At what point do we turn our backs on alcohol?
Anne had a successful career in fashion. On paper, at least, everything looked perfect. Things couldn’t be better, right?
Something was holding her back. Closer examination revealed Anne’s relationship with alcohol was holding her back.
It was time to bin the booze.
We chatted to Anne about this decision and how she has navigated her early sobriety.
Thanks so much, Anne!
Anne, hi… let’s start with finding out a little bit about you… what brought you here? I mean, you must have some kind of “drinking story”… care to elaborate?
I was born and raised in the West Country in a small village. I worked in a local shop by day and then in the village pub by night. My life was very boring and I never felt like this was going to change. I lived, worked and socialised in the same village every day for years. I thought I was happy; however, I found myself drinking a couple of bottles of wine every day. The truth is that I was very bored and miserable. I felt my life was not at all exciting and that I had more to offer. Enough was enough and in 2011 I decided to get away and move to London.
It wasn’t easy, but with a little bit of luck and a lot of determination I have been fortunate enough to form a career in the fashion industry and have gone on to work for some of the leading luxury fashion brands.
My life now consisted of work, parties and holidays and from an outside point of view was very glamorous and exciting. I was now drinking a couple of bottles of wine a day socialising and having fun, instead of out of boredom.
In April 2018 I realised I wasn’t entirely happy and although I was satisfied with my career and relationship something in my life was holding me back and making me feel depressed. I discovered that it was, in fact, my relationship with alcohol that was making me feel this way. I decided it was time to bin the booze for good.
What was your drinking like at the point you decided to quit?
It took me a long time to realise that I was actually a problem drinker; I did not consider myself an alcoholic, yet I knew that the way I drank was not normal. I would drink to the point of blacking out most weekends. I constantly felt like shit and my anxiety was through the roof.
A friend of mine recommended I read ‘The Unexpected Joy of Being Sober’ by Catherine Grey. Her story was so similar to my own and it made me realise that if I did quit alcohol then my life could be much better.
So I decided to try and cut back on the drinking.
This did not work and I soon was back to my old ways of getting far too drunk and blacking out.
… and the final straw, for you, was what, exactly?
On a flight back from Dubai I read a book by Sarah Ordo called ‘Sober as f***‘ . Sarah is a party girl who one night was rushed to the hospital due to her body shutting down from drugs and alcohol. From then on Sarah decided to leave the party lifestyle behind and get sober. Reading her story made me realise just how out of control my ‘party’ lifestyle was. I myself was rushed to hospital five years ago due to drugs and alcohol.
Instead of learning from this and giving up alcohol I carried on partying for another 5 years.
In fact, I went back out to party the following day.
It was after finishing her book that I woke up and realised that my wild partying could not carry on.
Do you see yourself as being in recovery… If so, how? What do these words mean to you? If not… how so?
I do not see myself as being in recovery from anything. I see myself as someone who has decided to make a positive change and remove alcohol from my life. I have found that focussing on positives of not drinking rather than seeing it as an illness or problem really works for me and stops me wanting to drink.
So, you stopped/ changed your lifestyle (congratulations!)… how did you do that? How did you manage after you stopped? What did you do to motivate and maintain your abstinence? Any hints or tips, sources of inspiration for people seeking to do the same?
For me, the first step was realising that drink was no good for me and brought nothing positive to my life. I finally realised that the nonstop partying was no longer fun. I then went and bought a load more books about sobriety from Amazon. I found the more I read about sobriety the less I wanted to drink. The inspiring stories made me want to achieve the same as them and find happiness without drinking.
I also decided to reward myself at the end of each month with luxuries that I would not normally buy, using the money that I had saved by not drinking.
This gave me something to look forward to each month and made me realise just how much I was spending on this lifestyle.
My main motivation was the thought of never having to wake up with that feeling of shame and anxiety ever again.
Not drinking alcohol can be a very stigmatising thing… were you prepared for that? How did you deal with it? How did others around you deal with it?
When I first gave up drinking, I was very nervous about what others would think. My friends and family are quite a boozy bunch and I did not want my sobriety to make them feel as though they were losing me. I also did not want to feel the pressure and start drinking again.
