Today is the first day of my 10th year without a drink. A day that (once upon a time), I never dreamed would ever become a reality.
I don't label myself as "sober", or "teetotal", or "in recovery". I'm just a bloke who doesn't drink anymore.
Now, if you choose to continue reading this post, I promise you won’t be lectured about the evils of booze, or be bored with examples of how perfect my life is without it.
Quite the opposite. In fact, in some areas of my life, "not drinking" has created some massive challenges for me, like:
* "Can I really get up and dance, in a room of strangers, stone cold sober?"
* "Can my bladder handle drinking 8 pints of coke tonight?"
* "Is it really fair that I have to spend $100 on this round, yet I'm drinking coke?" (That's the tight Northerner speaking!)
I won't drone on about the virtues of a life without alcohol, because to some (if not, most) of you reading this, you won't have a problem with it.
You can take or leave it, and happily co-exist with the odd social beer or wine. And kudos, nay, cheers to you!
But somebody out there (somebody like ME a decade ago), might read this and be silently/secretly thinking… “I wish I knew what "not drinking" felt like!” “Why can’t I get a decent length of time under my belt without drinking?” “How do I stop, but stay “stopped?""
To THOSE people, I'd like to tell you that it IS possible. If you really want to stop.
And I'd also like to tell you that every reason that you tell yourself that you can't stop drinking, is only in your head. For example, I promise you, you won't become ostracized from society, and you won't become "boring".
I'd also like to tell you that "not drinking" just might become one of your greatest life achievements, something that you become immensely proud of. (Just think about that for a second).
Imagine replacing "shame and regret" with "pride and self-respect".
Life without a drink will still be life! And life will still throw up daily challenges and problems. But I can promise you one thing... Life's problems are so much easier to navigate when you don't have an angry, drunk gorilla on your back, constantly tapping your head with a mallet.
The photo attached (which admittedly was taken many years before I actually stopped drinking), is me of old. Always had a drink in my hand and always looking for a night out. But I happen to know for a fact I woke up the morning after this particular night out with a badly chipped tooth and a raging hangover. I don't necessarily remember it being the best night of my life.
(Sadly, I also woke up still sporting the ponytail and still wearing those terrible white jeans!)
Anyway, the mistake I made (beyond the ponytail), was that I let the hangovers continue for another 20 years.
But YOU don't have to. If you want to reach out for help, I'll help you in any way I can get that ‘orrible gorilla off your back.
(PS: I promise I won't offer fashion advice!)