Last Orders

So here’s the thing. I’ve decided to give up booze.

If you know me I’ll give you a moment to pick yourself up off the floor and re-read that sentence. Yep, you read it right. I’m quitting drinking alcohol. And no this isn’t a knee jerk ‘never again’ moment, it’s something I’ve given a huge amount of thought to, for a long time.

Bacon or beer?

One of my brothers brilliant drinking anecdotes is that he would rather give up beer than bacon. A curious statement which often had me scratching my head with bemusement. I mean, who could do that? But now I’ve come to realise… perhaps me. And hell, once I did give up bacon for three months so why not try out the alternative?

Before your mind starts wandering down a path of imagining me at wine o’clock slipping a pint of wine into ‘Mummy’s coffee’ mug, I guess I feel the need to set the scene of how I got to this point. For the record, I don’t believe I am an alcoholic. Alcohol dependency, in some form? Maybe.

Do The Maths

I’ve always been a big social drinker. Since the age of fifteen, and hitting my first underage drinking pub with my best friend, I discovered a world of late nights, alcopops, snakebites, shots, archers and lemonade. It lured me in and I spent the next decade living there like there was no tomorrow. All dayers, big nights out, weekenders, festivals, girls holidays abroad, messy boozy rows, shocking hangovers and hilarious stories of drunken antics which fuelled all the more fun.

Amidst all of this  I worked hard at my career, obtained a first class degree and could go plenty of days without touching a drop. Your classic binge drinker scenario, laying down the habits of a lifetime. Well, potentially.

By the time I got to thirty, married and trying for a family, I declared myself ‘grown up’, a new sensible version of me. In truth the nights out were still present albeit far FAR less often, as were a new mature type of drinking; glasses of nice wine at dinner, prosecco nights and gin and tonics in the sunshine. The frequency and style of the big boozy nights changed, but alcohol has always been a constant part of my social scene.

The hangovers got worse, and the tolerance to booze with it. Or perhaps I’ve always just been a bit of a lightweight.

It’s not just my mates who will always see me with a glass in hand at a social event. My vast and wonderful family are people with whom I have regularly enjoyed a (much more responsible) drink. A glass of wine with my mother in law, a gin and tonic with my step-Mum, a few lagers with my mum; all of which I’d happily accept and enjoy. The problem lies with the fact that booze is such a solid part of all aspects of my social life, that it’s undoubtedly become a habit rather than a choice. I’m not (nor have I ever) really been mindful of my drinking, and would even go as far as to say I’ve started to feel I don’t enjoy the woozy feeling of a couple of large glasses of wine. But of course, I drink them anyway, because that’s what I do.

So now, at 37, I’m looking back after a busy summer of hen parties, weddings, an all inclusive holiday, and countless bottles of prosecco, wine, gin at family functions and social get togethers, and I’m feeling a change brewing.

I mean, that’s twenty two years of heavy drinking. Of hitting it hard at every eighteenth, twenty first, festival, every hen party, work bash, thirtieth, wedding, and even funeral. Chuck in a few barbeques, parties and Christmas dinners (on repeat Vicar of Dibley style) and I’m starting to realise that I’ve never really tried being me without a glass in my hand to prop me up at social get togethers.

Of course, I’m a hugely confident person at the school gate, I love meeting new people and chatting to them to discover their history, what makes them tick and talk the hind legs off the donkey.  I’m a collector of Mum friends and a loony kitchen dancer – all without the prop of booze, so I know I can still be fun Sarah without drinking. In fact, I could probably be more fun sober. I’m never going to stop loving music and dancing, or people and belly laughs, so the future suddenly looks really appealing in a crystal clear way .

I’m also a ridiculously emotional drunk. At the end of a booze fuelled night you are just as likely to find me crying on someone’s shoulder because my goldfish died / someone looked at me the wrong way / it’s Saturday, or worst still sobbing over my deepest most personal sad experiences in life. I know, party killer or what. Alternatively you might be really lucky and have me crying over how much I love everybody and everything.