Early on, I decided to send a text to all of my close friends and family explaining I was giving up alcohol and begged them not to encourage me to have a drink. I was actually very surprised at how supportive everyone was. I had a lot of congratulations text and words of wisdom. Doing this made it so much easier for me to be around friends when they were drinking. It meant that I did not have to feel awkward or explain myself. As for other people, yes, some people will make remarks and believe that what I am doing is stupid but all of those negative comments are just white noise to me now. What really matters is that I am now happy and living my best life.
Were you successful from day one? Any relapses? How did you cope, emotionally with all this?
The first few weeks were fine. I was really excited and motivated about my new lifestyle. I did, however, have one blip just before my 3 months without alcohol.
My partner invited me to meet his colleagues for drinks. They had been out on a works do all day and had already been drinking for a long time by the time I got there.
When they asked me what I wanted to drink, I asked for prosecco.
It must have been a mixture of nerves, embarrassment and insecurity that made me drink that evening.
I did not want to be perceived to be the boring girlfriend and have everyone judge me. I woke up the next day devastated with my decision to drink that evening. I had my first panic attack and ran out of my flat crying at 6 am.
I was so ashamed with myself and disappointed that I didn’t even make the three-month mark.
From then on I knew that I would not drink again.
So… (drum roll) your blog “Sober Style”- what’s THAT all about?
Sober-Style is a lifestyle and wellness blog, on which I share my experiences with giving up alcohol and highlight the many benefits it has had on my life and personal growth. There are a lot of beauty tips, recipes and travel ideas on there too.
“What I have learnt since binning the booze…” is a very personal reflection – could you tell us how/ why you wrote this?
Giving up alcohol has been such an incredible journey for me.
I have learnt so much about myself and what I actually enjoy doing.
Before I gave up drinking I thought I was a really confident, happy go lucky person and when I gave up I realised that this wasn’t true, I’m actually very shy.
I used to think that if I gave up drinking my life would be so dull and I would be missing out on something. It is, in fact, quite the opposite; I do a lot more than I ever used to do. I am present and enjoy the moment. I am much nicer to be around and I have so much more time on my hands to do the things I enjoy. My only regret is not giving up sooner. I spent far too long trying to live up to my party girl persona to realise that that just wasn’t me at all.
I have also learnt that those who love me do not care if I drink or not. They are only happy to see that I am happy and want what is best for me.
All of my close friends and family are extremely proud of me and the time we spend together is much more real.
With this in mind… what is your main message (both in this piece and in your blog)?
My main message to people would be that a life free from alcohol is incredible.
So many benefits come from not drinking.
You will be richer, healthier and happier because of binning the booze.
A sober life can be so much fun and there is nothing boring about being alcohol-free.
More broadly, what does writing a blog mean to you as part of your recovery and/ or more widely in terms of the subjects you tackle?
I find writing a blog to be very therapeutic.
Putting my thoughts down on paper is a great way of expressing how I feel and an excellent way of sharing my experiences with others. I hope people can learn from them and take inspiration from some of my stories, just like I did reading about others.
It is also a great way of constantly reminding yourself of the reasons you do not want to drink and remind yourself of the benefits it is having on you.
Having an audience that encourages and inspires really motivates you to keep going.
I would not want to let my lovely readers down by having a drink.
If any of our readers are thinking about writing/ starting a blog – what advice would you give them (hints/ tips/ rationale etc)
It’s really nerve-wracking at first.
I worried that people would be judgemental and make negative comments. People have been quite the opposite. They have been kind, positive and encouraging.
Just be yourself and share your experiences. People want to hear real stories and learn from them.
And finally, what’s next for you? For Anne?
Now that I am 8 months sober, I can say with confidence that I doubt I’ll drink again.
I want to enjoy life and make the most of all of this free time.
Whether that be through travel, design or fitness. I want to be the best version of myself I can be and enjoy every moment of this new chapter in my life.
About our author, Anne:
Anne is a lifestyle and wellness blogger who writes about beauty products she can’t live without, her favourite places to travel and delicious meals she loves to cook.
She also shares her experiences of giving up alcohol, how she achieved this, and the ways in which it has improved her life.
Her blog is aimed at helping people live a glamorous and fun lifestyle without feeling the pressure of having to drink alcohol in order to do so.