00:00:00 - 00:01:00
Hannah: Welcome to Happily Ever After the podcast, which seems to talk about all sorts of different things. But one listener described it as the place where we talk about what everyone else is thinking, but maybe not saying out loud. I am your host, Hannah Harvey. I'm a writer and a parenting blogger at Mums Days dot com. That's M.U.M.S.D.A.Y.S dot com. If you wouldn't mind subscribing and leaving a review, that would be amazing because it basically means more people can find the podcast. And I also would really, really, really love to hear from you. So please could you contact me through Instagram at Mums days? You can message me anything really, but your stories of life and heartbreak or any thoughts you might have on the episode or any questions you want answering. And as always, you can find the details from this episode in the show notes.
00:01:01 - 00:01:46
Hannah: Hello, Merry New Year and welcome to Happily Ever After. It's me, Hannah. I'm all on my lonesome today. Basically sat in my bedroom, literally in my cupboard under my clothes, because according to Lewis, who normally helps me to record these podcasts, this is the best way to record good quality sound at home. Who knew? It feels like he could be taking the piss a bit, but I also have a memory from long ago. Like COVID times of celebrities getting in their cupboards, under the stairs and things like that during lockdown so that they could continue to record things. That's a memory, isn't it? Anyway, I digress.
00:01:46 - 00:02:17
Hannah: Basically, you can take this episode as a little message from me to you to say, Merry New Year. Happy New Year. Welcome to 2023. And maybe this is exactly what you need to hear today. Who knows? But do let me know if it is because I love to hear from you guys. But basically today I'm here to talk about drinking and dry January. Boooo.
00:02:17 - 00:04:03
Hannah: No, it's actually great. I love not drinking. You may be shocked to hear this because I'm so hilarious and so wacky, but I don't drink. And over the years, not drinking has been the thing that people seem to ask me about the most. So if somebody is getting in touch like a friend that I maybe haven't spoken to for a while, or even friends, really good friends, they'll get in touch and be like, Tell me about not drinking because I'm not enjoying it anymore, that kind of thing. So I thought I may as well share what I know. For what it's worth, in January, that seems to be a good time to do it. And I think it's quite important to say that I know January is cold and dark and wintery and you may be thinking, don't take away my bottle of wine by the fire, but basically I'm not going to take anything away. It's is totally on you what you do. I'm merely here to talk about my own experience of not drinking and the kind of things you can try if you would like to give it a try to kind of help get you through, including you can download my free dry January journal that I've created and you can download it right now from the Mums Day's website. So if you go mumsdays.com/dryjan , all one word, you can download that now and it might even if you don't want to do the not drinking bit, you can still use it as an opportunity to just think about life and take a bit of time to reflect while it's all wintery and cold and we're not doing quite so much outside.
00:04:04 - 00:05:16
Hannah: So I'll give you a little bit of my background, which is I stopped drinking like over five years ago now, and that is because I had a problem with drinking. I basically. Didn't have an off switch. So, yeah, a couple of quiet drinks out. With me would more often than not turn into quite a big night out. And I would drink at home quite frequently. And I really didn't like waking up in the morning and being like, Why do I feel like shit? And then being like, Oh yes, it's because I drank again last night. And I also didn't like how my inhibitions almost seemed to vanish the minute I'd had a couple of drinks so I could have the best intention in the world. I'm just going to have one or two. But as soon as I'd had those one or two, I didn't give a shit anymore. I just wanted to keep drinking and keep having fun. So, yeah, you know that dread in the morning of, Oh, I've done it again.
00:05:16 - 00:05:51
Hannah: And I also found when I wasn't drinking. I was thinking about it. Not like all day, every day, but like it would enter my thoughts a lot. When am I next going to drink? When.. like almost planning it out, being like I definitely want to have a drink on Friday, but I'm not going to drink until then and I'm just going to have a couple because I'm trying to cut down. And it was just always there and it got a bit kind of like, What else could I be doing if I wasn't thinking about drinking?
