The one surprising thing that made it easy to give up alcohol for good

This week’s guest blog is from Vari Longmuir, a Melbourne-based illustrator and life coach. She helps creative women build businesses with more intention, authenticity and clarity. Vari has just celebrated 12 months since she chose to remove alcohol from her life. She shares her journey so far and why traumatic rock bottoms are not necessary in order to choose a life without alcohol. 

Last week – with a mug of tea in hand – I quietly celebrated 1 year since deciding to remove alcohol from my life. 

I will forever feel incredibly fortunate that my story of transition out of alcohol is not one of traumatic rock bottoms. 

But, the truth is, having no ‘rock bottom’ almost makes it harder to make the decision. 

If there’s nothing majorly at stake, and life appears to be ticking along just fine, then why change anything?

It’s true – there was no major external drama around my drinking. Internally however, my relationship with alcohol had been something I’d been uncomfortable with for a long time.

Forever maybe …

When I look back, there were most definitely signs – in my late teens and early twenties – that me and alcohol did not have a healthy relationship.

Being suspended from school in New York, aged 17, for being drunk at a school basketball game, was just one of them.

But drinking had always been part of who I was. It was part of my identity –  ‘Vari can sink pints with the boys. ’ – and my culture. 

Wherever you go in the world, the Scots’ reputation for being able to ‘hold our drink’ precedes us.  And man did I try to live up to this! 

I knew that full-blown alcoholism was in my family. I’d watched it happen to family members, as a kid. The kind of addiction that actually kills people. I knew I wasn’t ‘like that’. So I must not have a problem … right? 

I know … perhaps I’ll just moderate my drinking … 

Moderation was useless for me.  

Part of what made me uncomfortable about my drinking was how much energy it stole from me. Trying to decide if I’d drive tonight and have a drink tomorrow took up way too much of my already depleted energy.

My breakup with alcohol did not come with a big pre-planned announcement.

I didn’t wait for the start of a new month, or week, or day.

I just quietly decided – at 8pm on a Sunday night – that it was time.  And the glass of wine I’d poured went down the sink. 

Here’s what scared me the most when I thought about a life without alcohol:

But this seemingly insignificant, low-key decision changed my life. It changed my life in ways I could not have imagined.

I decided that I didn’t want to be someone who had iron-clad willpower to resist alcohol. I decided that I would be someone who wouldn’t have the desire for alcohol.  

GAME-CHANGER. 

I wanted to be the woman who was interesting and creative and funny and outgoing. And who didn’t think about alcohol. 

I wanted to be the woman who would happily go to a bar or have dinner with friends who were drinking. And not feel like the odd one out.

I wanted to be the woman who got on a plane, asked for a sparkling water and felt the same excitement as my champagne-sipping travel companions. 

I wanted to be the woman who could pick up her keys and drive anywhere at any time. (This was a big one for me as a mother of two growing boys.)  

I wanted to be the woman who could enjoy the natural pleasures of summer – long hot nights, ocean swims, warm early mornings – without diluting them with alcohol. 

I wanted to be the woman who could count on herself every moment of every day and do what I said I was going to do. 

Today, I am this woman. This is what a year without alcohol has gifted me. 

My internal discomfort with alcohol was drowning me. It was distracting me from emotions that had to be processed, relationships that had to be healed, art that had to be created, words that needed to be written and decisions that had to be made.  

The rich, full life I dreamed of was not available to me while alcohol was still present. 

What I know to be true is this:  

Balance does not come from the hardcore workout followed by  the wine-fuelled nights – an increasingly scary zeitgeist of our time.  

It comes from compassion and curiosity and gentleness towards myself. 

A sober life doesn’t only ask us to step away from alcohol. It asks us to step towards ourselves. To be more fully us. To embrace our vulnerabilities and insecurities with all our beautiful shyness and nervousness.

Because that is when people see the real us. That is when we authentically connect on a soul level. And it is this willingness to be seen for who we truly are that inspires others to give themselves permission to do the same. 

 

Great story I have been going through the same thing

This is a very compelling posting for me. I simply stumbled across it while looking at other blogs, etc. It has inspired me to look at myself differently, not to see life as missing out on something without drinking, but instead looking at how much more life I stand to gain without my crutch

What’s a fantastic and encouraging story. Pouring a glass of wine down the dink is truly the statement of defiance & determination some of us need to read. I am fully sold on Vari’s attitude to the ‘non drinker label’ (stigma) and more importantly her attitude to herself. What a brilliant advertisement for an abundant, satisfying & liberating life. It’s been written in a positive way where the gift of life shines, and ‘the drink’ hardly gets a mention. Thank you Vari.

Oh my gosh – I loved this! Thank you so much – I’m almost at 3 months and this makes me want to get in a solid year and then keep going! Very inspiring !!!

Amazing…trying my best to be upto your mark …god bless

Wow what a wonderful approach to something that is difficult to do, thank you this has definitely given me something to think about. You have provided the answers to some of my questions that have been lurking around in my mind. It’s the freedom from alcohol that is most appealing to me and you have reinforced that for me . Thank you

Thank you x

Being able to drive anywhere at anytime is a big one. If u go to dinner with lady friends and drive. The getting stopped for dui is allways on your mind .

I love these words! So much to gain and learn and experience. I too had no big drama, just decided to stop midway through a bottle of rose as I chose to listen to my own body and what it was telling me. This inspires me to keep going on my AF journey and celebrate all the positives it brings me.

