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Sobriety: The First 1,000 Days

08/09/2017 11:38

When I took my last drink in December 2014, the idea that I would still be sober 1,000 days later would've felt impossible.

In fact, the thought didn't even cross my mind.

It wasn't the first time I'd decided to quit drinking. Like many for whom drinking becomes a problem, I'd promised to give it up so many times, but I'd always get tempted back to the bottle.

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Image: https://www.pexels.com/photo/alcohol-beer-beverage-bottle-418225/

Three years earlier...

In late December 2011, I kept waking up with the words 'Year Without Beer' ringing in my head. Despite making many improvements to both my physical and mental health in recent years, I was still regularly drinking too much.

Somehow, I felt like my number was up. It was time to quit the booze, but how?

As those words, year without beer, echoed through my head I decided to take on a charity challenge to quit all alcohol for a year and raise money for two causes that are close to my heart.

What I kept hidden was that I also had another agenda. My drinking was out of hand and I knew it was getting worse... and so were the consequences. If I didn't get a grip on it my life was going to start falling apart.

I'd tried all kind of things to control my drinking, but without success. Sure, the things I tried might work for a day, or even a week or two, but sooner or later I'd go on another binge. No, the only answer was to quit for a year. To prove I could.

Close family members were more than happy to sponsor me, thinking I wouldn't even last a week.

December 2012

By the end of 2012 I was asking friends what their first drink would be if they hadn't had one for a year. Some said, "if I was you, then nothing". I chose not to hear that.

As midnight struck and I took my first sip of champagne I felt a mixture of fear and excitement rushing through my body... the cork was out of the bottle.

I won't go into the full story here, but within weeks my drinking was back to full speed and within months the binges were as bad (or worse) than ever.

1,000 days ago

I was in Boca Raton, Florida at a Tony Robbins seminar. It was actually the event where the movie, I Am Not Your Guru, was filmed. This event, Date With Destiny, makes you see yourself in such detail, that I finally started to accept the damage alcohol was causing in my life.

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Image: Author's own

I didn't want to stop drinking. I wanted the consequences of my drinking to stop.

I opened my heart and asked for help.

Without the fanfare of Year Without Beer, and with the support of a man who told me about his own past challenges with alcohol, I quietly quit drinking.

What I didn't realise was that drinking alone was not the problem... The man who shared his story with me, helped start to see that drinking was my way of dealing with the problems I held inside.

Throughout my adult life, I'd been living behind a mask, afraid of how others would see me. Trying to show up as I thought they wanted me to be.

It turns out that the same thing that was at the root of my decade of living with depression, was also behind me drinking to oblivion.

One day at a time

I'm not going to lie to you. Quitting booze was tough in the beginning and it took time to admit that, although only I could keep myself sober, I also couldn't do it alone.

Simply not drinking, was not enough. I had to work on myself, understanding WHY I drank and finding a new way to deal with life. Ultimately, I had to start accepting myself unconditionally, drop the mask and be the real me.

I was given a gift of desperation. I hit my breaking point and those broken pieces became the foundations of a life I'd dreamt of for years - one where I am comfortable simply being myself.

1,000 days later, and with the help of a 12-step programme, I no longer have any desire to drink.

I am sometimes asked what would happen if I did choose to drink again. The truth is, I don't know, but just as I don't know what would happen if someone was to open the door on an airplane mid-flight, I'm pretty sure that I also don't want to find out.

I asked the man who helped me how I could repay him. He said one day I would do that by helping someone else.

If you think my story could help someone you know, please feel free to pass it on.

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