Mum’s week – ‘Changing one thing, changed everything’

Mum’s week – ‘Changing one thing, changed everything’

Hi, I’m Charlie and I’m a NON DRINKER. Ohhhh it feels so good to say that!

Although I didn’t drink every day, I was a ‘drink till you drop’ kind of drinker and I couldn’t imagine ever not being one. If you had told me back then that one day, I would write about how sobriety is the best thing I’ve ever done, I would have spat out my wine laughing!

My drinking started out socially. I never kept alcohol in the house. But then I did. By the end of my drinking career, I could easily drink a bottle of wine (or more) in one evening, up to 4 nights a week. The consequences of this were ruining me, piece by piece. Hangovers, disorganisation, struggling through work, cancelling plans, dragging myself along to family activities pretending to feel better than I did, awful pain in my side every morning which scared the crap out of me, not to mention the impact it could potentially have on my children in terms of their own relationship with alcohol as they grew up.

Now that I am sober, I’m proud to be an example to my eldest daughter as she enters turbulent and high pressured teenage years, and to my youngest daughter will never know me as anything but sober.

“Mummy’s little helper” is an expensive lie sold in liquid form. What exactly is helpful about it? Parenting hungover is utterly excruciating. I’d choose labour again any day over that!

Have you ever changed a nappy with a hangover? One of those poonami shit explosion nappies that require a ‘particular set of skills’ (thank you Liam Neeson), in order to prevent your house/kid/face being showered in the offensive substance? I have and I threw up. That was a pretty low moment. Hunched over the toilet bowl, vomiting humiliation and shame, I felt like a pretty pants mum. The previous night , I’d ‘enjoyed’ a bottle or 2 of Rioja with a friend. I’d hurriedly read my daughter’s bedtime story, preoccupied with the voice of the ‘wine witch’ impatiently warning me that the more time I spent upstairs, the longer it would be until I could crack open the bottle. That night, I passed out on the kitchen table.

My life became unmanageable and I drank alcohol to cope with this, not realising it was actually the cause. I shudder when I think back to that now. The hungover mornings, the gaps in my memory and the nervous checking of my phone to try to piece together what had happened. The lack of sleep, poor eating, and general dissatisfaction with my life, and the guilt, oh the guilt! It impacted my relationship with my husband as I used to worry that we didn’t speak very much when we went to the pub. I thought that was a sign that our marriage was heading for trouble however it turned out he just didn’t want to be there whilst I drank, chatted shit to strangers and drank some more. He would always say, “we are only going for one, if you want more, you can stay with your friends but I am going home”. I always assured him, with every intention of doing so, that I would be going home with him but I rarely did.

After about 3 years of a pretty steady decline down a slippery slope, enough was enough. On top of juggling 4 jobs (I had an issue saying no to stuff), and family life, I was also doing a Masters Degree in Transformative Practice, a subject concerned with real, transformational change. I remember my lecturer discussing change during a seminar “change becomes imperative when the alternative is no longer palatable”. That was exactly where I had got to. The alternative was no longer an option.

I threw myself into researching sobriety with as much effort as I had given my drinking habit. I watched, read and listened to anything related to sober living. I found an amazing blog, Hip Sobriety, and took a couple of their fab online video courses.

I read lots of “Quit Lit” and started following sobriety accounts on Instagram. I was inspired by the growing number of women starting to own their sobriety; they made it sound awesome and I wanted what they had.

I started to really embrace sobriety, and eventually became open about it. I didn’t really plan to, but it kinda burst out of me after all, it’s such a huge part of my identity, it’s impossible to hide. And anyway, why the fuck should I hide it? Everything is far better sober. Literally everything. I am present all the time, absolutely love family time, am home most evenings, and am in no rush to read bedtime stories. I have an even better relationship with my kids and my husband and I are super close; we don’t go a day without laughing. I have one job now, a great work/life balance and my priorities are in the right order. I’ve learnt to say no to things. Fuuuuuck no. My daughter recently said to me on a shopping trip, “I much prefer it now you don’t drink at all, Mum. We do things like this and you never stay in bed”.

Becoming sober enabled me to create a life I don’t want to escape from. The only change I consciously made was to stop drinking and by changing one thing, I actually changed everything.

