One, two, three

Three things happened in quick succession to trigger a change in my relationship with booze.

One, I discovered a top-notch New Zealand savvy B while on holiday in the Philippines. I ordered a case to be delivered home and drank the entire case, all by myself in one short week.

Two, I started seeing a man who was a recovering alcoholic. He hadn’t had a drink in twelve years.

And three, I had a long, boozy Mother’s Day lunch and got sozzled in the Autumn sun. The next day wasn’t so sunny. I had a hangover with a side order of suicidal ideation. Hangovers in my twenties were just funny days recounting the chaos. In my forties they’d become a dangerous beast.

Those three events mingled together to let me know it was time to take control of this life-long habit. I was 45. Just over halfway through my life expectancy. I’d been a sociable drinker since the age of 18. Smashing a whole case of very nice wine was one thing, dating a non-drinker was another, but suicidal thoughts? Get stuffed, my life was ace. It was time to make some changes.

So, I ditched alcohol from the menu of my life for six months. It took all that time to settle the sting – that familiar feeling around five or six in the evening, when it’s time to have a vino or a G+T and celebrate or commiserate the end of the day. The sting was the physical nudge my body gave me to reward myself for making it through another day on Earth. I earned it. You go girl. Sometimes the sting would pull me off the beach and I would wander into a beachside bar and have a crisp white wine and life would feel so delicious for a little while. But it was never one drink, always a few, then my evening would be a bit of a write-off.

The sting had started to own me and there is not much I dislike more than something or someone owning me. This socially acceptable habit had started to call the shots. If there was no wine in the fridge, it was a household emergency. On flights, I would suck down tiny bottles of plonk from plastic cups and stagger off the plane on wobbly legs looking for my Uber. Once I went home without collecting my luggage. I left so much important s**t behind on planes because I was sozzled. I even started sipping a cheeky wine with my lunch which made me need an afternoon nap and stole my productive hours in the second half of the day.

Booze had always been there for me. Like a friend. Through enormous workloads, parenting three little kids, through a boring marriage and eventual divorce, through professional smackdowns and skyscraper success. But alcohol was starting to ruin me. It was an addiction that had outstayed its welcome.

Only quite recently I had a conversation with someone about why he wouldn’t give up smoking and he said simply, ‘Because cigarettes have always been there for me. Why would I give up my best friend?’

My non-drinking BF at the time showed me the way. He told me what to say to those who pressured me to drink. ‘It’s just not good for me anymore,’ is the best thing to say. That sentence is loaded with whatever they want to think it means and they’ll usually back away. It takes a bit of confidence to be someone else’s party pooper, but I became too fond of my clear-headed mornings to join in on the drinks.

After six months, I’d reset my relationship with alcohol. I had learned to love the hell out of life without a drink in my hand all the time. Holy hell, I had saved so much money. When I dine out and there’s no booze on the bill, it’s so much cheaper. Booze robs me three times: it takes my money, my time and my health. Alcohol really is not a friend at all.

I’m a ‘special occasions’ drinker these days. I can savour a carefully chosen glass of red without having to drink the whole bottle and go home with pink teeth. Every few months, I buy an expensive gin in a pretty bottle and make myself a tall G+T with fresh mint and lemon wedges to watch the sun go down from my sunroom. The tingle from one drink is more than enough for me now. Even if I make another drink, I can’t seem to finish it. The sting doesn’t own me anymore.

I’ve had a bender or two over the last year with a new partner I like to call Rambo. As he navigated his divorce, he was checking in the bottom of all his whisky bottles for the answers, which were never there. He’d pressure me to have another drink with him, ‘Carn, Luce, just one more,’ and I relented then regretted.

We’ve reset that relationship too and we don’t drink together anymore and have moved to a special friendship. There’s too much to do, places to go, adventures to explore to waste life on hangovers. I’d rather be in a tent on a mountainside than worshipping at the altar of whisky.

Meeting Rambo showed me that I don’t drink to soothe anymore. Sleep is much more effective for soothing a sore heart or a tired body. My sleep is so much better since I changed my relationship with alcohol. I can clock nine hours of delicious snooze without the 2 am liver terrors that used to wake me.

Sunday mornings are for kayaking at sunrise or taking the dog for a swim. My vintage drinks trolley now has house plants on it. I’m on my way back to the weight I was when I was 21. Hello Sunday morning! What a fine time to be alive.

Lucy Bloom is an award-winning leader, international keynote speaker, consultant and author. She uses her superpowers for writing and speaking about courage, trust, failure, change, maverick thinking, generosity and fun. She’s a rule breaker, idea maker and exceptional communicator.

