real life

'I questioned if I could parent without alcohol. This is what happened when I stopped drinking.'

Six women piled into the car to take the journey south for our girls’ weekend away. Two nights without kids, beach walks, uninterrupted conversations, and lots of alcohol – what could be better?

The Friday night passed in a blur of talking, drinking and dancing. I woke with a pain in my head, my stomach and my heart. I couldn’t remember going to bed, or most of the evening.

The hot shame enveloped my body, as pieces of the night came back to me. Too ill to enjoy our cafe breakfast, I sat quietly, willing the ache to leave my body. It was a wretched pain that I had felt so many times, but somehow this was different.

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The girls discussed the night’s events, of which I could recall almost none. It hit me then – was this still fun? Is this what a great night with friends should be?

Clear as day, the words came into my head: I don’t want to do this anymore.

But could I really just stop drinking? After all, it had been my go-to for a good twenty years. Would I be able to celebrate, commiserate, dance, connect, relax and parent without it? I truly believed it to be an essential part of life. So why did it hurt so much?


When I got home after that wasted weekend I first asked the internet if I should quit. I came across a website that re-framed sobriety as a positive choice, rather than a sad consequence.

It said that the amount that you drink, or the number of days of the week that you drink are irrelevant. If alcohol is getting in the way of what you want to be doing with your one amazing life, that is the only sign you need that it’s no longer serving you.

I thought about all of the things that alcohol had stopped me from doing, or at least got in the way of. How many breakfasts with friends I had missed due to hangovers; the times I had parented by switching the TV on for more hours than I care to admit; how many times I had fallen asleep on the sofa instead of having the productive evening that I had imagined.

It turns out alcohol was taking a lot more from me than it was giving.

My Friday nights look very different now... Image: Supplied

I wasn’t 18 anymore, needing the confidence to dance on podiums or meet new people.

I was a happily married, 37 year old mother of two and I realised then that I didn’t give a damn what anyone else thought of me anymore.

It was only my opinion of me that mattered, and frankly I didn’t like what I saw when I looked in the mirror after a night of drinking.

I decided to commit to three months without alcohol. By giving myself a good chunk of time, I imagined I could try sobriety on for size and see whether it suited me.

The benefits poured into my life. I had more energy in the evenings, I read anything I could get my hands on, I woke early for exercise, I had more patience with my children and bedtimes were no longer rushed.

I could drive to a party, have meaningful conversations that I would never forget, and take myself home whenever I pleased. I never got headaches, or felt ill – in fact my health has improved out of sight with barely a sniffle for the past few years.


The three months passed quickly and I extended my ‘break’ to six months, then 12. From there I realised that I no longer wanted or needed alcohol in my life at all. I was free.

A friend who was questioning her own relationship with alcohol asked me if it was tricky to quit.

Honestly, once I had made the decision to stop, I had no triggers or moments when I wished to be able to drink.

I recommended she read books such as Allen Carr’s The Easy Way to Control Alcohol, or Annie Grace’s This Naked Mind that de-program your subconscious mind.

This is the part of your brain that is wired to believe that you need alcohol in certain situations. Reading these books taught me that everything I thought I knew about alcohol was untrue. Once my subconscious got the message, I felt the power of alcohol fall away.

"Reading these books taught me that everything I thought I knew about alcohol was untrue." Image: Supplied

These days I notice how prevalent alcohol is. It’s at the heart of many a birthday lunch, night out, party, meal with friends or summer BBQ. The good news is, I’m more than happy to say no way rosè without feeling as though I’m missing out.

I like to play the tape forward and think how I would feel in a couple of hours, or later that night, or the next morning. How everything that I had planned to do would most likely be skipped because I’d had too much to drink.

So it turns out there is a good time to say ‘no more’ to alcohol. It’s the moment that you realise that you only get one life and you don’t want to waste a second of it feeling like crap.

Your moment may look different from mine. But if you’re imagining a life where happiness comes from within, and isn’t linked with booze anymore, why not try it out?

You can always go back to it. Or you might end up like me where it’s not a case of I can’t drink anymore, it’s that you just don’t want to.

Feature image: Supplied.