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Quitting alcohol ruined my life sam digital cover

Quitting Alcohol Ruined My Life; One Man’s Early-30s Investigation


Twelve months ago, the mere thought of a Bucks party on a yacht would have me buzzing. A day spent talking rubbish against the backdrop of Sydney Harbour, with endless drinks served by agreeable “waitresses” – that was the dream. But as I comb through a wardrobe of ‘not-as-funny-as-they-used-to-be’ ironic Hawaiian shirts, I can’t help but feel that this dream has become more of a nautical nightmare.

Admittedly, being confined on a vessel with 35 fully-fuelled Eastern Suburbs lads is no one’s idea of a good time. For this ex-party boy, however, it’s a ticket to hell on water. At its best, most bachelor parties are a zoo on the loose, but when you mix in a bunch of high-testosterone ex-rugby players with hard seltzer and questionable decision-making, it becomes the kind of concoction that transforms a celebratory weekend into a full-blown “silverback convention,” as my friend so aptly put it.

And for a guy who’s freshly sworn off the booze, the primate party might simply be too much. It’s like dropping a thirsty guy in a desert in front of a water fountain only to tell him he can’t take a sip.

The temptation is through the roof, and I can’t help but wonder if I’ll cave in or spend the day silently resenting everyone while nursing my Coke Zero – the sober man’s go-to elixir. However, these are the hurdles that come with my newfound sobriety, reinforcing the end of a past life that I plan never to revisit. Even as I write this, it’s sometimes tough to visualise the rest of my existence without enjoying a cold one with friends, but after a year off the drink, I realise there’s no turning back.

For me, that realisation came none too soon. After years of ignoring loving advice from family, friends and departing girlfriends, it became evident that something had to give. It seemed everyone but myself could see the toll it was taking. Following a couple of wild nights that left me mentally and physically broken, I finally threw in the towel.

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For years, I had gone toe to toe with the booze, repeatedly cut, bloodied and dropped to my knees, only to muster the strength to stand up and declare that it wasn’t over. However, the beatdowns were becoming increasingly severe and, frankly, embarrassing. I’d lost my fighting chin, and the trajectory of my drinking life was in a downward spiral.

However, that rock bottom was the wake-up call I desperately needed.

Now, I must admit that embarking on the path of sobriety as a relatively young person can be a lonely road, especially in the initial stages. In a culture like Australia’s, the ritual of catching up for drinks is deeply ingrained in the social fabric, making the transition a venture into foreign territory. The absence of laughter and camaraderie accompanying the silly goose sessions at the pub is palpable, creating a sense of loss on a cherished aspect of life. Moreover, the role of full-time designated driver adds an extra layer of complexity, enduring all the headaches of an Uber driver without the compensatory perks of financial gain or five-star ratings.

Then there’s the whole socialising-without-drinking thing. I used to believe I was the life of the party, Mr. Charm, and my ability to mingle wouldn’t change much without alcohol. However, things immediately felt different. In those initial months, a troubling revelation surfaced – perhaps my perceived magnetism had been a byproduct of the alcohol-induced bravado. My once boisterous and confident persona seemed to dissipate before my eyes, and an identity crisis loomed large. The struggle to find my footing in social interactions was clear, reminiscent of a baby learning to navigate the world without a grasp of language or social cues. And if someone had offered me a dummy to suck on at night, I would’ve, at the very least, entertained it.

However, as time passed, I slowly realised any significant life change would require a period of discomfort. Just like a muscle must be torn down to grow stronger, I needed to embrace this lesson to come out the other side more spiritually “chiselled”. So, every night out with friends where I resisted the urge to drink became like money invested in a bank, compounding over time. Amidst the solitude and occasional frustration, this new expedition had an empowering aspect.

 

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Avoiding pubs and bars, a surplus of time suddenly unfolded before me. Unsurprisingly, weekends felt longer and Sunday mornings were no longer a complete write-off. Emerging from the grip of the full-time consumption vortex, I could feel my mind and spirit steering me toward a different path, uncovering new interests and hobbies. Even more empowering, I gained the self-belief to act on long-held goals, such as further study, art, and finally getting my golf handicap down to a respectable number. It now dawned upon me that alcohol had been a hindrance to my potential. For many, this isn’t the case, with most able to live to their fullest whilst enjoying the occasional drink. Unfortunately, that’s not me.

A year later, I’ve realised that quitting drinking ruined my life – in all the right ways. Breaking free from my old existence has paved the way for the emergence of a more genuine and authentic version of myself. I don’t profess to have overcome all my flaws; it’s an ongoing process and early days still. However, I sense that I’m finally heading in the right direction. For now, I’ve opted to steer clear of the boat parties in order to navigate the uncharted waters of this new unexplored journey.