Updated: Dec 29, 2019
Or why alcohol is not my BFF anymore
Sobriety is the new kid on my block. I, party girl No1 when in town, have thought about going sober for a while now and, having scaled down massively already this year, sober life looks very promising indeed. It’s as if I declared to my friends that I am going to stop breathing.
What? No sherry at Christmas? No champagne at the reunion? No crisp glass of Rosé on a hot summer afternoon? FOREVER? Will your life be boring? Or, more importantly, will YOU be boring?
All these comments led me to think that perhaps there is no such thing as casual drinking. Perhaps we are ALL alcoholics.
This summer my insta-feed presented me with an image of a beautiful elfin young woman with intense bright blue eyes. Folded gracefully over a breakfast bowl of fruity yoghurt she seemed to radiate health and vitality. And yet, her hashtags were all about sobriety and addiction.
Curious, I read through her entire feed, which described her journey into sobriety from day one. People, it was a riveting read! It was life in action, drama, enthusiasm, fear and struggles, her joyous hopefulness and heartbreaking determination as she posted getting onto a flight to the Caribbean for business, only to report a week later that she got totally slashed and woke up on the wrong island with a memory hole and no suitcase. Her struggle is real and she is a true inspiration for others on the same road - you can read about it for yourself @wholesome_recovery.
The thought of giving up the drink puts the living-fear into everyone. Let’s say, that from tomorrow onwards the world is going to run out of apples. That would be sad, right? But, while you’d probably gorge yourself on apples today, the thought of an apple-free life would not make a big difference.
Alcohol on the other hand is a different story. It makes us feel good (at least to begin with). It takes away social inhibition, its presence is connected with no responsibilities and time-off work, no party can be without it. Spending entire Sundays barely able to move and in a brain-fog, remedied with a Bloody Mary or two is considered hilarious and completely socially accepted. Only at weekends though please - if this happens to you on a Wednesday, then once is funny, twice, you’re a loser.
We love to think that we are in charge of our drinking. As Jason Vale writes in his excellent book ‘Kick the drink,…easily!’: ‘If I told you that I was in full control of my banana intake, that I only have them a few times a week, I can take them or leave them, I have more at weekends, that I can even go two complete days without bananas, you would immediately know that I had a problem with my bananas.’
D and I had a 3 months drink-break at the beginning of the year, just to see what it would be like. During those three months I realised 2 things: Firstly how much we are primed to drink in our society. Try buying a birthday card - it’s prosecco time, wine-o’clock, gin-is a girls best friend galore.
And secondly, despite the fact that 2/3rds of adults in the UK drink alcohol regularly but somehow make it sound like they belong to a naughty and rebellious club, it felt great to say 'I don't drink'. That, truly, made me feel I belonged to a secret powerful club in the know. And when the 3 months were over, he took me to his club to celebrate over dinner and a bottle of Pouilly-Fumé Ladoucette. The irony was lost on us.
But slowly it started to niggle me. Have I really been brainwashed into believing that we need alcohol? It surely is my choice? I remember though that beer was only palatable mixed with lemonade to start with. Was it really a fun evening, when I don't remember how I got home? The sobriety thing started to look very attractive. Now that I know how much we’re conditioned simply by images, I often drink pink Elderflower lemonade in a wine glass anyway (because yes, I still deserve a grown-up glass when I am out and about).
So, here we are. Frankly, I do not know if I manage to say no at all reunions, parties, celebrations. I consider myself lucky - it is not really a struggle for me. But I am done with getting drunk, for sure. I had my last drink on the 31st of August. And I am happy to just say ‘I don’t drink’
Oils to support myself:
Ginger, the oil of empowerment. It’s my aromatic anchor. When I am tempted, I inhale from the bottle, and say to myself “I am healthy and strong”
Zengest: I love a drop in my sparkling water in the evenings. One drop in a 500ml bottle is enough. Always research before you decide to ingest essential oils, it does not work for everyone
Cinnamon for the sugar cravings (biggest noticeable problem after removing wine from my diet). I rub my finger along the rim of my bottle and place it on the roof of my mouth. Cravings only last for about 3 minutes, but you can do a lot of damage in 3 minutes, believe me.
Read about our first journey during Sober January in “That wagon has slanting seats”
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