The two questions that helped me get and stay sober

The two questions that helped me get and stay sober

Today, my 2-year-old son got up at 4.30am. Whilst I was trying to get us both back to sleep (unsuccessfully!) I had a thought. Well several, actually. 

Why is it that I don’t want to drink?

Why can’t I just enjoy one? Or a few?

Why can my friends drink sensibly but I can’t even find the line at where to stop? 

To give you a bit of background, I started drinking as a teenager. It was the typical scene; hanging round in the park with friends and then going into the village to ask people to “go into the shops” for us. My friends would go for fizzy wine, alcopops and cider – my beverage of choice was lager. I then moved onto vodka – it tasted horrendous but had a means to an end as the point was to get drunk. So drunk. I would tell my parents I was having a sleepover at a friend’s when in fact I would be lying in a field, blacking out or on the verge of throwing up. How my friends’ parents let me in their houses is beyond me.

When I reached the age of 15, I could doll myself up enough to be able to pass of as a legal drinker and get into local bars and clubs. The choice of shots and cocktails on offer (usually 2 for 1) were a recipe for disaster! 

Once in college, the day drinking began. If I knew I didn’t have any lessons in the afternoon, my friends and I would head straight to the pub and get merry. Seems odd using the word ‘merry’ when in the morning, I was anything but. 

When working life commenced, I tried to hold off drinking in the week so I could ‘treat myself’ at the weekend. This resulted in me becoming the classic binge drinker. I would get so drunk, my friends would have to wake me up from whatever chair I had fallen asleep on or carry me home. I scarcely remember any taxi journeys, let alone getting in bed. I was always just so relieved I had got home safe. I had gotten so used to losing phones that I had a spare. Also a spare set of keys, a spare bank account in for emergency funds… Why did I think my behaviour was normal that I had to result to this? 

At one time I lived next to a pub which I thought was amazing. I’d head there straight after work which was conveniently across the road from where I worked too. I would knock back pint after pint. In my mind the weekend had just started. But in fact it had just ended, as I’d get so drunk, any plans left for the rest of the weekend were written off. 

I was known as ‘the party girl’, the ‘ladette’, the ‘one who falls asleep’ – in my mind, I wasn’t doing anything wrong. I was young and this is what young people did. Going on weekend benders was ‘fun’. I thought the mortification of the hangover was normal to feel. Even though I hated it. 

After a particularly shameful evening of drinking, something inside me clicked and I made the decision there and then to stop drinking. I haven’t touched a drop since.

I then asked myself the question – how many amazing things have happened as a direct result of me drinking?

I thought long and hard. Nothing. Nada. Not one. Single. Thing. 

Every time I thought of one possible event or occurrence, the reason that it happened was not a result of me drinking, but instead a direct consequence of a sober plan. A well intention with a clear mind. 

I then asked myself the opposite question – what negative things have happened as a direct result of me drinking? 

Needless to say, I could probably fill a journal with cringe worthy horror stories which give me hangxiety just recollecting them – and that’s just the ones where I was conscious enough to remember. 

Even when I think back to positive occasions like festivals, weddings, birthdays etc where I had drunk – nine times out of ten, I had pushed it too far. There were gaps in my memory, and for those where I could attempt to jigsaw the pieces together – it was usually a flashback of me falling over somewhere or falling asleep under a table. 

Why on earth did I think drinking was so great? Especially when it resulted in me doing things that made me (and likely those around me) ashamed? 

I felt like I’d had a light bulb moment – I’d quite literally seen the light! (excuse the pun)

Not drinking isn’t limiting or restricting my life – It’s enriching it. It’s profoundly better.

I have time to pursue hobbies. Instead of nursing a hangover, I now spend my weekends enjoying nature, going to pole fitness classes, having quality time with my friends and family.

I no longer have the feeling on dread at the thought of going somewhere wondering if I’ll make a tit out of myself. Instead of feeling tied to the thoughts of trying to ‘pace myself’ or ‘not mix my drinks’, I feel free, knowing that I don’t have those choices to stress about anymore. 

I only wish that I’d done it sooner.

I’m sure there will be times when I’ll be tempted to drink. Especially now the big yellow thing in the sky is starting to make a comeback. But, I will always bring myself back to these two questions and remember why I quit drinking in the first place. 

Written by Marissa Pepper

Marrisa is based in Manchester, you can find her on Instagram @ris_pep

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