I spoke with Laurie at Girl and Tonic about my decision to give up alcohol five years ago recently. Here is the full interview:
1.What led you to think differently about drinking?
I started drinking as a very young person and continued to do so through to my 20’s. At that time I started to experience severe stomach problems which ended up being IBS, so I stopped drinking whilst trying to alleviate the causes. From the age of 19 to 30 I was in a very damaging and detrimental relationship, and the stress of that I have since learned was also a significant factor.
When I finally left that relationship at the age of 30, I drank for a year again, finally being ‘free’ from the chains of my relationship and seemingly having ‘fun’ with the rest of the world. But it wasn’t fun for me. It was just another method of checking out from myself. Every time I would look in the mirror after a night of drinking I felt a feeling of shame at what I saw, a feeling of being at odds with who I really was.
In May 2012 I simply decided it wasn’t for me, and I haven’t touched a drop since. It’s one of the most significant choices and changes I have made to fully support my connection to me, and I have made a lot!
2.How would you describe your relationship with alcohol now?
It’s not something I really think about. A lot of the time it’s a bigger problem for other people. I often get asked why and told I must have amazing willpower. The thing is, when you know you are living in a way that feels true for you, it really doesn’t take any willpower to stay that way.
Since I stopped drinking, I have never craved or missed the taste of alcohol, I guess I’ve been lucky like that. It really was a natural progression.
3.What’s been the biggest challenge you’ve faced since your approach to alcohol shifted?
It was definitely other people as I mentioned above. Definitely when it came to dating also. People would be like; oh, er, so what do we do then? I think for a lot of people, alcohol is the main method of socialisation. My sobriety has made many people uncomfortable in that context. I really don’t mind people drinking, but people make themselves feel like you are judging them in some way I think, when actually you aren’t at all. For me, I’m simply making positive choices that support me.
4.What lessons have you learnt about life (and yourself) since your relationship with alcohol has changed?
That becoming the real me was the most important thing I was ever going to do in my life. That connection is huge. I live as the truest version of myself. I made a pact with myself to focus on trying to be the best version of myself each and every day a few years ago, and feeling great supports that. Sleep. Food. Exercise. Learning. It all supports that.
5. How do you start your day? Do you have a morning routine?
I wake up at 5am every day (sometimes earlier if my body clock dictates) and I generally do some form of physical activity for around 30 minutes. Then I meditate for 10 minutes. Then I get washed. Then I read for around 30 minutes. After that, I head to work and make my breakfast at the office. On the weekend, I am generally off to something yoga related, whether teaching or practicing.
6. Do you have any rituals you always make time for?
My morning routine has been pretty set for a while, but in the past couple of years I’ve been honing my wind down in the evening also, in terms of the way I cleanse, when I turn off the outside world in terms of internet and phone use, and also the simple act of putting my blind down. I aim to fall asleep lying on my back in a gentle breath meditation – I say aim as sometimes I roll over haha. Bedtime is ideally no later than 10pm and more like 9pm-9.30pm as long as I am home.
7. What’s your favourite thing to do (hangover free) at the weekend?
Eat amazing food and move my body in new ways. I am vegan and gluten free; again both supportive choices for my body that have happened very naturally. I love finding new places to eat, new things to see and just generally wandering about smiling at the world.
8. When it comes to your own personal development, what is one thing that you’re working on or learning right now?
Too many things to mention haha. Okay. Let’s think.
The biggest thing I am working on right now is my vulnerability. To get myself out of the myriad of different ways I was abusing myself throughout my 20’s; my choice of partner, my choice of mind set, my choices around consumption and so on, I needed to shift into warrior mode to really make that happen. That meant becoming my own personal badass, cheerleader and strategic lead on building my new life, but what that also meant was that I made myself a little inaccessible. Working on vulnerability therefore has been huge for me, and a big step along my journey towards building future relationships. I recommend reading ‘Daring Greatly’ by Brene Brown to anyone with a similar thing to work on.
9. What is the one thing you’re obsessed with at the moment that’s making your life better?
Yoga. And I don’t just mean the benefits of practice. Learning to teach has been a huge step outside of my comfort zone, and one I have learnt a HUGE amount from.
10. And finally, thinking differently about alcohol can be challenging and isolating, is there any advice you turned to or do you have any words of wisdom for people reading this?
You are not alone. There are tons of us out there. You are just part of a beautiful new movement. If you are reading this and want to reach out to me and say hello… say hello! Build a new network of like minded humans.
View people who are threatened by your choices lovingly and openly – they are only confused as they don’t quite understand it yet. Never underestimate the incredible inspiration that you might be able to give others by simply making choices that support you and choosing to stand by them. The inspiration I have taken from others along my journey has been huge, and most of the time when they have no idea that they have given me it. The tiny interactions can sometimes be the most profound of all.