And so, I think it’s time, to get to know the real me. To learn how to have fun, to enjoy the music and dance around like a total nutter through choice rather than because I’m on planet drunk Sarah. To appreciate the company and exercise my ears instead of my mouth. To not wake up after a night of indulgence (albeit hugely infrequently for the most part these days) with a banging head and a self pitiful load of regret. I’m so over that feeling.

Its not you it’s me

Drinking in moderation is something I can do, and have done for a long time for the most part. We like a glass of wine of an evening, but I rarely drink midweek, have more than a couple of glasses at home, and have already done dry january twice. (Plus I did three pregnancies and breast fed booze free for a total of almost three years) Intermittently however there will always be the times I regret going too far. The times I have (again) been the one to get most drunk at the party. To have unaccounted for bruises and gaps in my memory of what I said to who and a big dose of ‘why’ to boot. It’s usually completely unintended, but like a scratched record the following morning, the words spring to mind “Why do I never learn?”.

The thing is, I actually hate having a rep for being a bit of a boozy bird. I hate bumping into people who know me from my party days, and worse still, if I’ve proven that girls is still me. It’s unfortunately a bit of a self fulfilling prophecy, something to live up to and also, in turn, to never live down. When the Mum hat comes off and the babysitter has relieved me of my mumlife for a few hours, perhaps there is something more to prove and a bigger sense of letting off steam which adds to the problem.

So when I explain to people I have given up booze, and they tell me “You can still have the odd one” I need them to understand that that’s not what I want, because, frankly, I’ve given that route a go for a very long time and it’s not exactly been a huge success. On a rolling cycle of months of moderate drinking, then craving a big night out, then saying ‘never again’. Rinse and repeat.

When they then (as I’ve already discovered) respond by telling me why their alcohol consumption is fine because…X Y Z, I need them to know this is not about you, it’s me. I am happy for you and your ability to moderate, drink responsibly, to be a fun drunk and to not care how you acted. Please, fill your boots and I promise, no judgement. But I am not happy being this person, and in the words of Helen to Alison (The Affair season 4 episode 6) we all have the ability to change the narrative, to turn our life around and live it to be the person we choose to be.

Deep right?

Quit Lit

Fuelling this thirst for my sober curiosity I have been researching. Starting off with one of my favourite bloggers who recently did a 100 days no drinking challenge, Island Living 365. Through Emma’s blog I discovered some brilliant books which I have inhaled over the last three weeks; The unexpected Joy of Being Sober (By Catherine Gray) and The Sober Diaries By Claire Pooley.

Both Catherine and Claire’s words hit some nerves. Whilst I haven’t ever reached the point at which either of these two quit drinking, there were definitely some familiar and too close for comfort parts. And what these women lived through is what I would love to be; happy and fun without drinking. Literally being ecstatic in what they discovered in a world without booze. It’s what I want and it’s spurring me on.

In almost perfect timing, this week I caught up on Adrian Chiles documentary ‘Drinkers like me’ on BBC iplayerand again, despite knowing my unit intake is probably, (mostly unless we happen to have a wedding / big night out / weekend with the girls..etc etc) within the advised limits per week, it struck a chord with how much damage I might have done over the years. It also cemented the idea that the reason I drink is also because I have never learnt how to hold my own in a social situation, literally on my own.

Social anxiety. It’s a thing. I have no idea whether I can self diagnose that, but there is definitely something in the fact I feel a nervous twinge if I am going out out, something that I know is often the reason I’m the first at the bar and often have a drink while I’m getting ready “to take the edge off it”. I think it’s probably been there all along, and my super fast downing of drinks to drown out the nerves, has actually been my biggest downfall. Literally, leaving me falling down.

