A bit of a plateau

I’ve not been feeling the need to blog so much lately. I still check in every day to read other blogs, but I don’t feel like I have much to say about my own sobriety at the moment.

For the most part, I think this is a good thing. Sobriety is not dominating my life in the way it was six months ago. It just is what it is. When I met Belle in London a few weeks ago she said to me something along the lines of “you’re not going to slip and accidentally land in a drink anymore are you?” I forget the exact words but that was the gist of it and it was a good summary of where I am at the moment. I think – and hope – that these days I would recognise that Wolfie voice before it took hold. And I really hope I haven’t jinxed myself by writing that…

The only downside to this stage of sobriety is that it’s a bit, well, boring, if I’m honest. Secretly, I think we alcoholics like a bit of drama and chaos. In the first few months of sobriety you’re kept pretty busy with all the ups and downs, milestones, pink clouds and sober firsts. In the first 100 days you do a lot of learning. Epiphanies left and right centre, the works. But I’m on day 206 now and it doesn’t feel like a great deal has happened in last hundred days. I’m just getting on with not drinking. And that’s ok … I guess.

I’m not as broken as I once was but I’m not as fixed as I thought I’d be by now. Take, for example, the re-wiring that goes on in your brain when you stop drinking. When I first quit all I could think was ‘Why can’t I have just one drink? Life is going to be so boring otherwise.’ But after a while I got into the habit of thinking through the drink and I now accept that for me, one drink will never be just one drink. And yeah, there were some fun times, but there were a lot of bad times too. Gradually, I seem to have stopped asking myself the ‘just one drink’ question because my brain has learnt the answer.

So there’s an example of some progress. However, I feel like I have tons more rewiring to finish. I just don’t know how to go about it. Do I just wait and see if it works itself out?

The other day I was on a train, alone, and feeling a bit miserable when the food and drink trolley came round. Lots of people were getting wine and beers. I did briefly think, why not? No one will know. Which is crazy because I live on my own so can drink in secret anytime! In the end I decided against the drink, not because it was the right thing to do, but because it looked like the wine only came in those really tiny miniature bottles. I knew one bottle wouldn’t be satisfying enough, but I didn’t have much cash on me and whilst I was on the train it’d be hard to get hold of a decent amount.

It annoys me that after 206 days of sobriety that was the kind of fucked up logic I used to steer clear of the booze. Of course later I did think about all the other, more normal reasons not to drink (like, you’ve come this far so don’t throw it away now on something stupid) But all in all I feel pissed off that after all this time I am still thinking things like “I’ll say no incase there’s not enough booze for me to get properly drunk.”

When do you reach the point of never even contemplating having a drink? I hate to admit it, but when I see people drinking and having fun I still feel a bit envious. Not in a let’s-pack-this-in-and-have-a-drink type way, but seeing other people enjoying the good aspects of alcohol makes me wish I could drink normally. Ah, to be normal! Why do I crave that so much? My life has got significantly better since I stopped drinking. I should be happy with that. Most of the time I am. I know I can’t drink like a ‘normal’ person but sometimes I still wish I could. Thinking like this can’t be doing me any good, yet I can’t seem to stop it.

Stoptober vs Dry January

It’s only October, yet I’ve already had several emails reminding me that Dry January is not that far away: “Thank you for taking part earlier this year … We hope you’ll join us again… only 78 days to go!”

What they don’t know is that I crashed out of Dry January about six days in and spent the rest of January drinking a lot. I’d actually started off quite well and I didn’t even drink on New Year’s Eve, as I didn’t want to start the year drunk or hungover. But six days in something happened – I can’t remember what – and I thought: fuck it. This is too hard. I remember feeling like such a failure because so many other people managed it successfully. For once, Facebook was full of people boasting about teetotal nights in rather than their hangovers. It was the perfect time to stop drinking and I just couldn’t do it.

This January should be different. I hope I’m feeling as good then as I do now. I am secretly looking forward to everyone moaning and whining their way through their month off the booze while I lie back and smugly say “Ha! One month? That is NOTHING, you losers…”

One of the strange things about Dry January is that it’s something people are only expected to do for a month. Once over, it’s totally fine – normal even – to go back to drinking as you were before. The attitude surrounding the whole month is quite different to Stoptober, the NHS stop smoking campaign that’s in full swing at the moment.

