After many unsuccessful attempts to moderate her drinking, Amy stopped altogether on Friday of the June long weekend in 2020. This was mid-lockdown (she lives in regional Victoria) and the few months prior she, like many people, had been drinking more.
“You’re at home and you’re in lockdown. What else are you going to do with your time?” She told us when we caught up over the phone this week.
But then a serendipitous thing happened that made her change direction completely.
“A very old high school friend contacted me to say, ‘I'm really sorry about some of the things that happened when we were in high school. I didn't realize I had such an unhealthy relationship with alcohol, and I'm working through it and just wanted to apologise.’”
Amy was taken aback. At the same time, she thought that it was an amazing thing to do and she was happy for her old friend. The two ended up talking about drinking and how the friend was approaching her new relationship with it. It led to Amy to re-think her approach to going alcohol-free.
“I'd lived in constant fear,” says Amy, “not wanting to stop drinking because it had been such a big part of my life and my personality. Thinking that if I did stop I'd be white-knuckling it all the way through and not wanting to do anything: I'd lose my social life.”
But something her friend said made her realise that, maybe, she could do it. That going sober wouldn’t ruin her personal life, it would make it better.
Amy’s friend said to her, “If you stop drinking, you will have the best of both worlds. Because if you go about it the right way you will be present. And you will be able to do all the things that you love.”
The friend continued, “And you'll be, you know, aware of what you're doing, you won't have to be tied down by guilt or regret or be preoccupied with alcohol and when the next glass of wine is going to appear: you will live your best life.”
Honestly, it sounded too good to be true. But the friend pointed Amy in the direction of Naked Life, a free 30-day alcohol experiment. It was just what she needed right then.
The program includes small exercises throughout the month and includes lots of work on mindset and changing your entire relationship with alcohol, rather than just focussing on abstinence.
Since that Friday last June, Amy has not had a drink and she doesn’t think she’s going back. Oh, and everything that her girlfriend told her that day turned out to be true.
“I'm not missing out on anything,” she says, “I'm actually more engaged with everything in my life. I'm able to achieve so much more. My relationships have improved and my confidence has gone through the roof, because I'm not putting on my life jacket or my safety blanket of drinking.”
A recent girl’s trip to Melbourne was a particular highlight. In the past, these sorts of trips used to involve alcohol-soaked nights of revelry, which didn’t go down very well with her young family.
This trip involved all of the revelry, but none of the alcohol and it was just as fun as it had ever been.
“I still went out, dined out, had amazing meals, went to a gig, went to a bar, went dancing, went and did all the things that I would have done but remained conscious and responsible and that was massive for me.”
Does Amy have any words of wisdom for anyone who is trying to change their relationship with alcohol? You bet!
The first thing she told us was this fantastic quote, which she always had handy and looked at often during the first few months of her journey: "The goal isn't to be sober, the goal is to love yourself so much that you don't need to drink."
This was a revelation for Amy. She tells us: “The idea about it was connecting with yourself rather than focusing on not drinking, it was being able to improve your relationship with yourself so much that alcohol becomes irrelevant.”
The next steps? Find an alcohol-free red wine that’s actually delicious. While, there are some great sparkling options, Light Me Up included, and some great zero-alcohol whites, Amy is yet to find a red that she loves.
It’s getting easier though, to find great zero-proof options at the local shops and online.
Keep in touch with Amy on Instagram at @dry_but_wet where she shares great reviews of the AF options and pushes for more venues to get on the zero-proof train.