A day of tiny miracles

A day of tiny miracles

This weekend is my baby brothers 40th birthday .. he celebrates every year in the same way by having an all day session in a pub in a beautiful setting near to where we live. Everyone looks forward to the annual pilgrimage .. some come by boat, some by bus, some by car. And it is drunken. Very drunken.

So I woke up yesterday dreading it. As most of you know, I’ve gone from a social butterfly to a social recluse since Soberdom, unsure where I fit. So much so, that in May I decided I would no longer socialise in pubs or around very drunk people. Apart from yesterday, when I had no option of backing out. 

I guess my feelings where a mixture of fear, shyness (can you believe it?), apprehension & dread. Not much excitement to be seen. The day was to start at 12pm & carry on long into the night at a surprise party. The day ahead felt long,scary and uninspiring.

It really was a case of mind of matter. Did I want to sit there all day ‘with the face on’? Did I want to ruin my brothers special day by being a misery? Did I really have to be a misery or was there a very small chance I might actually have a minuscule amount of fun somewhere along the line? Could I actually, possibly, maybe, still have an ounce of fun in me to pull out of the bag?

To make matters worse, my favourite sober buddy who had been by my side for the last 8 months, had selfishly gone to the hospital to give birth, leaving me to complete this challenge alone. The absolute cheek of it!

The event had been planned well in advance. I had agreed to drive & take my toddler nephew & the dog Lola. This was the logical option but also gave me a good excuse to leave if I needed to. 

And so the day began at 12pm. It felt so very odd & ‘against my religion’ to be in a pub at that time. Well, to be in a pub at all. I felt twitchy & weird, but in my head was telling myself to get over it, that freaking out at 12pm was not gonna help me get to 9pm! There was a good selection of AF drinks and so I chose something different to feel different. 

When we arrived at the main venue, the sun was shining & people started to arrive. There were people who’d travelled to be there from afar & people I hadn’t seen for ages & people interested in my sober journey. Yes, people were getting pissed around me but actually, I realised I was having fun. I started to feel normal in a social setting. It wasn’t as bad as I thought. So much so, that when the time came to take my nephew home, I wasn’t wholly ready to leave! Unbelievable!

After a couple of hours break, it was then time to join the surprise party. This was the bit I was truly dreading. People had now been drinking for more than 8 hours. They were on repeat. They were slurring. 

But, some were not. Some were still in my gang, not totally sober but not totally wrecked. And these were the people I gravitated to. I met new people, saw old faces & actually had conversations. And I enjoyed it. I actually had fun! I actually felt like myself again & didn’t care that I was drinking soda water! And I got high on that. That I was finally out out, that I was finally enjoying myself at a party. That there actually is a life beyond alcohol. That perhaps I don’t need to be a social recluse! 

And finally, the biggest miracle of them all happened when my pregnant buddy gave birth to a beautiful bouncing boy called Bernie. 

Welcome to the world Bernie, it turns out it’s not as scary as you think it might be!


The Grown Up Awkward Teenager

The Grown Up Awkward Teenager

One of the parts of soberdom that I am still not finding easy, is partying in large numbers. I appear to be able to do anything that revolves around food (nothing new there) but really struggle when drinking is the main focus.
This week, I’ve been thinking a lot about my relationship with parties over the years. I think I’ve mentioned before, that I would always be the last to leave. But now I’m questioning whether that was because I was having such a great time or was just too hammered to even think about leaving.

When we’re young, and invited to a school friends party, there’s always something to keep us entertained. It could be going to an activity centre, or McDonalds or party games. There’s always something ‘to do’.   

In the teenage years, it gets more awkward ‘pre alcohol’. The rigid school discos, where, despite the excitement crescendo beforehand, everyone ends up stood on the perimeter of the dance floor, wooden and scared. Until, five minutes before the end, someone, from deep inside their soul, gains enough confidence to enter the dance floor zone and then all the sheep follow. And the next day, everyone raves about what a great time they had.

Then, in the later teenage years, a new friend ‘alcohol’ joins the throng. And changes the way we party forever. No other activities are required, no one lacks confidence, the dance floor is rammed. We all have the best night ever. Or do we? I certainly never had the best morning after.

Since parting company with alcohol, I feel I’ve reverted back to an awkward pre alcohol teenager. I don’t quite know where to put myself. I’m stood on the perimeter, looking at the dance floor, wishing my confidence would return. Not that I particularly want to dance, I just want to relax, to get into the party mood. But I find it hard on sparkling water. I don’t feel ‘sparkling’. I feel quiet and dull. And these are definitely two words I have never heard used about me.

So where to go from here? It’s a toughy. I could politely decline invitations but that’s just being mean to myself. I have tried the ‘going early, coming home early’, but that just made me mourn my old life. My gut instinct is that I just need to ‘get over myself’ but unsure how to do it!

For now, I’m going to go with the flow and hope my awkward teenager phase passes swiftly. And hope that I locate my confidence and get back on the metaphorical dance floor again. Sober.


The Demise of the Party Animal

The Demise of the Party Animal

I’ve always been a party animal. I used to like nothing better than getting together with my friends and getting hammered. It wasn’t always intentional but was inevitable. I don’t know many people that I could meet ‘for one’ and it would literally be just that. One drink. Generally, it would mean one bottle and inevitably turn into three. And a shot or two. And a gin. Oh, and a glass before I went out. And a nightcap when I got home.

It’s interesting how drinking habits have changed and escalated over the years. Booze used to be a rare treat for our parents and was expensive, so buying more than a bottle at a time was unheard of. I know my parents would share a bottle and it would last a week. I’d have a bottle and it would be lucky to last two hours.

It would also appear that the more you drink, the greater your tolerance towards it. This means buying more, which means more expense, more calories and a bigger hangover. In the UK, it has become more than acceptable to drink copious amounts before you actually venture out the door. This culture started in an effort to save pennies however now just results in consuming far more, for far longer. One would have to question whether you actually save money doing this or just buy more when you’re out to maintain the high!

One major reason for me stopping drinking, was to get back some precious spare time. I found myself drinking enough on a Friday night to sink a small ship, which would result in a crap nights sleep, which would lead to a sluggish unproductive Saturday, eating carbs. By the time I felt ok on Sunday morning, it was nearly time for work again. This cycle has steadily got worse over time, sometimes creeping towards Monday before feeling better. Now, I sleep better, have more money in my pocket, am eating better, am getting off my arse and have rediscovered my love of writing! What’s not to love about being Sober For 2017?!