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
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