Sliding Doors

Do you ever wonder where your life may have taken you, had you made different decisions? For me, a large element of learning to let go of my past mistakes has been the understanding and acceptance of who I am today, and how all the choices I have made on my journey to this point have amalgamated to create who I have become.

I have had relationships which would, I’m sure, have taken me to very different places had I remained in them; the boyfriend who I moved to London to live with in my early twenties was an ardent socialite, a lover of debauchery, and not someone who I could imagine I would ever have become sober whilst involved with. My ex-husband, the workaholic, who I erroneously believed to be the love of my life prior to him walking out and leaving me with a broken leg, crutches, our four-year-old daughter and a mad puppy on Valentine’s Day 2003, would only have stunted my emotional and personal development had we remained married, and I am eternally grateful that he left me as he did.

The years that followed his leaving were admittedly awful, the wine drunk far too vast in quantity, but the ensuing depression and dark days were, I believe, all vital ingredients in building my emotional strength and character. If he had stayed, I am certain that I would never have grown as a person, would never have fought and beaten my demons, and ultimately, never have drunk so much that I then considered it absolutely essential that I conquer my alcohol dependency.

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In the years that followed my divorce, I had relationships with a few men, all of whom were lovely in their own way but none of whom would have helped me find the road to sobriety, self-discovery and finally, learning to like myself. They were all heavy drinkers, and despite their collective disapproval of the multifarious displays of my terrible drunken behaviour, none were brave enough to take on the dragon that was Lucy’s beloved bottle of wine. Had I stayed with any one of those partners, I probably would have drunk myself into an early grave.

In the midst of all that pin-balling from one bad relationship to another, the mornings of self-hatred that evolved into afternoons in the pub and evenings of comatose drunkenness, arguments and hour upon hour of wasted life, the smallest desire to escape my situation began to gain momentum. So insignificant that I didn’t even know it was there for a long time, the seed that grew into a very real knowledge that I must stop drinking took years to establish itself. The boyfriends who were a mistake, the under-achieving at work due to constant hangovers, the inability to move forward in my life and the associated frustrations that arose as a result, gradually amassed to provide the food and water required to nurture my growing awareness.

And one day, there it was – it turns out that all those bad choices were not so bad after all, because in the small hours of a Thursday morning almost two years ago, I woke up and realised that the seed had become a tree. All of a sudden, I recognised how I should be spending my life, and I began to live it. If none of my bad times had happened, if the years of pain and grimness had been erased and left me with nothing but an easy ride, I wouldn’t be here, doing this. No contentment, no new baby, no self-esteem, no Soberistas, no gratitude for my life.

There will always be sunshine after the rain.

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Moments of Weakness

There’s something in the way my (everyone’s?) brain works that means that I have a strong propensity to lie to myself. Well, not so much lie as choose to ignore; to remain in denial, avoiding opening the blinds completely in an effort to hide away in the shadows of what I know, staying tucked away in my comfort zone.

I used to do this with regards to wine – at night I would lie in bed feeling for lumps as evidence of tumours, so convinced as I was that I had developed cancer as a result of my wayward lifestyle. In the mornings, I would stare at my haggard reflection, the dark circles below my eyes and magnified pores of the skin on my face, the flushed cheeks that had nothing to thank blusher for. I would berate myself for being an irresponsible mother, a less-than-perfect girlfriend.

And then, by about 5pm, there I would be, having a perfectly reasonable little chat with myself which would, absolutely guaranteed, end in a drive to the supermarket for a bottle of cold Pinot Grigio, perhaps a Chablis if I needed to feel as though I were ‘treating’ myself, and the merry-go-round would begin again.

The fact was that the health anxieties I was experiencing, the sorry-looking reflection in the mirror, the urge to overeat carbs each morning owing to consistent, nagging hangovers, they were all factors that resulted from drinking alcohol and nothing else; the simple truth was that if I had just stopped drinking, all of the negativity in my life would have vanished – which, I am pleased to say, in the end I did, and it did.