00:05:51 - 00:07:01
Hannah: But the idea of actually quitting was totally laughable to me because, you know, at the time a lot of my friends drank. My husband drank, our families, did a lot of our lives, revolved around socialising and drinking. And I have learned now that I have a fear of being boring. So in my head I was like, I can't stop drinking because that will make me the boring one that will make me.... The fear was that I would be rejected if I stop drinking, that my friends wouldn't like me anymore. Yeah, it kind of makes me laugh now because it really, booze was making me be the boring one. And at times I did some inexcusable things to my friends who thankfully have forgiven me, like just being mean and just being a bit of a dick and stuff like that. And in my head I was like, Oh, it means I'm the life and soul of the party. But the reality is, you're not always that great. I certainly wasn't all that great when I was drinking.
00:07:02 - 00:07:45
Hannah: But the night before I actually quit, I read this really interesting article by a woman called Holly Glenn, and it was called Are You Afraid to Quit Drinking: Three Common Fears. And I've tried to find it since because I've got like a whole... for some reason Pinterest is like the place that I store all my sober stuff. I've been back into my sober board and tried to find some of the stuff and sadly, her content is isn't available anymore. But I really, it's kind of annoying, I really wanted you to read it so that you could be like, 'Oh, I had those fears too'. But it basically changed everything for me and it addressed exactly my fears about stopping drinking.
00:07:45 - 00:08:32
Hannah: I was scared to stop drinking because I thought I would lose all my friends and I'd have no life. I'd be really boring and I wouldn't be able to go out anymore because I couldn't see a way to have a social life and not drink. I just couldn't understand it. And I know.. NOW I know so many of my friends, my family will be like, How could you possibly imagine living like that? And how can you possibly think that you can't have fun without booze? But that is the way my brain worked at the time. And this article basically showed me that it is possible to live a full and happy life without alcohol. And it gave me permission to to want that for myself and to have it if I wanted.
00:08:33 - 00:09:12
Hannah: So I went out that night and it was like a group of friends, really lovely friends, and it was a really massive night and we had loads of fun and I drank almost a full bottle of tequila to myself and I don't remember how we got home, but the next morning I felt so terrible as you can possibly imagine. And I just lay in bed and I just reread that article and I was like, I need to do this because I don't know how to just have a couple and I'm sick of thinking about alcohol now.
00:09:12 - 00:10:14
Hannah: So I spent the next three days straight reading a book that Holly recommended, which is called Control Alcohol by Annie Grace. And God, just the liberating feeling. It's almost like a movie in my mind that it felt like I had been set free. And learning from these two women about alcohol and its impact on me and the fact I. I could choose just choose not to do it anymore. It blew my mind. And I remember like that week on a loop in my head, I had that song, you know, the one that goes, bam, bam, bam, bam, bam. I feel free. Doo doo doo doo doo. Then it goes. That one. Feel free. It was just like there was a carnival going on in my head where I just felt such peace.
00:10:16 - 00:10:55
Hannah: And I certainly wasn't like, I'm going to give up forever. I was just like, I'm just going to try it and see how it goes. But in that moment I was like, I'm not doing it anymore. And there's, I can't remember where I heard it, which is like terrible, but it's probably like a Tim Ferriss thing, to be honest. His podcast from like a million years ago. But it's something like you've only got so many good decisions that you can make in a day, and once you've used them up, you then start making really crap ones. And the fact that I was saying I'm not going to drink anymore just removed the need to even make the decision like there's no decision to make. I'm not drinking.
00:10:56 - 00:11:20
Hannah: So that means later on in the day, when I'd used up all my good decisions, I wasn't then about to be looking in the fridge and going, Oh, is that a bear at the back? Like it just removed it. I couldn't make a bad decision about alcohol because there was no choice to make. I'm not drinking. So that for me was huge. Liberating. What else do I have to say about drinking?
00:11:21 - 00:12:22
Hannah: I was like, I'm not going to give up forever. And the thought of doing that would have probably tipped me over the edge. But, you know, obviously, fast forward to now and I haven't drunk again and I don't think I ever will. Every now and again I go, Hmm, maybe I could. And I just think it comes back to the decision making thing. I'm like, I'm just not going to put myself in that position where I even need to choose because I have a great life. I will happily go out and dance on any dance floor with anyone, not with anyone. But you know what I mean. But I'm not afraid. And I have no issue, genuinely no issue being out with other people drinking. In fact, it's very entertaining. And, you know, loads of my friends drink. I've been dating with people who drink. It's totally fine. It's not something I want to do anymore because I don't have an off switch. But you can crack on, do what you like.