Stoptober is all about stopping smoking forever. The theory goes that if you can quit for a month you’re five times more likely to stop for good. Stoptober has had high-profile coverage in newspapers, magazines and on TV. Everyone thinks it’s a great idea because it’s widely accepted that smoking is bad. Smoking is addictive. It’s hard to stop smoking and if you do, well done you. Pat on the back.

And frankly, it is annoying the hell out of me that smokers get so much unwavering support while us boozers get so little.  Alcohol is also addictive, it’s also bad for you and if you manage to stop drinking then you deserve a pat on the back too. Or a medal.

Deep down everyone knows alcohol is bad for you – why else bother with a Dry Jan? – but the idea of giving up for good is so scary that most people can’t even contemplate it. The people behind the Dry January campaign don’t even dare to suggest it.

I don’t smoke but lets pretend for a minute that I do, or did. If I’d given up smoking rather than drinking on April 6th this year then I guarantee you all my friends would know about it. They’d have been behind me all the way. If I’d struggled to quit I’d have been able to get plenty of support from my GP or nurse without worrying about what they’d think. I’d be posting about my milestones on Facebook. I would not be writing an anonymous blog because I am too embarrassed to talk about my addiction openly.

It makes me so mad…

This is turning into a ranty, moany post and I didn’t mean it to be. I wanted to tell you about the great weekend I had in London, which ended with a lovely afternoon meeting Belle and Carrie. It was brilliant to meet face to face after all this time. I also meet some other fantastic Team 100 members: FitFatFood and The Secret Place Under the Ivy. Meeting other sober people, who are going through the same thing, is pretty amazing. Meeting sober people who know about the 100 day challenge is really amazing. I felt like saying to everyone “Wow! You look so NORMAL!”  but I didn’t, because that would have been weird. Sometimes the sober blogosphere can feel a bit big and anonymous but on Sunday it was just the opposite – it was tea and chat and cinnamon buns. Good times.

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:

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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…!

Kenya part 2

I’m not normally a religious person, but on Sunday I found myself cutting all kinds of deals with God.

I hadn’t expected the plane from the Masai Mara to be so tiny. Sure, the one on the way out had been small, but this 12 seater was like a minibus with wings. I can be a nervous flyer and I don’t like turbulence, flying in the rain or being able to see into the cockpit. So of course I got all three:

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The plane was operating like a train; it made several stops on the way back to Nairobi. Each time this meant taking off from runways that looked more like narrow gravel roads. I think I held my breath the entire journey and I swore that if I got out if the plane alive I would – in return – never drink again. Ever.

So as I’ve made it home in one piece I guess I’ll have to keep that end if the bargain or who knows what might happen …!

It was a pretty dramatic end to an exciting fortnight in Kenya and an awesome safari. 

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I did a lot of thinking on holiday, just taking stock of where I am and what I’m doing. It strikes me that drinking put a giant pause button on my life. It’s my 30th birthday next weekend and frankly I still can’t believe it’s really happening because my twenties just slipped by without me noticing. I know everyone feels that way to some extent but I really feel like I wasted a lot of time. That’s what drinking does. It takes you out of the moment but time carries on ticking by. You’re just not present enough to appreciate it.

Many of my peers are now married and having children or they’re in better paid jobs than me. I know you shouldn’t judge other people’s insides by their outsides but I can’t help feeling that I’ve been left behind. Of course I did notice all this when I was drinking, but I ignored it, squashing down uncomfortable feelings with large glasses of wine.

Seen as rich, gorgeous husbands don’t grow on trees – damn – for now I’m going to focus on the one thing I feel I can do something about: my job. Whilst I was away I realised how bored and fed up I am with it. I need something more challenging, more satisfying. So, I’ve made a little plan. A list of things I’m going to do to try and get another job. I might even consider leaving journalism altogether. I’m still working it out.

Most importantly, I am not going to rush into anything. All too often I make rash decisions and I think that is my alcoholic, impulsive, ‘now, now, now’ side. For example, on holiday I got it into my head that I should set up my own business. Why didn’t I think of that before? I wondered. This is how I could earn my millions! But then … slight snag… what kind of business should it be? I actually began to get quite stressed because I couldn’t think of a decent idea. Seriously – I was on holiday, worrying about the fact that I couldn’t produce a multi million pound business idea out of thin air.