The reason I am writing this today is because it occurred to me over the weekend that I am now doing exactly the same thing with my weight. Ok, I’m not overweight, but I would like to lose about half a stone in order to reach my ideal size. Because I don’t drink and I run regularly, I do maintain a good weight for my height, but I know that the reason those last few pounds won’t budge is because I give in to that voice in my head that tells me that the Crème Eggs (yes, plural) I eat after dinner, or the pizza we order in on a busy night, when cooking a meal somehow seems to fall by the wayside, aren’t really that bad, the voice that tells me that those extra five or six hundred calories a day aren’t really going to make a difference.df-cadbury-creme-egg_300

Well guess what? They do. They are the difference, just as that bottle of wine, so easily scooped up off the shelf in Waitrose and plonked down amongst the bread, yoghurts and tins of baked beans, was the difference between what I was then, and what I am today.

It’s a moment of weakness, of denial, and the efforts to achieve your goal just vanish into the air like a puff of smoke, as if they never existed in the first place. This is why I’m going to try making some visual reminders of my goals.

Writing the reasons why you want to lose weight or give up booze down on pieces of paper and sticking them all over the kitchen, or wherever you feel your trigger points are most likely to occur (in your purse maybe, so you catch a glimpse of it just before you go to pay for that bottle of wine you’ve picked up on the way home from work), is one idea. Keeping a food/booze diary is another, or sticking a picture of yourself at your ideal weight up on the bathroom mirror…Keep a list of all the reasons why you hated yourself so much the morning after your last binge, and read it nightly so that you don’t forget.

My weakness now is chocolate – I’m pretty healthy in every other respect, but I know that my weight will continue to bug me if I don’t manage to lose those last few pounds. So today, I will put some of the above strategies into practice and hope that some/all of them work. I’ll keep you informed of my progress – maybe you could try it for whatever your weakness is, and let me know if it works for you.

Why conflict is easier to deal with minus the booze

I’m dealing with a horrible situation right now; I won’t go into details but suffice to say that someone from my past has reared his arrogant and utterly unreasonable head once more in my life, and has forced me to deal with the fallout from his recent behaviour.

There’s no doubt that this person’s actions amount to a sizeable dollop of stress being dumped into my world, but I am attempting to employ positive tactics to deal with them for the first time ever since I initially had to cope with the strife caused by this individual several years ago.

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Back then, I was a heavy drinker. He antagonised me; I drank to obliterate all thoughts relating to him. As I have since discovered, being sober brings with it a great deal of clarity and sense, and the last thing I would conceive of doing now by way of a coping strategy, is drink. No; this time I have a greater calibre of ammo up my sleeve, and the most important elements of my artillery are self-esteem and self-awareness (having undertaken a law degree a couple of years ago also helps as I am now in a position to communicate with his solicitor without the need to fork out hundreds of pounds in legal bills to quieten him down).

The changes in me as a non-drinker whilst dealing with this situation are as follows;

a)      Patience – I no longer go rushing in, guns blazing and looking for a fight. This time, I’m sitting quietly behind enemy lines, mulling over my next move, and knowing that I am in the right.

b)      Empathy – despite his most abhorrent behaviour, I refuse to lower myself to his level. I am maintaining a position of understanding and reasonableness, seeking to avoid confrontation at all costs.

c)       Physical exercise – when I sense the steady build-up of stress and anger, I’m going running. I’ll take out all that negativity in pounding the pavements whilst doing something good for me at the same time.

d)      Sleep – by ensuring I get a decent night’s sleep, I’m able to think clearly and rationally and am therefore able to react to his behaviour in a calm and measured way.

It’s not rocket science, but in responding in this way, I win. I know that I am always doing the right thing for me and for my family, I am never falling into old habits that got me nowhere and usually made things escalate terribly, and in the future I can look back on all of this, fully confident that I could not have handled it any better. That comes from strength of mind and self-esteem and knowing who I am – three things that were perpetually out of reach when I was drinking on a nightly basis.

Last night I dreamt

I threw myself into a sober challenge last night – I went to watch Johnny Marr, former guitarist of The Smiths, play at Sheffield’s Leadmill.

In the past, this would have been all about the alcohol but now, obviously, that is not who I am and so it did not form an integral part (or any part) of the evening’s unfolding.

I wanted to report back to you, on a truly amazing experience. First off, the Leadmill is a venue that I have frequented on countless nights out, and prior to last night I have always been worse for wear upon arrival. Looking round whilst sober was a strange experience – as though I recognised it but only out of a dream; semi-formed memories came back to me, rolling back and forth like a lazy tide.

