My relationship with alcohol began at 14. I wasn’t off to the best start in terms of healthy habits with it!
Even from that age I used alcohol to deal with things that weren’t going well in my life. I didn’t have the supports at that time to see how unhealthy my relationship with alcohol was.
Around age 19 my drinking habits became more social. Weekend binges. Quite popular in all of society. I was a ‘normal’ drinker in fact.
At that time that my weeks work was for the weekend. To live it up. To wash down the hard work with a bottle of ‘whatever was on offer that day’ with my friends.
It wasn’t until I had my first child at 23 that I analysed my drinking habits and became honest with myself – it wasn’t healthy. It wasn’t what I wanted my daughter to copy as she got older.
That was in 2004.
It was nearly 15 years later when I finally took my last drink. 19 months ago.
15 years of mind turmoil. I’ll moderate, I’d tell myself. And I would, until I wouldn’t. I found that over the years.
Yet as time went on I did drink less. It wasn’t the amount that was harming me. I turned to alcohol when I was dealing with tough emotions. It was my companion. Yes, I’d only have a couple of drinks, a glass or two of wine, enough to ‘take the edge off’. But I would wake at 3am, sorry, sick and tired. Full of guilt and shame at my weakness. Why couldn’t I just stop? I wasn’t an alcoholic, I wanted to give up, what was the problem?
About 19 months ago, I realised my drinking habits had started to get out of control – I drank a glass of wine almost every day, and even though I could stop at one, I didn’t want to stop at one. I spent way too much time thinking about alcohol and the negative effect it was having on me and my now 4 children.
I didn’t want to be the person I had become.
So I decided. Really, finally and honestly decided to give up alcohol for a year. No excuses, no moderating. If I gave in and drank I made a promise to myself to go to my doctor and speak to her.
I almost had a panic attack at the thought of it, the end of the road had finally come, one way or another.
Making a truthful decision, with a plan for every eventuality was the crucial first step. It allowed me to have a choice – do it alone or speak with the doctor and admit that you can’t do it alone.
I started reading ‘quit lit’ – books based around alcohol, the truth and the science, how others quit and their journey. I found these hugely beneficial and they empowered me around my decision and helped me to not feel so alone. I realised that grey area drinking was actually a thing and I didn’t have to be an alcoholic to have an unhealthy relationship with alcohol.
As time went on, different obstacles came in my direction. In the first year I had to navigate a christening (my first one sober), a hen party (and Irish bachelorette party), an Irish wedding, and the biggest obstacle of all – dealing with my emotions. Something I had not done since I was 14 years of age!
It wasn’t easy in the beginning. I had to learn to sit in peace and listen to myself. I had to learn to love and nurture myself using journal I used to write my thoughts down and this helped hugely. I learned guided meditation, I began to read self development books and drank these in at an astounding rate. I cried a lot. I had to get used to doing it sober after all! But I also laughed a lot. I learned a lot about what makes me happy and what hurts my soul.
19 months later, I’m still on my alcohol free living journey. I guess I will always have to make the decision not to drink – but I am not powerless. The total opposite. I am empowered, I am free and I am full of joy in the little things, my children love my attentiveness and I love being 100% present for them at all times. I feel like a rebel at times. Going against society, and it feels great! Yet I feel full of peace at the same time. Even when life throws me curveballs.
Does alcohol still cross my mind? Absolutely. It is everywhere I go so naturally it crosses my mind time to time, but I make a conscious decision that it has no place in my life anymore and I am great at making decisions since I became alcohol free!
I started my own hypnosis coaching business, I have made and exceeded all goals I put in place for myself (I never even used to have goals). I am in tune with myself and I know who I am and what I stand for, yet I’m just getting started at the same time.
My transformation has been so great that I hardly recognise the women pre January 1st 2018. She was scared, full of fear, guilt, shame and anxiety. She loved her children but she didn’t know how to ‘make’ them happy.
Post January 1st 2018, I see a warrior. She doesn’t care what others think of her. She invests in herself and believes in herself and her greatness. Her children are happy and whole.
Alcohol lied to me, like a toxic boyfriend. It told me that it would always be there for me during the good and the bad but it only wanted to suck my energy from me. It wanted to get its claws into me and fill me with anxiety and dread, scared for the future.
But I broke free.
This realisation took 15 years from my first doubts around alcohol.
Unhealthy relationships with alcohol are all too common. I had to dig deep inside using journaling, meditation and one to one support to get to where I am today.
And through all of this I realise something BIG.
I have broken the pattern of addiction in my family.
I have stopped my children from normalising alcohol misuse and I have shone a light on their brilliance and shown them how to cope with the good and the bad.
With Love, Norah x