By Kathy Wilson
I’m not sober. Not really and not yet.
Today marks my 82 days since I last had a drink. That’s not even a thing right? It’s not a year. Not a half a year. Not even 100 days.
And yet - for me it is a big deal.
With the exception of my three pregnancies, this is the longest time since I have gone without a drink in thirty years.
So when Victoria asked for a piece on how I gave up drinking I fought the temptation to assume she meant a “real” sober person
And I put my hand up.
Because, while my number is small compared to lots of readers, it is big compared to others and I thought my perspective might help someone.
So Far So Good....
My drinking history could not be more ordinary.
My late teens and early 20s were filled with “huge” days and nights that nearly always included alcohol. Fun nights, romantic nights, quiet nights. All with a backdrop of booze - sometimes beer - mostly wine. No dramas yet. Everyone else was doing it. If anything I was more moderate than a lot of my friends.
My thirties were my baby years. 3 kids means a lot of time being pregnant or breast feeding. That was fine. I barely missed the wine.
And then came my forties. More money, more responsibility, more stress. I slowly started to notice that I stopped pulling up so well after a night. While hangovers had never been fun, they’d always felt like a fair price to pay. But now the hangovers seemed to move into my head. Headaches, sure but that wasn’t the game changer.
It was the anxiety that did me in and started to mess with my head.
The miserable thoughts. This was new. For a long while I thought it was me. That maybe I somehow had morphed into an anxious person. It started to last for days and sometimes when drinking nights started to blend, it started to become almost permanent.
So obviously, I stopped drinking.
Just like that.
Ha! No Not just like that.
Where I am right now, took maybe 5 years. It happened in many stuttering and embarrassed stages.
First for a week here, a week there, but I was so easily derailed by a lifted eyebrow or a “celebratory” gin/bubbles/beer.
I didn’t want to be the boring one. The party pooper and I was desperate not to miss out. So, it continued.
But I felt ike I was heading downhill, fast....into a swamp.
If you’ve stayed with me this far, and if you are like I was, you’ll be looking for how I got from there to here?
The answer is there isn’t a magic bullet (at least not one that I have found. Instead, I've cobbled together lots of slightly weird things tailored personally for me.
Here's what worked for me -
I immersed myself in books about being sober. Running, I listened to sober podcasts. I changed my instagram feed so that it was all about #sober. Annie Grace of This Naked mind, One Year no Beer, Sober Cynic (who is coincidentally at same number of days as me….)
2. I ordered The Sober Lush - by Amanda Eyre Ward and Jardine Libaire and started working my way through their sober suggested activities to elevate every day life.
3. I doubled down on mocktails and 0% alcohol beers. Apparently my Grandmother was right when she warned me darkly about idle hands and devils work……
4. I invested in Habit bull premium.This counting app is like that lovely Great Aunt who thinks everything you do is marvellous. Getting a celebratory sound from this app is like a slot machine.
5. I learned to scuba dive with my family. Weird?! Sure but it felt like something the sober woman I wanted to be would do - so I did it.
6. Start an online business. I’ve wanted to create an online business for years but somehow the time was never right. But with all the hours I am not drinking I have found a niche, started importing a product and am ahhermmm selling quite a lot of it. You can find out more about my tattoo cover up (www.tattoomakeupconcealer.com.au) business here if you happen to fancy it
7. I set my self the goal of 100 days. That seemed a bit of a stretch but not impossible. Now that I’m close to that, I’m pretty sure I’ll keep going but it was kind of a trick to get myself moving.
So hopefully I haven’t just jinxed myself but like I say - so far so good. If you are just starting out, all I can say is - keep going. Everything on this side of the fence is just…..better.