I used to have the motto, “I'm here for a good time, not a long time”, and my golly I have had a good time.
But did it make me eternally happy? NO! And in hindsight, how awful was that motto?! I used to drink a lot. I used to party a lot. But I was doing it for all the wrong reasons. To escape life, I drank to build my confidence. For me, alcohol was a release. I didn’t have confidence in my own abilities so I thought I needed a lift to make my personality shine.
And for that moment in time, yeah it did lift me, but unfortunately the days after took me on a huge emotional rollercoaster ride, one that made me depressed. Despite how I appeared, I was not in a good place. Every Sunday morning for years and years, I would wake up, extremely hung over, wanting a better life for myself, but I just didn’t know how to get there. This wasn’t the life I envisioned. This was not who I wanted to be.
I wanted more from life. For me, many of my issues started from drinking. I was an extremist. I was either drunk or sober - I didn’t have an off switch. I drank to get drunk.
When alcohol was in my system, the downhill spiral effect started. I would get drunk. Then I would eat bad food. Then I would have broken sleep. Then I would get grumpy. Due to lack of sleep and poor nutrition, my skin would break out and I wouldn't want to go out in public.
I spent most Sundays curled in a ball on the ground stuffing my face with KFC (chicken fillet burger combo, upsized, with extra salt, and a bottle of water – you know, for balance), promising myself that I would never drink again.
But come Thursday, I started that process all over again, repeatedly. I loved drinking because I loved being social but I suffered the after-effects badly.
When I became pregnant with Axel (now almost three), I truly believed this was the blessing I had been asking for. I knew I needed to make a major lifestyle change, and becoming pregnant was just the motivation I needed.
Since having Axel I haven’t had much to drink. But one night stands out, when Axel was about 18 months old. I guess I wanted to make sure I wasn’t missing out on life.
Well, my date night was spent spewing outside an Uber and my hangover lasted five days. I was a wreck!
How could I possibly be a good mum, look after my baby and run a business like this?! This was by far all the motivation I needed to completely leave my past life behind and stop drinking altogether.
I have been completely sober for almost two years now and I have finally found myself.
But it wasn’t easy and I found myself constantly justifying why I don’t drink. We live in a culture where it is almost celebrated to write ourselves off. Why do we feel like an outsider if we say no?! Alcohol was not good for my soul. And that decision should be celebrated, not frowned upon.
Turns out living without alcohol is a breeze for me. I have absolutely no desire to drink.
I used to live for the moment, not the future. That was my old life.
Now I live for the future, not the moment.
Being alcohol-free, my mind is clearer. I make better life choices. I eat better. I nourish my body and mind daily. My life simply flows better. I am more mindful and have a natural high on life.
I don’t need alcohol to make my personality shine. It shines even more brightly without it. For those that are on the same path, even if that's just for one night, I'm here to tell you that it is OK not to drink. And it is OK to say no! We all have the right to make our own decisions in life.
You can read more from mum Jacintha Akkerman on her blog.