A year without alcohol

I actually can’t believe it’s been a year. When I started Kate Bee’s Sober school I didn’t expect to finish the 6 weeks! At first time seemed slower and the evenings were particularly long but then time has whizzed by and here we are. Somewhere around a month in something changed in my brain and I lost the desire to drink. The key thought processes for me were separating out my addictive voice – aka the wine witch; and also no longer seeing getting wasted as an act of rebellion but as a form of political control. If we’re all downing pints and popping pills at the weekend then we’re not thinking about the state of the world or doing anything about it and I think those in power like it that way. Punk rock and the rave culture were both appropriated by the establishment that derided them in the end; as The Clash sang ‘turning rebellion into money’ when it gets too big to suppress. I think the pandemic may shift our collective consciousness on this score as suddenly everything is political and impacts all of us in some way directly and immediately so can’t be ignored. It will also mean a lot of people drink more too as a way of coping. I know a year ago I would have. I’ve had more thoughts about drinking in the last few weeks than I’ve had for a long time. There’s still a bottle of Prosecco in the fridge from Christmas that my girls didn’t drink and I was thinking I could drink it to celebrate today! I haven’t and I won’t but the thought surprised me. C said it’s because anniversaries reactivate our feelings of loss and grief. That makes sense to me. I’ve had some sort of relationship with alcohol most of my life; fearing it as a child and being vigilant to its effect on others; tentative experiences of my own in adolescence then embracing it wholeheartedly in early adulthood. The first couple of decades alcohol seemed to deliver. I remember a time as a student splashing in the puddles in the rain and feeling carefree in a way that I’d rarely felt as a child. I credited alcohol with giving me that freedom, that playfulness, that fun. I continued to do so for many years and it took me a long time to realise that alcohol was taking not giving. Even once I knew that it took a good few more before I actually stopped. I do miss the way it made me feel back when I didn’t know better though and that’s what I grieve. Of course it wouldn’t be the same now because I can’t un – know what I know; even for one night. That’s why the Prosecco will remain unopened in the fridge.

Of course stopping the booze is only the beginning. Stripping back the layers and learning who you really are is the hard part! I’ve learnt that I’m not really such a party girl after all but I do really like seeing people when you can talk and properly connect. I struggle with negative emotions and used alcohol and manic activity to ward off depression; perpetual oscillation of arousal and mood instead. I’m learning other ways and I like living at a slower pace and noticing more. Some of that may be age related too; we can’t keep doing what we did when we were younger as our bodies won’t take it. I am struggling to give up smoking so I’m not out the woods of addiction yet. I still think of myself as sober though. I read somewhere that only you get to define what sober is to you and I’m going with that.

“The opposite of addiction is connection”. That stuck in my mind from the course too. In real life my mum, my daughters, my friends have all been incredibly supportive and I’m so grateful for them. I couldn’t have done it without C and his unconditional love and support and of course you guys; fellow bloggers, fellow travellers on this path. We struggle and learn together, holding each others hands metaphorically as we all try to become a better more authentic version of ourselves. I genuinely feel like you are my friends and your words have helped so much. I’ll raise a glass of something other than Prosecco tonight and toast you all!

Photo by Artem Beliaikin on Pexels.com

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  1. Well done that’s a great achievement for which you should feel rightly proud. I never made it past 3 months but I’m ok with that (for now). My relationship with alcohol is different and I drink less than I did, but somewhere in the back of my mind I know it’s a foolish pursuit and so I retain tremendous admiration for people like you.

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  2. Simply brilliant and knowing that what you say more or less mirrors my relationship to alcohol is very powerful and validating. I agree as well that not drinking is almost the new rebellion. It’s almost cool not to drink and absolutely the powers that be would be quite happy to see us drinking our lives and concerns away. It’s worked in Russia. Now is a time for alert minds and pressing for change. Well done for your achievement.Jim x

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  3. Congratulations! I’m truly sitting here smiling inside and out for you. What a wonderful warm feeling, eh? You did something just amazing my beautiful friend! You took the time to stop living in the fog of life and instead faced it straight up. Such wonderful work! Sit with this joy today – you so deserve it😊. Keep continuing to shine and thank you for all your love and support that you give me.

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  4. Wowzers!!!!!! This is really an amazing achievement. I think we forget just how amazing it is to reach a year sober. Like anything, the pain and negative impact alcohol had once fades the further away we move from it. We start to feel that actually it wasn’t such a big deal to give it up but OMG .. it really was. You are brilliant. You have done so well and really let yourself learn and develop, no matter how tough that has been. All the time, you’ve been ready to support and help others who are struggling in their own way. Personally, I thank you for doing that. Bask in the glory my friend 👏 👏 xxx

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  5. Congratulations, DrGS!!! You are brilliant and brave. I love that we are in the journey together and am so thankful that I’ve gotten to know you and the others through this special experience we share. You’re right, the hard part is foot know yourself but it is truly validating and rewarding to learn that we CAN do hard things. Challenging commonly held beliefs and opinions about what we need to cope, relax or have fun has been a kick as well. Cheers to you with my sparking water and splash of cranberry and lime. Enjoy today! 😊💕👍🏻👏🏻 Xx

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  6. WOWOWOW CONGRAAAAATS DGS!!!! I am so so so thrilled for you and proud of you. I also totally understand the creeping thoughts of “just one to celebrate” – I’ve had those too (especially as my 1 year milestone will coincide with my PhD defense!). I hope that instead of drinking you will find/have found a much better, more satisfying and more aligned way to treat yourself and celebrate: you have come SO FAR. The progress we’ve made in a year’s sobriety (and yes, like you, I don’t think smoking takes anything away from it) is HUGE, and makes me wonder how it’s possible to have spent so many years drinking and going with the flow and never peaking out of the cocoon to venture out into “reality”. Also, thank you for that brilliant description of how at first alcohol seemed to give and then you realized it just took, and now, even if we wanted, we couldn’t indulge with the “innocence” of those initial days: to know that there is no “going back” in that sense (no un-knowing, as you put it so well) is a huge factor in my motivation: I know the pleasure I fantasize will not occur – and the unpleasant emotions that will accompany/ follow the experience just aren’t worth it. SO YAAAAAY to this HUGE milestone 🙂 xxx You did it !!! xxx ❤ Anne

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    1. Thanks Anne – I was seriously tempted last night (sad not to see my girls this Easter and not looking forward to the long weekend in lockdown!) and I was telling myself do it once then I figured out that doing it once would mean I had opened up that road again of booze being the answer so inevitably I’d drink again and the shame would need something to drown it too! I’m gonna give that bottle of Prosecco lurking in my fridge away today though! 💞💞


      1. that was incredibly strong of you (I would have exactly all of those thoughts, I think they’re really perfectly normal) ! Serious, serious respect ! xxxx keep on keeping on ! How is the yoga going, are you practicing at home? I’ve started ashtanga and it’s incredibly difficult ^^ xxxx Anne

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      2. I’ve been mostly doing yoga on my own at home for a while but I’ve joined a zoom class – I do the slow breathing kind – my teacher calls it ‘advanced lying down’ 😂😂 it’s a bit more active than 5hat! Gave the Prosecco to my doctor neighbour today and that felt good! Xx

        Liked by 1 person

  7. The thing I least expected to be taking from this great post was to be singing (White Man) In Hammersmith Palais at 9am. So, thank you for that, Doc! And, congratulations on your anniversary – a fine accomplishment!
    (And a timely reminder!)

    ‘they ain’t got no
    roots rock rebel’ x

    Liked by 1 person

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