Get A Christmas Action Plan Together!

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I know it’s only November but I’ve already had several emails from people worrying about those dreaded festivities lying just around the corner. Time does have a terrible habit of running away with itself so I know it’ll feel like Christmas is upon us in just a matter of minutes.

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In anticipation of the worrying I know lots of people will be doing in the coming weeks, here’s my guide to making the festive season a lovely experience that will definitely NOT derail your alcohol-free intentions…

  1. If you convince yourself that alcohol doth make Christmas special and magical, I guarantee you’ll spend the whole of the holidays feeling like you’re missing out. Booze is not a good thing when you can’t moderate the amount you drink. It makes you argue with people, fall asleep on the settee drooling, make an arse of yourself at the work Xmas do, have the hangover from hell on Christmas morning (making present opening and cooking dinner truly horrendous experiences that you wouldn’t wish on your worst enemy), and adds countless calories to your already wildly-exaggerated daily intake. So remember – you’re not missing out on anything by not drinking!
  2. Get organised with the whole festive shebang – and make the organising a thing to enjoy! I’m never one to pass up any opportunity to write lists and plan stuff so perhaps I’m slightly biased with this one, but hear me out. If you aren’t organised, things become super stressful, right? And when you’re stressed, you’re more likely to want a drink. So it makes sense to start shopping early, work out your budget, write Christmas card and pressie lists, and put together a theme for your decorations and tree. The earlier you start with this, the better you will feel. Plus, it has the added bonus of keeping you busy when otherwise you might be thinking about booze.
  3. Buy a nice outfit. Have your hair done. Get a new lipstick. Focus a bit of energy and thought into looking and feeling glamorous during the Crimbo period. You’ll feel amazing, get loads of compliments (thus boosting your self-esteem and confidence), and it’ll help get you into the celebration mood.
  4. Spend a couple of hours before the holidays start making and testing out some mocktails. Make sure you have all the ingredients in ready for Christmas, and enjoy drinking your special creation on the day. Nothing will make you feel flatter than drinking water with your Crimbo dinner.
  5. Be creative. When I drank, I never really did much creative but when I stopped, I found that I LOVED making things. Whether it’s baking or conjuring up some homemade Christmas decorations with the kids, being creative is a brilliant way of staying mindful and not letting your brain run away with anxieties and worrying about booze and how you’ll manage to stay sober.
  6. Look after yourself REALLY well. Get as much sleep as you can, eat as healthily as you can, get lots of exercise, meditate, and spend time alone rejuvenating and winding down. This could be in the bath with candles and some luxury smellies, going for a run or listening to music, wrapping up and going on a gorgeous country walk, or whatever else takes your fancy. Just make sure you take care of YOU this Christmas. Because when YOU are in tiptop condition, everything else becomes so much easier to manage. I’m also a fan of buying yourself a few presents alongside those you’re choosing for loved ones…
  7. Last one – remember what Christmas is. And what it is not. It’s a holiday, lovely downtime for spending quality time with family and friends (this is my definition because I’m not religious, but if you are a Christian then it’s all about celebrating that – either way, it ain’t about booze). In the run up to Christmas, focus your thinking, whenever you get a quiet moment, on what Christmas means to you – really zoom in on what you want it to be, for you and those around you. Give it a new meaning, whatever works best for you.

When you apply all of the above, it should be entirely possible to start making new, much happier festive memories! Wishing you a very happy time this Christmas. Lucy xx

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Quitting Drinking Isn’t Just About No More Hangovers.

You might think quitting drinking is all about just letting go of the drink: swapping wine for water, enjoying fresh mornings instead of horrible hangovers hiding under the bedclothes, and honing a svelte physique to replace the muffin top you’ve been nurturing as a result of all those booze calories. Quitting drinking is all of those things. But it’s a lot more besides…

  • Drinking put me in really dangerous situations with very dangerous people. It masked my innate fear radar, making me bold and reckless, taking silly risks that only by a series of miracles didn’t result in major catastrophe – at least, not very often.
  • Drinking made me run away from my emotions instead of working through them and growing as a human being.
  • Drinking kept me locked inside a teenager’s immature state of mind – all melodrama and narcissism and misplaced priorities.
  • Drinking kept me from my responsibilities to the people I loved. It came before them and prevented me from seeing what really matters, from doing the right thing by all those who loved me.
  • Drinking made me stare into the mirror and hate the person who looked back out. It made me want to crawl out of my skin and escape the very fibre of who I was.
  • Drinking stopped me from aspiring to reach goals and fulfil my potential. It ensured that I always aimed low and persistently knocked me back every time I ever dared to want more for myself.

