Thursday, 16 February 2017

Deprivation vs Possibility

I've heard people say, many times, that it is impossible to quit drinking until you reach 'rock bottom.'


The reason for this belief is, I think, that alcohol is so endemic in our society, and those who've given up are so shy about shouting about it, that we truly believe that life without booze is going to be utterly miserable.

We are so used to associating good times with booze that we think there will be no good times ever again without it.

We imagine that we'll spend the rest of our lives huddling anonymously in church halls, talking about how miserable we are, with the few people that will understand.

When the prospect of being teetotal (even the adjectives describing it are ghastly) is so horrendous, it's no wonder that we have to be at the point of losing everything - our homes, our husbands and children, our jobs, before we can gather the courage to quit.

Well, bollocks again.

There's a fabulous blogger who I've been reading for a while - The Wino That I Know (TWTIK).

(To read her blog click here)

I followed TWTIK's on-off struggle with booze, feeling the frustration and depression behind every word, and then something changed.

After years of managing just days at a time, TWTIK has done more than five weeks sober and she sounds amazing - happy, confident and energised.

Then I found an e-mail in my inbox - from TWTIK!

She wrote I started believing that life can be better without booze and I am no longer looking at it from a place of deprivation. I believe that is why I always failed as I felt I was giving up something I loved so much and that was so awesome, until it wasn't.

And she's right - giving up booze is hard, so if you believe that you're going through all this hardship, just to end up in a place that is miserable, you will never succeed, or - even if you do - you won't be happy.

The only way to make it through the tough times is to truly believe that a life without booze is AWESOME! Then you can do it, easily. Because you know what you're fighting for.

Every day I receive e-mails from people telling me how amazing their lives are without alcohol and how they can't believe they waited so long to quit. Here's an example from Ang75 on day 54:

My life, my health, my attitude and everything else has changed so much for the better!

We've just been on a skiing holiday and we had sat laughing about something silly one night at tea, and my eldest daughter said "Mummy, you're being funny, it's like you have had a drink, but you haven't"

Honestly that meant so much. I realised I am just being me, and everyone loves me just being me!

Isn't that just awesome? And Ang sent me a photo of her with her kids - all of them looking so happy, healthy and rosy cheeked.

I know it's hard to turn around your thinking and to believe that sober is brilliant, so here's some things that might help:

1. Read Jason Vale's book: Kick the Drink, Easily. It's very clever neuro-linguistic programming that will completely change the way you view booze, as do Alan Carr and Annie Grace's (This Naked Mind) books.

2. Read my blog from the beginning and you'll see how my life (and the lives of many of my virtual friends) has changed since I quit. Click here.

3. Find a picture of you looking drunk, bloated and shambolic and stick it on the fridge next to one of you looking happy, healthy, sober, energetic (doesn't matter if it's decades old!). Remind yourself over and over again that that's the transformation you're looking for. Because it will happen!

4. Read this fabulous article sent to me by Julie (thank you, Julie!). It's written by Andy Boyle and it's about what he learned from two years of being sober. Click here.

5. Read what my sober virtual friends have to say about life alcohol free in the comments (I hope they're going to write!) below.

Quitting drinking isn't just about avoiding the negatives, about getting rid of the hangovers, the drunken texts, the excess weight and the health risks (although those are all bonuses, obviously)....

....It's about gaining the positives - being happy, even tempered, finding peace, becoming a better parent, a better friend, taking up new hobbies and discovering what you really want to do with the rest of your life.

So don't wait for rock bottom. Do it now. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain.

Love SM

(And thank you to Ang and TWTIK for letting me share their stories)


  1. Too right SM! I too believe you don't need to reach the total black despair that a rock bottom must be to turn things around towards the light and true freedom from the booze.
    I think it is a sliding downward spiral though,and I will be forever grateful for whatever it was within me that clicked and decided there really was nothing left in a bottle for me anymore.
    I did 40 days AF last June after finding your blog and others like it. After the 40 days I thought ,as I really couldn't envisage myself not drinking forever, I'd just reduce my intake! Hahaha! That night I had a wee qtr bottle of Prosecco , a bottle of rose and at least 1 Peroni. After that , well who knows? But at 3am when I woke with my tongue sticking to the roof of my mouth, my head pounding & my heart racing wondering if/ where I'd hidden the empties I decided that was it.Done.
    I decided that drink no longer had anything positive to offer me at all so I chose not to drink.
    That was 121 days ago and I LOVE IT!!!
    I've lost weight, my skins and eyes are brighter, I'm happier, I have so much more time , I'm present for my husband & kids & these new revelations and gifts keep coming just as SM and others said they would. I can finally be still and peaceful. Time passes which means if shit happens and it still does! it passes too!! Only, when it's passed I don't have a hangover.
    I don't know if I was an alcoholic, I don't care. I don't do a 12 step programme but I do know that today I choose not to drink and it is SO much better.
    I have told one friend that I've stopped drinking , that it wasn't working for me anymore. I have known her over 30 yrs but she lives abroad. She texted me yesterday to ask "are u still on the wagon or have u cracked yet". And then "I'm impressed , don't know if I could give it up for ever".
    You really could if you chose to & could see how much better life is down the line.
    So if you're reading this and wondering .....please, please read SM's blog and linked blogs from the start, they are all fantastic....and choose freedom from the bottle . xx

  2. Every single word above - SM and Catherine K - agree.

    Agree. Agree!!

