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!