Last year I experienced one of my darkest years yet and it was most certainly a dark night of the soul year for me. I separated from my husband whom I spent pretty much my whole adult life with. We had been together 18 years and 5 of those years we were married. There was so much change in my life and so much loss and with that came so much grief.
Not only did I lose my partner (my best friend) but I also lost my two dogs (who are now with my ex back in Ireland). I also moved from the Blue Mountains back to Sydney which was another massive adjustment and change. I moved home three times in that year and my last move had me move into my own apartment (me myself and I) and I’ve never lived alone before so this was a massive adjustment in itself.
So how did I cope through all of this change, inner turmoil, loss, darkness, confusion, and despair?
Well, I found myself returning to some very old destructive habits and patterns. One of those destructive habits and patterns was numbing through alcohol (wine).
So what that looked like was sitting alone drinking a glass of wine (or two) a couple of evenings in the week. I also had never really been a solo drinker before so this was a whole new experience for me.
I have a big history of anxiety and my anxiety really intensified during this time. I often found myself lying in bed at night having to put my hand on my chest as my heart palpations felt so prevailing I felt like my heart was going to pop out of my chest. Of course, the alcohol was not of any benefit to this but I realise now I just needed to numb and that’s ok (once we don’t stay there!).
I felt utterly lost like I was wandering alone in a dark forest and in that I experienced so much anxiety and fear, there was so much fear of the unknown. I was scared of what was to come and petrified of what I was currently sitting in and moving through and with no close family nearby I felt totally alone during this time.
A little back story….
I haven’t been a heavy drinker in over a decade but I do have a long history with alcohol. Being Irish and growing up in Ireland alcohol was and still is a big part of every celebration. I was a bit of a wild child (or teenager I could say and I caused a lot of problems for my poor parents) and I remember the first time I got drunk in the first year of secondary school. I had drunk some vodka during school (I think it was in the toilets) and I remember going into choir class drunk and of course, my mum was called!
Nights out in secondly school were always a bit of a haze for me because I would get so wasted. My friends actually use to call me ‘Mr soft’, if you are Irish/English you might recall that soft mints add on tv where the guy was flopping all over the place (well that was me when I was drunk). I would be standing for one minute and then on the floor next!
I pretty much spent all of my college years in a drunken haze. I left Ireland when I was 24 and I backpacked around South America (which was an incredible experience) with my ex and you could say that we pretty much spent all of that time with a drink in our hand.
Then arriving in Australia at 25 many of those initial years we spent Friday, Saturday and Sunday drinking. We loved clubbing, so we would go out on a Friday night and arrive home sometime Saturday morning, sleep for a few hours and then head out again and of course, this was repeated weekend after weekend.
It was a really crazy time when I think about it and I’m not sure how my body (and liver) survived those wild days! On top of that, I was lunatic for the gym (you could say I was a gym junkie), during that time I was working out 2-3 times a day!
We lived for the weekends, I was working in a very high-pressure corporate job at the time working very long hours all week in a high-stress environment and I lived for the weekends where I could let it all go and get wasted (basically). But at the same time, I guess it was the only way I knew how to cope back then!
There are so many wild stories I could share with you about my drinking and wild party days (and maybe that’s for another post) and honestly, I don’t regret any of it.
I feel blessed in one way that when I was 27 I reached total and utter burnout. I was riddled in anxiety and I felt utterly depressed, my digestion was a mess from the lack of true nourishment and my hormones were chaotic.
At that time I was diagnosed with Insulin Resistance (which is on the verge of Diabetes) and I was re-diagnosed with PCOS (a hormonal condition where there is an over-production of male hormones in your body).
My endocrine system completely shut down, resulting in liver damage, constant fatigue, as well as menstrual, hormonal, and blood sugar issues. Add polycystic ovarian syndrome and insulin resistance to the mix and I was left with two choices: medicate and soldier on OR reassess my life.
I chose to reassess my life…
This really was the wakeup call I needed! At that time I was working with an endocrinologist who subscribed me to a lifetime of Metformin. My experience with Metformin was not a good one and it just didn’t feel right popping this “pill” every day. So I took it upon myself to heal myself naturally and that I did! This is also when I looked at my relationship with alcohol and changed it.