  3. SM, Thank you for responding to my first post last week (2 glasses of wine after 37 days sober). I haven't figured out how to sign on to Blogger yet, but I have continued to read when you've posted.
    I can relate to what you say above about the thought of the future without booze being miserable.I felt the same way about smoking before I stopped that (there appears to he a theme here ;) ). I think my perspective is slowly shifting now. I think last week I may have hit my first wall and it caught me off guard. For me personally, it's not so much the volume I'm drinking but rather the psychological attachment and association with fun and relaxation. And the knock on effect of grumpy mum the following day after 2-3 glasses. One thing I have gleaned from my brief attempt at sobriety is the clarity of thought (a bit too much, and overwhelming at times) and the thrill of promise and potential that each day was starting to bring. For that, I will keep trying to jump back in the saddle. Thank you for such a great post.
    Xxx S

  4. What a great post! I so agree with everything written! I think that people who are waiting to hit rock bottom are actually trying to sabotage themselves-which is what has been happening all along anyway- and not really wanting to take the necessary steps to stop-which are different for everyone. Also a form of self debasement in the sense of feeling that they have to lose everything before getting sober. Not feeling "worth" being and living sober. But we all deserve to live the fullest life possible. And doing it with a glass or a bottle in hand is not it. It's the fear of the unknown -the fear of living a life without a filter-But once the filter is removed-WOW! what pristine clarity there is!
    Thank you!

  5. I had a 40 day run of AF at the start of 2016 and it wasn't horrible at all, but I took that one drink and have fallen back to the drink. Not to the same capacity as before, but still too much at times. This post is exactly what I asked you to share (via an email exchange with you last week) because it really is proof that life without alcohol is beyond worth it! Thank you.

    1. Hi Lia! Your e-mail was indeed the inspiration for this post! Hope it helps, and lots of love ❤️

    2. The oddest thing, I replied but it came under the name of Benny Price. I dont' understand why. Anyway, thank you for writing this post, it helps an awful lot! I admire you (and many of the other women who share their stories) so much! I'm so happy that you have achieved your goal of being AF, never let it go!

  6. I agree with you but I also don't think it's that clear cut for everyone. I think if people fell into the drinking trap later and have a solid bank of sober 'good' memories the chances are much better for them to quit before they reach a rock bottom. Annie Grace is a perfect example of this her problem drinking started later in life so she has loads of fun happy memories that don’t include alcohol. I started drinking really early, I was 12 or 13 when I started binge drinking so I don’t have a massive amount of 'sober' memories to prove that life is great without booze. This is why I had to reach several rock bottoms before I finally surrendered.

    1. That makes total sense, although I think it's partly having memories of a sober past but also having faith in a sober future. If we could make 'clean drinking' as aspirational as 'clean eating' then it would help thousands of people, don't you think?

    2. OMG yes!!! Totally! Our society needs to wake up to the fact that most people are using alcohol to check out and to self medicate. It's so ingrained in our culture, which is what makes it so bloody hard to stop. I totally agree with you and hope that one-day booze will be seen as tobacco is seen now.

  7. Also I think if you learned healthy coping strategies as a child and teenager the chances are better for a high bottom end to the whole addiction thing.

  8. I think you are spot on Hurrah. I've often thought that I was in some respect ts emotionally immature as I do find it difficult to keep a lid on things at times. But thinking about the reasons I began drinking to excess, I realised that actually I don't know how to handle my emotions and to deal with them as they come. In fact, I would go as far as to say I don't always understand them because I have consistently had maladaptive coping strategies throughout life.
    These are the sorts of skills that children need to develop in order to be able to take on the challenges they will be faced with in later life.

    1. Yes absolutely agree! I can totally relate to that. I feel as though I have to re-parent myself to learn how to live in this world without falling apart at the slightest hurdle.

  9. Thanks SM for the shout out. Your blog really made me change my thinking. I have always thought I was depriving myself and life was not as good without booze. I finally realize that drinking a bottle of wine a day was causing anxiety, depression, health problems not relieving them. That is what has made the difference. Also helps that you mention numerous times that your wine belly has disappeared. Mine seems to be deflating a little :)

  10. It does help, and the fact you reply and interact with me is a true blessing. I want to be like you (and many of the other fine women who have kicked the habit, so to speak). It feels good to know it's not a sad thing to give up the booze!