00:12:22 - 00:13:23
Hannah: But equally. If some of my story resonates, then perhaps you would like to join me in September. September? No, January. Perhaps you'd like to join me in January for a bit of sober fun and just have an experiment. See how you get on. Now, I know today is the 3rd of January, and perhaps you're thinking you've missed the boat on the New Year's resolution or trying out dry January. But never mind that. That's just an excuse. Who the hell wants to start a New Year's resolution on New Year's Day? That's just utter craziness. You've stayed up late the night before. You're tired from the excesses of Christmas. You may well have a hangover if you are a drinker. You need a bit of time to just clear the decks, get rid of Christmas, eat the Christmas cheeses, drink that lovely bottle of wine you got, do all those things, and then start once you're ready.
00:13:24 - 00:14:22
Hannah: There's literally no need to be like it has to be all of January. Just do what you want to do. I personally think you've got an automatic excuse because you can say to people, I'm doing dry January. So it's a really great time to try out social situations whilst sober. So you, everybody's got them. But you've got this friend who's particularly pushy about drinking and uses all the tricks to make you drink. This is the perfect excuse because it's dry January. It's a very acceptable thing to do these days. And whatever happens and whatever anybody says to you, you just blame dry January and people get the premise and they know it's only for a month, so they'll let you off. So you don't need to worry about that side of things. At this stage. You're just trying out. You're having a little experiment.
00:14:23 - 00:15:44
Hannah: I found that going out and not drinking was an acquired skill. And it was purely me projecting onto other people, which you may well find as well. But I felt so awkward and so apologetic that I wasn't drinking. It was like I was putting them out. I'm so sorry. I'm not drinking. I'm not. I'm just trying it for now. And to begin with, you do have to field all the questions and the question. And the 'Can't you just have one' stuff? No, I absolutely can't. It's all or nothing, I'm afraid. And these days I have no problem at all. Turns out that no one, past the first drink, gives a shit what you're doing. And it's quite funny when I meet new people because it often takes them all night to even realise that I'm not drinking because I'm so fun. Remember? But genuinely, I tend to arrive ready to party and I have to wait for people to catch up before they'll come and dance with me. And so I think when a huge benefits I've found from not drinking is it's given me A confidence that I didn't really know I had. I thought I needed to drink and to get drunk to find my confidence and to be fun. But it turns out it was there all along. I just didn't realise.
00:15:44 - 00:16:35
Hannah: And I think one of the things I would love to pass on and for you to spend some time this month, if you're giving sobriety a whirl, is to see if you can tap into that confidence and the fun that lives in you. Even without the Dutch courage to be like, Oh, I don't actually need to have a drink to have fun. I don't need to have a drink to feel confident I can just arrive and know that everyone's a bit awkward when you first arrive somewhere. And that's alright, you know? So if you do want to give it a try, please let me know. I'd love to support you through it. So get in touch. You can ask me anything you want. You know me. I'm an open book. If you want to go for a sober boogie, I'm well up for that.
00:16:36 - 00:17:50
Hannah: And yeah, so I'm going to put a bunch of resources on the Mums Days blog, so that will be mumsdays.com/dryjan . All one word D.R.Y J.A.N and you'll find my free Dry January Journal which is full of kind of questions and little stuff for you to do every day just to keep you ticking over the month and thinking about how you're feeling and what you think. And it's not all like, I don't want you to think that it's all like, everything's going to be amazing if you stop drinking, because I think it probably shines a light on other things, like, Why are you drinking? What's this empty feeling maybe that you're feeling? Or, I don't know, maybe you're like, I'm going to replace drinking with something else like sugar. And you put on some weight. You know, these things can happen, but it's. It's just an experiment. It's just one month. And, yeah, I've got a journal just for you, and you can always get in touch with me any time you want. If you're finding it hard or you've got any questions. And yeah, Happy New Year and Happy Dry January.
00:17:50 - 00:18:30
Hannah: All right. Thank you so much for listening and have a great week and I'll see you next time for another episode of Happily Ever After with me, Hannah Harvey. I would be very grateful if you wouldn't mind leaving a review or subscribing because this helps more people find this podcast. And of course, if you've got a friend who you think might enjoy this episode, please do recommend it to them as well. For anything else, your thoughts on the episode or any questions? Please do get in touch with me through Instagram @Mumsdays or you can email me Hannah at Mums days dot com and I genuinely love hearing from you, so please do get in touch, byee.