I’m Danielle, I live in Leeds (from Dublin originally), and I’m pleased as AF punch to say I am 5 months alcohol-free!
It’s been quite the journey to get here. I started my AF journey in January 2018. Yep, I jumped on the ‘Dry January’ wagon not expecting to commence a long-term alcohol-free journey, yet here I am some years later hoping never to touch another drop of alcohol again.
After embarking on Dry Jan, I decided that a month was quite enough and jumped off the wagon on the first weekend of February. I drank as much as I usually would, a few glasses of wine with a meal. The restaurant gave us free shots of god-knows-what at the end of the night, and I took myself home. When I woke up in the morning, bleary-eyed, head pounding, I realised that I'd been sick in my sleep.
This had never happened to me before and it scared the bejesus out of me! What if I’d been on my back and too intoxicated to wake up?! I shuddered at the thought.
I knew that alcohol was affecting me in negative ways, and not just because of situations like that. I'd feel terrible anxiety for days after drinking, so I decided it was time to make a change. Just doing a month here and there wasn’t gonna cut it!
I bought Catherine Gray’s book The Unexpected Joy of Being Sober, and, feeling inspired, managed a further 100 days alcohol-free.
I didn’t realise it at the time, but I completely ‘white-knuckled’ it, avoiding all social outings and feeling quite bored and isolated.
Then, on the way to a bbq in May, I picked up some beers. Of course I was going to have beers, I mean, how could I go to a bbq and not have beers?! I didn't want to miss out.
It wasn’t until around a year or so later that I realised once and for all I needed to seriously make some changes. My anxiety was spiraling out of control and I was using wine to self-soothe. Only it didn’t soothe me, it numbed things until the morning and then the anxiety came back tenfold.
I tried various methods to change my relationship with alcohol, including:
Avoiding certain social situations
Sticking to one drink
Only drinking when eating out
Doing dry stints of a few weeks/months
It wasn’t until this year that I found my footing in sobriety.
If there’s one thing I can tell you about sobriety, it's that it's not a linear journey. Like a lot of other people in the sober space, I use a sober day count app, and have landed back at ‘Day 1’ quite a bit over the years.
This time feels different, though
I actually LOVE my life now, much more than my drinking life. I get so much more joy, fulfillment and excitement from this new way of life. Things are also a whole lot less chaotic. I am choosing to see the good, rather than the bad!
So, what did I do differently this time around? I...
Started listening to sober podcasts. My FAVE is Over The Influence! (I can confirm I was not paid to say this!)
Set up a sober Instagram account and started making connections with sober people on there
Joined the OTI community and attended ‘Bring a Brew’ Zoom meets hosted by the wonderful Ben, Shazza and Freddie. Those guys and community members are amazing, they made me feel very connected
I started meeting sober people in real life in loads of places: Leeds, Dublin, Manchester, London, Worcester and have upcoming trips to Durham, Nottingham and Birmingham in the diary. I didn’t know these people this time 6 months ago!
I have joined sober groups doing a range of activities like: wild swimming, hiking, gigs, coffee gatherings, brunches and lunches….the list goes on!
Essentially, I got CONNECTED
I finally feel like I’ve found my tribe. People from all sorts of different backgrounds and mindsets but with one thing in common: we want to be sober so we can have better lives. And boy does sobriety deliver!
I am so excited about my future and can’t wait to see what’s in store next.
If you fancy seeing what all the fuss is about, why not join me this January and see if we can't change your life for the better by removing one thing.
You’ve nothing to lose….and everything to gain!