Saturday, 14 November 2015

More about 'Now'

When you've been sober long enough for years to pass, it becomes difficult to tease apart all the threads responsible for the on-going changes still noted. What is down to becoming older and wiser and what role is played by being sober all the time. I often wonder if I attribute too much to purely the absence of alcohol in my life.

Recently there was one such day where I attended Something New with People I Didn't Know Very Well. I have great expectations but was let down, finding the episode damped and disappointing.

It was a charity fundraising do. A ladies' afternoon tea with shopping, auctions, raffles and other fun entertainment. I'd never been to one before and was looking forward to it on many levels: a new experience, an afternoon of cakes and scones, a little boutique stall shopping, people watching and getting to know my newest friends a little better.

But it fell below expectations on most of these counts: I spent much of the afternoon feeling detached and a bit peripheral throughout the proceedings. Of course I enjoyed looking at 400 different outfits, hair styles and make up and I did chat to my neighbours at the table, but it was superficial, polite and non consequential. I wasn't next to either of the girls I knew best (who had invited me) and felt a bit lost. This, despite usually being able to talk about anything to most people. I didn't really feel inspired to make continual effort. Previously I may have written it off, given up and got stuck into the bar but this time I drank a lot of tea, ate some mediocre scones and cake, took part in the raffles, auctions and games but overall I felt the afternoon was overly loud, forced and exhausting. I was glad to make my excuses and leave at the first interlude that it did not appear too rude to do so.
I sighed as I returned to my car and returned home, not quite sure why I hadn't enjoyed myself more.

I reminded myself that booze would not have made the event any better, and I would still be paying for it the next day. Onwards.

Monday, 2 November 2015

Unanswered Emails

Meant to say in the last post that I have received many many emails of late from people who have just read Sober is the New Black and have then shared with me their stories around the time of reading.

I WILL answer all those emails in time. I'm just a bit swamped by them all at the moment and as I answer them all personally it takes a while longer sometimes. I will get to you though and please know that I appreciate everyone of those stories.


Sunday, 1 November 2015

Whisper it... How many units do you drink?

There I was at the dentist on Saturday with my 2 children. Their check ups had proceeded without any freaking out or plundering of the sticker and balloon jar reserved for 'brave' children. Now it was my turn.

Settling into my chair the dentist did a quick update on my medical history.
'Anything changed since last here?'
'You're not a smoker are you?'
'No', I shook my head.

Then he leaned in a bit closer, adopted a conspiratorial look and lowered his voice.
'How many um, units, roughly, um, on average, would you say you umm, take each week? Just socially. Just need a number to tick the box. Doesn't have to be too accurate.'

The fake brightness and offhand manner did not work. He seemed awkward and embarrassed by the question, as if he felt rude even attempting to garner whether I drank too much or not and viewed the question as definitely not one to be overheard by children.

' I don't drink at all' I interrupted, keen to put him out of his misery.

There is a saying that as long as you drink less than your doctor then you'll be fine. I think this may extend to dentists too, as he proceeded to protest too much:

'None? None at all? Not that I think there's anything wrong with that. Not at all. Far from it in fact.  It's marvellous. Truly admirable. Do you know some people feel they have to apologise for being tee total? No, I think it's truly something to be proud of. Choosing to avoid all alcohol, my my.'

He continued in the theme of alcohol and the absence of it, for the rest of the appointment, reminding me of an over anxious teenage boy on his first date who can't stop wittering away in a poor attempt at hiding his own dis-ease.

Perhaps he was too. Whatever.

What was most important was how strong, powerful and proud I felt saying aloud to him, in front of the nurse and my children, that I didn't drink at all. The un said implication being that I neither wanted to, needed to or had ever even considered, drinking alcohol, because, why would I?

And I don't. No matter what the consequences. And I'll tell you about some of those of late next time.

Monday, 19 October 2015

Changing Habits

I was on holiday last week and realised that 2 1/2 years into sobriety my habits and expectations have finally changed deep down. In fact I'm daring to wonder if this means my hard-wiring has changed!

Out at dinner one night I realised how far alcohol was from my mind when my OH ordered a beer, unusually, and this brought it to my attention. I had ordered my usual sparkling water and as I contemplated alcohol again and the lack of it in my life, I really could no longer see the attraction and felt an overwhelming feeling of 'What's the point?' because it changes absolutely nothing.

You see, I used to drink to make me feel glamorous and carefree and to make my evening exciting. This night I saw clearly that no matter what or how much I drank, I would still be out with my OH and the kids and I would still be going home to bed in the near future and that was the extent of it. Little excitement either way.

So what would be the point? Life is not changed by booze, certainly not for the better. Such a simple point but one that took me years to realise! I feel as if I've had a sudden moment of clarity. How could I have been so blind?

Friday, 9 October 2015

The First Official Review is in!

It's always nerve-wracking when awaiting a review of your written material by someone outwit your family friends and peer group; they have no reason to spare your feelings with the truth!

I felt quite delighted when I read the independent review of 'The Secret to Being Fashionably Sober and Fabulous' by Janet Mawdesly at Blue-Wolf reviews. You can see the original here.

