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BMBL Podcast 002: Why I Quit Alcohol

Welcome to Episode 002 of the Busy Mum. Balanced Life. podcast!

In this episode, I share much more about my decision to stop drinking – why I quit alcohol.

This includes my addiction to alcohol, how I struggled to stop drinking and the steps I took to finally quit.

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Transcript

This is episode two of the Busy Mum Balanced Life podcast.

Hey, this is Mim Jenkinson and you are listening to the Busy Mum Balanced Life podcast.

Welcome back and today I thought I would talk about something quite personal. I have shared about this on my blog and my social channels and you can feel free to go and check them out. But I thought I would have a bit of a chat with you about something I’ve changed in my life recently and that change was becoming sober. So stopping drinking, no more booze, no more wine, and having someone who’s been quite the “Social drinker” for 20 plus years, many, many years, it was a huge change for me. And I thought I would just have a chat today about why I made the decision to no longer drink alcohol, why I’ve done it and how I’ve done it. And perhaps a bit about, how that has changed things for me.

And the reason I shared in the first place was because it was such a big change for me and something that I couldn’t imagine actually doing or even wanting to do, to be honest for quite a while. But the more I started sharing what I was doing and why I was doing it, the more messages and emails and comments I received. And I have no idea that I was not the only one who was struggling with this, with this addiction to alcohol or addiction to the habit of drinking alcohol or the reasons why I, and so many of you, we’re going through this kind of habitual or addiction stage and want them to come out of it and not knowing how. But the amount, the sheer amount of comments and messages I’ve had, I went to the hundreds and I’ve been quite blown away.

And on one hand it makes me feel good and validated that I’m not the only one who is experiencing these things. But also it shocked me too because, I did think I was one of the only ones that I had so much shame about how much I was drinking. The fact that I couldn’t cut it down and the reasons why I was drinking a lot, it makes me feel better that I’m not on my own in that it has opened my eyes to the fact that this is a big issue for many, many people, many moms. So yes, I thought I would share why I made the decision. So I’ve been drinking for a very long time. I started drinking alcoholic at quite an early age and then as I got to kind of 14, 15, 16, I first started drinking socially with friends and it wasn’t a huge amount back in that time, but there were a few times definitely in my kind of teenage life where I drank too much.

I mean, I shouldn’t have been drinking at all. Clearly it wasn’t legal. I’m from the UK, it wasn’t people there, and I know isn’t it the most, most countries. And so, it kind of was one of those social things that we did. And I’m sure many of you can relate to this. It was just something you did as a kid. You know, we didn’t really do that hang in around on street corners drinking thing. But I did, you know, when we went to friend’s houses and parties and their parents weren’t there. Yeah, I remember we’d be taking alcohol of somebody who is old enough to, or tall enough and looked old enough to get alcohol from the shop would be tasked with that job. And that was often me actually because I was tall and always looked a bit older than I am. I remember having taken great pride in being the one who got served, which, yeah, not cool, not cool now I’m a mum. I hate to think about my kids doing that attribute, but anyway.

So over the years, I went through periods of drinking a lot to not drinking much. And I’ve always had quite the grip on how much I was drinking. There’s only been a few times in my life that I’ve been really out of control. However, they’ve been really significant to me. And perhaps I’ll share more about those situations in the future. But generally I have drank quite consistently for quite a number of years, but more recently about, that’s about three years ago and I think it was around the time I was diagnosed with cancer and after chemo it became a bit of a coping mechanism for me. And not just because of cancer, but also because of just the anxieties of getting older and dealing with a busy family and two kids and just being really busy, and finding it very difficult to wind down and relax and trying to manage the demons of having gone through a cancer diagnosis.

And just not really finding healthy ways that really tackled all of those different anxieties and emotions. And I just found myself turning to alcohol and then it became a habit. So 7:00 PM almost every night would be the time that I would really look forward to in the afternoon because it meant that I could open the wine, relax in front of Netflix and even just turning the cap of the wine bottle was probably enough most of the time to make me instantly feel relaxed. And I haven’t found anything else that made me feel that way and it became a huge habit for me. In fact I would look forward to it. So I didn’t know whether this was a sign of alcoholism or not. I still actually don’t know now, but it got to the point where kind of 3:00, 4:00 PM every day, I start to look forward to wine time.

