Interview with Sarahjane
I’m Sandra Parker, and today I am absolutely delighted to chat to Sarahjane about her recent experience with Just theTonic..
I am really excited about having this conversation, Sarahjane, and it doesn’t really feel like it was only three months since we’ve started working. If we go back to January, can you share how much you were drinking and what sort of problems it was causing you?
I was drinking at least two boxes of wine. The boxes that have 3 bottles in one box. More if I felt absolutely depressed. I was drunk practically all the time. I think Mondays and Tuesdays were the only times I wasn’t drunk.
What was the point where you decided you had had enough?
I was getting sick of it but I think it was over Christmas and I was with my family and I was just blotto-ed, and I don’t remember very much of Christmas, and I thought, that’s really sad because I’ve got a nephew and he was really excited to get the presents that I bought him … I played a practical joke on him with joke presents and I put his real present inside but I didn’t remember his reaction to the jokes, and I felt that was really sad. So that was really the moment. My sister decided to do Dry January. And to be brutally frank, I was white knuckling it the whole way through, especially at weekends, then I saw your ad on Facebook and something just clicked, and I just thought, actually, I want to do this.
When we had that first conversation, if you think about how you felt back then, after our telephone conversation how did you feel, there can be a lot of different emotions … Did you feel nervous? Wonder if this was going to work for me? Were you excited? Were you anxious about what it would involve? How did you feel?
I would say excited, but more pessimistic than anything else. Knowing what I am like I didn’t think it was going to work but then I just thought, I’ve got to trust it.
You joined the program and became part of the WhatsApp group.
For some people, that can be quite exciting, for others they can be unsure about what the other people are going to be like when you think back to January, what was your first impression when you joined the group?
I think I was quiet in the group for the first couple of days, but then as people were posting, things they were writing I could relate to and also knowing other people had the same experiences of me it really became a tool.
Did you feel less isolated as a result of the group?
Yes, definitely. Because other people had similar experiences to me so that was comforting
When you went on the first Zoom call and you’re able to see some of these other people from the WhatsApp group, what was that experience like for you?
That was really revealing, really confirmed that I wasn’t alone in this. The other people were encouraging me and I wanted to be there for them as well.
For some people during this process they drink less as we work together, and then they take a break. And then for other people like yourself, you’ve haven’t drank the whole time that we’ve worked together. So did that feel progressively easier for you when you look back at the last few months? How did it feel in January versus how it feels now?
Well, when I first joined in January, I was like doing Dry January so was thinking I only have a few more days to go. Then I can drink. And then actually doing the program, looking at all the videos and the worksheets it was just like, well, hold on a second alcohol is not what I thought it was. Alcohol was fun while it lasted for 20 minutes, and then that’s it.
Was that a shock to you the 20 minutes high?
Yes, that was what grabbed me most, because when I was drinking, my life was so fantastic and then I’d spend the rest of the time chasing that 20 minutes and never getting there .. ever.
I can totally relate to that as well.
So when I look back at working with you Sarahjane, you were all in, you were doing the modules you were posting in the WhatsApp group every day. At the same time you had quite a challenging job. Tell me about how you felt about your job when we first started working together and how you feel about it now.
The company was being reorganised and I was put into a role I didn’t want and so I had a 3 year old toddler tantrum feeling like I was not going to enjoy the new job. What this program helped me so much was that it showed me that I didn’t want to be the 3 year old toddler having a tantrum every day at work. I got given a project that I would not have been able to do as a drinker as you needed a clear head, needed to be organised and focused and I wasn’t any of those before January when I stopped drinking.
Doing the program has made me completely change my viewpoint on everything. And I don’t say that lightly.
When you think about your job now and how you approach it and how you feel about it, how would you describe how you feel about it now? A sense of pride versus the start of the year?
We just finished this project, on Friday we had the big closing event, which I’d organised totally from day one. We had so many people on the event, I was practically crying when we came off the call because I thought we’d have about 4 people and like, 800 people dialled into it.
I get excited when I wake up in the morning, and look forward to going to work.
How big a difference does that make to your life waking up feeling like that.
Well, it makes dragging yourself out of bed in the morning a lot easier. I work from home, and I’ve literally changed everything. I get up, I exercise, I go for a walk before I sit down and log on, it just feels easier, because I’m present, because I know that I’m making a difference. I don’t know how to describe it, but it’s really good.
You come across to me as such a positive person. Do you see that as something that’s changed since you’ve done this work?
When you look at how you feel now, you were numbing out from alcohol before, and you Your job where it’s been quite challenging. How do you approach it now versus how you approached it before?