And what happened to me when I quit alcohol? All of this…

Peace of mind, inner contentment and a sense of emotional balance.

I started putting other people before myself for the first time in my whole adult life.

I began to work hard and believe in myself, knowing that I could achieve anything I wanted.

My ability to be a consistent and reliable parent increased massively.

I could look at my reflection and not hate the person I saw there.

I got really fit and began to enjoy properly hard physical challenges.

I opened up a big desire to learn more, explore more and know as much as possible about the world before I die.

I noticed a million tiny things all around me that I’d never previously paid attention to – a passer-by smiling, a flower, clouds in the sky, a lofty tree, a beautiful sunset…

I didn’t panic at the onset of feeling my emotions.

I learnt to love other human beings fully and with all my heart.

I recognised the power of creativity and fell in love with the buzz of making something that didn’t exist before.

I started to understand my place in the universe and to obtain a deep sense of calm from acknowledging both our significance and insignificance as human beings.

Planning for the future became manageable as opposed to something guaranteed to send me into a tailspin.

I got to know who I really am.

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Shouting ‘I’m A Soberista!’ from the Rooftops

Sobriety was once a dirty word to me. Boring do-gooders avoided alcohol. Cool people drank, and drank a lot.

This was probably the biggest challenge for me in terms of deciding to stop drinking. I could not conceive of losing my ‘edge’ and metamorphosing into a quiet dullard who couldn’t let her hair down. I know I’m not alone in thinking these thoughts, and I often read about other people’s experiences with friends and family who are sceptical at best, or scathing and down right rude at worst, with regards to that person’s new non-boozy status.

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What is it about alcohol that prompts people to share their opinion on whether or not we should be partaking in this national pastime? If I sat down for dinner with people I wasn’t overly familiar with and announced that I was a vegetarian, I would more than likely receive a lesser inquisition than if I declared my AF lifestyle and opted for a mineral water amongst the truckload of wine being delivered by the attentive waiter. But why do other people care so much about our drinking habits? Could it be that they don’t wish to draw attention to their own alcohol consumption? Generally, I’ve found that the people who have the least to say about me being a non-drinker are the ones who barely drink themselves, the ones who most definitely have not got any issues with alcohol.

Anyway, the point of the above observations is that society frequently has a tendency to be more accepting of heavy drinkers than those of us who opt for an AF life, and this can be a major obstacle in quitting. Peer pressure and the desire to fit in can contribute massively to ‘wobbles’ and, ultimately, to caving in and having a drink. In order to stay true to the path of sobriety, therefore, it is vital that we believe in the alcohol-free way. And I mean, really believe in it – to find it an aspirational way of life, fall in love with it, want it more than anything, and be proud to tell anyone who listens, “No thanks, I do not drink”.

I did not feel this way about not drinking until at least eighteen months into my sobriety. I was ashamed of my problem, angry because I ‘wasn’t allowed to drink’, lonely and full of regret. But eventually, something clicked inside me and all the monumental benefits of being a non-drinker dawned on me. What the hell was I being so negative about? Where is the need to feel demeaned by a choice that will provide me (and my family and friends too) with a far happier and healthier life? Why be secretive about declining to consume an addictive substance that consistently made me fat and act foolishly, which caused me to hurt both myself and those I love, which damaged my mental and physical health and routinely put the brakes on all my hopes and dreams for future happiness?

When you think about it, becoming AF is a lifestyle choice that we should be shouting from the rooftops! These days I am supremely proud of being a non-drinker, to the point of being a bit smug. I like the fact that I am in good shape, that I am the best person I can be in all areas of my life (well, maybe there’s a little room for improvement here and there, but things are eminently better than in boozy days gone by!). I am not apologetic in the slightest about my choice to not drink alcohol, and when people ask me why I am on the mineral water I just tell them the truth: For me, one glass always led to another, and another, and the fall-out from drinking was too much. I’m so much happier being a Soberista.

Don’t white knuckle it this weekend!

It’s Friday, the beginning of the weekend and the start of (for many) the really difficult and persistent cravings. Monday to Thursday you’re flying high, with work commitments, appointments and a desire to be productive all adding weight to your alcohol-free intentions. And then somewhere, sometime, perhaps on Thursday evening as you slowly acknowledge the fact that the next day marks the start of the weekend, the idea that one or two alcoholic drinks could be a good thing creeps into your conscience.

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By Friday morning it’s almost a done deal; the cravings kick in with super strength and the will to remain on an even keel, to be ‘good’, begins to wither away like a wilting bloom.

