinking the most.

The biggest shout out needs to go to my husband. He is one of my 10 followers and reads every post. If you read my first introduction to the blog you will know that one of my fears was it affecting our relationship in a negative way. We think that our relationship is built on our love to socialise (as well as other things of course) which in turn means our love for alcohol and getting boozy. Nearly 7 weeks to not drinking and I am thinking how wrong that is that we think that. Ok so we are not out dancing the night away until 3am, we are not having drunken conversations that will mean nothing the next day or laughing hysterically at things that are not actually not funny but how often do we even do that anymore? I think the last time was a year ago when we had a night out in the city.

Instead and I hope he will agree we are probably in the happiest place we have ever been. I don’t know why. When I try to pin it down one of the things that come to mind is because I or even we are less irritable, my mood is better so I am more tolerant, I feel calmer, I feel good! He does too, he is drinking a lot less and making an effort to eat healthier. If I didn’t have his support or if he moaned about it then this process would have been so much harder. I am so grateful for him.

Its made me realise how important support is and surrounding yourself with those who do support you is a must.

They say the first is the worst!

This weekend we were invited to a Halloween party which has been in the diary for a good while.

It’s been 6 weeks since I have been off the booze and in that time I would say I have been laying low.  Avoiding places where I am around alcohol for too long.  I’ve been for the odd meal with a friend but no big events.

I felt a little apprehensive about this party.  The good thing is it was a day thing and we were leaving at 7pm as my husband wanted to watch the rugby final.  I only had to cope 4 hours without booze.

I took 3 Heineken zero alcohol bottles with me, this was so I felt like I was drinking and also because I wanted others to think I was too.  The 3 bottles lasted me 2 hours so then I drank water for the next 2 which was dull.  I felt like I had this void so I ate food instead.  The final hour I was itching to leave.  I started to feel awkward, uncomfortable and I didn’t know what to do with my hands.  I felt agitated and ran out of conversation.  I was really annoyed with myself. 

I started to doubt if I can do this.  I know I am only committing to not drinking for 3 months initially but in the back of my mind I want to do it for longer.  I was so confident in the previous weeks that I can have fun without it, that I am fun without it.  Now I feel like a failure. 

What made it worse was the slight judgement from a couple of others I felt.   

One comment was “but you have to live as well you know”.  Like I am only living if I have a drink!  I wasn’t prepared for it and couldn’t think of a response that didn’t make me sound defensive.   Instead I said I know, it’s only for 3 months.  I was so disappointed with what I said.   The response I should have said was a that actually I am doing it so I can live more, do more and be healthier. 

On the drive on the way home with husband and daughter in tow I felt my mood drop.  It wasn’t until the next day I realised it wasn’t because I didn’t drink that I was feeling like this but it was because I am still worried what people think of me.  The next day I also felt fresh as a daisy, woke up at 5.30am, talked to my mum for an hour (11 hours behind in the UK)  whilst walking around in the sun, and took my daughter wall climbing and went for a family breakfast on the marina all before 9.30am.   I thought about all the people at the party waking with their hangovers, eating crap, feeling anxious and falling in and out of consciousness all day and smugly thought ha who’s living now!

I hope the first is the worst because now it should get better.  I need to remember the reasons why alcohol is no good for me as there are zero reasons why alcohol is good for me.