Just the Tonic.
When I started out on my Sober Eighty Challenge, I had this idea that I would journal ALL my thoughts and feelings throughout the process, even down to how much/what I’m eating and hours spent sleeping. You know, real exciting stuff – a documentation of the ‘get sober’ process so to speak. Ammunition for the future perhaps? Inspiration for others maybe? I thought I would have loads to say, but I have so much going on in my head that I sort of do, but I also sort of don’t at the same time. It’s complicated. I’m not sure which of my feelings to put into words as I keep shuffling the deck of cards in my head.
I sailed through the first few weeks, feeling on top of the world. Check me out, all SHINY and SOBER…[do a happy dance] but I was far too busy to write much as I was filling my time with all the other things I didn’t normally do when I was drinking. Busier than a busy bee. Domestic goddess/fitness fanatic/reader of lots of books/daytripping with the other half. Happy as a pig in shit. Woo hoo! Living my best life, bitches.
…And then the newness wore off and the sober euphoria started to dwindle. And I had nothing of any real interest to say. It just started to feel like normal life. This is good, I guess, but not very exciting from a writing perspective. How inspiring. Went to work, came home. Went to the gym, ate tea. Slept a lot. Rock and roll.
Then this weekend, Friday, Day 33, I left work feeling just a little out of sorts. Perhaps I was a bit tired but I just had this general feeling of apathy…couldn’t be arsed to do anything. Didn’t want to work out, didn’t want to do people, didn’t want to be all jazzy sober happy. I just wanted to go home and curl up on the sofa…with a BIG FAT COLD GLASS OF WINE. And there it was. And I realised straight away, I didn’t even want one glass of wine, I wanted to nail the fucking bottle.
I walked past all the shops in town as fast as my legs would go, feeling miserable and deprived. Got home, locked the doors, made a cup of camomile tea, got in a big bubble bath. Shut the world out. Feeling marginally better, I tried to figure out what had happened. What was the trigger? I wasn’t upset. I hadn’t had a bad day. A friend is having a tough time at home, (but won’t talk about it) – am I that much of a worrying empath that it drives me to drink? I’m happy sober, life is good, why would I think I needed a bottle of wine?
The questions haunted me for a good 24hrs before I realised what was really bothering me. The triggers will become more apparent the more cravings I have, that much I’m sure of. This was my first major battle and there will be plenty more to come. I can deal with them every day for the rest of the 80 days if that’s the way it goes.
But, what happens when the challenge is over, when my 80 days are done and I have no self imposed restrictions? What’s going to stop me from buying, and guzzling, that bottle of wine? Straw? It made me quite sad. And also a little hopeless. Then the other half reminded me (after sensitively picking up on my mood and buying me 2 big bunches of flowers) that we need not be thinking about the end of the challenge just yet, as we are not even half way through. We can deal with the rest when we get there, one day at a time.
By Sunday, my head fart was over. Hello Sunday Morning!! I think I had been starting to forget…maybe what William Porter talks about as Fading Effect Bias; where good memories persist longer than the bad ones and we tend to view events in the past in a more positive light as time passes. The rose tinted glasses. (Or rosé tinted). 🍷Then Sunday morning after waking from my alcohol free proper night’s rest, at 7.30am, with a nice cup of tea and a clear head, I noticed a couple of “live” stories/vids on my Insta feed. One was from the legend Andy at One Year No Beer (which was one of the inspirations for doing my own challenge). He was talking about all the wonderful things you gain from being alcohol free. One of them being TIME. Alcohol is the thief of time. I now have lots of time. Thank you Andy. The other “live” was a bunch of people “living their best lives”, out on a sesh, drunk. The antithesis. It was like seeing both extremes of my life. Side by side. And then I realised the other thing I have gained from being alcohol free, which is FREEDOM. I survived the first major craving and had a great weekend. I am a Warrior. So, for now, the cravings can do one. I am feeling grateful for the small pleasures in life, the sober life. And whilst I realise at times I am swimming against the tides of an ethanol imbibing culture, this is most definitely the best life I have lived in a long time.