Written by Talitha Cummins
Have you ever woken up after a night of drinking and felt that awful feeling of shame and embarrassment over something you said or did?
Did you go out and do it again? Why? Do you know why you drink? Is it for fun, to give you confidence, to relieve stress, forget about problems or self medicate your mental illness?
These are all important questions in understanding your relationship with alcohol and whether or not it’s a healthy one.
Mine wasn’t. The wheels had fallen off and I was skidding along on the rims for years. Until I was forced to stop. And it all began with Hello Sunday Morning.
I took 12 months off. It’s now 20 months and I haven’t picked up a drink. And I hope to never drink again.
That’s because every area of my life has greatly improved – in this time I met an amazing man and married him in New York, trained for a marathon, lost weight, gained fitness – and am slowly winning back the respect I lost from family and friends – after the stupid and shameful things I did.
I no longer feel anxious about going to work, I have more confidence, I have savings in my bank account and I haven’t woken up wearing a kebab since I stopped drinking.
Why would I risk all of this to go back?
A period of abstinence helps you take control of your life and really assess the role alcohol plays in it.
It’s not easy – but nothing worthwhile is. But believe me, when you achieve your goal it’s incredibly gratifying – and you feel like you can tackle anything.
A couple of tips:
Start a journal and write down ten bad experiences you’ve had relating to alcohol. It can be something embarrassing you’ve done or said or even a killer hangover that kept you in bed for two days. It was such an important tool for me. Use it as a reference during your HSM – it’s a powerful tool if your resolve weakens. If like me you had some awful experiences, it’ll turn your stomach and stop you from picking up a drink.
Replace alcohol with something else. I suggest exercise. Whether it’s walking, running, training for a marathon or cycling. It doesn’t matter, the important thing is you introduce it – and have goals attached to it.
The question so many people ask me is, how do I not drink when all of my friends are?
Don’t put yourself in that situation – recovering gamblers don’t hang out in casinos.
Arrive early, leave early. By 10 o’clock people are usually talking Spanglish – cue to leave.
Explain to friends what you’re trying to achieve before a social engagement.
But most of all, recognise this is something you’re doing for yourself and you don’t need to answer to anyone.
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This is so inspirational. My drinking story reads much like yours – my binge drinking was out of control. I’m now entering my 6th month of HSM, 6 months since my last drink and 6 months since I joined CrossFit. I’m in the best shape I’ve ever been – a feat I never thought possible. I have a marathon later on in the year and a few shorter ones coming up too. Your advice about replacing alcohol with something is 100% spot on – CrossFit was my saviour there.
Mates have been asking me whether I’ll drink again when my 12 months is up – a question I’m struggling with to be honest. All I know is, at this point in time my desire for alcohol is zero and I’m enjoying the benefits of perpetual sobriety way too much.
Thanks for sharing your story!
Hi All, I suffered an alcohol related seizure in Oct 2013 and ended up in hospital. All ok until I went voluntarily to Detox in Jun 2014. The morning of admission I had two glasses of wine. Two days later at Detox I suffered a seizure followed by another one while in hospital (was still in Detox). Am worried now (10 Aug 2014) – Due to stress I had a bottle of wine last Tue, Wed and yesterday. If I take a 5mg valium will it stop another seizure? (these are what is left over from before Detox and I was taking them for another reason). I will sign up to HSM but any advice/experiences would be appreciated. C
I like the idea of writing down 10 bad experiences I’ve had with alcohol to use as a reference – something I will definitely do and use. The hard part will be picking only 10 from a VERY long list (sadly).
Well it happened again. After Detox this year I was ok for a couple of weeks. I thought when I got out that I could manage it on my own (didn’t attend meetings etc).
I thought that I could have a couple of glasses of wine on Saturday nights. WRONG.
I was back, voluntarily, at Detox this October.
I have learned a lesson from my experience and since October have had a few glasses of wine.
A phone call from an AA member, who I wrote to for the best meetings, has given me more confidence in beating the bottle. I cannot believe that just a phone call can make a difference from other caring people!
One of my mottos is “Alcohol is not my Boss”.
Just to clarify, my statement should have read ” I have learned a lesson from my experience BUT since my discharge in October have had a few glasses of wine.
Have had a hard time adjusting to life back at home (I am on my own during business hours). At Detox there were lovely and compassionate Dr’s and Nurses (to be honest I did not want to leave)
I will attend meetings and look forward to a wine free life.
Would appreciate others advice.
Perhaps being older has an advantage over the days of my wild youth. I could not think of 10 bad things I did while drinking. However, I can think of (at least) ten things I DIDN’T do because of drinking or a hangover. When I’m sitting down relaxing with a bottle of wine, that is ALL I’m doing. sitting. drinking. looking out the window or banal tv shows. Didn’t exercise. Didn’t go out for a walk on a lovely evening. Didn’t go for a swim. Didn’t read that book. Didn’t write that book. Didn’t paint or draw. Didn’t call a friend. Didn’t go to work. Didn’t do the laundry. Didn’t make lunch the night before or get my clothes for tomorrow ready. Didn’t put my workout gear in the bag.