Last year in the depths of my darkness and my dark night of the soul my friend invited me to her sister’s engagement party. I had pretty much-spent most of that year alone (apart from spending quality one-on-one time with dear friends), I honestly didn’t really want to be out there in the world. It wasn’t a very social year and it was a pretty big effort for me to attend this as I was just so out of sorts on every level.
But I pushed myself and I attended and while at the party I got chatting to Rory who had set himself a challenge of going alcohol free for 100 days but he benefited so much from the experience that he continued for six months and it deeply inspired me and I thought to myself “Wow, I need to do this” but I also knew that now was not the right time because I was needing the “wine” as a crutch to get through one of the most challenging and darkest years of my life yet.
But the idea stayed with me over the coming months. My sister visited me from Dubai during Christmas and we enjoyed a little alcohol during that time.
As we crossed into a new year, I was starting to see myself slowly coming out of my shell more. When my dear friend told me she was going to go alcohol-free for a year and she shared with me the inspiring article “What happened when I gave up drinking for 100 days” Rory had written I read it and I knew I had to do this!
So after my sister left in January, I decided to set myself up on this challenge because being a Sagittarius and all I love a good adventurous challenge! I decided that I would set myself with an experiment of going alcohol-free for 90 days and I’d reassess at that point and maybe continue and experiment with 6 months and then maybe even 12 months.
Why I set myself up on this challenge?
I told myself I could not have another year like 2018. Being a very sensitive soul the alcohol really affected me last year especially my mental wellbeing and mindset and my digestion was really off.
My mind felt foggy and was lacking clarity as a result. I found myself ordering way too many takeaways and during that time I actually put on about 7-8 kgs in weight.
All my clothes were tight and when I look back at some photos that were taken of me during that time I honestly don’t recognise myself. I was a shell of my existence. I just didn’t feel like myself, my face was puffy and I felt like there was so much water retention in my body.
So I weighed up all the current costs of what alcohol was doing to me and what those future costs and consequences would look like if I continued on this dark path.
Here’s the interesting thing, I honestly can’t get over how easy this whole experience has been for me. During these three months I have been to many social events including a hen’s weekend, a wedding and many nights out and not once did I miss alcohol. In fact, I didn’t even think about it!
I actually can see now that alcohol limited me on many levels (something I would never have seen before). I feel more of my true self without alcohol. Yes initially it feels a little awkward walking into a social event, this is how I used alcohol as a crutch in the past to mask my social anxiety. But I just breathe through the first 30 mins or so of uncomfortableness and it’s like my nervous system settles and I can then just relax and just be myself.
I was initially quite fearful of what others might think, and that I might be labeled as ‘boring’ but that really hasn’t been the experience for me at all. If anything my friends and any new people I have met during this time have been deeply moved and inspired by my challenge which has made it so much easier. It’s also been really wonderful to do this challenge alongside my dear friend because we’ve really supported one another and cheered each other on.
It also has been quite fascinating because since then I have had a numerology session with my incredible kundalini teachers and an astrology session and what came up in both of these sessions is that I have a very sensitive physical body and alcohol is really not good for me (so this was the extra confirmation I needed to know that I have done the right thing for my body).
So here I am very close to the 90-day mark and I have honestly never felt better – physically, mentally, emotionally, energetically and spiritually. I have lost all the weight I put on last year. I feel so much lighter and healthier on every level. My digestive issues have sorted themselves out and my mind has honestly never felt clearer and I have so much energy!
So where to now? Well, I have decided to continue the challenge (because if you know me, I do LOVE a good challenge) for 6 months (because why not?) and I’ll reassess at that point and may continue for twelve months. I honestly don’t think about alcohol. I only reflect now on the negative hangovers and that’s something I’m not willing to trade in for how amazing I feel right now!
By the way, Rory who I have mentioned above is further ahead than me on this challenge and he recently wrote an article on “What I learned from a year of not drinking”. Make sure you give it a read and if anything it will get you thinking about your current relationship with alcohol and it may just inspire you to join me on this liberating challenge of experimenting with living a sober life!
And if you’d like my support or are curious about working with me, book in for a free 20-minute inquiry chat with me here.
So tell me are you sober curious, have you experimented with sober living before and what are the benefits that you’ve witnessed in your life as a result? Share in the comments below.
All my love,
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