wellness

'Your sex life will change.' I'm 1000 days sober. Here are 7 surprising things I've learned.

I still can’t believe as I write this that I’ve reached this milestone. 

That this party girl from the north of England who grew up in a culture where you matched the lads pint for pint, worked hard and played harder, moved to Australia with young kids and fell hard into the ‘mummy wine culture’ habit, has now reached 1000 days alcohol free.

What started out as 21 days to ‘reset’ my alcohol consumption, give my liver a rest and prove to myself that I couldn’t possibly ‘have a problem’, turned into 100 days, turned into a year and then two and now here I am. 

1000 days in and life couldn’t look more different.

Watch: Your body after one year without alcohol. Post continues below.


Video via Mamamia.

My drinking had started off in the same way as most – socialising through my teens, through to uni and the ‘pound a pint’ promos then onto life in London, thinking I was quite the sophisticated young woman meeting friends for Cosmopolitans after work (hello Sex And The City) and upgrading to Moet and Veuve at the weekend. 

But as others started slowing down, settling down and seemed to have more control over their drinking, my own habit felt like it was on a slippery slope that was gathering speed faster than I was in control of.

Moving to Australia, leaving behind my successful career and close knit friendship group, having kids and the huge upheaval of these major life changes all took their toll – and wine became a friend, an ally, a ‘reward’ and something I started to look forward to.

And over these years is when my drinking really started to take its toll and I realised it was starting to take way more than it was giving. I’d fallen over, hurt myself, humiliated myself and filled myself with so much shame and regret that my anxiety was through the roof.

The ‘rock bottoms’ were taking their toll in a way I couldn’t escape from. It became so clear to me: I couldn’t go on living my life as a series of benders, hangovers and with a total lack of self-worth.

I had to change.

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I'm now 1000 days sober and work as a 'Grey-Area Drinking Coach'.

I've helped thousands of women around the world change their own relationship with alcohol, and I’ve learned that sobriety is not what you think it is. It's better. 

Yes. Magical even. And totally surprising. I thought it would be a prison sentence. A sacrifice. Little did I know it would be the best decision I ever made.

Here are 7 surprising things I’ve learned…

1. You don’t have to be an alcoholic to decide to stop drinking. 

If you drink consistently, then you’ll know booze affects your sleep, relationships, work, energy and your mental health. 

It affects your whole life. But society tells us if you’re not classed as an alcoholic – you don’t have a problem. This is where I step in and talk about ‘Grey Area Drinking’. It’s really about asking yourself ‘Is alcohol serving me or taking away?’ 

Is alcohol the source of exhaustion, negativity, moodiness or relationship issues? Alcohol is often at the very centre of so many of our problems (it was for me and yet I didn’t even realise). And when we ask ourselves these questions, we can be honest with ourselves about the answers.

2. Big Alcohol has us hooked. 

Big Alcohol would like us to believe that every #bestlife moment comes with a glass of champagne. Globally, if everyone drank the recommended 10 units a week, the alcohol industry would lose BILLIONS a year. Any wonder we aren’t told all the true facts about what alcohol is doing to our health, our hormones, our brain, our mental health, our sleep? 

We are led to believe alcohol is our remedy for anxiety when in so many cases that I’ve seen, it’s the cause. It’s time to start learning the truth about what alcohol is really doing to us when it comes to our anxiety, hormones and sleep.

3. Booze keeps our world small. 

We stay stuck in old patterns and behaviours when we drink. Nothing changes. We stay doing what we’ve always done because we don’t have the mental clarity, motivation, energy or self-confidence to change. Alcohol robs us of all that. The ONE change of removing alcohol is the catalyst to SO MUCH change. 

Taking a break from booze gives us space to raise the question: ‘What do I WANT my life to look like?’ So many of us reach our mid life and start questioning so much – I know I did. I was unfulfilled in a job I hated and I felt like life was slipping away from me but I had no idea how or what needed to change. 

Taking that break from booze gave me so much clarity about what changes I needed to make and the steps to get there. With a clearer head, improved sleep, more energy, improved self-esteem and a way more positive outlook I started to see my life differently and could clearly see what I wanted to change. 

4. Trying to heal yourself while still drinking is like trying to heal a broken ankle by going for a run every day. 

It doesn’t work. We can’t do the deeper work of healing, self-growth and personal development if we are pissed or hungover all the time. We don’t have to be drinking two bottles of wine a night for alcohol to affect our mood, anxiety and propensity for depression. 

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A glass or two of wine a few times a week will do that. What’s surprising is the first thing that could be done to help so many people (advise they take a break from alcohol) is rarely offered. Yet taking that break is often the catalyst to such improvements in mental health.

Listen to Mamamia Out Loud, Mamamia’s podcast with what women are talking about this week. Post continues below.


6. Our friendships may change as we evolve, and that’s ok.

When we decide to make changes in our life, the closest people in our lives usually have an opinion on it. Some will support and some won’t. 

And that’s ok. It’s YOUR journey. You do you, I’ll do me. That’s my motto. 

Going alcohol free brings up issues for other people. It’s surprising the defensiveness that comes up with drinking buddies. We hear them say: ‘I only drink on Fridays! I only drink with you!’ and of course the peer pressure to ‘not be so boring’ or ‘just have one’. 

Alcohol is the only drug we have to justify not taking. Some won’t like you holding up a mirror to their own drinking problem. True friends will be behind you. There is a period of adjustment as with any change, but it does settle. My friendships now are deeper and more authentic than ever before. 

7. Sobriety changes your marriage and sex Life – for the better.

One of the things I was most terrified of in the early days of sobriety was sober sex. Which is weird considering I’ve been with my partner for 20 years right?

But when you’ve been together for so long it’s hard not to get stuck in a rut with your sex life and alcohol was definitely the pre-cursor to any saucy business under the sheets. So I really didn’t know how this would go. 

To say it’s been a surprise is an understatement – weird at first, yes, as we both got used to being fully present and in the moment, but it didn’t take long for it to become more natural, more meaningful and yes, more fulfilling! If only I’d known years ago that sober sex is actually so much better.

To read my blog on navigating sober sex, click here.

If you’re interested in taking a break from alcohol and exploring what life might be like without it, my free online community is a thriving group of incredible women from all around the world looking to change their relationship with alcohol and support each other along the way. You can join  here. 

Read my Grey Area drinking story: "Mummy, what happened to your face?" 'Mum wine culture' almost broke me.

Feature Image: Supplied.

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