Goodbye letter to alcohol

Dear Alcohol

You have been the one constant in my life.  From my earliest memories you were always there, firstly in the life of my parents on a daily basis and once I looked old enough to get served in mine.  You were a factor in the choices that I made and with the friends and partners that I chose.  I have never known a time when you weren’t important to someone close to me or to me.

I always viewed you as a Jekyll and Hyde character, sometimes making those close to me more affectionate and then at other times causing anger and violence. I spent much of my childhood fearful of you and the effect and power that you seemed to have.  Those involved with you seemed to prioritise you over everyone else.  But you were who people I knew chose to help them in times of good and bad and so I learned the same message and the same way of being.

When I joined the dance with you, you appeared benign even helpful.  You gave me confidence, made me bigger, louder and funnier than the person I felt I was.  You were my side-kick in all my adventures whether here at home or overseas.  You helped me forget difficult memories and emotions and smoothed over the rough edges in my life.

I partied with you for almost twenty years never questioning your influence, even though during those times I worked as a nurse on a ward where you had done serious damage to other people and they were dying because of you.  They wanted to choose you over anything and everything else.  But I still didn’t see it.

But then I wanted to have children and people were telling me that you were bad for me and so I scaled back our dalliance, joining you only for short but stupendously large blow outs.  I resented that I couldn’t have you in my life as much as you had been in the past.  We had to separate for two short periods while I cared for my unborn babies but I still stole the odd clandestine night, missing you badly.

Once the children arrived life with you became much more difficult and I had to make choices against you, limiting our time together or the intensity of our time together.  This is when I began to realise that our relationship was problematic and was having a serious impact on my other now important relationships.

I began to bargain with you, set myself limits about how often and how long and I tried to stay away from you.  Plus our time together had changed.  Before it was mostly fun and I enjoyed our time together whereas now this seemed to have gone and had been replaced by something darker.  I was more out of control in our time together and this scared me.  You seemed to have taken the upper hand in the relationship and were more insistent and controlling.

I was also trying to give up other relationships that had served me well up until that point but that I could no longer ignore was damaging.  But that relationship was also linked to my time with you and so when I stopped this relationship with nicotine I knew I had to stay away from you too, at least until I had got over that one and could spend time with you and not miss them.

You grew angry at my withdrawal and would harp incessantly in my ear until I would relent and come back to you but the next day I would hate you and hate myself for giving in.  This pull and push has gone on for 5 years and now I am sick of you, sick of the way you make me feel and think about myself, sick of the stupid things I say and do when with you and I don’t enjoy your company any more.

So I have decided to say good bye.  I have decided to try and live my life without you.  You were furious when I made this decision and upped your rhetoric about how useless I was and how I would never survive a party or a difficult time without you.   But I held steadfast and it has been over three months.

You were right, it was hard and at times still is, but I know I have made the right decision.  I have experienced the joy of living without you and your voice has grown fainter and your power has lessened.  Other people still think you are important and want to spend time with you and that is fine.  This decision is about me and no one else and has been one of the hardest I have ever had to make but I feel stronger and more confident in myself and my life without you.

I have fond memories of you in the beginning but we can’t recreate those early days and I know that we never will.   What was once benign is now very much malignant and I must move on.  It is time to forge a new path without you.


I can take no credit for this brilliant idea, which rightly goes to Veronica Valli when she talked about the goodbye letter in her book ‘Why You Drink and How to Stop: Journey to Freedom’.

Edited to add: 01/08/17  An alumni of my London ‘How to Quit Drinking’ workshop in 2015 (sober over 2 years!!) and now friend Janet in South Africa contacted me to share they have launched a Goodbye To Letter website where my letter has now been added here with this message:

Write your own “Goodbye to…” letter

We encourage our readers to write their own “Goodbye to…” letters.

Whether it’s addiction, toxic relationships or bad habits, getting it ‘off your chest’ is a step closer to healing.
If you are ready to write your “Goodbye to…” letter, then send it to us at
Edited to add: 05/01/18

39 thoughts on “Goodbye letter to alcohol

  1. This whole post gave me physical goose bumps.

    “I began to bargain with you, set myself limits about how often and how long and I tried to stay away from you. Plus our time together had changed. Before it was mostly fun and I enjoyed our time together whereas now this seemed to have gone and had been replaced by something darker. I was more out of control in our time together and this scared me. You seemed to have taken the upper hand in the relationship and were more insistent and controlling.”

    You put it so simply but so well. Thank you for sharing this.

  2. Brilliant! I love this and I can relate… TOTALLY. Alcohol was my lover who never loved me back, only it took me a long time and a lot of losses to realise. Wishing you peace and happiness in your sobriety! xxx

    1. Hi Sarahsomewhere Thanks for reading and commenting 🙂 Yep booze was definitely a bad boy for me too! xx

  3. this is so true of my relationship with alcohol…. Growing older and having kids meant that the drunken evenings had to stop. I just couldn’t deal with the wasted day afterwards, not remembering what I had done the night before and the self loathing. I have been struggling with the push and pull of giving up alcohol for about 4 years. I am 9 days into my current attempt. Keep me in your thoughts please Lucy. Maybe I’ll be able to do it this time…. I live your daily blog posts. You are a constant on this journey of mine.

