Things I Know : Ocsober Edition

And so it’s finally here. The first day of November, which means October Ocsober is OVER! A whole month of staying “dry”, a month to lose the booze and raise money for a worthy cause – Healthy Harold. A month to reflect on what alcohol is, what it does, what role it plays in my life and what role it plays in our country’s culture. It has been a bit eye-opening.

The idea to do Ocsober originally came about because I was encouraging a friend of mine to cut out the 2+ liters a day of Coke Zero she was drinking. I said if she could give up the soft drink, I would give up the booze! Then I said, “And I’ll give up coffee, too!” I know, I’m genius*. I even started a fundraising page to do it “officially”. I don’t think I even broke the $200 mark, but I did raise enough to help Life Education reach 5 kids in remote areas or teach 3 vulnerable children about the dangers of alcohol misuse. If going without alcohol for one month helps even one child avoid drug and alcohol dependency, it is so worth it.

The first two weeks – especially the weekends – were the hardest part of the challenge. There were times I really wanted a drink. There were times I felt like I needed a drink. But the few times I thought I did, I managed to distract myself and I got through just fine.

It’s amazing how much you hear people talking about alcohol when you give up drinking it. I can’t tell you how many times I was met with “Oh god, WHY?” when I confessed my Ocsober commitment. I had people look at me like I was seriously crazy. The more this happened, the more scared I felt for our culture of drinking. We hear all this talk about teenage binge drinking and how awful it is, but what about adult binge drinking? Can we really blame teenagers for wanting to drink and have a good time** when they’ve grown up watching their parents do the same thing?

I wanted to share some things I’ve learned during Ocsober.

Firstly, I’m not an alcoholic. Not that I thought I was, but I was starting to wonder. If I was, I wouldn’t have been able to do this. I know that I can go as long as I want to without alcohol. In the same breath, I’m worried that once I have that first drink again, I’ll slip back into old habits of having a drink every night.

People think you’re boring or there’s something wrong with you when you don’t drink. I’ve not seen anyone socially all month. Which is probably a blessing, because it would have made it that much harder to stay sober, I think.

There is a serious drinking culture problem in this country. And anyone who thinks there’s not, is probably contributing to the problem.

Some say if you cut alcohol out of your diet you will lose weight. This may be true. But it doesn’t work if you substitute ice cream and milkshakes for the alcohol. Just saying.

{ source }

Healthy Harold (Life Education Australia) is a wonderful initiative which “provides positive programs that develop the social skills and knowledge necessary for effective decision-making, communication, negotiation, peer resistance and refusal in drug-related situations.” I had a baby boy and I blinked and he was at school. I’m going to blink and he’ll be 15, 16, 17 and facing pressures of drug and alcohol experimentation with his friends. I hope that when that time comes around, he’ll have learned enough to know to say NO.

It’s not too late to donate! LEA has raised $800,000 thanks to Ocsober participants. That is an incredible achievement and will go a long way to helping our kids learn about the dangers of drugs and alcohol.

So what now? Well, as you may recall, I also gave up coffee for the month of October. And this morning, November 1, when I could have a coffee…I don’t want one. I’ll stick to my tea. For now! Tomorrow night we have plans to go out, and it will be my first test with alcohol. After going a whole month without it, I almost don’t want to drink ever again. I am not against people having a drink, and I’m certainly not against people having a good time. But sleeping well, thinking clearly, and not waking up feeling hungover and sick has been really good, and it makes me wonder why we put ourselves through that?

* So much sarcasm

** Good time is relative and open to interpretation

Linking up with Rhi for Things I know

A Parenting Life Things I Know

and Flogging My Blog with the lovely Grace!

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22 thoughts on “Things I Know : Ocsober Edition

  1. Well done for doing it, it is so hard when the temptation is around and you are almost seen as abnormal if you are NOT drinking. It sounds to me like you have the right attitude about it and I bet after such a long while not having a drink when you do you will savour it more and be more mindful of what you are drinking. Much respect to you lovely and great news on the money you raised too. Xxx

  2. I think you have done an amazing job for Ocsober – alcohol and coffee would have been a huge ask and you did it !!! Good for you !
    I agree with everything you said – I think that there is definitely a culture of children watching their parents drink and then grow up thinking that is the right thing to do. I am also not against drinking – I just think that it should be done in moderation.
    Well done – I am really proud of you and what you have done !
    Have the best weekend and enjoy your drink when you have it – or not, depending on whether you want to start drinking again or not !!! LOL
    Me

    • Thanks L. It’s the 6th of November and I’ve had 2 drinks so far this month. Not 2 drinking nights, literally just TWO DRINKS. I don’t need it and not even sure I want it anymore. It feels good, to be honest.

