A day to celebrate

On Sunday two pretty huge things happened. 

1. I turned 30.
2. I celebrated six months sober.

All on the same day.

It was no coincidence – I decided to stop drinking on the 6th of April for several reasons. Firstly, I wanted to get a grip on my drinking before my 30s began. I know six months isn’t long enough to ‘fix’ anything but it’s quite a good start. Secondly, my attempts to quit for good last summer were derailed by my birthday, because I simply could not imagine how I would be able to celebrate without alcohol. It seemed unthinkable. So this year, knowing that my 30th was on the horizon – the kind birthday most people celebrate with champagne – I decided that I’d need several months of sobriety under my belt to survive.

The top line is: I did it. I really fucking did it. And I am so, so proud of myself for that.

I wish I could end this post there and say it was easy peasy, hunky dory and the idea of sinking a glass of wine didn’t cross my mind at all. But… this whole blog is about being honest, so I have to admit it wasn’t all plain sailing.

The worst point was probably on Friday night when I was sat in the bath, worrying about the rest of the weekend. I’d worked hard to plan a fun few days that were as sober friendly as possible but I was still stressing about it. I’d decided that I’d spend Saturday with friends and Sunday (my actual birthday) with family. 

My main concern had been what to do with my friends. I knew I couldn’t handle hosting a big party. It would’ve been a hassle to organise and the temptation and pressure to drink would have been too great. Maybe other people would’ve been fine with it but I just knew I wasn’t ready. Still, I wanted to do something that felt special. In the end I invited a small group of close friends to afternoon tea at a very posh hotel (think: finger sandwiches and lots of cakes … it was good). Afterwards we went to see a comedy at a nearby theatre. 

Most of the day worked out really well actually and I had a lot of fun. The bit I’d been worrying about was after the show. I’d been hoping to end the night there and slip off home, but somehow I ended up agreeing to meet a couple of people who I know are quite heavy drinkers. To be honest, I’d been avoiding them a bit over the past couple of months. They were fun to drink with but we’re not particularly close friends anymore. They couldn’t make it to the afternoon tea or theatre (or they didn’t want to, who knows). But, they promised they’d be out in town to buy me a drink later. (“You are going out after the show, right? We can meet for a drink? It’s your 30th! We’ll make a night of it!” blah blah blah). I didn’t feel I could say no.

So that’s what I was worrying about on Friday night. It felt like I’d spent the last few months building up to this big weekend, this big test, and at the last minute the pressure was getting to me. I couldn’t remember why I’d bothered. I heard wolfie in my head, reasoning that it was ok to have a drink on your birthday, for crying out loud, it’s what everybody does. I didn’t want to celebrate my 30th birthday with cake and cups of tea – I wanted to get drunk and be reckless and carefree like everyone else. I felt like knocking back a glass of wine and calling it quits. 

It’s hard, in those moments, to remember why on earth you don’t drink. There is a part of me that is still seriously pissed off that I can’t drink like a ‘normal’ person. That part of me rears its ugly head every now and then and rocks the boat. It eventually goes away again but it’s hard to remember that at the time. 

I have to Belle to thank for instilling in me the benefits of a good nights sleep. Eventually I decided to stop thinking about it and see how I felt it the morning. I painted my nails, watched TV and went to bed. And hey presto, I woke up on Saturday morning feeling lots better. Not fixed, but better. More confident. More aware of what I would lose by drinking. I remembered that it was my birthday and I could do whatever I bloody well liked.

I still thought about it on and off during the day, testing myself. Am I going to drink tonight? No. Maybe. No. Hmmm.

As I said, the rest of the day went off without a hitch. As we were standing outside the theatre, wondering which bar to go to, I thought: I can do this. I remembered there was a nice, quiet bar in a nearby hotel that did fancy cocktails for those who drank and mocktails for me. I text my former drinking buddies and told them where I was heading, making it clear it’d just be a quiet one and they were welcome to come if they fancied it, if not, no bother. 

I was half expecting them not to turn up, but they did. And you know what, it was fine. The bar was expensive so no one drank that much. I ordered my cranberry juice before they arrived and it wasn’t commented on. It was a nice few hours actually – we talked and talked and it felt good.

