Our Stories: Chris
Drinking more than you want to is just about the most common experience a drinker can have. You are not alone in questioning alcohol and there is so much power in finding another way.
I have yet to meet someone who quit drinking who didn’t completely up-level their life. Read and see.
This series shares stories of strong-ass women (and men!) who decided to stop settling for hangovers and mediocrity and discovered their best selves through an alcohol-free lifestyle. They inspire a whole new generation of people to know that you don’t have to drink to be “normal” or fit in. Why not be exceptional instead?
Chris from Running Myself Sober
Chris is sober enthusiast, runner and shares about his journey in Running Myself Sober. He quit drinking by channeling his energy into training for a half marathon, and continues to use running, the unconditional love of dogs, and mental awareness in his sobriety toolkit. His running and sobriety tips are incredible, with nuggets of wisdom like: “This is real self care. A preventative measure to make my life better. To do this in a world where it can feel like everyone else drinks and it’s deeply embedded in our culture shows courage. For every sober person out there, they are practicing courageous self-care and that demands respect.” Damn. Read his full story.
As soon as I could, I drank. A lot.
Alcohol was one of those things that always had a presence in my life.
As a child I remember my parents drinking wine at dinner. I would beg them to give me some, not really understanding what I was asking for, and they would mix a tiny drop of red wine with water. The flavour to me back then was disgusting so I would take one sip and leave the rest.
But drinking and alcohol was always in the background of my life.
The first time I got drunk I was around 14/15. I was at a friend’s party and her dad had bought us wine coolers. The care-free feeling it gave me was liberating. I felt electric, unstoppable, and I wanted to feel it again.
I wouldn’t say I was any different than your typical teenager in Britain at the time. The UK is known for its boozy culture. Getting drunk before you were 18 was something everyone did.
When I finally reached the legal age to buy alcohol however, that’s when things started to take a sinister turn.
I could drive by then and coming from a small village it meant that I could easily get to the nearest town and pick up a bottle of wine whenever I wanted.
The drinking began innocent enough. My routine consisted of collecting a bottle and working my way through it on a Friday or Saturday night, if I was staying in, typically with a film.
But I was drinking alone. At the time, I had no idea this was something that would raise eyebrows. It felt good, so I did it, and I thought little of the consequences.
As I got older this habit stuck and I went on to college where there was a heavy drinking culture. My drinking began to escalate very quickly. I would often black out. I’d wake up in bed not sure how I got there.
What had I said? What had I done? I’d frantically check my phone to make sure I hadn’t landed myself in any sort of trouble.
I was quite lucky during those times as I wasn’t someone who got in bad situations, even when drunk. But there was a little voice inside me telling me something was wrong.
As the years went by, I carried on drinking, and I would drink more and more. Nights in were becoming more common than nights out, and became a preferred method to get drunk.
I could do it without judgement and drink as much as I need.
By this time however, I was sure something wasn’t right. The days after drinking were becoming torturous. Hangovers got worse. My anxiety levels increased dramatically, and I become prone to panic attacks.
To “correct” my drinking I practiced dry periods. I would not drink for a month, of three months in the hope that I when I returned to drinking it would stop my usual habits. But it never worked. As soon as I picked up the bottle again, I simply carried on where I left off.
The realization was finally began to dawn on me that when it came to alcohol, I had no control. It took just one drink, and then the floodgates would open.
So I vowed to stop, and when I did, I used running as tool to help me get there.
I wish I could remember some profound thought or decision that made me turn to running, but I can’t. It had always been something I did, but very much in the background. However, getting sober changed my perspective. It brought running to the forefront and I used it as a tool to run myself sober.
I entered myself into a half marathon and gave it my all. Quitting the booze and replacing it with running helped me to focus on what I was doing. It gave me a goal that I could work towards. It also gave me an initial excuse to tell people why I wasn’t drinking.
I wasn’t brave enough yet to admit my inner demons to anyone, so when I stopped drinking, my running became the perfect reason why. You can’t train properly if you’re hungover.
Unfortunately, this wasn’t my happily ever after. My race was a success. All my hard work paid off and I completed the half marathon in a very respectable time. But the focus of the race fell off.
I was going to a wedding in Italy and when I was there, the sun and Tuscan views proved to be too much. I succumbed to the false romanticism the Italian wine promised me and returned to drinking. For three more months.
I always remember the day I finally did, truly stop. The night before I drank so much that I blacked out and woke up on the spare bed with no sheets on them.
Who was I?
I don’t think I can really get across how much shame I felt. How much of it ran through my veins every time I did this to myself. I had reached a point and crossed so many lines I thought I never would.
So that was the day I truly did stop, and I am now 16 months sober.
Since I’ve removed alcohol from my life I have a gained a deeper understanding of who I am and what makes me happy.
It’s forced me to address a lot of anxiety issues I have and I am now on the path to recovery.
I no longer waste weekends getting drunk but embrace everyday. Early mornings are my favourite, and there is nothing I enjoy more than being outside either running, or with my dog.
Getting sober has been one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do, but as with anything that is difficult, the rewards make the challenges oh so worth it.
Check out more of Chris’s writing at Running Myself Sober.
Or follow him Running Myself Sober on Instagram.
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