I’m beginning to realise that no one is going to congratulate me for this momentous effort, unlike they would if I had given up smoking (I did that twelve years ago) or weaned myself off heroin (nope, never done that one). I’m far more likely to get a few digs, eye rolls and cynically be offered ‘Come on, just the one’, but it’s not anyone else I’m doing this for. I have no doubt my two beautiful kids and my husband will benefit,  but the person I am doing this for is me. My physical health, my mental health, my pride and my dignity. It’s about taking control of the person I want to be and making it happen. YOLO guys, YOLO.

Its time

I have no idea whether I can actually do this, but I’m feeling determined and positive. Surprisingly, liberated. I’m looking forward to wearing high heels again without the worry of falling off them. Of heading out without worrying if I’d get home in one piece. To not no longer overshare with anyone willing (or not willing) to listen unless it’s a time or place it’d actually be right to do so.

Forever seems like a really big statement, so I’m saying I’m going for the big 100 days, and then, will make a decision from there. I’m 19 days in and feeling great about it. We (Dad Muddling Through is on this train too, through his own choice – in fact, it was his idea which I slowly warmed to) have survived a booze free bank holiday weekend, a wedding anniversary, a date night. Our weekends have been wine free and fuzzy head free too. We’ve found a few booze free alternatives and are ready and armed to step in should we feel the need to crack open a beer or pour a long drink over a tonic in a pretty glass. The Seedlip guys sent me a bottle of their non alcoholic spirit to try and it was exactly what I needed to make use of the beautiful birthday Copa Gin glasses which I was about to retire. Perfect for that Friday feeling.

One response to this from my sister in law, was that no one can congratulate you for saying you are going to do it. You have to actually do it (which I think is probably a reflection of how alien this is to everyone who knows us). And she is so right.

And I’ve said it out loud now, so I have to see this through. I just hope we can still be friends.


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20 thoughts on “Last Orders

  1. Mummyhereandthere Reply

    Good for you, you will save money and feel better for it X #coolmumclub

  2. Coombe Mill Reply

    Well done you, a couple of my friends have done the same. I drink too much – my only real vice but I enjoy a gin or glass of wine in the evening while making dinner. I don’t drink loads and I don’t get drunk but I have a couple of glasses a night. I feel I should stop (the Government keeps telling me I should) but can’t find the motivation to do more than a dry night or two mid week. I admire your desire to change things. Good luck. #CoolMumsClub

  3. Tracey Abrahams Reply

    I’ve been a non drinker for the last 8 years or so. Ive never been a big drinker, but prior to that I would go out and get bolloxed every now and again. The thing is though I’ve never really liked the taste of alcohol, and certainly didnt like drunk Tracey (who was always an emotional wreck).
    Further more when I began to suffer panic attacks I found being tipsy felt very much like the begining of an attack (the fuzzy head feeling) and could actually trigger one.

    8 years on I don’t miss it at all. What I find hard to deal with even now is people’s resctions to me not drinking. Some people are very threatened by non drinkers and will try to cajole, bully or trick them into drinking.


  4. craftcartwright Reply

    I gave up alcohol ten years ago and it’s the best thing I ever did #coolmumclub

  5. Kat Reply

    Good luck with it! I’ve never been a huge drinker and now if I do have the odd one it’s because I enjoy the taste but I could completely give up drinking if I wanted to as well. Ultimately you do what you think is best for you! 😀 #coolmumclub

  6. lporter586 Reply

    Best of luck with this if you do decide to go ahead! I haven’t drank for years if I’m honest – I got fed up with the hangovers which get worse year by year! I also can’t deal with small children when feeling grotty the next day. Tbh I don’t miss it at all 🙂 #coolmumclub

  7. motherhoodtherealdeal Reply

    Hey hun well as you know from reading my blog post I had to ditch the alcohol recently too so let’s do this together!!!! I know you can – just think of all those hideous hangovers and your liver! #Sobermumclub – oh I mean #coolmumclub!

