Tag Archives: normal drinkers

Introducing … The Sober School

Hello there! Long time no see! I’d like to apologise for abandoning my blog without explanation. Have no fear, I didn’t disappear because something bad happened. Quite the opposite. I was busy being sober and happy – drinking tea, eating cake, catching up with old friends, making new friends, going out with my running club, trying new hobbies, starting new jobs and all sorts of other lovely stuff. I’ve been sober for 843 days now and I really am so happy with life. I don’t take my sobriety for granted but it’s pretty much become second nature now. In fact it all became so normal that I felt I didn’t have much to say … until now.

I wanted to let you know about a new project that I’ve been working on. Ever since I got sober I’ve been telling anyone who’ll listen that there should be more help for people like me. Bright, professional women who know they’re drinking too much but just can’t seem to get out of the alcohol trap. Women who can’t bring themselves to tell their doctor how much they really drink but don’t fancy going to AA. Women who want to lose the booze, but not their social life – who desperately want to stop drinking, but can’t quite work out how to stay stopped.

Whilst the sober blogosphere is great, it’s quite a hidden corner of the internet. It took me a good few years of searching for help before I stumbled across the blogs that made such a difference to me. I wanted to create something more mainstream. I wanted to create the website that I wish had existed when I was trying to stop drinking. Something that talked about alcohol addiction in a relatable way, providing help and advice without being patronising.

So I decided to set up this: thesoberschool.com

It’s a little space online where you can find inspiration to help you stop drinking and achieve wonderful things. I have a new blog over there, plus some help and advice pages. I’m in the middle of training to be coach, because my plan is to create a course that guides sober wannabes through the first few important weeks of their alcohol free life.

There are also quite a few pictures of me on there, so if you want to put a face to a name have a look…

It’s an exciting and nerve wracking time. I’ve done something that once seemed unthinkable – outing myself to the world. I’ve reduced my hours at work and told my employers what I’m doing. I’ve also had to be really honest with friends. Until recently, even those in the know had only heard a sanitised version of my drinking story. There are still a lot of people in my life who don’t know everything yet, but I will tell them in due course.

So far the response has been brilliant. And I really hope it will all make a difference. I try not to sound too much like a preachy reformed drinker, but I really believe something big needs to change in our society. It shouldn’t be this hard to talk about being addicted to alcohol. We have no problem talking about smoking in these terms, do we?

This will be my last post on this blog. So if you want to follow my new blog, please do head on over to thesoberschool.com

I’m also on Facebook  Twitter and Instagram

Phew. That’s all for now.

Lots of love,

The Sober School Sub Mark 2

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?

I want my pink clouds back

I’ve been feeling a bit fed up for the past week or so now. I don’t really know why. I realise that good days and bad days are part of life, but part of me still thinks hey, I made the effort to get sober, don’t I deserve rainbows and glitter balls EVERY day? Wasn’t that part of the deal?

There hasn’t been anything in particular that’s been making me feel down. I’ve been working a lot and not sleeping enough. I’ve been on a few unsuccessful first dates. One was with someone I really liked but he wasn’t so taken with me. Sober rejection sucks.

The novelty of not drinking seems to have worn off. It’s been replaced by a niggling feeling that being sober is just, well, a bit annoying. I don’t feel like I’m about to start drinking again, in fact I haven’t really thought about that at all. I accept the fact that I cannot drink normally and so by far the best option is to not drink at all. I get that. But I’m still a bit pissed off about it.

Say what you like, but alcohol is a social lubricant. When it’s used in the right way it seems to help the world go round a little smoother. It bonds people together. It’s a shared interest/hobby that lots of people enjoy but I can’t. And sometimes I just want to do what everyone else does.  

Of course I don’t miss the epic hangovers, the slurry, sweaty, sleep disturbed nights. That was the reality of my drinking and it wasn’t glamorous. I think what I’m actually grieving for is the normal, take-it-or-leave-it relationship with alcohol that other people have but I never had.

Is this Wolfie, taunting me? I’m unsure. Is it Wolfie who voices thoughts like, ‘well I bet you never thought you were signing up to all this recovery work when you stopped drinking… All this thinking about not drinking, the blogging, the meetings … it’s a bit like hard work isn’t it?’

Talking of meetings, I haven’t been to one for at least a fortnight. I just can’t seem to make time to go to them. When life gets busy they’re the first thing I stop doing. I’m good at maintaining other things, like going to the gym, because I know exercise keeps me sane. I still read blogs, even if it’s just a few on my way to work. But AA just falls by the wayside.

This afternoon I definitely could have gone to a meeting and in fact I was planning to go. When I came to leave it suddenly started to pour with rain. Now even I know that’s a lame excuse. In the end I decided I would stay at home on the condition that I work on a job application that needs submitting this week. Do you know what I did instead? I went on Facebook. And then I wrote this post.