People everywhere clutched beer in plastic pint pots, me standing amongst a sea of alcohol and anticipation for the arrival of a guitar legend with a glass of Coke, ice and a slice.

johnny-marrSomething that struck me hard last night about being there to see Johnny Marr is that in giving up alcohol, I haven’t lost me; the Lucy that poured booze down her neck in some misguided rock n roll mission, smoking like a chimney and gradually slipping into inebriation as the night wore on, well, she was not present. But the real, human character of me, the part of me that loves watching amazing, world-changing musicians like Marr, live on stage, the part of me that soaks up the atmosphere and has the ability to lose herself in the music, to step away from the stresses and busyness of everyday life for a couple of hours, eyes glued on the stage, not wanting to miss a second of what proved to be an incredible performance, she was right there.

Being straight just made it better; there was no fogging of the senses, no wobbling, no over-thinking about how to get more alcohol when you’re stuck fast in the middle of a heaving crowd, fastened together so tight that the hundreds have become just one seething mass of bodies.

I just listened and watched.

And Johnny Marr did indeed fill the shoes that the teenage Smiths-idolising Lucy had placed him in over twenty years ago. With a mix of new stuff from his album, The Messenger, and old Smiths classics (There is a Light That Never Goes Out, Stop Me if You Think You’ve Heard This One Before) Marr consistently delivered to a mixed crowd of old diehards and younger fans. His guitar-playing was as effortless and mind-blowing as it ever was – for me, seeing him perform without Morrissey by his side only served to highlight his musical genius even more, elevating his new material to one of my current favourite albums.

I owned sobriety last night; I concentrated on what I was there to see. My brain wasn’t dulled, my motives for being there not lost to a pointless addiction. I revelled in being present; I felt as high as a kite, full of meaning and anchored to what matters to me in my life. Last night, one hundred per cent of me got a massive kick out of living, of beating my problems and loving the present.

What a night.

Practice Makes Permanent

It is inevitable that when you first cut alcohol out of your life, you will have the odd or perhaps intensely frequent, depending on your level of addiction and consumption, craving for a drink. These thought processes will eventually diminish over time but it is important to remember at the outset that our brains need a fairly substantial length of time to become rewired.

Neurological pathways lie behind our habits, the neuroplasticity of our grey matter meaning we are forever responding to life experiences by the physiological altering of our brain’s structure and function, which in turn affects the habits we employ and our general behaviour. In simple terms, the more you tread a particular path of your neural network, the stronger and apparently ‘natural’ the associated behaviour will become.

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‘Practice makes perfect’ is not simply a throwaway maxim – it is neurological fact.

Breaking a long-standing habit or addiction can take a long time, which can be frustrating and ultimately self-defeating. As the weeks drag by and you find yourself experiencing longing and desirous thoughts about the cold, crisp taste of Chardonnay on a summer’s evening, it can feel as though you will never successfully move forward and think differently. But you will – eventually.

The key is to stick with your intention through thick and thin; in order to rewire your brain, you MUST begin to walk new pathways in your neural network. At first, those paths will be difficult to manoeuvre, thick with brambles and weeds, but over time you will squash the vegetation flat with the weight of your steps and a small but distinctive passage will begin to emerge. Follow that route a while longer and the path will become marked, a natural road to choose. The old alleyways that led you to destruction and misery will gradually witness the dawning and then the maturity of harsh, prickly undergrowth making them inaccessible.

With time, you will automatically opt for the easy route – the gently winding walkway, bathed in sunlight and filled with the sound of happiness, will override the erstwhile dominant negative roads to destruction and loss of self. Stick with it, stay firm – practice makes permanent.

Happy 100

This is my 100th post and therefore I decided to use it to celebrate all that is great about living without alcohol.

I wrote my first post in August 2012 and since then the Soberistas blog has had 39,254 hits. Wow.

On the Soberistas website last week, I posted a discussion entitled ‘Best things about being a non-drinker?’ which prompted a multitude of replies – here are just some of the amazing benefits of living without alcohol messing with your body and mind, as reported by the Soberistas community;

Tea and cake, rediscovering activities at the weekend (instead of wasting it sitting in a pub and/or hungover), happy children, better sleep, more money, no guilt, enjoying the true taste of food again, reading in bed, beginning a whole array of new hobbies including crochet, increased productivity, no anxiety, being able to handle anything that life throws at you, relaxing instead of vegetating, mocktails and juices, feeling hydrated, no more checking of your mobile for embarrassing drunken texts sent at 3 am and confined to the blackout memory bin, playing with grandchildren whilst free from obsessing about wine, normal human interaction, first coffee of the day with husband (minus the recriminations over last night’s arguments), no more depression, sweating or cringing when one’s behaviour from last night is discussed (behaviour that you hadn’t recalled) in the morning,  always knowing you are in control and getting to know yourself, finally, after years of hiding behind wine. BiTN Meditation