So whether it had been a hard day and I needed something to take my mind off it or a stressful day or a really good day and I wanted to celebrate or just a boring day and I wanted something to make it a bit more fun. I had a reason for drinking nearly every day pretty much every day. And what started with one or two glasses of wine quickly, up-scaled to a bottle or even more some nights and I just could not stop. This went on for, I actually thought it was only a few months, but having thought about it more over the past few weeks, it’s been awhile. It’s been a while since I’ve been drinking that frequently and in that quantity and I’m really ashamed to say that out loud. And I gave myself a real good beating up every morning when I would wake up, and even though I wasn’t getting much of a hanger, because I was getting used to how much I was drinking, I’d feel so bad that I had fallen into the track again and why couldn’t I stop? Why couldn’t I have a night off, or three nights off, or a month off, or why couldn’t I cut down?

And I just couldn’t, I just couldn’t find a way to stop or to break the habit or to cut down. And, I spoke to my partner about it and he is, kind of been through similar amount to me. However, he has a lot more, I’m going to call it willpower, but he had a lot more control over stopping. So if I’d said to him, “Let’s not drink tonight,” he would have been fine not to. But I couldn’t, I just could not stop. And even now I can’t decide yet whether I was addicted to the alcohol or the habit or both. I do it was certainly the habit. I’ve just formed this habit of 7:00 PM kids in bed, open the wine, watch Netflix. That was me, that was my habit. That was my daily habit. And it was most days, it was at least five days out of every seven.

So yeah, and then like I said, I just felt so much shame the next day that I’ve done it again, you know, I’ve done it again, and then it’d get to 3:00, 4:00 PM that day and I would think to myself, I’m not going to drink tonight. I don’t need to, it’s a Tuesday. I’ll have an early night. But then something really good or really bad might happen at work or in life or again, like I say, nothing might happen, but it would be enough to make me think, “Oh, it’s fine. I feel fine. I haven’t got a hangover. I’ve been able to do a day of work and look after my kids. Everything’s fine.” And it started again. So let’s talk about how I broke the habit and I had no intention whatsoever of quitting drinking. I spoke to my husband, I spoke to my friends, my psychologist who I see and have always been really clear that I don’t want to be a teetotaler.

I don’t want to not drink, I enjoy drinking. I love the taste, I love how it makes me feel, I love being social. I love all of everything to do with drinking except the habit that I was in and I wanted to reduce the amount, I wanted to just cut down and I didn’t know how. So I’ve been quite into eBooks and audiobooks over the past year or so, and I searched for “how to cut down drinking”. It was something like that. Now, the very first book that came up was Allen Carr’s, How to Stop Drinking for Women and I laughed at that because it just spoke to me. It just spoke to me how to stop drinking for women and I thought, is this a sign that this drastic, dramatic book has come up on the top of the search? Is it the universe telling me that I don’t need to cut down, but I need to actually stop drinking altogether? And like I say, it completely went against the whole, I don’t want to be a teetotaler that’s boring. I want to just be able to cut down and drink every now and again or less.

But I read the description of the book and it just fascinated me and perhaps I’ll do a full book review and if you want me to please let me know. But I had an open mind and decided to read the book, well, listen to the book on audible. And I was open to it working and me actually quitting drinking because I figured that if I quit solely, the book is telling me the reason I would quit is because I want to, not because I felt deprived or it being forced upon me, but I would actually finish the book and never want to drink again. So I thought, well, if I feel that passionately about not wanting to drink again, then that’s not a bad outcome, is it? So, you know, best case maybe I wouldn’t ever drink again and worst case hopefully I would cut down and it would be enough for me to be able to break the habits somehow through Allan Carr’s teachings, which I didn’t actually know how at that point he was going to attempt to teach me to stop drinking, again ever.

