Since I started drinking age fifteen, it’ fair to say drunk times equalled good times, for the most part, and as such began a relationship with booze which meant fun and alcohol unanimously went hand in hand together.
Ten months ago, staring down the barrel of a sobriety gun and pondering the decision to become tee total, I had to contemplate a life lacking in the same kind of fun I’d become accustomed to. It was this sacrifice that had kept me drinking for so many years despite numerous ‘never again’ hangovers and behaviour that frankly, I’ll never live down.
But, with blackouts becoming way too frequent after an evening of heavy drinking with the girls and my body screaming warning signs that something had to give, this was a sacrifice I was willing to take in order to find a calmer, healthier, kinder to myself existence. To be a Mum my kids could be proud of and one that can at very least, remember what she said to whom the night before.
Some friends struggled to get it; still do perhaps, even ten months on. But when your ‘fun time’ drinking starts to create a pattern in which the negative far outweighs the positives, it’s harder to defend the decision to carry on as is. Perhaps those who haven’t had the self loathing and dread won’t ever get it. Lucky them.
To begin with, I could just about get through a social occasion with some kind of faux drink in hand. Avoiding awkward questions and desperately dodging the conversation, because once I’d made the claim out loud, well, I had to see it through didn’t I? And back then, I wasn’t entirely sure if I could, really, see this through.
There were early clues though that things were going to be okay. I found a surprising level of enjoyment in the booze free parties, the weekends and the date nights. A little sparkle of confidence in knowing my make up wouldn’t be sliding down my face by ten p.m. and my heels weren’t going to put me in A&E. The safe place I found myself in started to become a comfortable and happy zone, and one that trumped the ‘you wouldn’t start a night like this’ stories I’d become synonymous with.
As time has slid by, I feel like I’ve made a personal revelation, that all this time I thought that not drinking was the ultimate in boring, when in actual fact, the opposite is true.
Ultimately, if you take the booze out of any occasion, what’s left is a gap to fill; and fill it I have, with conversation, laughs, good food, playing with the kids, having fun; actual fun, instead of propping up the bar.
If anything, life alcohol free feels like a weight lifted. I feel more sociable than ever, finding an inner peace knowing that I am being and behaving true to myself. Entirely in control of my own actions, able to gauge a social situation correctly and confident that in the morning there will be no fear, no bonding time with the bathroom floor and no regrets.
In ten months I’ve navigated holidays, birthdays, camping, barbeques, christmas, weddings and summer do’s. I’ve done them all ‘stone cold sober’ and I’ve had the best time ever.
Because new Sarah is more likely to be found playing a card game, running around with the kids, living in the moment, not in the queue for the bar, away with the fairies and missing out on all the action.
I’ll be up with the birds, making the most of every waking moment of every day, no sickness, no hangovers, no headaches, no arguments about who is getting up with the kids. These days I’ll happily get up to those smiling faces any morning.
I suppose whilst I used to be more than happy discussing the optimal flavoured gin and tonic, it’s become necessary to entertain myself in other ways… I’m seeking more from my social occasions and it hasn’t been ‘boring’ by any stretch of the imagination.
I get it, you may think I’m raining on your night out parade by offering to pick you up and take you home. I get it, I used to think that too. But by actually giving an alternative approach a go, and unlearning a twisted definition of fun, what has become my truth is something entirely different.