Thanks for sharing Vari ~ and congratulations! My path has been much the same ~ and also began at about 8pm on a Sunday night (two years ago this week). About three weeks after I decided to go alcohol free I asked my then 11-year son if he had noticed anything different ~ and when he said to me that “your much more fund without alcohol Dad” that was the clincher! I thought he was going to see “you’re not drinking any beer Dad” but it’s so much more than that. All the best to you, Om

I am at day one and reading this makes me feel as if I can really do it and want so much to do it. Thank you

I am at day one and reading this makes me feel as if I can really do it. I would love a normal life alcohol free. Thank you

AMAZING . I have been sober 21 months now and life has never been better. The relationship I am building with myself is incredibly miraculous and it is spreading and rebuilding my relationship 3others.

Thank-you. These words are just what I needed this morning. My wine down the sink moment was last Sunday. Just four days ago. No rock bottom crisis, just weary me. After 12 months of stop start promises to myself and countless futile attempts at moderation this feels different. Weary me wants to meet and nurture the funny, creative, positive (and yes, sober) girl I once was. I know she’s still there. Somewhere..

This is so powerful – thank you

Great perspective! I loved this article – thank you for writing it.

If you read my diary you would find the exact same sentiments. This is probably the best article I have read recently, best because it reflects my background, my relationship with alcohol and the current healthy state of my mind and my soul. I am so deeply happy and so relaxed as the heavy weight of drinking alcohol is lifted of my shoulders, by me. After many failed attempts I one day decided to not drink alcohol any longer. I am so grateful for my glorious new life.

What a great mindset and outlook Vari. I stopped using alcohol back in February this year and now aiming for a full year, however after reading your blog I question why I’m thinking in terms of time away from alcohol, as if there is a door not quite closed. I’m now not holding any thoughts of when I might have a drink or how long I’ll be sober, instead I’m just one of those people who prefers iced soda or mineral water on hot days, quality coffee in the mornings and decaf tea in the evening. Thanks Vari, I really appreciated your blog and all the very best to everyone out there who might also be inspired by it.

Wonderful post. This is exactly how I feel. Alcohol is so tricky – it doesn’t need to ruin your life to have a massive impact on all facets. I love the line about not having the desire rather then resisting – it really does turn the whole experience on its head. I am nearly 4 months booze free – I will make it to a year and probably beyond.. I really no longer have the desire to drink.

This is a powerful message and inspiring read. Thank you.

Thank you for sharing- Truly inspiring, it takes great strength, determination and will power to make the decision that you did, and I wish you well on your exciting journey .

This is a fantastic piece- I feel every word on the blog is there for a reason, you didn’t waste words. Your description of your experience is like looking at my life from above. I’m loving the simplistic picture you paint of a simple, peaceful life free from alcohol. I truly believe with enough reading and understanding of all the positive things that a booze free life gives us, we can rewire our brains ( brainwash) if you like, ( in a good way) enough to find out who we really are and who we aspire to be which this can be achieved- perhaps without as much effort as we anticipated.

Thank you, Vari, for that eloquent and moving account. It has given me the inspiration for a new and, hopefully, more compelling, ‘why’. x

Awesome. I’m currently taking a break and I very much connected to the notion of ‘culture’ as it’s something I’ve been thinking about as an influence for a while: Canadian/ Scottish culture. Thx for the post!

Thank you for sharing Vari. I’m coming up on 9 months and I feel the same way you do. In the short time since alcohol and I broke up my life has become so much better. I found the courage to leave my very comfortable job and take on a new more challenging one. I am so thankful that I don’t drink because while I’m working much harder, I recover so quickly as I sleep off my exhaustion rather than drink it away. May many follow in your wise and wonderful footsteps.

Thank you for sharing your story Vari, I found it so refreshing. I, too, celebrated 1 year alcohol free last week and feel amazing. I’ve navigated a year of many “sober firsts” and am now finding out who I really am, getting to know the true me for the first time…stepping towards myself, as you so nicely put it. Life is so much better without alcohol! I actually celebrated with a Mocktail Party Dry July fundraising event. I wanted to show my friends just how much fun you can have AF! Danced all night, had a great time and most importantly raised $1000 for my local cancer centre!

Thank you so much for your thought. Really resonated with me.

I’ve just started on the road to recovery and am now five plus weeks sober!I feel like I’m discovering or rather uncovering a new person (the original me) and the clarity and creativity that this new person brings is priceless. The story of Vari’s journey addresses some of the issues that will crop up in my future life..what to do on holiday,on planes,at Christmas and stupid things like how to make a sherry trifle without the requisite sherry!I know some of these things will require determination but I balance it with the joy that my sober life is bringing me!

This was about one of the best articles I’ve read recently. You have a way of using words to provide inspiration. Many thanks for sharing, I have taken something positive from this.

Inspiring: And so true about the need to move from resistance to just no longer desiring

The most noticable thing is the freedom I feel when not drinking. Especially long periods of time. No headache and sick stomach in morning. No just going to bed to pass out. No guilt from drinking. No lieng to myself or anyone else. Just feels good all over. Plus health benefits. All and all don’t plan on ever doing it again. Been several months and I honestly dont miss it. Life is actually better when not addicted to a mind numbing Poison!

So inspiring! Thank you for sharing Vari. I am also doing a 12 month challenge and have just past 6 months. What resonates for me from reading your blog is that”… a sober life asks us to step towards ourselves. To be more fully us. To embrace our vulnerabilities and insecurities.” I’m so grateful to have read your blog, because today I am feeling lonely and craving a drink, but today I am going to embrace this vulnerability, give it love and let it pass. Thank you

Great story. 2 months in and all of that resonates with me. They key for me, and as you say, is not having the DESIRE to drink alcohol. The fear of what certain situations might be like without booze is alcohol’s way of trying to pull you back in although most sober nights are better than boozy ones particularly where kids are involved. Nice one and thank you

Vari thanks so much for sharing. You adopted a very inspiring way to “tackle” the issue. I will read numerous times! Thanks so much

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