Sunday, 10 January 2016

Approaching Mid-Point of Dry January

In case I was perceived as a little negative about dry January in my last post, here is a bit of motivation for those struggling as the half way point approaches.

This link is to an article I wrote for the Guardian a year ago. It is still as relevant this year and will be for ever more I suspect. That sobriety is more about the journey than the destination gives more than a nod to the fact that your achievement is now. Today. Today you are sober and free from alcohol. Live in that moment and enjoy the benefit. Avoid focussing on the end of the month before ticking your achievement box.

Sobriety is a journey, not a destination.

Read the full article here

Monday, 4 January 2016

Dry January: Are you doing it? Am I?

'Are you doing Dry January?' I've been asked several times. Am I? Does it count if you're 'dry' all the time? I don't know.
What I do know is that I feel as if all the Dry January people are suddenly flooding into what I consider 'my world'. After 2 days, the benefits of becoming alcohol free became apparent and one of my friends gushed for quarter of an hour to me about the benefits she'd noticed already:

'I've so much energy! I'm sleeping so well! I feel so positive and alive!'

Yes, I know and I'm pretty sure I alluded to the same feelings 3 years ago (almost) when I stopped drinking (but then you thought I was mad and that you could never go without your glass of wine!)

I don't resent it- let them all enjoy being free from the poison, but still, I can't help thinking
1. I told you so, and
2. What's changed?

Because many of those doing Dry January are the same ones who have poo hoo-ed the idea of going sober for months. They've teased me, thought me boring, no fun, and in need of lightening up a bit and having just one. Go on.
Suddenly it's become cool to say you're going sober. They seek (and get) admiration and positive attention: donations to their cause, enquiries after their well being and social life and most of all- support- from those around them. No-one thinks they're alcoholic, they don't feel embarrassed to say they're stopping, and there is no shame- in fact the opposite is true- a brave 'I've over indulged so much I'm going to balance it out by being sober for a whole month!' type of accolade.

Am I over-reacting? Being over-sensitive and taking it all too personally? Perhaps. Despite this I will wait and watch with intrigue when the end of the month rolls around and see how those attitudes change.

Happy New Year.

Thursday, 31 December 2015

The Real Reason it's Hard Being Sober at New Year

It suddenly dawned on me this afternoon, the true reason why it is so hard being sober at New Year and why, from out of the blue, my desire to get absolutely shit faced suddenly reappears. 
It's nothing to do with socialising.
Nothing to do with parties.
Nothing to do with celebrations or being left out of them.
No, it s because today is the 8th day of the holidays. The school holidays and the holiday period. The 8th day I have been looking after the kids all day and increasingly late into the evening as bed time stretches further and further into the distance. And it's not just the kids. My OH is also off work and it's the only time in the year when we are in each others company day in, day out and he's driving me nuts with his ways. Even at the weekends we usually spend all day Saturday running the kids around and on Sundays we have his golf morning and my protected Sunday afternoon precisely because we recognise that we each need time alone to just -be alone - doing whatever we choose. 
But that goes out the window at Christmas. Usual activities are cancelled. Shops are closed or too busy to contemplate and the weather is so ferocious going out anywhere is not an option.
So the reason tonight that I want to drown myself in a bottle of wine is purely because my nearest and dearest are collectively p****** me off and I need a way to remove my conscious being from this situation! 
After 8 days it's time they all went back to doing what they usually do- school and work- and got out of my hair / face/ way/ house etc.
But instead I'll finish off the Christmas cake tonight and suffer the last big family meal tomorrow knowing that this too shall pass- as it has done the last 3 years since I stopped drinking alcohol.
So give yourself a break tonight - this is a hard time of year for many many reasons. Roll on 2016 (but roll on Monday 4th January (or Tuesday 5th if you live in Scotland) even more. If my family survive that long it will truly be something worth celebrating.

Sunday, 27 December 2015

How to Party Sober

If you're struggling to do this or dreading the thought of going to a party this year, learn some coping strategies here or alternatively buy my little ebook for a couple of $$ here

How to Party Sober 

Saturday, 19 December 2015

Christmas Parties: Earlier and Better

I've been to two Christmas events this year, both catch ups with 4 or 5 girlfriends for drinks and a meal in a bar/restaurant type place.
Unusually, the table has been booked for 4pm both times, instead of the traditional 7 for 7.30pm. I asked one of my friends about this last night- why the change?

