This morning, I started thinking about all the things that I have deliberately changed, since last summer.
When my relationshit really started fizzling out, I had an overwhelming urge to makeover my flat. Like a deep cleanse. Out with the old and in with the new. I started with a new mattress & bedding, sold all my old furniture and bought all new. I EBay’d my clothes. And splashed out on a sofa.
Whilst this transition was happening, I had also started thinking about going sober. All were mechanisms to ensure that I wouldn’t go back to what broke me; I was a woman on a mission.
Once my makeover was complete, I then received a call out of the blue with a new job opportunity. I had been at my company for 10 years .. I thought I’d be there until I died to be honest .. so when this opportunity came along, it would’ve been silly to refuse.
So, now I had a fresh clean flat and a new job. I was single and free. I was going to become sober. And write about it. It was the metaphorical blank page I needed to succeed.
As you may know, my sober year started earlier than planned .. my current company have only ever known me sober .. and have been more than supportive. To be fair, it would be a bit hard to keep it a secret from them as I bear my soul to the internet!!
Learning a new job has been hard but rewarding. I’m not exactly sure how I would’ve coped binge drinking at weekends and then trying to learn on weekdays. But then I suppose I managed before …
With the change in jobs, my whole routine has changed. My commute is 2 minutes as opposed to 45. I get up later. I spend less time in the car getting wound up. I spend less time in the car full stop. I take lunch. I work mainly alone. The stress I didn’t know was there is gone. All those triggers to reach for the wine removed.
In the evening, I write. And source things to amuse/educate/inspire my followers. All this takes time, time I previously spent necking a bottle of the red stuff.
I realised that, as well as music and smells reminding me of my drinking days, my clothes did too. A dress I bought to wear to a party and got hammered in, or a top I wore on a drunk date I’d rather forget. I EBay’d the lot. Any link to my old life had to go.
I’m not smoking and have no desire to do so. I used to wake up smelling smoke, hating the fact I’d smoked out of my window the night before . I can feel in the difference in my breathing and definitely prefer a life without fags.
I’m eating well and I’m losing weight. Another reason for a new wardrobe. I have more money to treat myself and I no longer have the burden of cleaning at weekends as I pay someone to do it for me out of my ‘not buying wine’ fund!
It is truly amazing how much has changed in 6 small months. It is actually staggering how much alcohol influenced every area of my life and how much better things are now it’s gone.
I am starting to love myself. The self esteem that had been crushed by the relationshit is back with a vengeance. The inspiration to write is back. The desire to drink is gone.
For most of my adult life, I have dieted. I started at about age 17 by joining Weight Watchers and lost about 3.5 stone. For the first time in my life, I was slim. For about a month. And then it started creeping back on again.
I’ve tried everything. Except the cabbage soup diet. That was one step too far. I’ve probably paid tens of thousands of pounds to clubs over the years and the end result is that I’m bigger than ever. Or was.
I’ve tried the exercise route, getting up at stupid o’clock. I’ve tried eating full fat, organic, no sugar, no carbs, high protein, low sugar, the lot. I’ve tried everything. But the end result was the same. Fat.
However. There was something I was doing wrong. That I think a lot of us do wrong. I ignored the alcohol.
It’s so weird that if you put a donut in front of me, it signals pure fat. You can taste the fat. Your face gets covered in badness. Everyone says donuts are bad. Everyone avoids donuts.
But stick a glass of wine of me and I didn’t see badness. I saw no calories, no badness. My rule has always been that if you drink it, it can’t possibly stick as comes straight out the other end! Kill me now.
So for all those years I was getting fatter, there was one enemy staring me straight in the face, mocking me as I paid my fiver a week. For years. Sticking to my insides and making me fat. My lovely glass of vino.
This time is different. Instead of saving my 5-15 syns a day for a crate of wine at the weekend, I barely use them. Ok, I might treat myself to an Elderflower or a chocolate ice cream but in the grand scheme of things, I’m not being that bad at all. And for the first time ever, my fiver a week is worth it. I am consistently losing weight, I’ve lost two dress sizes in as any months and I don’t feel I’m missing out on anything at all.
This weekend is a special weekend. This weekend, I hit 120 days sober. That’s 4 whole massive months since a drop of alcohol passed my lips. It’s 120 nights of proper sleep and 120 mornings of not feeling like death.
When I decided to go Sober For 2017, I read several articles which told me to break down soberdom into small chunks. Apparently, it is easier to think of a small amount of time off the sauce rather than forever. It was suggested to go for 30 days, then 60, then 90, then the big 120 days. It seemed daunting. I mean, I’ve done ‘dry January’ and I’ve done ‘I won’t drink in the week’ but 120 days? Wow, that seemed immense and almost a little out of reach. And yet here I am, almost there. Little old party animal, binge drinker extraordinaire, me. Sober, for 4 months.
I’ve been thinking of how much I’ve learnt since Sauvignon and I said our not so sweet goodbyes. I’ve learnt that Sauvignon made me fat & emotional, gave me false hope & confidence and was ruining my life.