On Sunday I headed off to see my family, a piece of cake in drinking terms. My sobriety did come up briefly and this time I told them a much more accurate version of the truth. It wasn’t something I’d planned, it just seemed the right time. Being more open about it seemed to satisfy my parents, who I think both knew there was a bit more to things than I’d been letting on.

I want to bed quite early on Sunday, absolutely shattered. Happy, but knackered. I opened all my cards and thought I’d share this one with you:



It made me laugh because it’s kind of appropriate and really inappropriate all at the same time. Clearly this relative hasn’t noticed me drinking water at recent family functions…!

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31 thoughts on “A day to celebrate

  1. jenisthesoberist October 8, 2013 at 9:57 am Reply

    Happy belated 30th! Sounds like you had a nice time, yay. And a huge congratulations on 6 months. That is a big deal. xx-Jen

  2. sobermagpie October 8, 2013 at 10:01 am Reply

    Happy birthday……and what a wonderful sober milestone for you to reach! And I don’t know why I feel moved to say this…..but never forget you are perfectly beautiful human being 🙂

  3. sober365days October 8, 2013 at 2:27 pm Reply

    Happy Birthday! Nice work on keeping sober during a milestone birthday. Seems like a pretty good start to your next decade. And much, much better than starting your 30s with a awful hungover! 🙂

    • soberjournalist October 9, 2013 at 11:56 am Reply

      Thank you! It was great to wake up the next day and feel good!

  4. sober365days October 8, 2013 at 2:29 pm Reply

    I meant ‘hangover’! It’s early here and I haven’t had my coffee yet! 🙂

  5. Drunky Drunk Girl October 8, 2013 at 3:33 pm Reply

    What a great weekend! I for one am SUPER proud of you. To hit a bar and feel comfortable and realize that you can–on your birthday, too–enjoy it with a mocktail. And, I love being able to make it through those doubts about whether or not we should drink just by giving it time; a night’s sleep, or even a few hours, and we can see the tradeoffs. Sure, we might be able to have one, two, maybe even three and be OK, but…maybe not. Why risk it? And, these days, even three would have me feeling not just crappy the next day, but…having given up my sobriety time. A really big deal, and hugs to you. Huge hugs from over here! 🙂

    • soberjournalist October 9, 2013 at 12:05 pm Reply

      Ah thank you for your kind words. Being able to see through the doubts is such a big thing for me now. I know that cravings will pass and I will view things differently in a few hours time… This time last year I totally did not get that. No wonder I was stuck in a cycle of quitting and failing and then bingeing – I gave in whenever the urge struck or it just seemed too hard. It would be nice not to have any doubts at all – ever – maybe that stage is yet to come? 🙂

      • Drunky Drunk Girl October 12, 2013 at 2:26 am

        I think it is!!! It’s come even for me! LOL Seriously, it’s not that I have doubts about not making it through my cravings, it’s just that I don’t have them that much anymore. And, my “learning” centers are stronger than my “cravings” centers (of my brain, whatever that means): I remember more strongly and more reliably (my thoughts are not so easily struck down my the intermittent cravings) how bad it was, how bad it will be, if I drink. It will suck, I know it will. Why? 1 glass leads to 3, to 4, by 4 I’m already having a killer hangover, and by 5, I’m blacked out doing stupid things. Your mind does fix things, gradually. Hang in there! You’ve come so far, so fast; I bet the “eh, I really don’t see the point or need to drink” phase is coming soon… xx

  6. Debbie October 8, 2013 at 5:26 pm Reply

    Aw, we share the same birthday 🙂 Congratulations! Feels good doin’ it sober 🙂

    • soberjournalist October 9, 2013 at 12:05 pm Reply

      Happy belated birthday to you too! Hope you had a good one. It’s nice to wake up the next day with a clear head and feeling good 🙂

  7. carrythemessage October 8, 2013 at 5:34 pm Reply

    Congrats on your six months and happy belated…wonderful to hear that things worked out fine! It’s not always easy at the beginning, so I am glad you are able to see and say it and not have it glossed over, because sometimes this sober thing required *work*. But there’s a payoff, and you’re getting it. how cool is that?