  11. Thanks for the mention SM, feel like I've reached sober celeb status now!!!!!! ;-)

    What you say is so true and I feel with me the timing was the most important aspect of giving up, I was just "ready", I was just sick of feeling crap, sick of feeling guilty and sick of thinking about drinking! The person I am now (day 89) is the person I had dreamt of being but never thought it was possible, and that is what keeps be going, I just CAN'T go back, it's not an option for me now.

    In the past when I've tried to go af, I've stopped socialising and going out but this time I have gone out and yes it's hard the first couple of times but it does become the norm and the buzz comes from all my friends commenting on how well I look, and it's amazing how I've stopped drinking! And they now have their own personal taxi driver too!!

    Every day im finding a new positive about not drinking. It's a whole new world to discover!!

    And it def wouldn't have been possible without SM and Jason vales book both of which I discovered just at the right time for me, so thankyou SM for your fab blog! xxxxxx

  12. I agree with every word, SM and your obstacle course blog has been a staple part of this journey for me (thank you!). Some friends and I are getting a bit shouty about it at AF Loud & Proud (, looking at ways to promote AF living as a conscious lifestyle choice that is so liberating we want everyone to know about it. Love, Nana (Ista) xx

  13. Another brilliantly observed post SM. I am definately one of those who fervently wishes I had managed to stop years ago....I am heading to one year AF next month, and agree you have to get past the grief stage of letting go of what you think of as your best friend....gradually you see it for the toxic bully poison it really creeps and society supports it....I didn't hit a rock bottom, but was heading there after decades of alcohol abuse and eventual dependence....but the years of lost opportunities for better relationships with family and friends can haunt me..I choose not look back, but only forwards at what the new sober and in charge me can achieve...thanks in a huge way to this blog which I read from start to finish in the first few painful weeks...thank you from the bottom of my heart....if I can do can you...and you are so worth it..xx

  14. I stopped drinking for three months last year. I was heartened to realise I could still have the giggles and the fun times sober.

    However, I was disappointed that not much more than that changed for me. Of course it's lovely not to wake up hungover and it's true that I am less present for my family as of about 9 PM each evening. But I don't feel that I am a dysfunctional mother because of the booze. I am not happy with my current relationship with wine. I do feel that I need to stop or cut down but I wish that there were more positive effects to stopping. I didn't lose weight, my skin didn't change, my relationships didn't improve, I don't consider that I look bloated because of the alcohol. And none of the magical moments' such as 100 days etc. made not drinking any easier. I didn't miss it every day but throughout the three months but there were moments even at the end of the three months where the desire to drink was as strong as it was at the beginning. But I did it. I stopped for 3 months. Sadly though I didn't feel that I had built-up anything that stood between my becoming teetotal or going back to the booze.

    I so enjoy your posts. I love the way you write, and I do find you inspirational. I am not trying to write a negative post when all of the comments are so positive. But I read your posts because I think I do need some kind of help. I need more motivation.

    1. I,m curious what 'less present for my family' means. First, what is family? If you are talking children, of any age, and you are 'less present' then don't think for a moment that they are not aware. And that you are not modeling a behavior for them.

      In your post you express dissatisfaction with your drinking and that you need help (along with hangovers as a matter of routine)....I hope you continue to monitor SM's blog and the many others that offer great insight and inspiration. And that you come to find solutions that work for you.

  15. Into year 2 AF and there are so many plusses. But the biggest for me is the time and energy saved not having to think about booze. No worrying about whether or not to have another glass and then another; no energy spent beating myself up when I've drunk too much. No more time wasted on a Sunday night convincing myself that this week 'I'm going to be good'. No more getting a couple of drinks in before hubby gets home so it seems like I am not drinking too much. No more feelings of shame and guilt. I wouldn't swap any of that for the fleetng pleasure of a G&T. X

    1. Wow 2 years is fab! Your comment is like I had wrote it, it's exactly how I feel, just a constant battle in my mind to drink less!! And yes I've often secretly downed a couple of beers before my hubbie got home on a Friday night and then ee would drink together with him not knowing I was 2 bottles ahead!!! Not drinking frees up your mind for other things, good things!!! Xx

  16. Yes SM! The idea only after losing everything and everyone we once held dear shall we be motivated and able to give up drinking is nonsense. My giving up story was simple, I believed my life would be better without the booze and my relationship with alcohol was becoming unhealthy. So I decided to stop, stopped a few months, started again then realised I preferred not drinking so stopped again and remain stopped.

  17. I think it is not only hard to get our own heads into that wonderful place of not needing wine and not constantly thinking about it ... But getting our friends and family to get it too. My OH is very proud of me (5 months AF now) but still wishes I could have 'just the one' like him ... I can't ... And don't want to!!! Funnily enough he didn't wish I could have just one when I quit smoking!!!