“Getting sober is like breastfeeding. Painful as fuck but well worth the benefits” @nothing_rhymes_with_sober

Written by Charlie, edited by Sober Fish 2018

To follow Charlie’s story on Instagram, go to

https://www.instagram.com/nothing_rhymes_with_sober

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Mum’s week – ‘Day 1 or 1 Day .. you decide’

Mum’s week – ‘Day 1 or 1 Day .. you decide’

Yesterday was my birthday.

Yesterday was also my Day 1 as I embark on a year without alcohol.

So how am I feeling about it? Well, of course there are some nerves. I’ve thought about how I’ll make it through Christmas or whether people will still want to hang out with me but I also feel surprisingly exhilarated and excited!

I’m looking forward to the amazing health benefits to ease my struggle with auto-immune disorders such as arthritis and psoriasis, to no more wasted ‘scummy mummy’ hangover days and to increased productivity in all that I do.

Like many of us, I’ve always used alcohol as a treat, as a way to relax and an essential ingredient of a good night out. I’m a hard worker with a partner and two daughters and sometimes the need to relax reached supersonic levels! Increasingly, I’ve found myself waking up after drinking a bottle of wine the night before feeling anxious, unwell and disappointed in myself that I’m not being the best mum I know I can be. Our weekends are far more precious since my eldest daughter started school and far too many of them have been spent nursing a horrible hangover.

In April, I gave up alcohol for a month and despite being tempted on several occasions, really surprised myself. I noticed an obvious improvement to my mental health, my skin condition cleared up and my productivity was through the roof. Yet despite these benefits, I continued to count the days until I could drink again and in May, retoxed with gusto, causing all my symptoms to return instantly.

Two of my friends, including Sober Fish herself, have done so well in knocking booze on the head completely that I was inspired. To be honest, I always thought sobriety was for other people and not for me but curiously I’m now wanting to follow suit.

My other friend was a cracking drinking buddy but after becoming the head teacher of a school, decided to stop drinking alcohol for a year. Embarrassingly, I admit I was guilty of trying to tempt her back to having a Prosecco sesh but she stuck to her guns and completed her challenge. She looked great, felt fantastic and is full of tips for me as I start my own journey.

There are also a couple more personal reasons for giving up. My sister had an ongoing battle with alcohol abuse and unfortunately lost her life aged just 35, leaving a son behind. My father also died prematurely from alcohol related illness so I am very aware of the negative effects.

Although I don’t consider myself an alcoholic, I find it difficult to monitor my intake. I’m also concerned that alcohol issues could be genetic which gives me all the more reason to give up completely.

I have an addictive personality so will need something to replace the ‘buzz’. My solution is to get the wallet out for a new gym membership! I know that when I feel fit, I’m far less likely to want to drink (and smoke) so am challenging myself to a new fitness programme to keep me in check. I haven’t read any books yet (did I mention I’m a working mum?!) but will be downloading the Russell Brand audiobook which has been recommended by a few people. I am ridiculously stubborn so I’m hoping this trait will help in my success too.

I am looking forward to keeping you updated with my story over the next 365 days. I know the embarrassment of having to tell you all I’ve slipped up will be a great deterrent!

Wish me luck!

Written by Lou, edited by Sober Fish 2018

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Mum’s Week – ‘Brains Are Awesome’

Mum’s Week – ‘Brains Are Awesome’

Towards the end of 2017, I decided to challenge myself to raise money and awareness for The Brain Tumour Charity, in memory of my lovely mum.

When I was thinking about what to do, I soon realised that I needed to do something pretty spectacular to get maximum attention and support from my peer group and made the decision to give up alcohol for a year. As I write, I’m halfway through my #Dry365 challenge.

2017 was the shittiest year of my life so far. At the start of the year, I realised that my marriage was not going to survive and at the beginning of March, I asked my now ex-husband for a divorce. Two weeks later my mum died from a brain tumour which she’d endured for just shy of 20 years.

Sobriety is actually incredibly relevant and appropriate in terms of a personal challenge as my mother became sober when I was 18 months old. In the process of divorcing my father (they were great friends afterwards), the Judge in court told her that she was risking losing me if she continued to drink and so she stopped immediately.

Since giving up alcohol, albeit in the name of charity, I’ve noticed that nothing bad has happened to me. In fact, the whole experience has been massively positive. Aesthetically speaking, I look better and I am told I am ‘fresher’. I have far more energy and I feel much more engaged with life.