So I had this open mind when I listened to the book that yeah, best case I would quit drinking. Worst case it would be why I originally intended, which was the cut down and break the habit. So I started reading the book and as I say, I will do a full review if that’s what you want because I, you know, I did the book, I read the book, obviously kind of read it over about a two week period and I purposefully didn’t tell anybody I was reading it, tell anybody I didn’t want anyone else’s influence or opinion. And in the back of my mind I thought it might not work. And I certainly didn’t want to set myself up as I’ve done so many times in my life to announce that I’m quitting something or starting something and then it not happening. So I didn’t tell anyone, but I read the book and you actually continue to drink as normal as you have been throughout the book if you want to, unless you’ve already stopped already started cutting down, he basically says it’s up to you.

But I continued to drink as I was doing. So still drinking quite heavily as I read it and then towards the end of the book, it’s gearing you up to taking your last drink. And actually the night before I finished the book, I had my last drink. So I did quit drinking before I finished. I remember it not tasting very good, it was cheap wine, but it didn’t taste good. And I remember putting the glass down thinking, that could potentially be my last drink ever. And it was, so I’ve finished the book and felt so liberated, liberated from alcohol, liberated from the habit. But also quite scared because although I felt liberated and felt this elation physically and mentally, I think, certainly mentally anyway, I still had this craving for the habit that I was still quite used to. So whilst I didn’t even want to drink anymore and I have no desire to have alcohol, I still had this desire and this craving and this mourning for the habit that I was in. So it did kind of tell me that, that was something I still would probably struggle with for a bit.

So today I’m actually 29 days sober, 29 days as a teetotaler and I can tell you that I no longer have those cravings and I did have the cravings for the habit, not for alcohol. But cravings for the habit for at least the first two weeks, I’ve actually … And you just put it like mourning, like I say, like mourning for my old life of picking up the wine and sitting down and feeling instantly relaxed. And when the alcohol kind of starts to take hold, that sense of feeling a bit of a buzz and your body and your mind relaxing or these are the things that I’ve been telling myself was happening as I was drinking, and in many ways they were. I was getting that dopamine hit from the alcohol loaned from the expectation of the alcohol mainly. So, that was something that was a real struggle. And for the first few nights, I just went to bed early because I’ve, you know, I never drunk alcohol in my room in bed. And I knew that by having an early night I had an opportunity to hopefully get a good night’s sleep.

I’m an insomniac, that’s a conversation for another day. But then of course I wasn’t going to drink alcohol so it just took me a little while to get used to keeping my Netflix routine. Because I love watching shows on Netflix, it is one of the ways I do relax in the evening, but not pairing that with a glass or four of wine. And I would wake up feeling really good and love that feeling of not having had booze and not having any hangover, and not having that guilt or anxiety of why did I do it again? And it was really empowering to feel like that. And it had been a very, very, very long time since I had that feeling of I’ve done something really well for my self and for my health. So, that was a great feeling. Just going back to the insomnia, that is something that I’m still struggling with. Although it is, I think getting better.

So I’ve always had insomnia, I’ve always really struggled to get to sleep and drinking wine definitely helped me get to sleep and now I realize that the sleep I was having wasn’t good sleep. And now even though I’m struggling some nights to get to sleep, I am falling into a much, much, much deeper sleep and I’m waking up feeling so much more relaxed and refreshed and energized and ready for the day. And even only 29 days in that’s a massive change for me. And I’m feeling really good. Like I’m really so proud of myself for having done it and I don’t feel deprived and I have no interest inclination to have even a sip of wine. I have been in a couple of social settings in the past 29 days where alcohol is been there. I’ve seen other people drinking and I’ve had no temptation whatsoever to have even a sip, even a sip of wine. I’ve got no interest in it and it’s only 29 days.

I’m sure there’ll be struggles and challenges to combat, but I feel really empowered to be able to face them. And the benefits certainly outweigh the cons. And like I was saying before, one of the biggest shocks for me, it’s not even so much the changes that I’ve made to myself, it’s the fact that I’m not alone in this. And so many of us, particularly I think the mums who I know, it’s something that is a real struggle for them. And this is another reason why I wanted to share my story, the couple of books and articles about sobriety since, and I’m so amazed and inspired by the women who’ve overcome years and years of true alcoholism, but I figured to sharing my story and showing you that a normal, average mum next door, such as myself can put her hands up and say, this is a struggle I had. It’s really impacted my life in a very negative way and these are the steps I’ve taken to change it. I hope it doesn’t come across as preachy, that’s the last thing I ever want to do.