    Love and light,

  8. changingcoursenow October 8, 2013 at 9:22 pm Reply

    Congratulations on all of these milestones! I chuckled at the birthday card. I’ve been shopping for one for my sister-in-law. Amazing how hard it is to find a non-drinking birthday card with humor! Ahhh the irony.

    • soberjournalist October 9, 2013 at 12:09 pm Reply

      I totally agree! Loads of the funny ones have references to booze. Weird isn’t it?

  9. lifecorked October 9, 2013 at 12:43 am Reply

    Congrats!! That’s huge! You should be VERY proud of yourself!

  10. Lilly October 9, 2013 at 1:27 am Reply

    Wow wow wow. I am sooo proud of you!!! This is bloody wonderful to read Kate.

    Isn’t it funny how those things can sometimes loom so large in our heads and then the actual experience is just fine? Nice even. I’ve had that experience and gone ‘what was I so worried about’? But, you know, it’s great, because you wrestled with it all and in the end were sure you wanted to stay sober. And YOU DID IT. Your way! And that’s lovely. And opening up to your parents more and holding your ground with the drinking friends.. all of that is a true celebration of strength and growing wisdom.

    I don’t remember a whole lot about my 30th except snippets of getting stoned in a toilet somewhere and being incredibly wasted and getting angry with my partner at the time while really pissed and no doubt feeling horrible the next day. Several years later I hope I am laying the groundwork for going into my 40s stronger and solidly sober and feeling fabulous.

    And let me tell you – over the intervening years booze has taken far more away from me than it has given me. I promise you that ultimately your 30s are going to be so much richer, more rewarding and just better without it… even despite the inevitable speed bumps and times that it kind of sucks to be sober in a drinky drink world.

    Hooray for you! A giant glittery unicorn disco ball parade in your birthday honor. Welcome to the dirty thirties.


    Lilly xo

    • soberjournalist October 9, 2013 at 12:18 pm Reply

      Dirty thirties?! I’ve not heard them called that before but I LOVE it!
      Your description of your 30th made me feel quite sad. I’ve never done drugs but I can totally relate that weird feeling when you get do drunk you can only remember snippets of a night, when you started arguments for no reason, offended people, made a fool of yourself… you wake up feeling guilty and sad the next day. I woke up on the 7th feeling a) good and b) able to remember everything! That feeling alone is worth so much.

  11. Running From the Booze October 9, 2013 at 2:36 am Reply

    YAAAAAAYYY for you!! To have figured this out and come so far and you’re only 30, that’s huge. Here’s another glittery disco ball to add to your collection!

  12. bendsintheriver October 10, 2013 at 4:17 am Reply

    Great post. You should be more than proud. Inspiring stuff.

  13. Mrs D October 10, 2013 at 5:47 am Reply

    Happy Birthday! Sounds like a huge achievement, the whole thing. So fantastic. Can’t believe you’re only 30!! (says the person turning 42 on Sunday) xxxx

    • soberjournalist October 11, 2013 at 8:54 am Reply

      30 still seems quite old to me – much older than 29! Happy birthday for Sunday x

  14. Maggie Shores October 11, 2013 at 2:54 am Reply

    Very, very coo! Congrats on six months and happy birthday! What a great combo to celebrate! Woot woot! I am really glad that you had a plan and it went well, and you were in control of the night,I think this is a great sober tool, it works well for all situations! – sending many hugs! 🙂

  15. carrieonsober October 12, 2013 at 5:54 pm Reply

    Wow 30! Aren’t you good to be getting your shit together so young. I am glad you had such a fun day andnthatnthe drinks thing at the end of the evening wasn’t too painful!
    Congrats on six months too…it’s been a pleasure getting to know you along the way. Your honesty is always really refreshing and you’ve grown so much! That’s grown – not aged!! Being sober is certainly going to help us out there!
    Sorry for the late comment, iphone drops comments after I’ve typed loads and then I give up!

  16. Riversurfer October 14, 2013 at 8:11 am Reply

    I’m a little late, but HAPPY BIRTHDAY! And CONGRATULATIONS to 6 months of sobriety, well done!

  17. Christina October 21, 2013 at 4:17 pm Reply

    Great job! So proud of you! Glad you did the no booze birthday! Happy birthday super late! I am sure that entering the 30 is going to be the best experience! Now that you are booze free! xxoo

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