My 30-day sober challenge : An unexpected journey

A few weeks ago I decided to do the 30-day no alcohol challenge. I don’t really know what made me do it. I didn’t hit rock bottom, I didn’t end up in the hospital, I wasn’t in a bad accident or anything like that. I woke up one morning after having drunk 3 tumblers of whisky on the rocks the previous night, and had woken up feeling kind of meh. The coming weekend I was house/dog sitting for my friend for 5 days, I decided that I was not going to drink that entire time.

This may not sound like a big deal to a lot of people, not drinking for 5 days, but it was for me. I had tried not drinking for a week for over a year now,(lockdown is only partially to blame) all to no avail. I was beginning to worry about myself, but not enough to actually voice my concerns to anyone. Drinking culture is so normalised, that if I were to tell someone hey, I drink three bottles of wine a week, they would say ”and?”. No one would say ´´wow back up there, don’t you think you should take it slow? ´´Binge-drinking has become so part of our lives that we probably would not even notice if we had a serious problem.

I decided to take it upon myself to not drink for the above mentioned time, and if I could not do it, I would seek help. For some reason, I felt like I would be successful, I have no idea why, but I didn’t lie to myself(which is something I did constantly), but I also did not think I would throw in the towel and buy a bottle of wine that Saturday. And I was right! I cannot begin to explain what a relief this was, I was so happy that I could control myself, I kept thinking “thank god I am not an alcoholic” (yes, really). After seven days, I aimed for 14, then 21 and ultimately 30.

I had made it 30 days with not one craving, I was incredibly proud of myself, and how did I celebrate? With a bottle of champagne and a bottle of red wine…stupid stupid stupid was all I said to myself the next day. Not only had I gotten embarrassingly drunk in front of my sister and her husband’s family, I also picked fights with his cousin, humiliated myself and threw up on my sister’s floor. Ultimately, that had been the “rock bottom” I had not experienced the first time I stopped, and it was a damn good reason to quit again. I felt so ashamed of myself, after a whole month of doing so well, I went and did that…

When I started this challenge, all I was focusing on was to not drink for 30 days, I didn´t think past those 30 days, and then something I did not expect happened, I did not want to continue drinking, or ´´drink in moderation´´, I wanted to stop, and I still do. I went through all the phases and opinions we all have when you think about quitting alcohol, I thought, how will I be at a braai (BBQ to my American friends), how will I ease social anxiety or deal with a tough day. I learned something interesting about myself, I am a lot tougher than I gave myself credit for. I have social anxiety, I would rather stick a fork in my eye than socialise or talk over the phone, and yet, not drinking in social situations where you would normally drink, made me realise that I really did not need to be tipsy or drunk to get through it, and so my confidence grew, it was like building a muscle I never knew I had.

After about two months of not drinking, I finally begun to see the physical benefits; my stomach was a lot less bloated, my skin cleared up, I slept well and have vivid dreams, my recovery after exercise is a lot faster. If you want to read more about what alcohol does to your body, take a look at this blog, it helped me a lot in the beginning. I also tracked my appearance through the first 30 days, just to see if drinking really did a number on your skin like everyone says it does, and oh boy, was it bad, I never realised that I looked so bad until I stopped. (brace yourself)

I cannot believe how bad I looked in the first picture, I had just washed my face and brushed my teeth, ready for bed, and then I looked at this selfie…My god. Let this be a lesson for all of you looking for a reason to quit; vanity is enough of a reason!

Have you thought about quitting alcohol? Let us know about your journey.

Happy Sunday beautiful people.

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