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  • Great work! I too have discovered vast changes after 6 months AF. Mostly mental mental health, but as you say the financial benefits are remarkable. Who knew going out to dinner was so cheap without the booze!
    Thanks for sharing your story and continue to enjoy those Sunday mornings.

    By Andrew
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    October 2, 2021
  • Thank you. A gentle reminder I needed this morning xx

    By Allison
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    October 2, 2021
  • Lovely story, thank you

    By Jed
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    October 2, 2021
  • Thank you for sharing this Lucy. As a recent ‘Drinking Resetter’ 3 weeks in to 3 months alcohol free, I appreciate so much of what you have said. A real inspiration for sure and I love the ‘It’s just not good for me anymore’ line. Almost can’t wait to use it at my local surf club once this lockdown business is done.

    By Stu
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    October 2, 2021
  • That was a very thought-provoking read. I’m in a similar situation to where you were and will keep this to help me through my journey. Thanks.

    By Sue Dalitz
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    October 2, 2021
  • Well done Lucy. I have also decided to give up clutching the wine glass like a security blanket. Have managed 12 months.
    Fred

    By Fred
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    October 2, 2021
  • Your honestly and courage will help others. I quit the day before my 50th. 3 years in my one beautiful, precious life simply could not be better! Congrats Lucy! Life warrior!!!

    By Jacqueline Cleary
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    October 2, 2021
  • Thx so much Lucy! I loved your story. I’m only 11 days in but already I’m sleeping better, my skin is better, I have a quiet optimism when I wake and I’m happy to be here. You nailed it for me with ‘the sting’ as that’s always been my challenge. Now it has an official name for me so I can ‘call it’ for what it is. So one day at a time for me. There’s been a lot of genuine trauma in my life in recent years. The test for me will be if and when I fold if it happens again. Big thx for your honesty 🙏😘

    By Deb
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    October 2, 2021
  • What a well written article. Thank you Lucy. This resonates with me so much.

    By Amanda
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    October 2, 2021
  • Thank you for putting yoru story out there Lucy. Your story strongly resonates with my own, only I havent taken that step to seperating myself from alcohol just yet – but working on it!
    Your story has certainly brought me closer to that decision. Thank you.

    By Adrien
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    October 2, 2021
  • I’m 5 days from completing my 100 day challenge. After reading this, Lucy sounds so much like I was, I’m thinking I might want to make it another 100 days…

    By Kris
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    October 2, 2021
  • Really inspiring! I love “the sting” – that concept will help me enormously. Thank you, Lucy.

    By Kerryn
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    October 2, 2021
  • So beautifully written . Humour, resolve, no nonsense decisions, self care , pragmatism , wise words -all hard won I’m sure!
    Lovely piece of communication- I’m keeping this handy. Thank you Lucy and I’m so so happy for you!

    By Beth
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    October 2, 2021
    • Love this article Lucy. We have had a parallel relationship with booze. I too have stopped the party. Only occasional weekends and special occasions.

      By Kate Eastburn
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      October 5, 2021
  • Oh wow…just what I needed to hear this morning!
    It’s great to read a story like yours & realise that I am not doomed to a life being controlled by alcohol.
    You have really inspired me to ditch my “best friend” & find some real forever friends who love me as me.
    Thank you so much Lucy 🙏
    Sending you much love.

    By Tess
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    October 2, 2021
  • Not just a wonderful story Lucy but a beautifully written piece of prose – thank you! You are a huge inspiration.

    By Tina
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    October 2, 2021
  • Omg I love her! Great post, thank you for sharing. ❤️❤️❤️

    By ItsAboutTime35
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    October 2, 2021
  • Great article. I love red wine and will miss it until I don’t, but it has to go. This drinking thing is so stupid but when that “sting” arrives to bite you it doesn’t seem so anymore. Have to find other mindless ways to relax.

    By Sonja
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    October 2, 2021
  • I’m on my journey too, 3 months in, I’ve had a few stumbles along the way…reminders that Sparkling wine is never my friend the next day. Thank you for your post – I’m sure your read my journal when you wrote it…it’s almost identical! I love reading the experiences of those who’ve gone before me, it gives me strength.

    By Leanne
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    October 2, 2021
  • Just came across a website that claims Australia, for women, has the highest alcohol use disorder in the world!
    Those in denial would just handle it by getting gender reassignment surgery.

    Or you could just stop drinking.

    By Heath
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    October 2, 2021
  • I really e noted your story. You’ve got great words. Not drinking and enjoy life – go you.