So maybe I’m not going to be the next Richard Branson. Who knows, maybe I will struggle to find another job. But at least I’m trying to get where I want to be and not just waiting for something to fall into my lap. You make your own luck.

Hello from Kenya

Just thought I’d write a quick update to let you know the latest from me. It’s been a while since my last post because I had a busy week or so getting ready to come on holiday.

Below is the view from my balcony. I’m finally here, near Malindi in Kenya, doing a holiday that I started saving for right after I decided to stop drinking. I can’t claim it’s been entirely funded by booze money but not drinking has played a huge role in getting me here.

This is a holiday of two parts: firstly a fitness break on the coast and later a safari in the Masai Mara. I’m half way through the fitness bit. It’s not a bootcamp by any means (there’s no yelling and no one is forced to do anything) but it’s fair to say every bit of my body aches! The food is super healthy but delicious – lots of fresh fruit, fish and veg. Last night we had chocolate mousse made from cocoa and avocado (weird I know) but honestly, it tasted like the real deal.

I got into fitness holidays whilst I was still drinking as I knew I needed to give my body a break. I never had any problems stopping whilst I was away and I always came back feeling amazing, determined not to let my good habits slip… But within a day or two I’d have found a reason to drink again. So it’s nice to come away this time knowing I’m not running away from anything (apart from a bit of a sugar addiction)

I’ve spent the last few days running, climbing, swinging from monkey bars and swimming. In fact yesterday we swam 3.8km out to an island. To a runner like me, a few km didn’t sound that far but it really was! I thought about giving up half way through but pride wouldn’t let me. Plus we were in the middle of the sea, so quitting wasn’t really an option…

I thought that whilst I was away I’d have a break from blogging and even thinking about sober stuff, but it hasn’t worked out that way. I couldn’t believe it when I got on the plane and ended up sat next to a man reading a book called ‘I Need To Stop Drinking’. (I was reading his kindle out of the corner of my eye). It looked a good book, from what I could read. Then, when the air hostess came round guess what he ordered? A glass of wine! I smiled to myself because I for one read plenty of those kind of books whilst still drinking. I really wanted to say something and had to resist the urge to launch into a big ‘you can do it!’ type speech.

Three flights and a two hour taxi ride later I arrived at the hotel to meet the other people doing the same fitness course. As we’re chatting one of the guys tells me he’s not had a drink for two weeks in preparation for the course. I nod in agreement but don’t say anything. Then, without prompting, he starts to tell me how he thinks he drinks too much. How moderating is so hard, etc etc, and after a while it seemed weird not to tell him about my history. So there I am, jet lagged, in a foreign country, telling a complete stranger how I quit. He had lots of questions and being able to help him made me feel great. I felt like some kind of ambassador for the sober club.

The other funny thing about being here, in the middle of nowhere, is that I don’t have a phone signal most of the time, but I can get wifi! I’m trying not to check Facebook or my emails too much but it’s been great to know I can still read blogs. My support system is still in place.

After I leave here I really am going to the middle of nowhere, to a lodge powered by a generator for two hours a day. So my next post will probably be from England…

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Half marathon: done

run to the beat

As I lined up at the start I thought “why am I doing this?” As I ran the final few miles – which were uphill – I thought “I am never doing this again…” But guess what. By the time I was on my way home (wearing my medal like I’d just won gold at the Olympics) I started to think “Weeeell it wasn’t that hard. Maybe I should do another one to try and improve on my time…”

Gotta love that thinking.

Now the question I’ve been asking myself is: Would I have been able to run a half marathon if I’d still been drinking? I’d like the answer to be no (because that would be much more satisfying and frankly, a better post) but I suspect that I would’ve made it, just. I’ve white-knuckled my way round races before.

Last December, in the middle of the party season, I ran a very hilly 10 mile race. I’d not been drinking the night before but I had drunk a lot in the days leading up to it. In fact I hadn’t done much training at all as I was arrogant enough to think I’d be able to wing it. Look at me. I can drink and still stay fit. There’s nothing wrong with me. I’d not bothered to research the race so the never-ending hills were a surprise. I did manage to cross the finish line but needless to say it was a painful experience.