Recently, I have noticed that alcoholism (or whatever label is preferred) is progressive in nature. It has, over time, become increasingly socially acceptable to self medicate with alcohol and people often slide into it without realising.

The contrast between my life last year, surviving on a diet of red wine, peanut butter and Berrocca, is stark in comparison to this year. Last year, I fell into the comforting arms of red wine when beaten by life’s hard and fast curve balls. This year is so very different as I’m getting much better at catching those curve balls! The sense of perspective from the charity focus, combined with the rationality of sobriety, has made this a much easier ball game to play.

The good news continues. After my divorce, I learned how to date as a sober person and went through all the ‘firsts’, which was utterly terrifying. I was so lucky to meet a chap who is bloody amazing and thankfully more Darcy and less Cleaver! I sometimes wonder whether it’s the absence of alcohol and hangover paranoia or lack of drunken social media analysis that has helped nurture this relationship because alcohol always made me question everything. Sobriety has helped to silence any doubts I may have had.

I believe that sobriety was my Mum’s legacy to me. One of the benefits is that I am much more engaged in life and specifically less ‘slummy mummy’. I should make it very clear that I have never shirked my rugby mum duties. I would just pitch up blurry eyed, scoffing bacon and slurping full fat coke whilst the boys played. My sprogs have been very honest with their disdain of drunkenness. They are not keen on inert, hungover parents lying comatose on a sofa watching TV. There was a time that I was presented with an Early Learning Centre plastic wine glass and a lettuce leaf for supper by one of my sprogs. I certainly don’t want them to learn any future poor lifestyle choices from me.

I don’t know whether I will continue to be alcohol free when my challenge is completes at the end of 2018. I do miss wine especially when the sun is shining but can happily give or take shots, beer, etc. Who knows what will happen?! I look forward to finding out!

If you would like to follow my challenge, please follow me on

Instagram @brains_are_awesome

or visit my page

https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/brainsareawesome

Written by Kat, edited by Sober Fish 2018

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Guest Poem – The Darkness

Guest Poem – The Darkness

The darkness descends at any given time; without any warning, without sign.

I’ve survived through what was total hell; only I myself know when I will really be well

I’ve been through bereavement and also divorce; my life is so terribly full of remorse.

The demons strike at any given time; I don’t know how to bear it without my crutch; the wine.

My mental state snapped, it had taken enough.

The wine worked itself through to my soul, taking complete control.

It slowly devoured every part of my day; I didn’t know I was drifting away.

Into a world where pain was no more, I could block out the past like locking a door

I’d wallow in pity, sink deeper and deeper until all shapes and forms were of the grim reaper.

It took time, it took effort, so long to get free

It’s one day at a time now, living as me.

Angela X

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Guest Blog – Lysha Holmes Celebrates 1 Year Sober

Guest Blog – Lysha Holmes Celebrates 1 Year Sober

On 10 June 2017, my best friend & I were belatedly celebrating my 43rd birthday. We bought the obligatory bottle of Prosecco as we’d done countless times over the last 20 years, and toasted to good times and our forever friendship.

However, this time was different. This time I chose not to drink it.

I watched the bubbles in the glass try to seduce me but soon realised that I didn’t want to taste it’s bittersweetness. Instead, I drank an alcohol free drink and we continued our night, filled with music, dancing and laughter.

My 29 year relationship with booze was over.

Today, I celebrate one year completely alcohol free. I’ve decided to write a post about how my life has changed since I made my decision, how I coped with the change and what harsh truths have been revealed.

In July 2017, I wrote my first blog for The Sober Fish Story –

A Special Guest Blog ‘Becoming teetotal’ by Lysha Holmes

I was so grateful for the opportunity to share my story and found it really therapeutic. My relationship with booze had always been a heady mix of erratic love and apathy. I didn’t consider myself an alcoholic but more of a socially acceptable dependent whose entire adult life had been linked to booze in some way.

Every major life event was celebrated with booze; weddings, promotions, bad day, good day. It’s considered the social norm to crack a bottle of something open at the drop of a hat and I simply succumbed to the expected parameters of that.

I dabbled with sobriety for nearly a year between August 2016 and June 2017 however every drink I had, I drank in order to conform. I knew I needed to stop but still continued to have champagne to toast in the New Year or a glass of something cold at a BBQ or a cocktail on a girlie night out.