Wow. I could have written this. Its been 4 days since I found myself on my kitchen floor with my very frightened boyfriend trying to wake me. I drank all day with out eating, something I do often. I hit my head on the way down and now have a black eye to remind me its time to re access my drinking habits. (Im lucky I still have a boyfriend.)
I do the same thing…drink, watch banal TV, dont paint, dont draw, dont read, clean cook or exercise.
I have not had a drop since that night and just found this site. I want to stay with it. I think I will be back to this site.
Hey there, my name is Michelle, and you sound a lot like me. If you are still on this sight at all, I’d like to chat with people like myself, ( I have a serious problem), and a lot of people just seem to want to see if they can do it ect… Let me know how your doing, I’ve been sober for 41 days woo hoo!!
Great points drinking is just a waste of your quality time
This is me to the T!
Yes, this is exactly me!
The last comment (@Thinking) is what I really resonated with the most. Alcohol is bigger in my life than exercise and seeing people I love. It saps my desire to do other things all in the name of “fun” or “relaxing.” There are things I want to do in my life and I can see now how alcohol is helping to keep me from them. Thanks for the sharing!
Hi all – today is a reality check. My husband came home at 9am after another big night. He doesn’t know when to quit. I’m no saint either – I will drink too. I will send myself to bed and if I wake up I would often find he has gone to the pub for more.
My drinking has caused weight gain and pure laziness. Black outs and drunken stupidity.
I am on the road, I have seen a wellness and nutritionist plus I have a trial at a women’s gym. I have set up a Facebook page to talk about my interests. I haven’t moved quickly as my hang overs get the better of me. So today I am going to start my journey with HSM. Starting with 3 months no alcohol. Hopefully my husband will see an opportunity too!
I’m the other side of the equation, but I don’t go out for more. My wife is understandably at the end of her rope. I am done- 3 Months and counting as of today. Truth is I can’t control it- I’m tired of being a slave to weakness. I expect good things to happen-time is the great decider. I have dug my hole rather deep I’m afraid.
I have been sober for 7 months now. I have previously abstained a few years back for a year but relapsed. A feat I don’t want to emulate, as I want to give up booze for good. I have lost 16kg by exercising and eating right. The first couple of months I avoided social situations. Last night I went out with a few mates til 4am. I didn’t touch a drop. I purchased them drinks when I was in the shout but drank water for myself. I am now deeply committed to living an alcohol free life. I read a few books like “Living Sober Sucks but being a drunk is worse” and others. The book had some great ideas as well as this article. I have an alcohol free wallet. Whenever I open my wallet there are two cards right at the front that says ‘alcohol free wallet’ it reminds me every single time I open my wallet. Even if I buy alcohol for friends I see those words every time I open my wallet so I know alcohol is not for me anymore. As a lawyer, I also drew up a contract with myself signed it and had it witnessed every time I open my laptop before work it is the first thing I see and the last thing when I put my laptop away.
I also think about the bad things I did while drunk. Those memories also provide the impetus to stay sober. I really really love not having hangovers. I feel like I have some real control in my life and I am really enjoying my life. Losing the weight has really improved my self confidence, where I know I don’t need a drink to be social or to be conversant. It has dramatically improved my 14 yr relationship with my girlfriend, I have won back what was once lost, her trust and respect. I didn’t lose her love thank god but was close many many times. I am feeling very positive about the future, a feeling of optimism that I thought was lost to me. I had tried Hello Sunday Mornings once before but was not committed. I have recently rejoined indeed for my first check in which was today with zero drinks. I am committed to having a zero balance for a long time. By the way the ads with Kram are frickin cool as well.
Thanks for this inspiring post, Talitha! I’m on Day 2 and I can see already that your suggestion of writing down the 10 Worst experiences with drinking will be an incredibly useful tool to reference during the hard days.
Another good source is Kevin O’Hara – he has a FB page. I find him helpful in the battle to give up booze.
Talitha, thank you so very much for sharing your story. I’ve found it easy to write my list. Choosing which were the worst ten was a challenge when there have been so many. I’m off to my first AA meeting today. And want to commit to visiting this page for support. When I go to bed tonight I want to feel relieved I’ve finally made a step in the right direction, instead of beating myself up about everything I’ve ever done wrong in my life. I’m sick of it, the bad thoughts, the black outs, not knowing what I’ve said or done. The harm and hurt I’ve caused my family. Today I have to begin my journey to being sober and being me again. Thanks again and love to you all. X