Yesterday felt different. Yes, it was tough and I was nervous, but I felt quietly confident that I could do it. I had prepared for it. I had done the training, I’d put the work in. I just had to put everything into practice. When I was drinking I always had lots of big ideas (I think I signed up to the half marathon before I quit) but I rarely saw them through to the finish or if I did I was very half hearted about it. 

On a slightly different note, a weird thing happened to me on Saturday night. For the first time in ages I had huge wobble about whether I should stay sober.   

As the race was in London – and I live in the north – I stayed overnight with an old school friend. We were making dinner when wine came up in conversation and I told her that I’d stopped drinking in April.  

So far, no big deal. I’ve told lots of people that I don’t drink anymore and I usually give them a brief but honest explanation. This time I found myself telling big fat lies. I ended up saying I’d quit as part of a running related health kick because I’d started to ‘react badly’ to alcohol. (“React badly”? WTF?! Talk about an understatement) I certainly implied it wasn’t a permanent thing. 

Later, as we talked about my birthday plans (next month) I found myself actually believing the lie that I’d told earlier. My friend said: you can’t celebrate your birthday without a drink! Once the race is over the health kick will be too, right? And I found myself thinking the same. It wasn’t just a craving or a fleeting thought – it was a full on “why have I stopped drinking? I can’t remember” type moment. That uncomfortable feeling lasted the rest of the evening and I was relieved to have the race as an excuse to go to bed early. I crawled into bed to read some blogs and try and sort my head out.

I woke up feeling fine and the night before felt like an odd dream. Still, it’s bugging me. It strikes me that the longer you’re sober the easier it is not to drink. But the further you get away from your last drink the harder it is to remember all the downsides.

I think on Saturday night two things happened: firstly I chickened out of telling one of my oldest friends the truth, probably because it would hurt if she reacted badly. Secondly, I got caught up romanticising the idea of going out like a ‘normal’ person.  The truth is, drinking with my normie friends was never very satisfying as they never drank nearly enough. They don’t drink to feel numb or sink into oblivion. That’s how I drank. They drink to feel tipsy and silly and to celebrate a special occasion – and I am still a bit jealous that I can’t do that.

The sugar monster

Ben and Jerry’s ice cream. White chocolate Magnums. Nutella on toast. Green and Black’s chocolate. Pick n mix sweets. Cake …. biscuits … and more cake.

Recently, I’ve been eating far too much of all of the above.

I’ve always had a sweet tooth, but nowadays I seem to love sugar more than ever. I know it’s common to crave it when you first stop drinking and I did experience that a little. In fact to start with I pretty much ate what I fancied because staying sober was the only thing I cared about.

Then, for a short time, things changed quite dramatically. As the pink clouds rolled in I began to eat more healthily. I was on a sober high. I think many of us know this feeling; after years of beating yourself up with alcohol, it feels so good when you finally stop that you just want to look after yourself by sleeping properly, exercising and eating nutritious food.

Of course, that saintly living didn’t last. Fast forward to now and I’m happy to say that tomorrow I will be 5 months sober (yippee!! I am very happy about this) … however on the way to this milestone I seem to have acquired a bit of a sugar addiction.

I’m still doing a lot of good things, like going to the gym and cooking from scratch (all made possible because of one of the best gifts of sobriety – the ability to get shit done). So that’s good. But in the evenings I find myself ploughing through tubs of ice cream and eating Nutella out the jar. I am never quite satisfied.

It’s become my way of treating/rewarding myself at the end of the day. There’s a sod-it element to it all. A ‘you’ve been good all day now you deserve whatever you fancy’ type mentality. That kind of thought process is very similar to how I justified my drinking. I also binge on sweet treats when I’m sad or unhappy. If I’ve had a bad day, my first thought is no longer ‘what am I going to buy to drink?’ but ‘what am I going to get to eat?’.

I deserve it don’t I? Just like I used to ‘deserve’ all those bottles of wine. 

What I can’t decide is how big a deal this really is. Part of me thinks: don’t worry. After all, it’s still fairly early days. Stopping drinking is an amazing achievement and if my biggest concern is about eating too much ice cream then that’s not a bad place to be. I’d always like to be a dress size smaller but I haven’t put on weight, yet. And so far overdosing on chocolate hasn’t led to me missing work, passing out on the sofa or sleeping with men I’ve only just met. 