So, is it possible to maintain the desire to remain alcohol-free, right through the weekend? Yes, it most definitely is, and here are a few pointers for getting you safely to Sunday evening where you will feel very proud of yourself for resisting all temptation;

a) Don’t just THINK positive but VISUALISE positive – imagine yourself spending Friday night enjoying whatever you want to do, only without alcohol poisoning your body and your mind. When we picture ourselves doing something it becomes easier to do it in real life. Map out how you want to spend the entire weekend, and cover the most mundane elements too – observe in your mind this imaginary you going about your weekend MINUS any alcohol, and being content and HAPPY.
b) Plan something to do on Saturday and Sunday mornings that would be seriously impaired if you had a hangover. Ideally, make these activities stuff to do with a friend or family member; that way you’ll have an extra incentive to stay alcohol-free so as not to let that person down by calling it off due to the physical effects of excessive drinking.
c) Accept that life will be different as a non-drinker, but think this through carefully. Apply yourself – what are you scared of? Why would spending time without alcohol be so awful? What’s the worst that can happen? If you think logically you’ll recognise that the bad things happen when we get drunk. Take away the booze and life is calmer, more manageable and easier.
d) You know that you want to quit drinking otherwise you would never have joined Soberistas. But now you are fighting with yourself internally because you desire the very thing (i.e. booze) that you, up until now, so desperately wanted out of your life. These inner tantrums are easy to put an end to – tell yourself ‘Yes, I can have a drink. If I choose to, there’s nobody who can make me not drink alcohol tonight’. Because there IS nobody but YOU who can make that decision – take away the notion of ‘can’t’ and accept that you can CHOOSE to drink if you want. But DO you want everything that is ALWAYS AND INEXTRICABLY linked with drinking? That’s the real question – which brings us onto point e)…
e) Make a list of the reasons why you want to quit drinking. Now add all the reasons why you think you want to drink this weekend. Which list is longer? Which sounds more like the real you? Which list do you think makes the most sense?
f) Finally go back to point a). Picture yourself waking up on Saturday morning after a great night’s sleep, no hangover and with complete freedom to do exactly what you want without the inconvenience and debilitating effects of a hangover. Acknowledge how much more time you will have when half the weekend isn’t spent lying in a darkened room hating yourself. Visualise the money you will save by choosing to stay alcohol-free. Picture yourself happy and well on Sunday night, enjoying all the positive consequences of CHOOSING NOT TO DRINK.
And now remind yourself that you are capable of all of this, and much, much more.

How to Beat the Weekend Cravings!

If you are feeling the strain of weekend pressures to drink, meandering dangerously close to having a wobble and salivating as your mind conjures up images of large glasses of wine, then read on…

This is your guide to MAKING IT THROUGH TO MONDAY – AF!

1. Get busy. Plan to do something early tomorrow morning. Ensure that this activity is one which a) you are really looking forward to and b) something which would be hampered severely by a heavy intake of booze this evening. Suggestions include setting out with a camera to try and snap an early sunrise or nice nature pic, going for a run, hitting the gym before the hordes descend with over-excited children, or hitting the hills with a picnic lunch for a long hike with friends, or alone to enjoy the silence.BiTN Meditation

2. Play the movie to the end. What you may be dreaming of is a convivial glass or two with friends, chatting and laughing gaily for an hour or two before heading home in a slightly tipsy (but most definitely not drunk) haze. Get real! What will really happen is that once you start you won’t stop, and after guzzling far too much vino, will stagger to bed (or collapse on the settee fully clothed) and wake up at 3 am with a furry tongue and a pounding head – oh yes, and a mountain of self-hatred.

3. Concentrate on good health. Healthy food goes out the window when you over-indulge in alcohol. Either you forget to eat altogether and obtain your calories from wine, or you develop monstrous cravings for carbs and sweet things, and gorge on calorific delights ranging from pizza to cakes to gallons of creamy lattes. When you don’t drink, it’s so easy to eat healthily and stick to an exercise plan, thus avoiding feeling like a gluttonous pig on Sunday evening. Stock up on lovely healthy food, make hearty soups and create striking salads.

4. Ask yourself this; if you have had the week from hell, would drinking make any of it better? In the short-term it may feel as though downing a bottle or two is helping, but in actuality it is simply storing up trouble for the future – depression, anxiety, lethargy, inability to think with any clarity and perhaps additional problems to undo which occurred as a result of you being drunk (arguments with your other half, shouting at the children unnecessarily, sending a text message to someone who you really should just leave alone – you know the kind of thing) are all potential repercussions of a heavy booze session.

