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I was 43 when I decided to take a thirty-day break from alcohol. I didn’t really want to, but my partner had been advised by his doctor to see whether a month booze-free would help his ongoing reflux and heartburn. So, I agreed to join him – on the strict condition that we would go back to normal after our sentence was complete.
I had no desire to give up or even take a break from alcohol at that time. On the contrary, I enjoyed my drinking life. Having separated from my husband at 40, I had met my new partner at 42 and was enjoying finding myself again. We had been dating for a year at that stage and life was good. In my mind there was absolutely no reason for me to not drink. What was a Friday night without a few beers? Or a Saturday without sharing a bottle of wine? What was the point of going out to a restaurant together, or the pub with friends without a glass of your favourite in hand?
When it came down to it – where was the enjoyment of life without alcohol?
And so, with heavy hearts, we began our month on the dry.
The first weekend
The first weekend was tough. All the sparkle of the weekend had disappeared. Where was my reward for making it through the working week?
I sat on the sofa that Friday night sipping my peppermint tea, while giving himself resentful sideling glances. All. Your. Fault.
But when the next morning dawned, I had to admit I felt pretty good. And with the day stretching ahead of me and no hangover in sight I breezed through the football runs, shopping, baking, meal planning and cleaning. For the first time in a long time, I felt rested and organised heading into the next week.
And that week felt better too. I woke earlier and with more energy. My mind was clearer. Work challenges all seemed doable, and I was in better form at home. Everything just seemed to flow more easily.
But of course, then Friday arrived again and with it the niggling feeling that I was missing out.
We quickly realised that if we were to get through the month we had to focus on what we were gaining rather than what we were missing out on. So, we planned morning hikes in the mountains, breakfast dates, and signed up to a 10k Run In The Dark. I began to get up at 6am on the weekdays to plough through a Digital Marketing Diploma that I had signed up to and was half-heartedly limping through for the previous 8 months. But even all that was not enough to fill all the extra time I found myself with. So, I painted the downstairs of the house in between juggling work, three kids and my new routine.
Will we just try another month?
When the end of the month rolled around we danced around the issue of what came next. Despite ourselves we had enjoyed the month. We had accomplished so much and felt so good that it seemed crazy to go back to our old ways. Eventually one of us said it – “Will we just try another month…?”
And so we did. Over 4 years later we are still living life with out booze. And what a life it is. Because I was never a problem drinker I had never realised how much alcohol was holding me back, but since giving up I have accomplished more than I ever thought possible. I’ve written two books, run a marathon, completed my Digital Marketing diploma, become a better parent, am healthier, happier, more confident, less anxious, more productive and genuinely feel like I have won the life lottery – all because I gave up alcohol for 30 days.
I had thought giving up drink was impossible. But as they say “The only impossible journey is the one you never begin”. Thirty days could change your life. It certainly did for me.
Find out more about Kate’s journey in her book The Accidental Soberista (Gill), available in all good bookstores, on Kindle, or as an audiobook.