My main fear about sobriety was that I would become a social pariah within my broad circle of friends. This was manifested mostly by my own inner fears however, because in reality, very few people actually berated me for not drinking.

Initially, I felt like I was constantly explaining to people why I wasn’t drinking. Their standard response was ‘I didn’t realise you had a problem’ to which I would explain ‘Neither did I, but my mental and physical health is so much better without it’.

It certainly became repetitive to have to justify my own personal decision to commit to a healthier lifestyle. Perhaps they were reflecting on how I could consider sobriety and whether I would now become dull and boring? I could also sense that a few were negative about it but maybe because my decision was making them question their own habits?

Without sounding too dramatic, it is a brave decision to stop drinking alcohol and to deliberately go against the expected norm of your social group.

Sober Fish has written about how sobriety is a life changing decision. As with any positive healthy lifestyle change, you sometimes only realise the benefits over a period of time. You have to be wholly committed to your choice in order to resist temptation when everyone else is drunk and on a totally different wave length.

I’ve learned that I don’t need alcohol to lose my inhibitions. I am a very confident person and whilst I thought alcohol was my ‘crutch’, it was actually stopping me from being the real me. I’ve had much more fun on nights out since becoming sober and love being able to recall every moment. I also ‘think’ I’m much funnier and quick witted than before!

Since ditching the booze, the change to my physical health is enormous. I’ve lost three dress sizes and instead of languishing in bed with a hangover every weekend, I walk at least 10k steps a day and do a HIIT session with The Body Coach

https://www.thebodycoach.com

I eat really healthily as can actually taste food now. I don’t diet, eat what I want and fully appreciate my health. I think it’s important to respect my body and want to look after it as best I can.

I believe that alcohol distorts the way that you think you look. I never thought I was particularly big or overweight, but when I look back at my ‘before’ photos, I can see how bloated I was and how puffy my eyes were. Interestingly, I was diagnosed with an under active thyroid during pregnancy in 2004 however since I’ve stopped drinking, it has become totally stable.

One of the most precious parts of sobriety is sleep. It is quite simply amazing. I sleep solidly for 7 hours a night without waking up thirsty or needing the loo. I don’t have heart palpitations, which I’m sure were caused by alcohol messing with my metabolic rate at night. Sometimes, I used to feel like I was almost being ‘kick started’ while sleeping! I don’t perspire and wake naturally at the same time every day, fully rested.

Alcohol is perceived as a social necessity and most people who drink cannot imagine socialising without it. There is almost a ‘pack mentality’ with alcohol; when a few people are all drinking together, it can spiral into matching each others pace, opening bottle after bottle.

Sobriety can make you consider friendships and the activities you do together. Personally, I think it’s far more satisfying to have a bonding day at the beach or a satisfying walk through a forest without the need for alcohol. I’ve become so much more aware of my REAL friendships; you know who you are 🙂

Sometimes, I feel like my sobriety can make other people feel uncomfortable or a little paranoid. This could be because they think I’m going to judge them for drinking alcohol but usually this couldn’t be further from the truth. Your choice is yours and my choice is mine.

My final point of what I have learned this year is that, despite stressful life-changing events, I finally feel content. I have a real sense of purpose and achievement that feels so fresh and so authentic, I can’t imagine ever diluting it with alcohol again.

Times are changing. People are choosing healthier lives by swapping junk food for organic and getting fit. The final part of the trilogy to a healthier and in my opinion, far happier life, is to assess your relationship with alcohol and find out what sobriety is really like.

I’m a mum to two daughters and we talk about alcohol and why I don’t drink. I’ve been very open with them and explained that sometimes you have to make a life-changing choice.

My youngest daughter cemented my decision for me when she said ‘Mum, I never used to tell you but sometimes you smelled of wine if we’d been out at a friend’s house. I remember one New Years Eve when you ignored me because you were having champagne with your friends’.

If that wasn’t reason enough to make me stop and re-adjust my priorities in life, then I don’t know what is.

I’d like to take this opportunity to thank every one who has supported me during the last year and give a big thank you to Dawn, aka Sober Fish, who I finally met earlier this year. We really are sisters from another mister; we didn’t stop talking for three days and proved that with the right friends, you really can achieve anything.

Written by Lysha 2018

Edited by Sober Fish

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