I’ve learnt that I wasn’t as alone as I thought when I was rattling around my flat on a Friday night drinking, smoking, drunk-texting idiots & crying; that actually, there’s a whole army of us out there determined to exterminate Sauvignon and its mates forever.
I’ve learnt that despite Sauvignon thinking it had a massive hold on me, I have, with sheer determination, escaped its clutches and as a result found myself again. I’ve learnt that without Sauvignon, the desire to smoke has also disappeared and I’ve successfully dumped them both.
I’ve learnt that a life without hangovers is incredible. I’m more organised than ever, massively productive and have obviously rediscovered my love of writing. The blog has literally been a life saver, both the act of writing and the overwhelming support from my followers. I have made hundreds of friends, found websites I never knew existed, watched video blogs of people telling their story & read hundreds of comments of people just like me. I’m in touch with people all over the world; the struggle just as real in New Zealand as it is in London.
I have learnt about many alcohol free products, I’ve gone organic with all my skin products. I buy hemp and sprinkle it on my breakfast (I can’t believe I’m actually writing this). I go to bed later and I wake up early, refreshed, my sleep not disrupted by poison. I eat when I’m hungry; I don’t gorge as I did when I was hungover, craving badness. I take joy in a long walk by the sea rather than hiding under my duvet, afraid to leave the house.
I’ve learnt that I can be happy without a drink in my hand; that actually all the alcohol did was (deceptively) mask other issues I had such as my toxic relationship & my weight problem. And that now Sauvignon is gone, the other issues are rapidly disappearing too.
So now I soldier onwards towards 6 months. 180 days. Halfway. Seems almost unreal. But for now, I’m gonna celebrate this milestone with an Elderflower and a muller light. Not so rock & roll but at least I’m not crying .. or texting ..
In November 2015, one of the best things ever happened to me. My little nephew was born.
I don’t have children so imagine my joy when the cutest, happiest, funniest little creature came into the world and stole my heart.
For the first year of his life, I was drinking. Not that he would’ve known of course, but I was also smoking and I was conscious that he could breathe in chemicals from me. It made me want to give up smoking but I found it really difficult not to smoke when I was drinking. In an attempt to cut down smoking, I gave myself a stupid rule that I would only smoke if I drank .. and upped my wine intake accordingly!
I also found that this particular small boy made me morbidly ponder my time left on this planet, and with him. I was more than aware of the dangers of drinking and smoking and however, suddenly, my time became ultra precious. Why would I want to spend any less time with this boy for the sake of another bottle of wine or packet of cigarettes?
The overwhelming urge to spend as much time possible with him was too strong to resist and he became another massively important reason to overhaul my life. I wanted him to be proud of me, not to think of me as the alcoholic auntie, always pissed at parties!
So now he gets me. The real me. Not someone too hungover to play with him or someone too drunk to spend time with him. I plan on being the best version of myself for him and to be in his life for as long as I possibly can, sober and present. Lucky, lucky him 😁🙋🏻🐟
This weekend, my friend and I were talking about the good old times, of drunken nights gone by.
For example, when we went to the pub for a ‘quick one’ after work. After putting the world to rights, her with a bottle of Prosecco, me with a bottle of the finest red, we ended up playing Battleships in a dark corner of the pub. To this day, I still have no idea how to play, who won (but pretty sure it wasn’t me!), or if we ever actually finished the game, but we still laugh about how ridiculous it was now.
Or last summer, when I stayed with her in Majorca and we drank homemade Pina Coladas and smoked copious amounts of cigarettes, whilst dancing on the balcony, watching the beautiful sunset, listening to Chicane.
Brilliant memories of brilliant times, clouded for me however, by the dreaded hangover. The Battleships night was a school night, shortly after I’d started a new role at work. The next day was horrific, woken by the alarm that I mistakenly thought was the sandwich van. Yes, I already thought I was at work and hadn’t even made it out of bed yet. I was sick first and then had endure a whole day feeling rubbish, counting the hours until I could get back in bed and die.
The same happened after Pina Colada night. Sick. For hours. We ventured out for a drive and I just remember feeling ill in the back of the car, not knowing what to do with myself, saved only by a Big Mac & a fat coke in Magaluf and a dip in crystal clear waters.
My point is that, whilst I had fantastic times on a high, there was always a low. And my lows had become unbearable. I know some of my friends are starting to mourn the old me, realising it is unlikely she will ever come back but to be honest, I’m glad that I will (hopefully) never hug the porcelain telephone again (**).
I am starting to understand that a sober life is a much more steady life emotionally. It can feel a bit ‘flat’ at times however I think that is a fair trade to be in control and not ill. I dread to think of the damage I have caused to myself over the years and just hope that now, I can repair some of it.
I am not dead. I’m a work in progress, slowly transforming into the new me. Or perhaps I’m actually becoming the real me, not clouded by the deceiving cloak of alcohol; not hiding behind a large Sauvignon. Only time will tell whether I can be ‘just as fun’ without my faithful protector and whether I ever see beyond midnight again!
(**) – calling Jesus on the porcelain telephone’ – the act of clinging to the toilet basin whilst throwing up violently after a heavy night on binge drinking