It's only in your head you feel left out or looked down on.Just try your best, try everything you can.And don't you worry what they tell themselves when you're away.
It just takes some time,Little girl, you're in the middle of the ride.Everything, everything will be just fine,Everything, everything will be alright, alright."
The Middle - Jimmy Eat World
Today marks an accomplishment I never thought possible until I got on this ride. Today is the day of being 100 days without a drop of alcohol. Yes, you read that right, I've been sober for 100 whole days. Me, the girl who would lead the group to the bar tab, would be the first to suggest cracking open a bottle of wine and would want to play all the drinking games. The wine, gin, beer, vodka, pimms, frangelico, tequila and cider have been on hold as I challenged myself to go sober for 100 days, and this is the blog post of what I've learned in the past three and a bit months.
It started because I knew I had to change something. Gradually, over the past year, the nights had begun to take their toll. The drinks weren't going down so easily and the hangovers were getting worse. I was drinking to combat stress, I was drinking because the alcohol was being offered, and I was drinking because I couldn't stop. I wasn't the worse at the party; in fact, most people hardly blinked an eye at my consumption levels. But I felt it needed to change, so I forced myself to take a break.
I was helped by some dumb luck. The first day of my sober journey was spent throwing up the drinks from the previous night and forcing down ice cubes, because nothing else would settle in my stomach. It was the moment when I thought I needed to go to hospital that I realised I was in trouble. Fortunately, it didn't come to that, but it did kick start my desire to take a break and for at least a month I couldn't sniff booze without feeling ill. Following that, a weeknight work event with an open bar tested my willpower, but I knew the next day would be hell if I tried to drink. Then a round of medication stopped me reaching for bottles for another fortnight, and suddenly 100 days was in sight and the determination to get there drove me away from drinks.
There's been many great things about this experiment. Physically, I feel fantastic. The tummy bloating is gone, replaced by slowly forming abs. The lack of hangovers mean I never miss a morning workout, and I stopped drunkenly shoving food into my mouth at the end of a big night. And, whilst being sober, I clearly saw what drunken antics look like - the falling over, the rush to bathrooms to vomit, the regrettable hookups, the all-round bad decisions - and I realised I never wanted to be like that again.
But there's still pain. It hurts that I felt like I couldn't trust myself. That my brain can't say no, so the only option is abstinence. That, when I had some bad days last month, the knowledge that a drop of alcohol would spiral me into worse moods. Battling these thoughts were on par with the difficulty of stopping drinking.
I am lucky I have a personality that doesn't need to be fuelled by alcohol. I went to parties, BYO dinners, even town (and even managed to score a phone number) while sober. And I didn't feel like I was missing out. I have great friends who supported me on this journey -even marvelled at how well I was doing - and never forced me into having a drink. I was worried going into this that I would be left out of things or shunned for going sober, but it was never a big deal. Indeed, it was while soberly dancing to a band covering this Jimmy Eat World song that I realised I was doing a great thing.
Now I need to think about what I want to do next. The only plan is to drink a glass of bubbles next week on my birthday. I never want to feel as awful as I did the day I started this and I'm aware that one drink will probably make me tipsy after this abstinence. Maybe if the bubbles go down well I'll stick to a glass on special occasions, and perhaps the odd cheeky cider. But the desire, and more importantly, the need to drink is gone.
So if I continue to abstain, don't be that person who tries to push me into drinking. I'm not going to be coerced to "just have one" because I had a problem just having one. I'm not going to drink because everyone else or it's important to you, because my health is more important to me. And I'd rather raise a glass of plain water to keeping my mind and body healthy.