5. Socialise during the daytime. If it’s early days for you and your sobriety, make plans to socialise during daylight hours as opposed to thrusting yourself amongst people who are out drinking for the night. This is by no means a long-term solution, but cravings can be extremely strong in the first few weeks of your new AF life, and placing yourself at risk of temptation is asking for trouble. Arrange to meet friends for a picnic, a shopping trip, a jog, a game of tennis, to watch a film together, or just for a coffee, but it’s probably best to avoid the pub on a Friday or Saturday night for the time being, certainly until you feel confident that you can happily resist the urge to join in with the boozers.

6. Log on to Soberistas.com! If you haven’t joined our site yet, then you can sign up now for peer support, friendship and advice, all available 24 hours a day. Talking to others who know how you feel (because they’ve been there themselves) is a great way to work through cravings, and to help yourself reach a safe place again mentally where you know you won’t be tempted to drink.

And remember, it does all get easier with time, so hang on in there and remind yourself that you are doing all this for a brighter and happier future! And don’t forget to ENJOY YOUR WEEKEND!

Learning To Like Blueberries

It’s easy to throw in the teetotal towel in the early days of alcohol-free living because it takes a while to adjust to a new way of being. Human beings are incredibly adaptable but we do need a bit of time to get used to a different pace of life. Binge drinking tends to bring with it a chaotic existence and despite the alcohol-induced dramas being destructive and upsetting and something most people are desperate to leave behind, ‘normal’ life can seem a little slow in comparison when you finally put down the bottle.

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This picture is of my 11-month-old, Lily Jean. She is just learning to eat finger foods and is not (how shall I put this?) approaching the new meal format with enthusiasm. It would be hasty and somewhat ridiculous of me to assume that on the basis of how she handled her fruit selection today (alternating between throwing it at the dog whilst giggling maniacally and staring at it as though I had scraped it off my shoe prior to serving it up) she will never enjoy eating finger foods.

However, after years of heavy drinking, it can feel as though we will never adjust to a new, sober and non-dramatic lifestyle and many of us decide to return to old (and problematic) habits before we have given ourselves a real chance to change.

If you have recently become a non-drinker, try to ride those tempting storms of alcohol cravings and remind yourself that you will eventually adapt to, and enjoy, life without alcohol. It might just take a while longer than you had initially hoped…

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.

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

Open Letter to Anyone Thinking of Giving up Booze this January

I’m 37 years old and have struggled with depression, anxiety and the odd panic attack throughout the last twenty years of my life. My nerves frequently got the better of me, and my obvious lack of confidence in work and social situations held me back and prevented me from fulfilling my potential for many years. If you had asked me to describe my personality a couple of years ago, I would have responded with a jumbled, insecure answer; unsure of who I really was, full of pretence as to the person I wanted to be, knowing that inside I didn’t particularly like myself but not fully realising how to change. All of that stopped when I quit drinking alcohol in April 2011.

The dawn of a new you?

The dawn of a new you?

If you have a sneaky suspicion that alcohol is controlling you a little more than you feel comfortable with then read on – this may be the first step you have subconsciously wanted to take for a long time.

If you binge drink and subsequently get drunk a lot you will, whoever you are, occasionally make an idiot of yourself. You will say stupid things, have unnecessary arguments, fall over, lose your phone or handbag, text someone who you really shouldn’t, make sexual advances towards a person who is, how shall I put this..? Not quite at your usual standard. You may even put your safety at risk, walking home late at night alone, slightly wobbly, looking like an easy target for an attacker, or drink so much that you are sick after you have fallen asleep. Every time that you wake up the morning after a session where one or several of the above have occurred, your self esteem will take a bit of a battering. Multiply those beatings by each weekend/night/day that you binge drink and you will appreciate that your self respect and esteem are being severely and negatively affected by alcohol.

Alcohol depresses the central nervous system. Physiologically, that anxiety and nervy disposition that you, as a regular binge drinker, have probably noticed is increasing with age, is down to booze. When I drank, I had frequent panic attacks, the last one being so severe that I thought I was dying. I had to walk out of the packed cinema in which I was trying to watch The King’s Speech, because I was fighting to breathe. It was hours later until I regained my normal composure, and days until I fully recovered from the fright and trauma that I suffered as a result of thinking that I was on my way to meeting my maker. The reason behind this anxiety attack was that I had drunk too much beer the night before.

