I met this girl quite by accident many years ago. She was a friend of a friend of someone else’s friend. It was one of those freak meetings where you think, ‘oh, you’re going to be my new best friend.’ You quickly make catch up plans for the following week to check that she is, in fact, the missing piece of your friendship puzzle.
We had coffee and our connection was deep and instant. She became a friend from afar whom circles back into my life for sushi dates and generous heart to hearts.
She mentioned to me on one of our dates that she’d been sober for two years and had met a mutual colleague of ours at AA as I’d just finished a glass of wine. Our catch-ups were mostly brunch, however this was a weekend sunset affair. Her reasons for quitting drinking are hers and I wish to honour that by not detailing the events that led to her sobriety. Instead, I want to share with you my thoughts.
In that moment I thought to myself, wow, what an extraordinary accomplishment. It sat with me for days. Imagine being able to say that you hadn’t had a drink for two years. Talk about #lifegoals. This chick was a sassy young professional in a powerful corporate position. She had access to all the free champagne in the world and somehow had found something bigger than all of that. What a discovery. What an achievement. What had she found?
Listen to Maz Compton chat to Mia Freedman on the No Filter podcast. (Post continues after audio):
At that point, the closest I had come to parting with my poison was a Dry July (followed by a very wet August). I really only drank on the weekends anyway. This was a number of years ago.
Well guess what? It’s been almost two years and I haven’t had a drink and I have bee asked some interesting questions in the time since. I thought I would take my two-year smilestone (yes, it’s a smilestone) to answer some.
‘Why did you quit drinking, did you have a problem?’
People fire this loaded question at me with a double shot of inquisition. I was drinking a lot but that wasn’t the problem because I was handling it. I kept a great job and was earning great money. I was socially active, fit and fabulous. The problem was I wanted to stop but I hadn’t found reason enough to lose the booze.
I wanted to take action in an area of my life where I believed I was letting myself down. Finding the strength to say ‘no’ to invites, free drinks and nights out and then being confronted with people’s disappointment about my personal choice were all things I knew I would have to navigate. So the problem was finding a catalyst big enough to make it an enjoyable and sustainable choice.
I quit drinking initially to honour the life of my dear friend who passed away suddenly. It’s left a hole in my heart to this day that still isn’t filled. To deal with the grief, my therapist suggested it would be healing for me to start a small goal of not drinking for two months and remembering my friend each time when I said no to a drink. It did help with the grief, and with my countless explanations of why I was ‘being lame-boring-or a party pooper’ by not having a drink.