But I have found that just by sharing my story in that way, so many people, as I say, have messaged me and got in touch to say, “Oh my gosh, me too.” And, I can’t recommend the book enough. I will do a review I think, it just worked for me, it just clicked. I had a very open mind to reading everything, well, listening to the book in detail and paying really close attention to it, not rushing it, really taking everything in and going back to a few sections that I felt I had perhaps not really given my full attention to make sure that I did. I listened to all the instructions of the book gifs. The biggest instruction is just to keep an open mind and to have a really positive attitude when you’re listening or reading. And I did that and I feel that really worked for me. I didn’t doubt anything the book said to me, I put my faith in everything and I trusted and believed every word that Allen said. And I did that because I just wanted to give it my full attention and the best shot of it actually working for me.

So I purposefully didn’t doubt or question even when some things he said, my instinct in the beginning would have been to fight against. For example, and you might not agree with me, but one of the messages he talks about is the taste of alcohol and so many people I’ve spoken to since I quit have said to me, “But I like the taste, I like the taste of wine. It’s not about getting drunk, it’s about the taste.” And I 100% would have said that myself a month ago. I’ve said it myself so many times, you know, “Oh I love the taste of a glass of wine, and you can really tell a difference between a good bottle and a bad bottle. And I love the cold beer in summer and the taste and how refreshing it is.” I’ve said all these things myself and you’re probably listening to this potentially thinking, “Oh yeah, that’s the reason I drink. Or certainly one of them.”

And I will hold my hands up now and say for me, that’s crap. I didn’t like the taste and the book talks you through how when you take your first drink back in the day of however old you were, it tastes like crap, doesn’t it? Like tastes poison. It tastes chemically and poisony and strong. And spirits particularly, I used to struggle with even to in recent times. But you could become accustomed to it and you really force yourself to go through this period of not enjoying it. You know, you work hard until you actually decide that you can tolerate it. And then eventually you convince yourself that you do like the taste and you work hard to do that. The book talks you through why, but it’s to, you know, whether it’s about self-acceptance or because you want to have these benefits that these TV ads and magazine ads are screaming at you, that wine is relaxing and alcohol makes you feel good and it’s so social.

And look at this group of people enjoying a bottle of wine together. And look, you’ll have a much better relationship with your family and friends and your husband and so on. And so, I can definitely say hands up. I did not enjoy the taste of alcohol when I first enjoyed it. I didn’t enjoy the taste of broccoli either and push through that. So, there’s an argument both ways, but yeah, it’s one of the things that I had a really open mind to. But the reaction to people has been really unusual. And I think I’ll talk about this in another episode, because it’s really surprised me. Apart from the fact I was shocked that people were so supportive and so empathetic and sympathetic with me, there’s been another side to the reactions as well, which is a bit negative. But you know, I do completely understand why people are saying to me the things that they’re saying, but yeah, let’s talk about this in another episode.

So that’s just in a nutshell the reason why I decided to quit alcohol and how I did it in and a few of the benefits I’m feeling now. And at this point, I think I can say that with all the confidence in the world. I am a sober person, I’m teetotal, I don’t drink. It’s amazing and thank God because I am free now of the alcohol traps that I was definitely in. So I’m an open book. Please feel free to ask me any questions, if any of this has resonated with you please get in touch and let me know if you want to have a chat about the book, or how I did it, or the benefits, or whether there’d been any side effects.

Please feel free to ask me any questions because I’ve definitely like to be able to help out if I can. So that’s my story and thank you so much for listening and we’ll talk about perhaps people’s reactions to me telling them that I quit alcohol next time. So stay tuned. Please do subscribe and I hope to speak to you again very soon.

BMBL Podcast 002

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I acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the land I work and live on, the Awabakal peoples, and pay my respects to Elders past and present.
I thank them wholeheartedly and express my love and gratitude for the privilege to live and work in such a beautiful part of the world and for the opportunity for my family to be part of this vibrant and supportive community.

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