  8. Wendy Reply

    Go you!! You CAN do it!! I hardly ever drink anymore,when I was a teenager I think I drank enough to last me a lifetime!! Good luck with the next 100days and to 100 mornings with no hangover xx #coolmumclub

  9. oldhouseintheshires Reply

    Well done you! That’s awesome. Once I hit 40, I definately cut right back. I only have one drink every few weeks now to be honest. Now chocolate, that’s a different matter! #coolmumclub

  10. Kate on thin ice (@kateonthinice) Reply

    All the best and well done you. I hate how alcohol is glorified in the media particularly on daytime television when we all know it is bad for us mentally and physically I have controlled my drinking recently having got into some silly situations when boozed up. It ain’t pretty and I find I can enjoy a night on sparkling water just as much. Go you and if you slip up a bit be ready to forgive yourself and start the journey again. #CoolMumClub

  11. A Mum in a Muddle Reply

    Good luck! I’m sure you can do it. I think I’d struggle as I too use alcohol as a prop when in social situations!

  12. nightwisprav3n Reply

    I rarely drink so this is something I’ve never given much thought but I think that you put an interesting thought out there about social drinking. I bet more of us do this than we realize. Social drinking does allow most of us to be more social because it takes away our inhibitions, which is interesting. Good for you though for deciding to stop. This is your choice and we all support your decision. You have to do what is best for you 🙂 #CoolMumClub

  13. Charlotte Stein Reply

    Good for you! I have barely drank in the last 6 years. I too used to binge drink and when I drank, I could drink! Them after kids I drank a few just socially and the hangovers got too long, left me feeling down in the dumps and so just wasn’t worth a few hours of social alcohol. The longer you go, the less you miss it, I find. #coolmumclub

  14. Cheryl @ Tea or Wine Reply

    Wow Sarah! Full respect to you! I know you can do this!
    I’ve been re-thinking my own drinking recently too after hearing all about the Adrian Chiles documentary. Like him, I didn’t think I had a drink problem because I don’t drink during the day and I’m very rarely completely hammered! But I downloaded the Drink Less App that he recommended and have been horrified by how much I’m consistently exceeding the weekly units by. I never ever thought in “units”, and this could be part of the problem, but logging my drinking each day, I can see how it all adds up. A couple of G&Ts here and a couple of glasses of wine another day. So now I’m trying hard to go alcohol free during the week and only drink a few glasses at the weekends. I want to make a glass of wine a treat rather than a habit. Thanks for sharing. #CoolMumClub xxx

  15. crummymummy1 Reply

    This is such an interesting post! I too love my wine & prosecco & with the exception of being pregnant have never really been ‘dry’. I saw the Adrian Chiles documentary too & it was eye opening to say the least…good luck! #coolmumclub

  16. Lisa Pomerantz Reply

    I will take a pint of ice cream over a pint of beer any day of the week! You go girl and know that you can. I do not remember the last time I even had a drink… #coolmumclub

  17. absolutely prabulous Reply

    Well I have to say I totally envy the life you’ve had. What a social whirl! I’m probably amongst the rare few who can’t however relate to the frequency of drinking you mention. Have to admit I don’t remember seeing you drinking when I’ve met you! I was talking to hubby about this the other day as a friend of ours has just completed sober October…I’d never even heard of it and was saying how it would be hilarious if I did a sober October or dry January as I drink about two glasses of wine per month. I could never give up tea but could easily give up alcohol! Wishing you luck and can I just say how gorgeously youthful you look for someone who’s been caning it for two decades lol

  18. Lizzie Roles Reply

    Just wanted to say I love your blog post, I don’t know if you’re still sober but I am again, day 20 now. Best decision. Lizzie

    1. MMT Reply

      Hey Lizzie,
      Thank you xx Well done and keep going. Yes I’m still going, must be nearly nine months now. I’ve felt so incredibly ‘better’ that I really hope I never go back. Keep going, and the rest of my journey is blogged on here too, if you want some moral support or sober inspo. x MMT

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