By Amber Badger, Founder of The Wild Wordsmith. First published on Women Who Do (July '21)

I’m writing this fresh on the other side of my six-month anniversary. No, not my business anniversary. Or my relationship. Or the first time I tried double-stuffed Oreos with a layer of PB on top.

It’s the anniversary of my sobriety.

It feels strange to write that. As if I am outing myself as an alcoholic. Or, rather, that I am leaning into my melodramatic tendencies. Surely you can only whack out the sober banner if you’re recovering from 24-7 benders and a serious drinking problem, right?

For me, sobriety looked all together different from the stories paraded around on Coronation Street (any other 29 year old Corrie fans out there? Just me? Okay). I wasn’t an alcoholic. But, that didn’t mean that I didn’t have a problem with alcohol.

Alcohol was my crux. When I was stressed, I drank. When I was celebrating, I drank. When I was sad - oh, you guessed it - I drank.

Which isn’t unusual. We live in a society where Gin O’Clock and Keep Calm and Drink Wine mantras are only ever a social media scroll away. And, for many of us, that’s fine. We can enjoy a Friday tipple or a drink with pals to celebrate an epic week. I, however, am not a part of that ‘we’.

I am a very anxious person. I have been on antidepressants for over three years and have spent just as many in therapy. I get paranoid and overwhelmed, burnt out and riddled with panic. Unsurprisingly, alcohol does not help those tendencies. And, as a business owner, those feelings are far from welcome at my desk. So, after days and days spent battling good old ‘hang-xiety’ and trying to push through brain fog, I decided on 1 January 2021 (I know, total cliche) that I would knock booze on the head for good.

In some ways it was an easy decision, in others it was the hardest one I have ever made. When I decided to leave my 9-5 job to go self employed two years ago, the thought petrified me. What would people think of me? How would I network? How on earth was I supposed to *put-myself-out-there*? Of course, I proved myself to be far more resilient than I had ever imagined. Yet, the choice to go alcohol-free brought those fears tumbling back down.

I’ve been drinking since I was 13, and I have never had a good relationship with the bottle. While I am a textbook extrovert, the truth is that on the inside I am flippin’ terrified…

  • Would people like me sober?
  • Would I be as much fun?
  • Would I even want to socialise?
  • What would I do with my time?

Well. Those fears were totally unfounded.

Sobriety has taught me so much about myself - and it’s also helped me become a better business owner. I knew that going sans alcohol would mean no more hangovers (the JOY) and that it would probably help my anxiety. It’s the other ‘stuff’ that I wasn’t expecting.

I am more productive now that I am sober.

Sleep has always been a bit of an issue in my world. Lying awake at night playing out ALL the worse case scenarios in my head / super light, super disjointed booze-fuelled sleep meant that I would feel stuffy and unfocused all day.

My sleep is now - for the most part - pretty damn good. I feel focused and AWAKE during the day. Winner.

I have greater clarity.

Without booze - and the anxiety that comes with it - clouding my mind, I can see clearly now (cue Johnny Nash singalong). I truly feel as if the fog has lifted; I am able to access parts of my *self* that I didn’t even know existed. The path ahead used to be full of brambles, overturned trollies and a few piles of dog poop. Now, it’s a friggin’ Utopia.

I am calmer and more rational.

While I am far from perfect, I can deal with stress way better than I could in Badger BS (ahem - Badger Before Sobriety). Things that used to send me into overdrive are now but a fleeting itch; sure, it’s annoying, but I know it’ll pass once I’ve given it a good scratch.

I am finding greater balance.

Now that my ‘go to’ in the evening isn’t cracking open a bottle of beer, I am actually finding the time for the activities that fill my cup… Yoga, movement, reading and fiction writing. I’m reminded of how much these things bring me joy. And by making space for them, everything that I create in my work is enormously better.

I feel liberated.

Let’s end on a lovely high. Sobriety has offered me the most beautiful sense of liberation.

I feel in control. I feel free from alcohol’s shackles. I feel sure of myself. Certain that I can do everything I did with booze, but BETTER (and with the added bonus of waking up fresh as a daisy).

If I can do this, then what can’t I do?

Sobriety isn’t for everyone - if you can handle alcohol in a controlled and measured way, then why not? Saying that, if you’ve ever dabbled with the idea of going AF… I cannot recommend it enough. I don’t think that my business would have grown in the way it has in the past six months if I was still drinking. I am more motivated, inspired and able to handle whatever life throws at me now. It’s a gift. One I won’t be letting go of anytime soon.