Pre Soberdom, weekends were for one thing only and that was getting hammered. On Friday nights, the habit was real. There I was, like a bee to a honey pot, hurtling down the wine aisle to check out the offers. In summer, it was white or rose; in winter, heavy red. Two bottles (one was never enough) were slung unceremoniously in my basket followed by brief stop down the ready meal aisle and not forgetting a nice fresh pack of 20 from the cigarette kiosk. Boom, I was ready to launch.
Home. Bags dropped to the floor. Wine poured before anything else and slugged down in three. One fag out the window. Breathe (smoke). Another fag out the window. Glug. And breathe (smoke) once more. Happy weekend.
When I look back at this little ritual, I can still remember the panic. The excitement. The race. All to get home to slurp and smoke.
I attribute it to habit and relief and stress. In my former job, the weeks were long perpetuated by excruciating hangovers, shouty angry customers and a Hitler style management regime. It was a celebration to leave the workhouse each week and get home to safety. It was what I’d always done, rewarded myself for surviving another week on the planet. After all, I deserved it right?
Now, it seems such an alien concept to reward myself with poisons and toxins. In fact, it’s just plain bloody bizarre! Oh I know, I’ve had a hard week at work and I’m really tired, emotional and stressed so I’ll just fill my body up with stuff that generally makes me even more tired, emotional and stressed, resulting in a shit night’s sleep followed by vomming all day on my day off! Yeah, what an incredibly genius idea!
When you stop drinking alcohol, weekends morph from ‘over in the blink of an eye’ to ‘every minute becomes an hour’. It’s almost off putting at the start. One Saturday, I remember waking up, writing, eating, walking, cleaning and it was still 9am. I was thinking ‘how on Earth do I fill my day?’ and rather than being pleased, the prospect of so much sober time, was daunting. There was too much time to think about drinking.
Now, there is never enough time. There is always something to do. I write, I cook, I blog, I walk, I edit. I breathe fresh, clean air. I did none of those things before. Hangovers literally stole my joy. They stole my creativity. They stole my weekends.
If you want to be successful in sobriety, you will have to change your weekend routine and planning is key. Do activities that don’t involve drinking; get outside, go for a long walk, go to the cinema, drive somewhere you’ve never been before.
You have to train your brain to expect different things from a weekend. Your brain will expect to get bladdered if that’s what you’ve always done. You have to show it who’s boss and get it to look forward to something else! Chocolate, exercise, reading, sex. Do whatever it takes!
I’m not sure I’ll ever get over how fantastic Sober Saturday’s are. They are truly one of the best parts of sobriety. To feel alive and full of possibility is a very beautiful thing. Time is precious; don’t waste it.
Written by Sober Fish 2018
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Alcohol is a drug. Fact. Alcohol is highly addictive. Fact. Alcohol kills people and causes disease. Fact.
The more I learn about alcohol, the more shocked I am that it is still legal. One description of alcohol is –
‘A colorless, volatile, flammable liquid synthesized or obtained by fermentation of sugars and starches and widely used, either pure or denatured, as a solvent and in drugs. Also called ethanol, ethyl alcohol. Intoxicating liquor containing alcohol‘.
The words used to describe alcohol are wholly unpleasant and don’t make it sound like something pleasant to ingest however, when disguised in a beautiful wine bottle or hidden in a can, we quaff it back like it’s the freshest water from a Highland spring.
So why are people still swallowing it? Why are people spending hard earned cash on something that may ultimately kill them?
I believe part of the problem is that while you’re drinking alcohol, you can’t see the damage that is being done. Yeah, you get a hangover but 24 hours after the event, you feel well enough to carry on right? Yeah, your skin is dry but that’s just your skin, right? Yeah, you vomit after a night of hard drinking but that won’t damage you inside will it? Yeah, you feel low after drinking but that’s because of the stupid things you did, right?
Wrong. Every time you drink alcohol you’re causing damage. You just can’t see it and therefore it is easy to ignore. Alcohol has now been proven to cause some cancers, liver disease and mental disorders to name but a few. And yet the shelves of supermarkets are emptied each weekend in a frenzy to get hammered.
I am well aware I was one of the sheep who downed alcohol like it was going out of fashion and at the time, I didn’t care about the consequences. But I do now from the other side of the fence. I find it fascinating that we treat cigarettes in such a cloak & dagger fashion but continue to proudly display alcohol in front of our children. I find it unbelievable that alcohol can be advertised at 8am while our kids get ready for school. I find it incredulous that it is legal for anyone over the age of 5 to drink alcohol. Yes, you read that right. Age 5.
Unbelievably, it’s only 25 years ago since I smoked a cigarette on a plane. I was on holiday with my mum and her friends and we all sat on the back row in the ‘smoking area’. How ridiculous does that sound now? The ‘smoking area’ that filled the whole plane with smoke! The fact we actually smoked on a plane! And yet it wasn’t really that long ago and look how our attitudes have changed towards smoking. I’m convinced the same will happen with alcohol when we understand exactly what we are doing to ourselves.
Perhaps it’s time we started to see adverts on TV about what alcohol can do to a person. Perhaps it’s time to display photos of damage caused by alcohol on bottles of wine. Perhaps it’s time to face up to the fact that alcohol is a poison and will cause damage no matter how little you ingest.
Perhaps the time is now.
Tired. I was always tired. Most of the population is tired. Everyone is quick to blame it on work or kids or a late night out but actually, one of the most common reasons for your tiredness is the poison rattling around your body.
Before Soberdom, I would complain of being tired from Monday to Friday, counting down the days until the weekend. And at the weekend, I slept for England & replenished my system with lots of lovely nutrients & exercise.
Did I hell?! As soon as work was done, I was on it. Downing copious amounts of poison, thinking it would help me chill & ultimately sleep better. In fact, it did the complete opposite. I’d stay awake late, have a fitful, dehydrated sleep & be awake early with ‘the fear’. I’d then be sick & lethargic all day Saturday, eating crap, not moving from the sofa. Sunday would be similar then back to work on Monday feeling like shit. Again.
Now, I wake up rested after about 6/7 hours sleep .. far less than I ever thought I needed. I can’t get back to sleep or snooze, no matter how hard I try. I’m awake and that’s that. Like a battery, I use my charge through the day, and by 10pm, I’m running on empty, even at the weekend. If I’m tired during the day, it’s usually because I’m hungry, because I need fuel. Day time naps are a thing of the past.
In the majority of cases, removing alcohol improves sleep quality & reduces daytime tiredness. You don’t hear of many sober people being constantly tired, drained & lethargic. In fact, the energy levels are insane .. it’s like being a kid again!
If you take away the alcohol & reduce the tiredness, you are more likely to want to move more and therefore eat better food. This again will give you more energy and before long, you’ll be like the Duracell bunny!
It can take a while for your body to adjust to being sober and for the sleep to become good quality. Just be patient and it will happen and boy, is it worth waiting for!