    1. Hi Clarabelle and thank you for reading and commenting. Me too on all fronts – struggled with quit attempts and moderating between 2009 and 2013 before finally succeeding. 9 days is fabulous and you are in my thoughts 🙂 xx

    1. Hi Desiree and thank you for reading and commenting on my blog! Day 1 is good, hang in there it gets easier with time. Pop back and let me know you’re getting on 🙂

  4. Fantastic letter to say goodbye.4 months booze free…drank yesterday,dreadful hangover today, guilt,shame…all the usual..anxiety blah blah…try again x

    1. Jill thank you for reading and commenting on my blog 🙂 Congrats on your 4 months and sorry to hear you slipped yesterday. As you say nothing has changed so on we go, try again! xx

  5. Thanks Lucy….still angry with myself for 1 day relapse. TODAY gardened…kept busy.This is a brilliant help…x

    1. Try not to be too hard on yourself Jill – we’ve all been there 🙂 It sounds like it’s strengthened your resolve so that makes it a valuable learning experience xx

  6. Lucy it has shown me that the one glass of wine l thought i could have turned into a bottle and a half. I have been reading all your posts So much to identify with. I am psychiatric nurse retired..I must try and look on this as a slip…and remember my 4 months abstinent. Thanks so much for replying xx

    1. I fear it would be the same for me too Jill – which is what keeps me from doing any more ‘alcohol research’. It is just a slip as you say so onwards we go and drop in any time 🙂 xx

  7. Just love your alcohol research comment…so crazy..Oh stayed off a while.. now let’s test THE Water.. or wine lol IN MY CASE.So day 3 following ‘slip up’..AFTER my lovely 4 months.Keep reading all your blog…so helpful.I was doing fantastic..biking , tennis. No horrible hangovers.Lucy do I breed to subscribe to this…what does all that mean…hopeless with this blog stuff.May add I live in Spain…Expat..bloody alcohol everywhere. YOU HAVE DONE FANTASTIC. X

    1. Hey Jill Congrats on day 3! Keep going!! To subscribe there is a place on the right hand side of the blog where you can put your email address in and then the blog will automatically be sent to you. Look for this: Subscribe to Blog via Email Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email then add your email address in the box below and click on the subscribe button underneath. Lovely sunny Spain – but yes the expat community does tend to be boozy! 🙂 xx

  8. Thanks for sharing and being an inspiration, this is me exactly. Im sure theres many of us out there, yet I havent learned how to make things happen. I pray I reach your ability and know-how some day.

    1. Hi Sherry Thanks for reading and commenting on my blog 🙂 Don’t give up on trying to give up if that is what you want!

  9. Wow WHAT A PERFECTLY WONDERFUL read today on New Year’s Eve. Your letter fits me to a T. I have an accountability partner that quilt drinking last May with her husband. They signed a contract with their kids and the kids poured out all the wine and liquor in the house. My friend and I are asking the Holy Spirit to remove the desire to drink from me. It is working! I can walk right down that wine isle to the sparkling water section with out even thinking about it. What I do think about is wow I can do this! Love my life!

    1. Hi Michelle Thank you for reading and commenting on my blog 🙂 That’s great news about you and your accountability partner supporting each other in your journey away from alcohol. I promise you it just gets better!

  10. Today is Day 1. I quit once before for about a year. a blog. Followed was extremely helpful. From everything I have ear so far, I’m hoping to find my “island” here.

    1. Welcome Mara 🙂 Thank you for commenting and reading on my blog. If you’ve quit before for a year or thereabouts then you are already equipped with the skills to do it again. Take care of you on Day 1.

  11. Just read this, exactly how i feel but haven’t made an attempt to stop yet. Just had a messy weekend and annoyed my girlfriend in the process, every bender seems to be worse than the last and don’t know when to stop once i reach a certain point, its good to know i’m not the only one and have never talked to anyone about it before or thoughts of giving it up. Thanks

    1. Hey Robert Thanks for reading and commenting on my blog! Acknowledging it is the first step 🙂

  12. Hi Lucy, I’m on day 17 and have no desire to drink. I have been feeling a little lost I admit. I always used alcohol as a reward for a job well done, or as a time to decompress. It was my little celebration in a glass. Club soda and coffee are my substitutes. The advantages to not drinking are many but I am finding myself melancholy during the empty hours. Any thoughts?

    1. Congrats on 17 days Mara!! It’s not just about changing what we drink but also what we do with our time when we used to drink. Are there any hobbies or activities you always wanted to sign up too? Well now’s your opportunity 🙂 Many throw themselves into reading or binge watching Netflix, for me it was blogging and running! If the low mood continues it may also be worth a chat with your Dr. Keep going!

      1. Hi Lucy, I have no shortage of projects. I paint, do pottery, wood burning, yoga, workout. I just finished painting a sap bucket this morning. I read, volunteer and am starting my seeds for my garden this week. So you see, I fill my time with many things. It’s the time when I need to relax that’s tough!

      2. Ah okay 🙂 So for relaxation and switching off I personally rely on a hot bubble bath. Also mindful colouring books are good. We are all different so it’s trial and error for a bit until you find what works for you.

  13. Spring is finally trying to make an appearance here in the Northeast. I was lucky to get outside this afternoon and rake out my wildflower garden. I hung my sap bucket and stacked some wood. I find that very relaxing? It’s been a long winter. I know the fresh air and sunshine will help me to heal. Thank you for your quick response. It helps to just get my thoughts out.

  14. I love the allegory of drinking as a relationship and choosing sobriety like a break-up. It’s so true. This is Day Two for me. I haven’t even had time to really miss alcohol, and I hear that voice in the back of my mind saying, “but you will miss me… soon, just wait.” Envisioning that voice belonging to a loser I broke up robs it of some of its power. Thank you.

    1. Hi Remi Thank you for reading and commenting on my blog 🙂 Congrats on Day Two! I agree Veronica’s Goodbye Letter is a great idea. And yes to me booze was like a petulant lover and now he doesn’t bother me at all any more.

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