The reason is due to Scotland's strict drink driving laws. These laws have been in place for one year now and limit the blood alcohol level allowed for driving to a level much lower than before, such that it is highly possible to remain over the safe limit the morning after - a problem for the drive to work.

So the move this year is to start early, finish early and have a longer period alcohol free before the next morning. Eminently sensible and for once, also a huge bonus for the non drinker.

No more waiting, starving, at 8pm for the drunk gigglers to focus on the menu long enough to choose what they're want to soak up the alcohol. No more waiting until 11.30pm for the dessert to be served and it becomes reasonable to leave- exhausted.

Last night was fab and suited me just fine.

I drove us all to the venue for 4 pm. We were eating by 5. Had dessert by 7. I stayed until 9.30-10 while they had a few more drinks as I was enjoying the chat and I left when talk of 'moving on into town' began.

I feel as if I've had the best of both worlds: a great night out catching up on gossip and having a laugh, enjoying food including dessert, staying as long as I wish, leaving when I choose AND, the icing on the cake, not having to stay out half the night to do so. I was home by 10pm.

Sobriety: allows a good night out AND an early night in simultaneously. What's not to like?

Wednesday, 9 December 2015

Christmas Revisited

With the flow of Christmas parties in full swing I find it necessary to revisit the reasons I choose to stay sober by reminding myself of the reality of what I have left behind.

I came across this post below that I wrote last year for the The Guardian and it reminds me how to see through the booze and see past the cold bottle and twinkly glasses. Hope it helps you too.

Tuesday, 1 December 2015

Out of sight. Out of mind.

I've alluded to the fact that alcohol features in my thoughts less and less these days. My habits have changed and, rather than continually avoiding alcohol, I find it is simply not there. A non event that doesn't register in my conscious mind; most of the time anyway.

Last night I was preparing the dining room for the painter to come and decorate. (I always add this kind of unnecessary stress to the household shortly before Christmas.) To move the furniture into the middle of the room meant emptying the (drinks) cabinet and sideboard.

I found several old photo albums which I flicked through, remembering. Next I emptied the drinks cabinet. Out came champagne from my 40 th birthday, old forgotten spirits and special white wine that I had previously removed from the fridge, then removed from the kitchen altogether into the remote safety of the drinks cabinet. I stood staring at it as if it was a long lost friend and it evoked as many memories and feelings as the photo albums, if not more. Particularly
when next I unloaded my beautiful crystal glasses. I had coveted these before treating myself to them many years ago. They were the icing on the cake, maximising the joy of drinking wine. I held the heavy glass in my hand. By now it was 9pm. All the chores were done and the kids were in bed.
'If I still drank, tonight would be a night where I would relax after this job with a large glass of wine, well deserved wine, to mark my status of being officially off duty', I thought to myself, awash with nostalgia.

Then reality kicked back in. If I still drank, I would have started an hour ago and would be annoyed I still had to sort out the furniture. I would be irritated that I had drank too much too soon and would now need to make the rest of the bottle last a while longer if I was to retain a flicker of acceptability to my average drinking speed. On further thought, had I continued to drink, I would not have been motivated to organise such redecoration in the first place. I would 'not have been bothered' to go choose paint, book the painter, take down curtains, empty cupboards etc. The mere thought of so much activity would overwhelm the old me and I would sigh, and plan to do it when I had more time, was less tired, anytime in fact except right now, because right now I was drinking wine.

So with a smile I fought off the romantic idyll I'd conjured up and accepted the reality that my no nonsense self thrust forwards. Of course it was right. When had I ever been satisfied with one glass?

Before long it was time for a cup of tea, bowl of cereal and bed. It meant I was able to bounce up early this morning and be ready for the painter arriving at 8 am, without bemoaning a hangover!

We all need to keep the bad memories alive and remind ourselves why we stopped drinking alcohol as December gets underway and the crazy continual drinking begins because, hey! it's Christmas time when all excesses are excused.
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