There are many more – you can find them here; http://soberistas.com/forum/topics/best-things-about-being-a-non-drinker?id=6534268%3ATopic%3A32659&page=2#comments

My life has changed immeasurably since giving up alcohol, and for the better in so many little ways. I was up for several hours last night cuddling the baby (poorly again!) and then up at 6:45 to get everyone ready for school/work. Am I feeling tired? No. Am I grumpy or stressed? No. I just get on with it these days, and when I look back at whom I was just a couple of years ago, I may as well be staring at a stranger (and not one who I would want to know!).

Giving up alcohol works – it makes life a million times easier. I will always be eternally grateful that I found the motivation to give it up once and for all, in April 2011.

Ps. Thank you all for following my blog and for the lovely comments that so many of you have written! Lucy x

Happy Mother’s Day

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again; life without alcohol means living a life  that’s anchored in reality, rather than chasing the promise of the carefree and extraordinary pleasures that alcohol dangles but never delivers.

The reason I am reminded of this tonight is because it’s Mother’s Day tomorrow. In days gone by, I would have been eagerly anticipating this occasion because somewhere amidst the cup of tea in bed, the handmade card, the thoughtful gift and the sudden and out of character display of help around the house, would have been the beckoning finger of several large glasses of wine.

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It might have been a meal booked in a restaurant, or friends or family invited round to the house for a Sunday roast, but however the celebration manifested itself, wine would have been on the cards.

The first glass would have been the appetiser, a taste of things to come. After half a bottle had gone, the nervousness would have begun – how long can I make that last for? Would it be terrible to crack a second bottle before we’ve reached 3 pm? Feeling slightly drunk and the meal is going to pot…would it be ok to just kick back and get drunk for the rest of the day?

The present and the handmade card would drift into a distant memory; the day would lose its meaning and become a lazy, hazy afternoon marred by the effects of the crisp, cold liquid poured into the glasses like a tinkling fountain constantly flowing until bedtime.

Thank God those days have entered into the history books. Thank God the person who did that has woken up to reality and seen the damage that those apparently innocuous and fun Sundays did to those around her. Thank God the person who drank alcohol in such a reckless fashion will be having a very different day on Mother’s Day, 2013.

This mum will be getting up with the baby at 6 am, because she can’t think of anything she would rather do than see that happy little face smiling from the cot at first light. This mum will be going to the gym with her eldest daughter later in the morning for a swim and a coffee, and then spending the afternoon with her wonderful family, eating, laughing and chatting. The day will be real. There will be no recriminations, arguments, or regrets. There will be no addiction looming in the mind of this mum, nothing to steal a single thought away from real life.

Tomorrow is Mother’s Day and it’s about mothers, and nothing else.

Working 9 to 5

Today I wanted to share with you a great example of how the mind works better without the fog of alcohol sullying its functionality. Tomorrow I return to work after 12 months maternity leave has allowed me to enjoy every waking moment with my gorgeous baby girl, watching her grow and develop into a little personality from those early days of her being a tiny, red-faced, milk-guzzling machine.

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My thoughts on returning to work have not all been positive if I’m honest. For many months, the notion of having a paid job simply disappeared off my radar, and my daily routine gradually evolved into a series of walks in the park, household chores, meeting friends for coffee, playing with the baby, oh yes, and setting up Soberistas! A couple of months ago, I experienced the vaguest of recollections of what it is to actually go into an office, carry out a job, interact with colleagues and attend meetings, but swiftly pushed it to the back of my mind, telling myself that it was still a long way off in the future.

This week, the startling reality of having to say goodbye to my little baby at 8 am and to not see her little cherubic face until 5 pm, hit me in the face like a large sack of bricks. I spent a day in tears. The childlike element of my persona which lay behind the manipulative behaviour and occasional tantrum of years gone by, often brought to the fore when I drank heavily and was faced with a difficult situation, returned for a brief period. I wanted someone to resolve this issue, to somehow enable me to stay at home with my baby and never have to leave her in someone else’s care.