When Rachel Black faced the reality that she had somehow managed to become an alcoholic while out partying and being the life of the party, it was a shocking wake-up call.
More than two years ago she had to make some very hard choices; keep on going the way she was and spiraling steadily downwards, or stop drinking altogether.
After several false starts, with many reasons to put off making the difficult shift from hung-over to sober, she eventually made the decision to make the shift to becoming a sober, responsible adult person.
Now two years on she shares her journey once again, from the person she once was to the person she is now, sober, fabulous and a full time member of her family.
Deeply personal and with no holds barred she has broken each chapter down into the introduction as to the event, how she would have been and handled the situation two years ago, to how she deals with the same circumstances now as a sober person.
Looking back paints a stark contrast on the then and now, with the now being so very much easier and although not simplistic, so much more relaxing than the then, ever could have been or become.
Suddenly holidays are easier to plan for, work commitments and stresses are handled far easier, her chocolate intake has risen but her weight, always an issue when drinking, is manageable.
As she has moved on and embraced ‘sobriety’, has she as a person, changed all that much? Probably not, as she attests to still being a person who does like a bit of personal space, enjoys having time to do things on her own, can still be demanding and insecure, but overall accepts that is who she is, but is now able to enjoy her children and time spent with her husband, so much more.
A quiet night in now takes precedence over a night out partying hard, coming home late at night, hung over or drunk is a thing of the past. Revisiting places she would once have reluctantly gone with her family, hanging out for the next glass of wine, has been replaced with the pleasure of seeing her children enjoying themselves.
She describes in a single word the effect alcohol once had on her daily life as ‘encumbrance’ but now, with it no longer being a constant part of her life, she feels ‘free, as if a heavy load has been lifted, no longer holding her down or back’.
For anyone who is considering the effects alcohol is having on their lives and wonders if, by giving up, will life as they know it change for the worse, take a read of Rachel’s journey, be heartened and assured that life can only go on getting better and better.

Saturday, 3 October 2015

How DOES she do it?

I read the book 'I don't know how she does it' by Allison Pearson several years ago. It was almost mandatory reading for my peer group in our have-baby-and-return-to-work-as-if-nothing-has-changed years. We hoped to find out the secret to having it all; gliding through life like a swan while paddling like a duck underneath the surface.

There was no secret to be found in the book. It merely confirmed what we thought; multi-tasking, cutting corners, delegating and being forever frazzled were to be offset by a well deserved glass of chardonnay at wine o'clock.

Excellent. I was definitely 'normal' and coping the same way as everyone else. Nonetheless, I was disappointed to find there was no magic way to suddenly have it all and manage it all. Until now.

Recently I've had a lot going on. I've reassessed my work life balance and reduced the time I spend in my day job to set up a new business where I will work for myself. It's busy, exciting and a very steep learning curve as my business and marketing strategy is all about trial and error.

So last week I met a friend in the pub for a catch up and filled her in on my new venture. Mid sentence she interrupted me.

'Do you ever sleep?'

I stopped, puzzled, not quite seeing the relevance of this question until she continued:

 'How can you possibly do all those things at once?'
because I don't drink
'Whatever you've got, I need to get some too'
Wrong. What you need is what I've NOT got.  

I've not got a large glass of wine in front of me.

So now I do know 'how she can do it'. She needs to realise that wine robs you of time, energy and motivation and makes life more difficult. The solution is not more wine, it is no wine. And by taking that brave step she will release the handbrake and allow life to flow without hindrance.

Sunday, 20 September 2015

Still Here and it's all Good

I’ve neglected this poor little blog of late, and that is both good and bad.
Good because I’ve been busy: busy at work, busy with new projects and busy socially. It’s good and bad that I’m thinking about alcohol a lot less and being sober is not quite fading into my background but is no longer right up there making itself known at every opportunity.

I’ve had a couple of memorable nights out of late- memorable in all the right ways. How nice it is to be assured of that. One was a work related, but casual, dinner. I hadn’t been out for a while and I was really looking forward to it for once. A mixture of the good company, the anticipation and the vibe saw me laughing more than I’ve ever laughed before I swear. And I wasn’t the only one; it was one of those nights where we all let loose and everything seemed hilarious. One of those where you had to be there too; the stories tending to fall flat when repeated.

For various reasons a couple of reliable drinking mates of old were on soft drinks all night. (One was an imminent father and the other had a hectic day to follow.) I noted this and thought how disappointed I would have been a couple of years ago if I’d turned up ready for a big session to find they were on the fresh orange and soda. How sad is that?

The other memorable night was with two friends at a spa. (Yes I’ve been busy relaxing and having me time too.) After dinner we had one of those deep and meaningful, truly honest conversations where each reveals something new, to the others’ surprise. A night of revelations, not of the scandalous nature but of becoming closer; knowing and understanding more about one another. Truly precious, a little emotional and very sincere. No flamboyant declarations of ‘true everlasting love’ and ‘being best friends forever’. There was no headache the next day, nor regret, nor embarrassment. Just a feeling of calm and reassurance that we all have a place in the others’ lives and that it is highly valued.

I’m not sure I’m making much sense but basically, being sober is great. Life is not the same as before, when I was drinking. Thankfully it has taken a much better route. Life feels real and I feel like I’m truly in it. 

Thank you to everyone who has been emailing me recently sharing their stories and have kindly left glorious reviews of my books on Amazon. Very much appreciated. 
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