I tried to be sober before, I did 2 months alcohol-free in the last two years but this time I’m telling you, it’s different.
You probably heard this many times from people who stopped drinking. But it’s different this time because I’m now over 70 days and I’ll tell you why I chose to become sober… First, I’m really proud of myself, I never thought I could go further than 30 days but I have this desire in me to keep going and take a longer break.
The 2-month alcohol-free was for giving myself a little break after a summer of drinking, I felt it would get unhealthy if I didn’t take a break. The second one was for health reasons, my naturopath told me to stop drinking for a month to heal my gut issues. This time, after some heavy drinking during the holidays and feeling awful and bloated, a little voice inside me told me to do Dry January, I felt as if it was the next step on my path to healing. I’m glad I listened to my inner voice!
So now, let me explain why…
I started therapy at the end of 2019 and a couple of months later, Covid-19 hit the entire planet, we all know what happened: everyone started drinking more! We drank more, ate more, we were anxious and uncertain of what will happen in the future. Are we gonna go back to how it was before? Will a member of my family die? Will I get the virus? Am I going to lose my job?
It was bad and like most people, I ate my emotions and drank my emotions. During the pandemic I felt I had two choices, let the situation control me or take control of what I can control. So, it was either indulging in bad behaviors or working on myself and take that time to turn it into something positive and productive and build good habits. At first, it was a constant battle. There were so many emotions to deal with, I let them take over me and I turned to old and destructive patterns. I would wake up, do an intense workout for 1 hour or sometimes more and at night I would drink and binge my anxiety away. Wake up the next day, feeling horrible with myself, guilty, tired, angry and repeat the same that day. I was stuck in that cycle for a good 2 months.
Then, I realized I gained weight (let me tell you, working out doesn’t cancel a shit load of cookies and a bottle of wine). It was a wake up call and I was in need of a serious change. I built a good morning and evening routine, started daily meditation, cut alcohol to weekends only and changed my diet (no more baking!) I slowly lost the weight. But here’s where things got complicated but in a more subtle way….
I became a binge drinker on the weekends. I was doing amazing during the weekdays but when the weekend hit, watch out! It was time to let loose … eat what I want and drink how much I want! On the long term, it was more damaging than I realized. Let’s just say I had a lovely relationship with the toilet bowl during the last year! I was back in some old patterns and I was still stuck in a (vicious) cycle.
To come back to the therapy, the whole year I was constantly in contact with my therapist and it seriously saved me. I had so many ah-ah moments, I did a lot of introspection and work on myself. It was a terrible year but I had to force myself to look closely inside me and realized that I kept many unresolved issues and emotions I never wanted to feel and deal with it. Something bad happened to me 12 years ago and I pushed the emotions down. It’s amazing how in therapy you can really go far behind in your life and see that one traumatic event is connected to so many other issues. Putting the finger on one core event, led me to finally understand the reason behind the way I was behaving, the self-destructive behaviors and the toxic relationships I attracted.
But with the pandemic, it was triggering for many of us and made the emotions come back to the surface and that’s why I was drinking my emotions and why I continued binge drinking on the weekend. I was still using alcohol to escape the emotions I faced daily. Removing alcohol was naturally the next step for me if I truly wanted to heal. And that’s what I did.
I was never a big drinker. When I was a teenager, I never touched alcohol and wasn’t interested. I was more interested in slumber parties with my girlfriends than going to a party. When I turned 18 years old, I started drinking but it was more like occasional drinking … maybe once every few months and I never finished bottles of wine (I didn’t appreciate wine until the age of 28–29 years old).
When I became a model, I was still an occasional drinker plus I had an incredible amount of self-discipline too. I read some old blog posts from my modeling days, I could take a sip of a cocktail and be like “It’s good but I don’t want it”… Wow! Or that time I was on vacation in Mexico for 2 weeks with my parents (before my modeling trip to Tokyo) and only drank one cocktail on NYE … that’s it!! I drank only water during the entire trip! When I was working abroad as a model, I would go out but try not to drink too much or at all sometimes. I was reasonable and could moderate my drinking.
Then, I lived 3 months in Tokyo and came back a drinker! A real drinker this time, the one that consumes too many cocktails, wants to “get fucked up tonight!” and blacks out often. That’s when I did a complete 180… I was a mess and I’m finally ready to undo this mess 12 years later.
Now back to 2021…
I started Dry January on January 2nd. My sister was part of the Dry January challenge too. I started first with the thought that it was only 30 days. I didn’t want to put pressure on myself. Also, it was the perfect time to do it while being in quarantine. I didn’t have to deal with people around me pressuring me to drink. One of the reasons I started drinking was because of peer pressure. I felt isolated in another country and wanted to fit in with my new friends. I wanted to be less boring, more social and more fun!
Now, I’m isolated but I don’t have the bad influence to influence my choice not to drink … for now … cause when everything opens, it will be more challenging. I take it one day at a time. And I don’t count the days until I can drink, honestly it’s the best way to do it.
I use the app “I am Sober” to count my days, reach milestones, motivate myself, make a pledge each day, review my day and see people’s stories daily. It helps and keeps me going. I’m also inspired by people who stopped drinking and shared their stories. I read books on the subject to stay motivated and reinforce my decision. I listened to “This Naked mind” by Annie Grace and I’m currently reading “Quit Like a Woman” by Holly Whitaker. I like to do mocktails and tried a couple of Québécois and Canadian non-alcoholic gin (HP Juniper, Hickson and Sobrii). My favorite so far is the Hickson gin.
What are the benefits?
Well, I don’t have hangovers anymore! I no longer indulge in junk food or excess calories at night. I’m more aware of how I feel and I feel my emotions way more than before, I’m highly sensitive so sometimes it feels overwhelming but I do my best to feel them and not escape them. I have ups and downs and it’s part of the process. I have a clear mind, better sleep and my mood is better, I feel happier generally and more positive too. I have more energy and feel way more productive. The last one surprised me, I thought I became a lazy and unmotivated person in the last 12 years and thought it was simply who I was. Nope. I’m rediscovering my true self: I found back my ambitious, determined and disciplined self. The girl before I developed a drinking problem!
During the first month, I focused on my well-being, feeling good and prioritized self-care. I was meditating already but decided to do it twice a day, I did the 21-day manifestation challenge by Gabrielle Bernstein, I drank celery juice and added chlorophyll to my water to detox my liver. I also treated myself to different massages (I did lymphatic drainage, Swedish and tried hot bamboo massage [so relaxing!]) and I also did acupuncture.
For the first 30 days, my intentions were to have a better relationship with alcohol, lose the last pounds of fat, improve my workouts and my mental health. After 30 days, I felt so good that I didn’t feel like drinking and decided to continue. Also, after a bad day I don’t want to drink cause I know I’ll feel worse. The hardest for me was to go through the weekend without drinking and to break the habit. Now, I don’t associate weekends with drinking and choose to focus on other activities and personal projects.
It’s been 70 days and I still want to continue. I’d like to reach 100 days, that’s my next goal! I usually say I’ll stay sober until I heal what I need to heal. I don’t like saying I’ll be sober forever, I don’t want to put too much pressure on myself. I might or I might not stay sober. In the moment, it’s day by day. We usually fear cutting alcohol out of our lives for many reasons (and depending on your relationship with alcohol!) but it can be the greatest gift you can give yourself!