Here is the difference between the mind of someone who drinks regularly, and that of a sober person; I worked through the feelings; I rationed it out in my head; I had a conversation with myself and with those closest to me and I weighed up the pros and cons. After a couple of days of that, I came to the following conclusions – most people have to work in order to cover their overheads – why should I be exempt?; the money will pay for extras like holidays and horse riding lessons for my eldest daughter; my baby will learn to interact with other people than her immediate family, thus allowing her to develop her social skills; I will interact with people outside of my current existence which mainly comprises of other mums and their babies; I will value the time even more that I spend with my family when I get home from work; and finally, on the days that I work, the dog will be getting an hour long walk with a pack of dogs and her new dog walker, which will add excitement and pleasure to her little life.

So, a couple of days to mull things over and I have come up with a myriad of reasons why my return to work is a GOOD THING (and it warranted some new clothes, which is an extra bonus!). Compare that with the old me, who would have dealt with the same situation by necking a few bottles of wine, fuelling my burgeoning depression and preventing me from thinking clearly, and ultimately causing me to perceive my return to work as nothing but a big bunch of awfulness – which it would have then become, in a self-fulfilling prophecy type manifestation.

Positivity is most definitely the easiest and best path to choose in life.

The 4 Emotional Stages of Sobriety

I stopped drinking in April 2011, embarking on a journey that began in the early hours of one spring morning and which has taken me on a convoluted and emotionally turbulent ride, finally allowing me to climb off into a place that resembles contentment and emotional stability. For anyone who has recently ditched alcohol, I have written the following; it outlines my experiences of the different emotional stages I travelled through in the 23 months between my last drink and today, and I hope that it might help those of you who are new to sobriety by giving you a bit of a heads up of what to expect in this new and exciting chapter of your life.

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Stage 1 – the joys of the natural high

As an alcohol-dependent person who had felt terribly out of control of her own life for many, many years, the first few weeks and months of living as a non-drinker were a breath of fresh air. The joy of waking up each day and not immediately running through a mental checklist of who I had insulted/let down/hurt the night before was beyond compare. I literally jumped out of bed each day, a massive weight of anxiety removed from around my neck. Gone were the fears of developing breast cancer or dying of liver failure; the dreaded guilt and shame that I suffered as a result of doing something stupid and/or irresponsible when under the influence were gone – I felt free as a bird. Going out socially was a wonderful experience, as previously I had always felt butterflies in my stomach as I feared how the night ahead would unfold, never knowing how drunk I would get and where that state of mind would take me. Instead I knew that I was finally calling the shots – I would decide who to talk to, what I said, whether or not I chatted someone up/allowed myself to be chatted up; this was me, and not that idiot who I became after too much wine. This first period was characterised by a sense of freedom, lightness and joy.

Stage 2 – boredom and why me?

OK, nothing lasts forever. After a couple of months, I became beset by a black mood and the doubts began to creep in. The little devil on my shoulder grew in his boldness and whereas the angel had definitely ruled the roost in the early weeks, the voice of addiction became louder and more assertive in this second phase. The following are examples of the conversations I had with my devil; what if I’m not addicted to alcohol? What if I just need to learn how to moderate? Could it be that my boyfriend would prefer me to be more under control to suit him better, and that’s why he professes concern at how much I was drinking?

Who is he to think he can control you? Doesn’t he see that you are a free spirit – you don’t run with the crowds, you are different, untamed; alcohol is a part of who you are. Everyone else in the world is allowed to drink and get drunk – why the hell can’t I? It’s not fair.

In the midst of this period, I initiated a blazing row with my boyfriend (now my fiancé) and told him in no uncertain terms that I was planning on drinking that night. He tried in vain to convince me that it was the addiction talking, but how could it be? It was so convincing and powerful – that was me talking, the voice was coming right from within me. We stormed up to the pub together and he ordered himself a pint and sat outside. I scuttled up to the bar after he had taken his seat, my heart beating ferociously and my cheeks burning.

I ordered a lime and soda.

Every tiny piece of me wanted to buy alcohol except for the tiniest voice, hidden somewhere deep inside me. It told me that I would never change if I bought a glass of wine now; this moment was definitive – it would determine whether I stayed on the road to self-discovery and a better life, or if I returned hell for leather to that old path of destruction. I couldn’t let myself down, and I stuck to my guns.