    Another thing I have found through SM's blog ... Along with support and amusement is the continued backtracking you do SM to keep us all shepherded along with you, giving us insights and encouragement at whichever stage we are on our journeys ... Thank you for that ...

    1. I agree fully with Jacs60's comment on your blog, it's what keeps me going; you have a gift for entertaining while educating about giving up the alcohol. I have shared your blog with many, even my primary doctor. I hope he passed it along to others!

  18. I have spent the best part of 35 years drinking too much, latterly to the repeated point of passing out on the sofa or falling asleep with the light on. After wrestling with the problem for the last 10 years and knowing the physical damage it was causing me ( I have said before that I paid to have a fibroscan in a London clinic in 2008 and then ignored the advice - clever eh?), I finally stopped inJan "16. I have lost a lot of weight but I also stopped carbs and upped the phys and I am sharper, more capable etc. All my old problems are still there, nowhere to hide now without the booze. I still miss the drink - my throat almost clenches when I walk past some of my favourite bars in London but my liver no longer aches and I don't get point pain in my shoulder (referred pain probably from my abused liver). I still get depressed, anxious, angry (particularly when I'm driving down the fucking M4/M5) but life is unmeasurably better than being pissed from getting home on a Friday to last safe moment before driving back to London on a Sunday or Monday. I have realised that shit still happens, no one says that bad things don't happen to nice (?) sober people but I hope not to die bleeding out from oesophageal varices or from liver failure (but who knows what damage I have stored up from my years of abuse). Anyway to cut a long rant short, I would rather face the future sober, so I'll fight the residual cravings and stick to the AF drinks. I'm really glad that I found SM and all of the rest of the crew here and I hope you all find the strength to stay off the booze.


  19. If you want to know one of the best things about quitting drinking, it is SLEEPING! Sleep so comfortable, and warm, and deep that you cannot even imagine - especially if you're on the same 'bottle-o-wine a day train' that I was riding, which includes a long layover from 2 a.m. to 6 a.m. where you let your mind run wild. You have sleep that is uninterrupted, and I am telling you: you CANNOT put a price on that.

    One other word of advice: When you quit drinking, put everything else on the back burner. Don't try to start a diet, a rigorous exercise regimen, etc. In my experience, the failure of a diet, or missing a workout led to a downward spiral that included falling off the wagon and drinking an excessive amount of wine.

  20. Over 3 years sober. Letting go of booze has been transformational.
    We had been wasting so much time numb and lazy.
    now the possibilities are endless.
    I am free. It's awesome.


  21. I absolutely agree - coming up to 3 years sober and it is far better than I ever imagined. You don't have to decide it's forever right away as that can be a bit daunting. I signed up for Belle's 100 day challenge, felt so good after 100 days that I signed up for 6 months, then a year. I think I was 18 months sober when I started to think this could be forever and about 2 years when I knew it was. I am so happy in my life now that I can't imagine ever wanting to go back to drinking.

  22. Dearest SM - spot on as usual. I always feared I would have to hit rock bottom before I stopped. And this was mostly because I felt my life would be totally miserable without booze. But how wrong I was. Every single aspect of my life is better without booze. I wish I could have woken up to this sooner. Thank you SM and all you other wonderful people on here for getting me here and the ongoing support that keeps me right here where I want to be - sober, full of vitality and happy. Anyone reading who wonders if they should jump on board with us - please do it. You will seriously thank yourself for doing it. Happy sober weekend lovely peeps.

  23. Dear SM - thanks for this list I will keep re-reading it. I love your blog, it makes me laugh out loud whilst delivering so much truth and wisdom. I've been trying to get sober for 7 years, I did 18 months in AA but the longest time sober I've had is 5 months. Right now I struggle to get 5 days (although today is day 3). On Wednesday I nearly had a fight. I've never hit anyone in my lift, but it turns out that if I'm tanked enough then anything is possible. I was being severely provoked, but still, if I was sober I would have just calmly walked away. It was a low point, another in a series of mini rock bottoms. So back to taking baby steps, thanks for the reminders. xx

    1. welcome sobersuzy! So glad you're back on the sober waggon. You can do this - as you say, baby steps. We've got your back :-0 xxx

  24. That should have said life not lift!

  25. I definitely felt that I wanted to jump before I was pushed. I knew I was drinking too much and I wasn't really enjoying it. I was beginning to hate myself and was quite obsessive about how and when I would drink. It wasn't every day but once I started I would always drink too much then fall asleep (pass out?). Life is so much better and simpler just cutting it out completely rather than just cutting down. 2 years for me in may :-) If you're just starting out then you have to just ride the storm over the first few months. It's never as hard as that again xxx