Welcome to The (Not) Drinking Diary Series! I’ll be chatting to people on alcohol and on life; about their sobriety, mindful drinking and/or alcohol free period.
Lian drank for 20 years, both socially and alone often blacking out. In her own words, she was “causing havoc wherever I went and I would think this was very normal. I started working as a secondary school teacher 8 years ago and this just fuelled my drinking to calm my stress.”
After a move to the Middle East 4 years ago she decided her life needed to change. Lian’s last drink was 4th March 2016. She goes to Alcoholics Anonymous and attends meetings regularly.
Read on for her not drinking diary …
Location: Originally from the UK, Lian got sober in the Middle East
1.What led you to think differently about drinking?
The situations I was getting myself into were getting out of control. I was working in a school and would have to go into work on Monday morning making apologies due to my drunk behaviour.
I knew 5 years ago I had a problem with drinking but I struggled understanding it all and didn’t know why I just couldn’t stop or moderate like normal people. After relocating to the Middle East this only got worse and I knew I needed to get some help.
2.How would you describe your relationship with alcohol now?
I have no relationship with it now, I have no obsession with drink and only discuss it when I am at an Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) meeting. I can, on occasions join people socially who are drinking and feel comfortable not drinking myself.
3.What’s been the biggest challenge you’ve faced since your approach to alcohol shifted?
My biggest challenge is dealing with how my friendships have altered. People stopped inviting me out and stopped talking to me all together. To deal with this I threw myself into AA and started doing service even if this was just cleaning the room after a meeting. Most of my friends are through the fellowship.
Dealing with being an alcoholic was very difficult at first, the thought of my life changing forever filled me with absolute dread until I learnt to live one day at a time.
4.What lessons have you learnt about life (and yourself) since your relationship with alcohol has changed?
My life has changed beyond my wildest dreams. I no longer think I am a horrible, disgusting person. I have learnt about self care and self love which was very difficult at first.
Everything I have learnt is through meetings and reading self help articles through pages like Tiny Buddha. I pray and connect to God twice a day. I learnt to do ascension meditation through ‘The Bright Path’ at Christmas and now I can still in silence for 40 minutes everyday. When I was drinking I could not be with my own thoughts, I had to sleep with noise on in the background. I can work through resentments as taught through the 12 steps and I try to help others when I can on a daily basis. Being selfish is not an option for me anymore.
I have learnt to ‘Let go and Let God’. I started applying for jobs in January and after 35 applications I heard nothing back from any of them. I prayed and asked God to send me somewhere where I could be of use. I was then approached by a school in Tanzania, a place I have never thought of going. I had not applied for this job and I asked how they had heard of me. They told me a good source had sent them my C.V, after three interviews they hired me, I still don’t know how they got hold of my C.V but at the end of this month I fly to Tanzania to start a two year contract and I am already in contact with the fellowship there.
5. How do you start your day? Do you have a morning routine?
I love my morning routine now, it has taken me a long time to grasp this though. I start with 10 minutes meditation, I say the morning prayer from page 86 of the big book and set an intention for the day something like I will be happy or what can I do for someone else.
If I remember I will read the daily reflection then have a nice cup of tea.
6. Do you have any rituals you always make time for?
I’m not sure if it’s a ritual but I meditate and pray every day. In the evening I shower, get my Pjs on, light some scented candles, pray meditate and read from the big book.
I will try to get to a minimum of 4 meetings a week, most of the time I will go every day. I will text or speak to my sponsor everyday too.
I try to post on my instagram page daily or every other day, it’s a great network of sobriety and knowing others are out there.
7. What’s your favourite thing to do (hangover free & not drinking) at the weekend?
Eat!!! My weekend in the middle east is Friday and Saturday. Fri morning, I will go for a long walk or run and get back and have a big breakfast of toast, eggs, spinach, asparagus.
After the meeting of Friday evening some of us will go for a curry. On a hangover, I could go 24 hours without eating or drinking as I would vomit so much so having a normal eating routine is amazing.
I also like to exercise either a bit of yoga or a walk, instead of being led in bed. Even just relaxing and watching a film with a friend is a treat.
8. When it comes to your own personal development, what is one thing that you’re working on or learning right now?
I’m leaning to take it easy and be kind to myself.
I still sleep an awful lot and try not to feel guilty about this. I’m also trying to lose my ‘sober weight’ I gained about a stone when I stopped drinking as I gave into my sugar cravings, it was a real comfort to have a hot chocolate and muffin before each meeting.
9. What is the one thing you’re obsessed with at the moment that’s making your life better?
Meditation. I’m back in the UK for 5 weeks and I have booked on two courses using The Bright Path to develop my practice. I am also trying to get back into yoga and following a few women on you tube. Both help to sort my thoughts and stop unnecessary worry. I am also determined to read all the stories in the back of the Big Book as I haven’t yet done that.
10. And finally, thinking differently about your relationship with alcohol can be challenging and isolating, is there any advice you turned to or do you have any words of wisdom for people reading this?
I knew I wanted the chaos and madness to stop, they only thing that has worked for me was to go to Alcoholics Anonymous. I threw myself into the fellowship, I did servi
ce and took numbers and used them. I approached a woman to sponsor me after three weeks and did everything people told me to do. I went to meetings every day for almost 4 months. For a while I just sat and listened to people and looked for the similarities not the differences.
Talking to other alcoholics at Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) really is the best medicine as they understand me. I now don’t expect my family or friends to understand me, they can’t as they are not alcoholic. I try not to expect too much from them. Attending my first meeting was hard, I felt like I had failed at life but I now have a life I love living and would not change it. If you think you want a sober life find your local Alcoholics Anonymous and make that call, you will be amazed at the love and compassion complete strangers will show you.