Stage 3 – resolute but bitter

I turned a corner that night and all doubt was removed. The devil fell away from my shoulder, but nothing replaced him for a long time. There followed months of falling in a vacuum; I accepted my lot as a non-drinker but I wasn’t happy about it. I missed alcohol terribly – I wanted to sit outside pubs in the summer, laughing gaily over a big glass of icy cold white wine. I wanted to get glammed up and drink cocktails in a fancy bar, enjoying the sense of relaxation, of throwing caution to the wind and forgetting my cares for a night. At times, I hated other people for being ‘allowed’ to drink. This was a very difficult stage.

After several months of this, I read Jason Vale’s book, ‘How to Kick the Drink…Easily!’ and my life changed. I suddenly saw alcohol for what it really is, and I knew that all those voices and cravings I had felt over the last year or so were as a result of slowly weaning myself off a very powerful and prevalent, socially acceptable drug. I gave myself a break – began to let go of the regrets and shame that I was still carrying around with me. The bitterness slowly dissolved into contentment; the sun began to shine once again.

Stage 4 – understanding me, as a non-drinker

The final stage is the best. Over the last couple of years I have worked through many emotions and feelings of regret, sadness, anger, bitterness, sorrow, remorse, jealousy and fear. After a good year and a half, the negativity became noticeably reduced; as my self-esteem grew and my appreciation of the world and everything in it was heightened due to the clarity that comes from not poisoning your body with alcohol on an almost daily basis, it was as though the bad thoughts were mopped up one by one by my new found positivity and optimistic take on life.

I stopped experiencing wine envy when I walked past a pub full to bursting with drunken, loud revellers, but I didn’t huff and puff either – drinking is their choice, just as not drinking is mine. I love my life and I am grateful every day that alcohol no longer plays a part in it. I never have moments on a Friday night like the ones I had in the early days – DVD, nice bottle of wine, oh how wonderful it would feel to just kick back and slowly feel the alcohol ameliorating all my anxieties. It simply isn’t a part of my consciousness any more – I drove it out and replaced my addiction with happiness and good health.

It would have been perhaps easier to jump straight from Stage 1 to Stage 4, but the journey has allowed me to learn so much about who I really am, minus the veneer of alcohol, and I wouldn’t have missed it out even if I could have. I had no idea that when I stopped drinking it would be necessary to undergo such emotional turbulence; to feel as though my old self has been through a seriously intense recalibration before being reinstalled with a new lease of life, eventually leaving a turbocharged version of me back in the driving seat of my future. I didn’t expect any of that, but I am 100% happy that it happened.

Sick of booze

I have been ill this week for the first time in ages. Off the back of the baby’s 2 week battle with sickness, cold and raging temperatures (she is now recovered), the rest of the family have subsequently been struck down with aches and pains and noses that are constantly running.

I had forgotten what it feels like to be ill, and have been reminded of how awful I used to feel back in the booze era, on an almost daily basis, as I struggled to pretend that I didn’t have a hangover. This week, everything has been difficult, from sleeping (nose stuffed up and unable to breathe properly), to eating (feel constantly nauseas and not even Cadbury’s Crème Eggs are doing it for me), to walking the dog and cooking dinner. Being ill is rubbish!

I haven’t had the energy or motivation to do anything other than collapsing on the settee after the baby has (eventually) gone to sleep and all the chores have been done.

The last few days have served to remind me, however, that one of the greatest gifts that living alcohol-free gives us is to feel energetic and full of health, and that even when we’re struck down with a genuine illness, our bodies are better able to fight it due to not being subjected to excessive amounts of alcohol on a daily basis. I did used to feel somewhat justified in drinking some ‘medicinal’ wine in the old days whenever I was ill; snuggling up on the settee and cracking a bottle of Rioja seemed entirely reasonable and a positive way to combat whatever illness I was suffering. Bonkers!

Instead, I have been drinking lots of hot water and lemon, sucking Strepsils and sleeping as much as is possible when one has a 10-month-old baby (and an ill one at that) to look after. Being sensible and doing the right things for your body when it is not 100% healthy feels a hell of a lot better than smoking and drinking wine in some sort of bizarre, denial-fuelled bid to be a true rebel, ever did.

When the baby wakes up, I’m going to take her out to buy her some new toys – a little treat for her after such a rotten fortnight, which included a trip to the Children’s Hospital for a super high temperature. That money would have gone on wine and cigarettes once upon a time…oh, how I love my life as a non-drinker – even with a horrid cold to contend with! Life is definitely better sans booze.