9 months is a long time.
It takes a human female 9 months to grow a baby. One of the reasons it takes so long is to allow you to get yourself ready for the impending arrival both physically & mentally, and for the massive lifestyle change ahead. Soberdom is no different.
The last 9 months have been preparation for my new life. Solid structures need firm foundations. I’ve been getting to know myself without the cloak of alcohol. I’ve been ‘trying out’ what the new me likes & doesn’t like & learning to say no.
I’ve tried socialising and not socialising then socialising again. I’ve tried alcohol free wines but prefer good old Elderflower. I’ve developed a taste of things I didn’t like before such as feta & lentils & coffee & sparkling water. I’ve decided I don’t like Kombucha.
The new me can’t lie in. The new me also doesn’t like a late night. I love eating out but avoid pubs after dark. I’ve decluttered my flat & my wardrobe & noticed that the old me had a penchant for floral items to disguise the mess beneath. The new me is avoiding flowers like the plague & is proudly displaying the butterfly emerging.
I’ve decluttered my head.
I’ve discovered a love of walking & Magnums & skinny jeans. I’ve climbed back on the dating horse & surprised myself by buying things such as sportswear & a cagoule & more trainers than I’ve bought in a lifetime. I’ve made friends for life & inspired people to give Soberdom a try.
I’ve learnt that I am emotional .. what woman isn’t? But that I’m not the wreck I believed I was when I was drinking. I’m calmer & happier & far less stressed. I don’t cry anymore because I don’t have anything to cry about. I am lucky & I am loved.
Everything has changed. Literally everything. I am accepting that this is it, this is my life. I do not drink alcohol. My choice is a sober life of freedom from the one thing that was killing me slowly. I am free.
I’ve always been an over thinker, a predictor of the future. Before every situation, I’ve already pictured it in my mind & thought of all the possible disasters that could happen. I’ve always been this way & guess the reason is because when things work out well, I can feel a sense of relief that things were not as bad as I thought!
I’ve been so lucky to have visited this area in France many times over the last 20 years as my friends family have a holiday home here. On my first holiday here, I was aged about 19 with 5 girlfriends. It was boozy. We drank on the plane & on the way to the house & spent a good chunk of our holiday money on ‘supplies’ to last the week at the local supermarket & then drank nearly all of it in one night! After that, I’ve come with many different sets of friends & gained the (undisputed) reputation as the one who got pissed in the daytime. Some of our friends would do yoga by the pool & some would go for a run. Some would swim a lot or find somewhere to play tennis. But not me .. I’d be the one opening the Sancerre at midday or whipping up a Sangria.
I’ve never really ‘moved’ much whilst I’m here. I would tend to get on the sun bed and the only travel I would make would be to the fridge. Despite coming here so much, I have never really had a clue where I’m going beyond the house as someone else was always driving & I had no real desire to explore.
This time is so different. All the things I thought would be massive triggers have not bothered me in the slightest. Unnecessary worry. You don’t ‘need’ a drink at the airport .. in fact, obstacles that are put in your way are far more easily dealt with sober, with a clear head.
You don’t ‘need’ drink on the plane. Plane wine is abysmal anyway and costs the Earth. I had water & a kip.
If I had drunk the night before travelling out of sheer excitement, then drank at the airport then on the plane, I would’ve arrived at the house feeling shocking. Instead, although tired & a teeny bit stressed, I was in much better shape sober.
I’ve been lucky that my friends I’m staying with are not drinking much although it really wouldn’t bother me if they were. But it does make it easier not to think about the ‘what ifs’ & just enjoy my precious time.
I had also thought that the French would frown upon someone who didn’t drink their national delicacy but in fact, I’ve seen lots of cocktails ‘sans alcohol’ & the supermarket is packed with alcohol free alternatives.
The timetable here is so different on a sober time zone. We’ve been getting up early to walk .. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a sunrise here before unless it was an extra late bed time. I’ve also rarely been up before anyone else in the past .. I was usually the last to stagger out of my dark, shuttered hole complaining of feeling sick. I’ve also never been to bed to early however the combination of walking loads first thing & the heat means you’re fit for nothing beyond 10pm. Unbelievable!
So in summary, all of the things I worried about were just a figment of my overactive imagination. We can cleverly think we need to throw alcohol in the mix because that’s what we’ve always done, what everyone else does. But actually there is a lot of life beyond alcohol. There’s a whole world out there beyond the cocktail jug & the sun bed. A whole lot more hours available to enjoy everything France has to offer. I can honestly say I think I have enjoyed this holiday far more than others before because it actually feels like a holiday, a chance to recoup, to recharge the batteries and be kind to myself.
I’ve always been a believer of what goes around comes around, that good energy brings good things. Before Soberdom, I was stuck in a rut of negative things that were literally bleeding me dry of goodness.
Now, I am positive and so is the life around me. I’m still amazed at how removing just one component (alcohol) can have such a massive effect on absolutely everything in my life.
One of the loveliest things that has happened to me since becoming sober, is being given the opportunity to stay in one of the new beach lodges on Bournemouth Beach. Launched earlier this year, they provide good quality accommodation directly onto the beach, with outstanding sea views and facilities. As I write, I am listening to the waves crash on the shore whilst wrapped up in a comfy duvet.
If I’m honest, I was quite sceptical beforehand. I live down the road so couldn’t really understand the advantages of staying in a glorified shed? I’m not the best camper in the world and wrongly imagined it would be on par, with nightly loo visits to the public block on the beach.
How wrong could someone be? Upon arrival, I was immediately struck by the view. The lodges are literally on the beach with panoramic views overlooking Bournemouth to the right and Hengitsbury Head to the left. On a clear day, you can also see the Isle of Wight in the distance. I have been blessed with good weather but even on a rainy day, it would be heaven to sit inside with the heating on and watch the world go by.
The lodges are fully equipped. By this, I mean a proper toilet, shower, hot water and heating. They feel like a mix between being on a boat and in a luxury caravan. The folding doors onto the veranda open up fully so you have the feeling of inside being out and vice versa. There is a fridge and cooking facilities .. everything you need to hole yourself up for the weekend … and never leave again. That’s my intention anyway.
I have thought about drinking a lot this weekend. The sunshine and being away from home are definite triggers for me, plus being surrounded by other hut goers sipping on Prosecco and beers. I just know that if I had been drinking, I wouldn’t have appreciated this treat as much as I am loving it sober. From grabbing an early night listening to the sea, to waking up at 5am to watch the sunrise .. these things are far more precious than lazing around feeling awful. It’s days like this that assure me I am doing the right thing and remind me that life is for living, not just for drinking.