On the other hand, I can see that using anything as a way of dealing with emotions is not wise. If (fingers crossed) I stay sober for good, will I still be doing the same thing in several years time? I remember going to restaurants as a child and always, always wanting dessert even if I was stuffed from the main course. Always wanting chocolate as my after school snack. Maybe sugar was my first love, before I discovered a much better substitute in my teenage years.

Is it unreasonable to want to be ‘fixed’ completely, within a few months? Is this my alcoholism talking, the part of me that just wants everything right now?

Podcast suggestions, anyone?

The day I stopped drinking I started listening to podcasts about sobriety and recovery.

I’ve found them a huge help. I listen to them on my way to work. I listen whilst I’m cooking or cleaning or even doing my supermarket shop. I enjoy them and it seems like a great way of squeezing a bit of recovery work into my day.

The problem is, I’m running out them.

I started out listening to The Bubble Hour and it remains my favourite. The mix of topics is great and I really like the hosts Ellie, Amanda and Lisa. I can relate to them. In fact I only started looking for other podcasts a few weeks ago, when they took a bit of a summer break – recording podcasts once a fortnight and re-broadcasting old episodes every other week. 

I soon found After Party Pod – a podcast hosted by Anna David, who set up the website After Party Chat. She interviews actors and comedians who’ve got clean and sober. The general vibe is let’s-talk-to-cool-and-successful-sober-people and I really like that. It’s the kind of attitude I need in my life right now! The only thing that niggles me is that they often go quite off topic. I prefer them to stay with the nitty gritty of what happened – I want technicolor detail on why they got sober and how. The rest of the website is great too. If you have a spare few minutes watch the video ‘Sh*t normies say to 12-steppers’ – it made me smile: http://afterpartychat.com/videos/

My most recent download was Online Recovery Support Radio but I don’t think it’s my cup of tea. Hosted by Kurt Swensen, it’s very heavy and super-serious.

I was wondering today if my desire for more stuff to listen to is a sign that I should go back to AA meetings. It probably is. Somehow they just slipped out of my regular routine, but as I didn’t go to AA right from the start I don’t feel too worried about it. Whilst my life is crazy busy with work and a hundred and one other things, I’m not going to beat myself up at about it. But I do want to make sure I’ve got plenty of other stuff to listen to.

So – has anyone got any other suggestions or favourite podcasts you’d like to share?

Kate x

Parties, bars and not drinking

Sometimes a couple of days or maybe a week will pass and I don’t really think about the fact that I no longer drink. It just is what it is. Being sober is part of my life now, part of my routine. I don’t need to walk the long way round the supermarket to avoid the wine aisle. I just walk right through it to get to my fancy cordials and expensive coffee. 

So that all feels fine. But there’s a lot of stuff outside my sober bubble that I’m not so comfortable about. Socialising, whilst sober, is still a biggie for me. Alcohol was a comfort blanket and mood alterer that turned so-so parties into great ones. Wine made me funnier, sexier and more confident. Or so I thought. Now, going out sober is like learning to be ‘me’ all over again.       

On Friday night I went to a work party and last night I met a few friends for drinks before going to a gig. I pick and choose my nights out quite carefully and I went to both because I thought I’d enjoy them – but they turned out to be quite hard work.

The work party was at someone’s house and on paper, it sounded great. It started mid afternoon. There was going to be a BBQ. It was out in the countryside so lots of people had driven there. The hosts had catered for all the sober drivers and there were tons of soft drinks to choose from. I was delighted by this as often the only choice for non drinkers is diet coke or water. 

The main problem on Friday night was, well, me. I felt like I was acting the whole time. I knew everyone there pretty well and in the office I’d have no problem talking to them. But for some reason I felt out of my comfort zone and I struggled to make small talk. The whole time I worried that I wasn’t interesting enough or funny enough. Despite all the sober drivers, there seemed to be quite a few tipsy people and I felt reserved and uptight in comparison. When people drink together they share a certain something; it pulls them together in a way that’s hard to describe. 

Despite feeling uncomfortable I didn’t want to drink; I knew that I would pay a huge price if I joined in. I just felt very self-conscious, as if I was carrying my sobriety around with me, like some precious ornament that needed handling carefully and protecting from the drunk people. Anyway, the real lesson of the night was this: always have an escape plan. I did not make one. I don’t have a car at the moment so I got a lift there with someone else. Not only did we arrive later than I would have liked to but my friend/driver insisted we stay till the bitter end.  

