First post. Well, first of this version of Sober Mum. See, I started this blog March 2016. I wrote a bunch of stuff then deleted it all. Why? Because I started drinking again; it must have been why. Not that I can honestly remember. But when you (or if you) go back to drinking after a period of abstinence, the last thing you need to see is reminders of being sober. Because you, at that point, are trying to be ‘normal’. Forget about the problem drinking thing. Try to drink ‘normally’, to control it, to not let it affect your life negatively. That’s what we are all aiming for, right? To be ‘good’ drinkers?
My name is Rachel. I’m not ready to give my surname yet, so if it’s OK with you I will just write semi-anonymously until I feel ready to open up to the world. I’m 38. I am married, with 2 kids – age 5 and 7 currently. I live in an old farmhouse that we are half way through renovating, in a rural setting in the UK. I’m degree educated, and I had a career in marketing before I gave that up to look after my kids full-time, when I became a blogger (part hobby part job – that means I don’t earn much money from it).
I am 17 days sober.
This feels like my umpteenth attempt at becoming a teetotaler – each ‘failure’ is hard to process – but now I get that it’s part of the journey. (Seriously though, it’s about… guessing here… like, the 5th (??) attempt maybe in actual numbers which isn’t bad considering that’s over probably about 3 years or something since I realised there was a ‘PROBLEM’). This is the 2nd ‘serious’ go at quitting. And it feels different this time.
My ‘problem’ was a problem many people have. I truly believe that I am one step ahead of many in deciding to quit. Sorry if that sounds arrogant but it’s how I see things now; drinking is a mug’s game.
I wasn’t drinking in the morning. I have never been to hospital to have my stomach pumped. I have never gotten arrested because of my boozing. No, I was simply a binge drinker. A girl of the 90s; a ladette; a 24 hour party person. Someone who, mostly but not always, drank to get drunk. There were plenty of safe drinking occasions (and of course when I was pregnant and the kids were very young but even then there were quite a few heavy nights). But as I got older I could feel the worm in my brain telling me to drink more in even those rare ‘safe’ instances; and the worm became a snake on the big nights out; once I started I coudn’t stop. I couldn’t even think about stopping. I was a steam train hurtling along with no brakes. Yeah, I could feel my problem worsening. I don’t want to fall down the stairs and end up in a wheelchair. I don’t want my kids to get to the age where they see me wasted. I don’t want to damage my body any more than I have done already. I don’t want to be known as ‘a drinker’.
So I’ve stopped.
Listen, this is my first post so I won’t bore you with too much detail now about my boozing history, as everything I want to say – NEED to say – is currently all in one big mushed up story with lots of opinion thrown in. Suffice to say, from now on, I will declare to you, to friends, to family, to neighbours: I don’t drink. But will I actually say those words? It takes guts to say them, as it provokes questioning – even more from people who know you. Close friends seems personally irritated, or freaked out, and even offended by this declaration, so I haven’t mentioned it to many on these terms. Most people who know about me stopping think I am stopping for a bit. I’m not; I’m stopping for good. They are aware I am part of the One Year No Beer group; a support network of people who wish to change their relationship with alcohol through signing up for periods of abstinence. My sign up period is 90 days. But I know this is my new normal.
And I couldn’t be happier about it.
I am making a promise now. A declaration to myself. When someone asks over the next few weeks why I’m not drinking, I will say: ‘I don’t drink’. Not ‘I am not drinking at the mo’ or ‘I am having a break from booze’. And I will be proud. Clear. Honest. If they ask why? I will tell them: ‘I quit because booze makes me unhappy.’
This is true. In a nutshell. The hangovers were causing me such distress and depression that I wanted to crawl out of my own agitated, itching, sick skin. And I refuse to live like that any longer. I’ve got too much to live for!
“You haven’t got a problem, Rach”, “Just moderate!”, “Don’t be too hard on yourself!”. These are all things which lovely, well meaning people say to you when you quit booze. Well, sorry folks but I know myself and what I need better than you.
Booze is the only drug you have to justify not taking. It’s insane!
Why are we, as a society, so completely and utterly obsessed with drinking? It’s essentially a poison that is mixed with sugars and flavourings to make it palatable (I could argue the toss on this for hours). We are all addicted, arguably to some degree (again, a great discussion point). We take it often on a daily basis. What for? Stressed? Drink. Entertaining? Drink. Bored? Drink. Sad? Drink. Happy? Drink.
What the fuck is wrong with just BEING? When did we stop wanting to FEEL?
It’s not surprising that so many people who drink are addicted? It is an ADDICTIVE drug, after all. And it’s not just any drug: alcohol is number one by some distance on the harm index according to the World Health Organisation. That’s way ahead of crack, heroin, cannabis in terms of the effect on your health and of those around you.
Aaaannnnyyyywwaaaay. As I say, I have too much to talk about to put it all in one post!
This year I shall be raising a glass, of tonic, or some other AF drink to toast everyone! And I will enjoy the festivities even more, not despite not drinking, but BECAUSE of not drinking.
- No hangover so I can make plans for the next day
- Keep to my exercise plans (500,000 steps in December!)
- No embarrassing stupid things that I said to remember next day and feel awful about
- No injuries, bruises or worse, to have to explain
- Able to look after my kids properly
- More connected to my husband
- Able to clean my house
- A great night’s sleep, most of the time
- Clear skin, bright eyes
- More money in my pocket
- Self esteem in tact – in fact feeling pretty damn proud of myself
- Able to take kids out next day
- Can walk my dog without wanting to be sick or cry or both
- No shame, just sheer joy at life
- Calmer, more loving, more present parent
Cheers everyone, Merry Christmas!
Did I tell you? I don’t drink…