It’s been a week since the conclusion of Dry July, one of the annual sober challenges, where participants raise money for charity in exchange for the “pain” of quitting booze for a month.

“WOO-HOO! I made it through Dry July! And now I’m drinking WINE AGAIN!! Dear Wine, I’ve MISSED YOU SO MUCH!!!”

I read this the a couple of days ago. Hopefully, the person who wrote this lives in another time zone, because I was reading it at about 8.30am.

So first things first – if you have been on a sober challenge for Dry July, and you’ve managed to stay on the wagon for the whole time AND you raised a bunch of money for charity – that’s awesome. Congratulations. I truly mean it.

If you are like my jubilant friend above, and have managed to stay dry the whole month, but ran to the liquor store as soon as it opened and grabbed a bottle of wine – and then maybe another…….well, let’s reflect a moment.

I missed wine, so what?

Ooh, feeling bit defensive? Telling yourself that you don’t have a problem, you just REALLY LOVE WINE? Remembering all those fidgety moments in the last month, when you had to practically lock yourself in the bathroom to stop yourself running out to buy a bottle?

Did you feel a bit weepy or bad tempered when OTHER people had the TEMERITY to drink in front of you!

Was it a WHOLE LOT HARDER than you thought it was going to be?

You are not alone.

Sometimes, the full extent of our dysfunctional drinking is not apparent until we stop. Only then can we gauge the reality. The dramatic decrease in recycling. The increase of disposable income.  Being on time.

Maybe you could try putting aside your urge to glug down that bottle, and think for a minute about the good stuff that has happened this past month.

Thirty one days without a hangover.

Better sleep.

You didn’t have to watch re-runs of the new episodes of Game of Thrones because you couldn’t remember the plot line

You ate better – no munching down dry cereal at 11.00 at night.

No passing out on the couch.

No silly posts, or drama on facebook – and therefore no damage control required.

Lost a few pounds – and that bloated feeling has gone.

I was doing it as a challenge – now I want to have FUN again!

Seriously? You had thirty one days without a single laugh, or a moment of fun?  Did you lock yourself up in a nunnery? Or maybe you took the whole month off work, and huddled under the duvet?

My guess is that you DID have fun – it was probably a lot different from what you are used to calling fun. Sure, you didn’t get all dressed up and go out with the single aim of getting wasted – but then you didn’t have that pounding hangover the next day either, did you? Or that uneasy feeling of not quite remembering what happened…

If you’ve been a “maintenance drinker”, then YOUR drinking fun has consisted mainly of sitting on the couch and slurping chardonnay. Really? You want to get back to watching your life go past you in a blurry haze? That’s “fun”?

OK, I really want to carry on, but I’m afraid….

Of course you are. You are about to step out of your comfort zone, and that’s always a little disconcerting.

Let’s look at those fears for a moment.

I’m worried about doing this on my own.

I understand that. You are worried that now the “official” challenge is over, you’ll be in the wilderness, with no accountability.

Well, you are wrong about that. There is a massive sober community out there – websites, bloggers, facebook communities, all dedicated to the joy and FUN of sobriety.

You NEVER have to do this on your own.

I’m worried about what I will say to people

Er, you don’t have to say anything at all.

If you make it a big deal, then people will of course, pay attention. But most of the time, people don’t really care what beverage you are drinking.

And if people notice, why not just say…”I quit for Dry July, and I decided to carry on because it felt so good!”

I’m worried about what life will be like without booze.

For some people, quitting booze just means a healthier lifestyle. For others, it can mean the start of a complete life overhaul.

Life will be exactly what you make it – just as always.

Alcohol hasn’t solved your problems, it has merely blotted them out for a bit. So there may be some overdue naval gazing in order.

Alcohol may just have filled the boredom void in your life. So maybe look at this as an amazing opportunity to re-fill that void with some of the dreams and goals that you have been putting off.

Here’s my final thought.

I have never, ever regretted quitting drinking. I have never had one day that I thought could have been improved by drinking wine. Not a day, not a situation, not an experience, not a relationship. Not ever.

In contrast, I can look back at the days when I was drinking, and find days filled with humiliation, situations that make me cringe still, experiences that I barely remember, and toxic relationships that were based solely on Merlot.

So if Dry July has been a bit of a revelation for you, why not join the sober revolution. We would love to have you along,

Love,

Jackie.

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