Well, I have had times at work when I’ve not been able to get my point across the way I wanted to, which is frustrating if you’re not understood properly. In that situation before I would have run out and grabbed a bottle of wine, now instead of turning right in the direction of the supermarket I turn left to go to the park for a walk.
Another thing I do is cook, I find a complicated recipe and get lost in that. So just try and focus on something else. And of course, my crochet.
Do you feel yourself becoming calmer, does that feel like it’s something you’re enjoying doing?
Yes, especially the walking, I normally get a podcast or something and just go and walk. I found a podcast called You’re Dead To Me, which is all about history, and I just love it.
So you were in the program and you had stopped drinking right away. But at what point did the fear of thinking this wasn’t going to work for you, change to thinking this is actually working?
So doing ´dry january´i was constantly thinking about when it was going to end but by the time the last day of January arrived, the day kind of came and went as I wasn’t even thinking about the countdown.
When you think about social events,for a lot of people, one of their biggest fears is socialising without alcohol. Was that a fear for you?
Yes, it was a fear. I haven’t been socialising madly, as I don’t normally socialise much in January, February, March, anyway, but I did go out for a curry and thought I was going to fail, but I had an alcohol free beer and nobody really mentioned it.
I went to a work event a couple of weeks ago, a colleague and I were at the station waiting and she went to get a glass of wine and tried to encourage me to have one as well instead of the diet coke I asked for. She questioned my choice but I just said I was taking a break from alcohol and I’m enjoying it.
How did it feel to hear yourself saying that? Did it feel real?
It didn’t feel real. I’ve got to say it didn’t feel real. I was like, Is this really me? Am I really turning down a glass of wine? But after I’d actually said it, it felt natural.
I do remember when we first spoke, one of the things you mentioned was work events, because, like a lot of us, you said that because you were working from home, it was important for you to not avoid work social events because you wanted to meet people, and network with them. You had a fear that I think a lot of people can relate to that’s will I be able to do this without alcohol? So now you’ve done it. Do you feel that you’ve got the tools to do that going forward? Do you feel that you’re able to enjoy a night out with work without alcohol?
I definitely think so. We’ve actually got another work event coming up we’re going to go out for a team meal afterwards. I know I wouldn’t want to be drunk in front of them anyway.
Does it feel nice to be able to feel relief or fun to know that you can socialise without alcohol?
Yes, it does. I had my parents come and visit and would normally drink but didn’t, I went to the work event and didn’t drink. Obviously there are things that are going to come up, they’re going to challenge me, but I think I’m more prepared for that than I was before.
When you look now at how you’re feeling now about not drinking, do you feel like you got out the program, what you were hoping for?
Yes, definitely. A better understanding of what my relationship with alcohol was.
It was toxic, by the way.
Well, I think I knew that before, but now I definitely feel that now
The thing that strikes me,Sarahjane, is how quietly confident you come across now. Have you noticed that in yourself?
I’ve definitely noticed that.
What would you say to somebody if they were watching this video and they were thinking I can relate to what Sarahjane says about just nipping across to the supermarket whenever things were tough and buying some wine. If they were listening to this and thinking they want to do something about it, but they’re a bit nervous about booking a call, what would you like to say to them?
I didn’t think it would work for me. And I know this is covered in the modules but looking at if I’m looking talking to somebody who hasn’t done the modules, I say, I thought I had an addictive personality and I couldn’t change it. But I can and you can too.
What are you most excited about now that you’re alcohol free?
Living life. I think the possibilities have just got so much more endless. Whereas before, all I could think about was the next box of wine.
I can see you doing really well in your job. Does that excite you going forward?
It does excite me.
Tell me about your rewards? How long are you alcohol free now?
Oh, crikey. Was it 120 days? Let me just check. I don’t even know.
What’s your next target?
Well, at the moment, I’m doing sober spring, and then it’s going to be sober summer. Then it’s going to be AF at autumn fall. Alcohol free autumn.
So what was your reward for 100 days?
Well, it was cake. And well, waking up in the morning without feeling like death, that was a good reward. But yes. Went through my recipe books and I made myself an absolutely gorgeous beef stew. That was great. And plus, there was always ice cream, which was my reward for finishing.
Anything that we haven’t covered? Any advice you’d give to anyone watching.
This advice is do it, you won’t regret it. There were all sorts of misgivings that I had right at the beginning going, oh, what have I done? Oh, my gosh, I’m going to fail so badly. But no, just believe in yourself, because I can tell you, this time last year, if you’d said to me that I would have gone 122 days alcohol free, I would have laughed in your face. I did it, so can you.
Oh, that’s fantastic. Thank you so much, Sarahjane