Life, but not as I know it.

On Monday I celebrated 365 days without alcohol. I should have been so pleased and amazed at what I have achieved and although I am, as with everything it is heartbreaking to not have Ben here with me. This time last year I didn’t know if I could manage a day alcohol free, a glass of wine or two when the girls were asleep was my reward for making it through yet another day.

I decided one Sunday to join OYNB and signed up for my 28 day challenge so obviously I had to finish the opened bottle of red wine before I went to bed. I remember waking up to start my challenge not feeling the best. It was my eldest daughters first sports day and her first without her Daddy, who died 22 months ago now, it was a glorious day and I was conscious of my Sunday evening drinking. I tried not to cry throughout the afternoon at the enormity of the day and the enormity of what I was setting out to accomplish by being alcohol free. Also at the thought of not being able to have an alcoholic drink to temporarily rid me of my hangover later and to celebrate getting through another bloody tough day.

Since my husband was diagnosed with Stage 4 bowel cancer when we were 6 months pregnant with our youngest daughter I craved the lack of feeling and thought that alcohol provided. Obviously while pregnant I did not drink but once Harriet was born the nightly wine crept back in.

I was Ben’s primary carer throughout his 18 month illness along with looking after 2.5 young children, 3 dogs, the house and trying to keep things as normal as I could for the girls. It was unbelievably hard and soul destroying watching my best friend and better half deteriorate in front of my eyes and not being able to do anything to make it better or change the outcome. Not to mention the stress I was under daily just to keep the wheels turning. Once I’d got the girls to bed and readied the house for the next day I would collapse next to Ben either on the sofa or latterly in bed with a glass of wine. That was my treat and I deserved it. What I didn’t realise was how much my supposed treat was taking from me and how much enjoyment it was stealing from me. I would wake up still tired and jaded, the effort and thought of another day to get through already hanging over me. The feelings of anxiety never far from the surface, how would I cope if ‘this’ happened, what would I do if ‘that’ happened. No rest from my racing thoughts obviously the majority of them negative, bad or worst case.

Ben wanted me to reduce my alcohol consumption and we spoke about it with me assuring him I would, probably not meaning a word of it. But in his last few weeks alive I did make a conscious effort not to drink much. It took me 10 months following his death but I did it. He was a massive why for me along with our girls.

I completed my 28 day challenge and decided to do 90 days which soon turned into 365 days! All done with no slip ups and some alcohol free alternatives!

So what has changed in the last year.... I see what my husband saw in me, I am freaking awesome, my mindset is positive and I have the tools to change it, I am mindful, I am no longer anxious, I am present for our children and patient with them, I am brave and willing to face my fears, I try to be a positive role model for our girls, we have done so many things that I wouldn’t have done had I still being drinking that I can’t remember them all, we have made hundreds of new happy memories and spoken about hundreds of happy old memories, I have a fantastic new career as a life coach along with my own business, that is quite a list and only what comes immediately to mind I’m sure someone will tell me what I’ve missed!

Not every day is great and I have to work on myself but I now know I deserve my self care.

I am so very sad that Ben is not here to benefit from my phenomenal achievement, better late than never baby!

Believe in yourself and get your mindset right, I know it’s been said before in sobriety circles and will be said again you are not giving anything up you are gaining so very much. Until I began my own journey I did not realise just how much I could gain and how much I was capable of achieving by making one small change. It is the small changes which we do consistently that make the biggest impact and result in the greatest changes to our lives.

If you would be interested in talking to me about anything mentioned in my blog further I’d love to hear from you at karen@theanchorcoaching.com

karen whybrow