Last night was better, however I was the first to arrive in the bar where I’d agreed to meet my friends. So I had a bit of an awkward wait on my own. When I was drinking I was a) rarely on time and b) I’d have just killed that kind of feeling with a drink. In fact I’d have used it as an opportunity to knock a drink back quickly and get another. Last night I deliberately queued at the busiest side of the bar, thinking I could kill some time waiting to be served. Of course, sod’s law being what is, just at that moment a large group of people moved out of my way and I got served within 30 seconds.  

I ordered a tonic water and watched the bartender like a hawk as she got my slimline tonic, just in case she’d misheard me and was adding a gin as well. A couple of other sober bloggers have been served alcoholic drinks by mistake and this is something I really worry about. If anyone buys me a drink I take the first sip really carefully, just in case. It’s not that I don’t trust my friends – they’re hardly going slip something into my drink! – but you can’t be too careful. Aside from the drink paranoia the rest of last night was ok. I knew I could leave when I wanted to (it was within walking distance to my flat) so the minute my feet started to hurt I was outta there.

I’ve written about sober nights out before and (yawn) I probably will do again. It strikes me that whilst I’ve settled into a fairly comfortable sober routine in my day-to-day life I have not got the hang of going out sober yet. Like I said, I pick my nights out carefully and I always avoid going to things that revolve entirely around booze. I’d thought that Friday and Saturday night would offer lots of other things, like good music and the chance to catch up with people I know. But in the end both nights were pretty booze orientated. Or at least they were in my mind. Perhaps a ‘normal’ person wouldn’t agree?

Sweat? That’s just your fat crying

Going to the gym with a hangover was never fun. Sometimes I look back and wonder how on earth I did it without having a heart attack or passing out or at least throwing up. I was a firm believer in sweating out a hangover. I’d often force myself to work out as a kind of punishment for drinking so much and consuming so many calories the night before.   

By comparison, going to the gym with a clear head after a great night’s sleep is pretty satisfying. It’s nice to do something that is good for myself. And I know that when I’ve been to the gym I can indulge my ice cream habit without feeling too guilty about it.

I always do a class at the gym because I need someone else to motivate me whilst I’m there. My gym has some brilliant fitness instructors who a) have bodies to die for and b) are endlessly enthusiastic about everything. Seriously – nothing gets them down. Ever. Their energy and optimism knows no bounds. They are indefatigable and I really like them for it.

A few of the instructors are fond of some, ahem, ‘inspirational’ sayings:

“You made it here, now make it worthwhile!”

“Pain is just weakness leaving the body’!”

“Sweat is just your fat crying!”

My personal favourite is one that I often hear one of the female instructors say towards the end of a class, when there’s just one more set of killer sit ups to do. “Team!” She shouts, “I’m not going to lie. The next two minutes are going to hurt. But in the grand scheme of your day, or your week, two minutes is nothing. We’re only talking about a very short amount of time here. It’s short term pain for long term gain.”

Well, I said it was cheesy. But that last one really sums up how I feel about my sobriety at the moment. There are little hurdles and tricky bits to get through. You just have to man up and get on with it. For me, a bit of short term pain might be turning down the glass of wine I’m offered at a BBQ, or having an awkward conversation with someone about my drinking. Or the moment I help myself to a drink at someone else’s house and without thinking, almost take a beer out the fridge. 

They’re just little challenges that have to be worked through and dealt with. Sometimes the thoughts are only fleeting; sometimes they last a bit longer. Short term pain for long term gain. Here the gain isn’t rock hard abs or dropping a dress size; it’s staying sober for another day. Flexing my sober muscle again and again and getting stronger. Living a sober, happy life that I’m in control of.

It seemed appropriate to write about this today because a lot of us have exercise on the brain. It seems us sober folks are a pretty fit bunch. There are lots of runners and many people setting targets with the aptly named Gym & Tonic. Personally, my goal is to get ready for a half marathon next month. I’ve run ten miles so this is just a bit further, but I’d really like to enjoy this race and not white-knuckle it round. So I bought myself a very appropriate treat this week – new trainers.

trainers

Fingers crossed they have magic powers 🙂