    By Eve
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    October 2, 2021
  • It’s nice to see posts that talk about options other than complete abstinence. I am alcohol free at the moment but would like to enjoy the occasional social drink one day.

    By Jason
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    October 2, 2021
  • Such an engaging story. I found a lot of my truths in there!
    Thanks for your insight!

    By Kylie
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    October 2, 2021
  • Lucy , this is me !!
    Thank you 🙏🏽 so much for your story , it’s so relatable & so eloquently written , I want to be in your shoes. I have gone 6 days AF & I know that already I’m feeling so much better . I want to be able to do what you are doing . It’s still a struggle obviously & I know it will take a while to become a new habit
    I have a fight with myself every afternoon after 4.30 yoga ( how tragic ) will I ? won’t I ? Go on it’s cool , No don’t you’ll regret it back & forth , the voice that says it’s cool is generally the winner & the hatred & anxiety I feel the next day is horrible. I’m so glad to have read this . Thank you Lucy

    By Tracey
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    October 2, 2021
    • I’ve been AF for nearly 8 years. And it’s wonderful. The overwhelming fear of never taking another drink has been replaced with the joy of adding another day to the tally. I’m AF FOR TODAY. Yesterday was a success today will be a success. Tomorrow is another opportunity.

      By David Williams
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      October 2, 2021
  • Great read! Love the honesty and just matter of fact, facts!

    By Jane Burns
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    October 2, 2021
  • Well done! I am on my 16th day af and am so inspired by your beautifully written story.🐣

    By Lynne
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    October 2, 2021
  • Good stuff Lucy. Like the concept of the Sting not owning you anymore. That’s the tough bit…your mind telling you who is in control and I am not the boss of booze and frequently abstain and make friends again. At the very least, even being on this site, this is an attempt to improve and heading in a better direction is sometimes the best one can do. Thanks. Richie

    By Rich
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    October 2, 2021
  • Thanks so much Lucy for your beautifully written piece.
    I’m battling the demons atm and desperately trying to find an alternative, AF, way of life.
    Your blog has given me hope and inspiration…thank you so much 🌸🙏💕

    By Beth
    |
    October 2, 2021
  • Great job Lucy! I want to get to where you’re at but I just don’t seem to make it past the first day anymore before busting. I’m 57 years old so I really need to get my act together before it’s too late to enjoy my BBM next 30 years.

    By Leanne
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    October 2, 2021
  • Beautifully written – like a poem but also like spoken word truth. I too liked to think I have options and could enjoy a drink occasionally in the future, but for me, the mental battle that could come with that – i.e. why not just have another drink, and money’s not that important, etc. is a bit too risky to face. So personally, I find it easier to just not think about alcohol and live completely without it. Then the savings become an actual thing where you can buy stuff, and like you say, have better quality time to enjoy life, that the decision to have a drink is just far outweighed. I feel sorry for people that haven’t realised this yet and still live with the bad weekly/daily habits where they just don’t care about the money or the habits they could be passing to their kids. I just wish these people would wake up a little and realise there’s so much more to life and the quality of memories they can develop with their kids. It’s like, how can you afford to not change your thinking?

    Anyhow, thanks heaps for the post 🙂
    Dean.

    By Dean
    |
    October 3, 2021
  • I am living this ugly relationship. As a 12 hour day RN it is my reward but the next day is not so rewarding. Stress and exhaustion wears me down. I’m gonna keep trying. Thank you for your words and insight 🙏

    By Sharon Smith
    |
    October 5, 2021
  • I am 20 years sober this year.I also just celebrated my 60th birthday.while I am massively grateful for my sobriety I still deeply regret the years wasted to alcohol.in particular how my drinking affected my 2 daughters.i am a strange mixture of pride gratitude and shame.but mainly gratitude for this peaceful happy sober life I now lead and all the joy that brings me.

    By Margaret ann
    |
    October 7, 2021
  • Thank you Lucy , a reminder for me that I miss my clear-headed mornings & it’s time for a reset.

    By Lisa
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    October 8, 2021
  • Loved this piece. My cousin is an AA Big Book thumper and I just can’t relate. But your piece totally resonated with me along with the comments. I’ve suffered a lot of trauma ove the last 4 years–deaths of 4 family members and friends, the social isolation from colleagues I love at work, and the end of 2 very important relationships–and I’ve discovered that alcohol doesn’t help any more. I’ve had bouts of sobriety and I loved my life so much more during those times. Your piece really helped me realize that there is not just one way–the AA way–to succeed. Thank you so very very much.

    By Graciela
    |
    October 17, 2021
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