The day dawned, a warm and sunny February morning. We were camped at an idyllic spot beside the lake. Husband, myself and our two boys away for the weekend camping and kayaking with another family. An amazing place with great people. I woke feeling dreadful; nauseous, body aching particularly my back (which was my over worked liver crying out) plus all those other unpleasant feelings that go with being hungover – the worst for me being shame and remorse.
The previous day had been awesome, and we’d enjoyed a fun night, but somehow, my off switch once again malfunctioned. By the time enough was enough, it was too late, it had sneaked up and there’s no going back or rewinding the clock.
After packing up to come home, feeling totally rotten in so many ways, I vowed and declared I never wanted to feel this way again or to experience another hangover, EVER. I had said that before, numerous times and had successfully gone for long periods of time alcohol free. But eventually I tripped up thinking “I’m OK” I can have a few glasses – I wasn’t.
I hated that nagging, worrying feeling – what did I say or do, or knowing, and feeling totally embarrassed and ashamed. I had got to the point in my life where I was ready to accept that I simply can’t drink alcohol. Alcohol and I do not have a good relationship, I have a low tolerance and I needed to remove it from my life.
My timing to stop was perfect – I had decided to compete in a body building competition in October that year. It was easy to say, I’m not drinking due to my training. In the back of my mind, I constantly had that reminder of how shocking I felt which helped. We’d go out, and people would say – oh, just have one, it won’t hurt. Go on. I stuck to it, they didn’t understand, and were frequently feeling uncomfortable themselves and didn’t know how to react.
I had trigger times; Friday nights, a hard day at the office (I deserve it!) or a good day (I deserve it!), celebrations, sad times, family times, fun times. However, this time around, my determination, backed up with my locked in hangover memory, kept me on track. You could say I was ready to end the relationship; it had done its time. I can still bring the hungover feeling to mind now with ease, it gives me the shudders.
As time went on, it became easier. People would stop asking if I wanted a drink. One thing that can happen when you make such a change is that relationships may change. Perhaps it is a common bond, it keeps you connected to someone or something or to a group of friends – your tribe. This may change if you make changes. I was blessed that Mr. W. is also virtually alcohol free for a whole different set of reasons, and he supported me 110% through this. Our social life did change.
I am grateful for the experiences; it forms part of who I am. I was recently asked if I would like a drink. There are times when yes, I would, there would be nothing nicer. But when I delve deeper, what am I really looking for? For me it is connection and about finding my voice. Alcohol gave me a false sense of security to speak up. It’s about unmasking and finding my voice in a way that is authentic, genuine and feels right for me.
16 years on, I am grateful to have learned the lesson and to share my story.
If you do need help with alcohol, I encourage you to reach out for help and support. There are many helplines and support services available.
Please remember, you are not alone.
Lotta Dann’s story was one that resonated with me. You’ll find great resources, a community and so much more over at Living Sober.
This picture (source unknown – thank you to the creator) popped up in my newsfeed last week – it sums it up for me. It was a life lesson.
If you feel ready to make positive changes towards healthier habits and gain a deeper understanding of the lifestyle choices that work best for you, I’m here to help. Book in a free Wellness Strategy Session and we’ll chat via phone or zoom to see if we’re a good fit.