500 days since going sober. 500 days!! I still remember that first day, sat in my bed with a fuzzy head but no real hangover (for once). On December 10th 2016 I decided enough was enough, and on April 24th 2017 I have reached 500 days alcohol free! I’m excited today, and it’s renewed my enthusiasm for my sobriety. So much has changed in these last 500 days of going sober and I wanted to share 8 of the lessons I’ve learnt so far.
6 things I’ve learnt since going sober:
1. Sobriety does not fix all of life’s problems
Who knew? Not me. Pre-sobriety, I had this idea in my head that going sober would be a quick fix to make my life 100% better.
In my mind, stopping drinking would fix my anxiety, depression, tendency to procrastinate and overspend overnight. This, obviously, did not happen. I’m happy to report that 500 days later, I am feeling much better and sobriety has contributed to this. But especially in the early days, focusing on not drinking (as opposed to changing everything about myself) was the way to go.
Sobriety it turns out is a fix that helps you make your life better, but it’s not a quick one. I have had to commit to do the work, to get to know myself and the reasons why I wanted to drink/avoid dealing with my problems in the first place.
2. A life without a hangover is a beautiful one
I haven’t had a hangover in 500 days and it feels magical. Waking up clear headed, the world genuinely feels like it has so much more potential when I am not foggy headed.
A hangover free life is a life full of adventures, you will remember every, single, moment of your beautiful life. It is the best feeling ever.
3. Relationships will improve without alcohol
When I stopped drinking I really, really worried about my relationships. My relationship with my mum was built on champagne, we’d save nice bottles of champagne for when we were together and stay up late on holiday drinking and talking about life.
My first sober Christmas was 13 days after I stopped drinking, and instead of champagne I had a cup of tea and our relationship was still there. We went to Lanzarote in January this year, and still stayed up late but this time I had fizzy water and alcohol free beers.
I have lost some friendships, I can’t sugarcoat that but I’ve come to think that they have faded for their own reasons. A lot of my friendships are stronger, I’m no longer the drunk girl who can’t remember what she said last night and behaves like an arsehole. I own my behaviour and apologise when I’m wrong, and it has made me a better friend
4.Having support and accountability is very important
If I hadn’t started this blog and my instagram on my Day 1 of going sober, I’m not sure I would have stuck to it. I’d been half-heartedly trying to stop drinking since the beginning of 2015 & I finally quit in December 2016. There were ups-and-downs and I started putting together longer bouts of sobriety when I discovered Club Soda and One Year No Beer. I joined their Facebook groups and posted whenever I was struggling. I didn’t have a real-life support system at this point and the online support from others going through the same stuff as me really helped.
Reading books on going sober also helped to fill my mind with positivity. Reading about other people’s experiences made me feel much less alone. A recent favourite was written by my lovely friend Catherine Gray, The Unexpected Joy of Being Sober – I’d highly recommend it if you’re looking for a new read!
5.The first half an hour of an evening out is the hardest
Going out was where I really struggled in the early days. A lot of the struggle was in my mind before I’d even made it out, worrying that people would judge my not drinking – or worse try and get me to drink. I can get very anxious, and I used to drink to ease my social anxiety and felt like the booze made it easier for me to socialise. I discovered that if I waited it out the first half an hour, then my anxiety eased and I relaxed into it.
Side note for a night out. I’ve learnt to watch my drink like a hawk. Alcohol free drinks are becoming more prominent in bars (yippee!) but when it’s busy, I’ve had bar staff assume I want a gin and tonic when ordering just a tonic. I realised after the first sip. Lesson learned, watch my drink being made!
6. Going sober will help you make your dreams come true
If you had told me 501 days ago that today, on a random Tuesday in April, I would be living in a lovely house in Norfolk, teaching yoga classes, workshops and a retreat this weekend I would never have believed you. I have money in the bank, lovely yoga students who attend my classes, a great friendship with my brother who I live with and a miniature daschund called Margot. Life looks very different from Day 1, anxious, depressed and living in a (very dark) room in Hackney and for that I am so grateful.
Here’s to another 500 days!
Thank you for reading. I’d love to hear your experience of going sober, or any questions you might have – drop me a comment below, send me an email or chat to me on instagram.
Lots of love, L xx
Want to read more? See my posts at 100, 200 and a year alcohol free!