For years I pinballed between unsuitable relationships; one boyfriend would have the physical attributes I was looking for, but not the mental compatibility. I would dump the first one and jump straight in to another union with someone who had the brains and emotional energy I was after, but who, after time, I had no physical connection with whatsoever. I couldn’t be alone. My depression and low self esteem meant that I constantly needed the reassurance of being in a relationship just to feel wanted and loved. I was incapable of loving myself. Alcohol kept me from being in a happy and balanced relationship with a person who loves me as much as I love them.

Drinking put me in a perpetual state of either a) being drunk or b) being hungover. Neither of these conditions is conducive to a productive, fulfilling life. My career, financial wellbeing and physical fitness were all below par (by a long way) when I drank. I am not a lazy person but I never achieved much during the years in which I got drunk. Since giving up drinking, my achievements just keep on growing each week – in turn this boosts my self esteem and belief in what I am capable of. And so I keep on achieving and aiming higher.

Without drink in my life, my self esteem has been restored; my anxiety and narcissistic tendencies have vanished, and guess what? I like myself! And the natural conclusion to that, of course, is that other people like me more too. I have finally found a man who I think is perfect (for me, at least), and we have a wonderful family life which I value above anything else. I am running regularly and have a 10k race (my second in three months) coming up at the end of February. My relationship with my eldest daughter (at that tricky teenage stage) is great, and we are very close. I have bags of energy, and squeeze masses in to each and every day. I never stay in bed, idling away those precious hours that I could be spending on accomplishing something worthwhile. My skin and general appearance have improved, my eyes are bright and I don’t have to fight to keep a beer belly at bay. I am happy. The happiest I have ever been in my life, and this is down to one simple factor – I gave up booze.

All or nothing

I am a Libran, although have never held much faith in astrology as I am one of the least balanced people I know. I do not do moderation; everything is full throttle, all or nothing, Spartan or full blown luxury, pouring with rain or dry as a desert.

In some respects, that has helped me stay sober, but it also helped lead me to the place where I ended up, prior to quitting drinking; at least a bottle of wine a night, and virtually every social occasion ending up with me drunk and passing out. I remember going skiing with a friend a few years ago, and getting up at 7 am each day to spend eight hours on the slopes, before getting stuck into the après ski at 7 pm and boozing until 2 or 3 am. We maintained that pace of life for the entire week; healthy, fit and active in the daylight hours, completely out of it and chain smoking for most of the night. That was a microcosm of how I used to live.bright_sunrise_breakwater_beach

Being a person who has routinely entered into everything in a full-blown, give-it-all-I’ve-got kind of way, or who hasn’t bothered entering into it at all, has made this whole sober living business reasonably simple for me. Over Christmas, there was never a point where I thought I could just have one glass of Champagne, because I knew that it wouldn’t have ended there; one glass for me would inevitably have led to the entire bottle, my brain whirring away at a hundred miles an hour as it attempted to plan how I could manage to get hammered without anyone noticing. Foolish thoughts, the thoughts of an addict, but very real and most definitely guaranteed to take place as soon as a few drops made their way into my bloodstream.

And so, in that respect it’s easy; it’s a case of have a glass, drink the bottle, fall over, pass out, hate yourself, argue with someone/everyone, say stupid things, act like an idiot. Or, alternatively, drink something with no alcohol in it and do none of that stuff – a clean, straightforward, simple decision and one that I always take these days.

In other ways, it isn’t easy at all – there are occasions when those around you are getting drunk and letting their hair down and you feel as though you are a little too straight-laced, too conscious. There are times when it seems as though it is the correct way to behave; having a drink and acting all tipsy – Christmas and weddings being the two that instantly spring to mind – and being a non-drinker has the effect of making one stick out like a sore thumb, sobriety becoming a defining characteristic that you would rather people didn’t notice about you. But then it once again boils down to the above choice, and I am left with no choices at all – being the sober and straight one is infinitely more appealing than being the passed out inebriated one.

When I drank, my life tended to undulate in an entertaining (lively and slightly wild, not usually in a positive way) and often destructive pattern of highs and lows, peaks and troughs; swinging wildly from this situation to that, always some drama to contend with and some fallout to tidy away. Living without alcohol means that there is none of that – life is simple and rhythmic and controlled. And I prefer it that way. It also occurs to me that I could harness that very un-Libran quality of mine and use it to achieve some pretty impressive personal goals; if I throw myself into (for instance) running, with the same level of gusto that I once applied to drinking alcohol, then I could become better than I ever imagined that I could be, at that and boundless other ventures.

Food for thought for 2013…