  3. Well done you for keeping to your challenge and completing it. It is hard even when you don’t go out, as you can still see people doing it on social media, especially Instagram!! I’m trying to follow a healthier eating plan now and sometimes I really need to keep away from IG during meal times or late nights as people tend to post their delicious food and supper ;p Probably for you too especially on the weekends when more then to drink.

    Ai @ Sakura Haruka

    • It is EVERYWHERE on social media, you are right! But now that it’s been so long, it is much easier. I feel happy with my decision/choice to not drink and don’t begrudge anyone their decision to have a drink or a few. It feels good to not drink so much.

    • Thank you so much for your donation Kathy! Very generous and very much appreciated! I am so glad I did Ocsober, not only for the money raised to go to a good cause, but also because I feel so much better and no longer need or even want a drink! Will be special occasions only from now on I think.

  4. Well done Aroha! As I was reading this I was thinking “I don’t have a problem with alcohol, I could give up any time.” And then I realised that I do have one (large) glass or red most night, and tonight I’m going out with some friends, and we no doubt will have a few bottles between us. So I think I would really feel the pressure socially to give it up for a month, and also having a glass of wine in the evening makes me feel like the day is winding down and I can have an adult drink and chat with another adult, which would be a tough one to give up. So good for you!! xx

    • It was really hard the first couple of weeks, but now it’s been 5+ weeks it is much easier. We went out last Saturday night and I had 2 drinks in 4 hours and drove, and I didn’t even want more or feel like I was missing out. It was really weird for me!

  5. Good on ya, Aroha! Fantastic effort and fantastic post! I agree whole-heartedly with you when you say that we have ‘a serious drinking culture problem in this country. And anyone who thinks there’s not, is probably contributing to the problem’. It’s really sad that so many adults believe that others are ‘boring’ for not drinking and make them feel uncomfortable for not doing so. If people can’t hold a conversation without consuming alcohol at the same time, then they are actually the boring ones! The fact that you gave up coffee as well though is super impressive. You must be feeling so healthy now the month is over!

    • Well, the problem was I substituted coffee and alcohol for milkshakes. LOL! I’m not sure, but there might have been less calories in the alcohol I was drinking than was in the milkshakes I substituted! In saying that, I’m now 6 days into November and I’ve only had 2 drinks – last Saturday night when we went out – so I think I’ve really been able to change my habits thanks to Ocsober!

  6. Congratulations lovely! How awesome to know that you have all that self control. I absolutely agree with all that you talked about in regards to alcohol consumption within society. It is frightening. And doubly well done for coffee as well!

    Thanks for joining in with #thingsiknow

    • Thanks Rhi! There were times I didn’t think I’d be able to do it, but proud to say not only did I do it, but I haven’t fallen back off the wagon this month. I’ve had 2 drinks total and that was when we went out last weekend! I don’t even think about it really!

  7. I am fine with giving up alcohol although I am more than happy to be able to have a drink or 2 again after being pregnant but I will never ever give up coffee ever!! Well done you!!

    • well to be fair, it wasn’t the coffee i was trying to give up – it was soy milk. And I’m glad I did, because my body has gone back to “normal” – it seems the hormones in the soy were playing havoc!

  8. You are amazing and have such determination I knew you’d do it. Funny you didn’t want a coffee but also a good thing. Waking up feeling refreshed and alert is the best feeling, especially when you’ve got 14 stories to write and 3 kids to get to school! You know I love a drop but am definitely making an effort to be responsible in front of kids. Although refraining from them completely isn’t the answer, I think they need to see that you can have a few social drinks and it’s not the worst thing in the world, the last thing I want to bring up is closest drinkers, like I was as a teen!!!

    • I do think we need to be open and honest with our kids. I remember dad saying to me “I know you’re going to try smoking and drinking, just promise me you’ll be safe when you do, and you’ll call me any time if you need me.” We can’t be naive to it, but I also think they shouldn’t see parents drinking every night. I’ve only had 2 drinks – when we went out last weekend – and 2 coffees (minus the soy milk) so far this month! Definitely have changed my habits thanks to Ocsober.

    • I’m enjoying drinking tea again! I’ve only had 2 coffees so far this month – one instant and one skinny latte (so still avoiding the soy milk). And funny enough, when we went out I only had 2 drinks in 4 hours and drove. I didn’t even miss it or feel like I was missing out!

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