Sunday, 3 May 2015

Then and Now: A Sociable Lunch

We had a family day out today visiting my friends and old flatmates from university. 

The three of us lived together for several years, we were bridesmaids to each other and have kept in touch to a greater or lesser degree since. 

We met for lunch and an afternoon of chat in Karen's old house in the country alongwith our 3 husbands and 7 children.
I had not yet told her I no longer drank, there had never been opportunity without making it sound like a huge deal. 

I had told my other friend but I reckon she had forgotten (or never truly believed me in the first place).
As soon as we arrived we were asked who the designated drivers were, the assumption being it would be the boys so we girls could share first the Pimms and lemonade, then the wine with lunch and beyond. 

OH had driven us and when asked what I'd have, I said a cup of tea. Not wanting to make any grand statements of sobriety in front of the large group I added by way of explanation that I'd been working yesterday and was again starting early tomorrow. 

There was surprise, disbelief and exaggerated shock all round. My friends persuaded each other to have a Pimms and the other husbands had a beer each. 

At lunchtime the wine was offered again and there were no takers. None at all. So the wine was not opened. The Pimms and beers were finished and everyone drank water at the table. 
A delicious lunch was rounded off with tea and cake before we retired to the lounge to relax. 

I was pleasantly full, sated and content but I thought how differently I would have felt 2 years ago in these circumstances. 

Excellent, OH driving while we go to see my friends. Take a couple of bottles of wine with us. 
Arrive and meet two very good friends with whom I can be myself and make myself at home. 
Pimms? Well I suppose so if that's what's offered but it's fairly weak and never packs much of a punch for me. 
Wine with lunch? Yes please. I'd take charge: opening 2 bottles to get started ( well there are 6 adults) and pouring nice full glasses.
 I'd have a sneaky look in the fridge to check there were other bottles chilling, usually adding the bottles I'd brought. 
I would have been really disappointed to see that the other drinkers were doing so to such little extent, a token glass of wine almost. 
I'd be frustrated trying to slow down the rate at which I emptied my wine glass. 
I'd be topping up glasses barely touched in order to refill my own to the brim again. 
I'd shrug off any comments: they know this is what I'm like and I wouldn't feel conspicuous for long.
 I would however refrain from opening another bottle if it were only me drinking it. That would look too obvious as would its rapidly declining level. 
I would not have wanted tea or the delicious cake as by then the wine monster would have been truly unleashed and on the rampage. 
My rampage would include eating more including leftovers after our meal, talking too loudly, talking too much, being over excited and generally hyper. 

And then woommfff. 

We would leave the table and the wine behind. The drinking done but leaving me still wanting. Like a coiled spring released from a box, I could not go back in easily. I was out and staying out and wanted to keep going. 
In the absence of continued drinking I'd become sleepy and a bit disinterested, perhaps irritable with the kids and would have fallen asleep in the car on the way home, pleased it was still ony 8 pm, leaving plenty of time to pick up the glass again from where I'd left off. 

Writing this down I'm aware of the number of ups, downs, thoughts, plans, feelings both good and bad that filled the day of the drinking me. 

The 'Now' in comparison was calm, stable, conventional, rational, expected and very very enjoyable. I would have enjoyed it much less had I been preoccupied with the amount I could or could not drink, which is a lovely conclusion with which to end a lovely day. 

Monday, 27 April 2015

Three Cheers for Ginger Beer

I was at a friend's 40th birthday party at the weekend. A good friend that I would now be happy to tell the truth about why I no longer drink but, I decided her big party was not the place to do so.
I had planned to drive and leave it at that, should anyone ask.

We had been asked to bring any specific drinks we wanted and were advised there would be cocktails a-plenty.
Pushing the boat out, I decided to have a break from sparkling water and took along some cans of ginger beer.

Ginger beer was one of my first substitute drinks when I first stopped having alcohol. It has a lovely strong flavour, a distinctly spicy aftertaste and feels like a good sturdy drink. A splash of lime cordial to sweeten it doesn't go amiss either.
Despite being called 'beer' or 'ale' it has no alcohol content.
Anyway, although I don't feel the need to have a drink that looks alcoholic, I was surprised to find that mine did!
The host had prepared pitchers of Moscow Mules. Unbeknown to me, these consist of lots of vodka and...wait for it....ginger beer!
The result was that the drinkers' small glasses of cloudy cocktail looked identical to my much larger tumbler full of ginger beer.
 I drank my first drink really quickly and immediately poured myself another, smiling as a guest I did not know remarked 'Gosh you are really going for it tonight aren't you?!'

Can you tell which is which?

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Fashionably Sober and Fabulous...The Countdown has Begun

It's now less than 1 month until my new book The Secret to Being Fashionably Sober and Fabulous is released on 20th May 2015. It is currently available to pre-order here at the guaranteed lower price of less than a fiver (UK) or $8 (US), and this is my last mention of it before then on this blog!

However, if you would like to receive the opening chapters for FREE then email me here and I will send you an e-copy. The book illustrates how changes brought about by not drinking, come in stages as the duration of sober time increases. The changes are not black and white, rather they develop and evolve, often in surprising ways, as time passes. And of course there are many 'Then and Now' experiences included for fans of those. Hope you will enjoy. Rx .

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Tuesday Troubles

I've been feeling a bit blue the last few days and have found my mind wandering to alcohol more often. 
I'm not about to dive into a wine cellar or anything drastic like that but alcohol is much more prominent on my radar at present and I'm regularly reminding myself that whatever I'm feeling that's not quite right, will not be helped by drinking wine. 

Wine will provide a short period of standstill before I must re address those same feelings, the difficulty now compounded by a hangover. 

So I'm not going there. 

While sitting with the feelings I'm considering where they have come from and as usual there is never one simple answer. 

My list includes

1. The back to earth bump of returning to work this week. A full inbox and a couple of annoying hassles. 

2. Caroline Knapp's book: the majority of it recounted her love of alcohol and the joy drinking brought her. Much less of the book addressed the tipping point into negativity and beyond in recovery. I found it 'triggering' in that it was so well written I really knew what she meant and wanted to feel that way again. You know, the way it feels good before it feels bad. 

3. Dieting. It is going well and I've lost 10 lbs so far in 7 weeks. I'm really pleased and my clothes fit much better but I'm also feeling a loss of comforts. No tea and biscuits, cake or any other form of comfort eating. I've spent a lot of money at the shops and find the high from that just as temporary as from a kitkat. I can't be bothered to exercise. 

So I'm doing my usual fail safe tricks: reading sober blogs, interacting on sober sites, supporting others and finding strength for them which reminds me of all the benefits I know already that I should be grateful for and not take for granted. I remind myself that me and my family have no ill health. Thigs could be a lot worse. 

And I wait. Treading water for the good times to come back. 

Solving one problem in your life does not make the rest of it an eternal rose garden. The bumps still come so best to get comfy for the duration of the ride. 

Sorry so gloomy peeps.  

Saturday, 18 April 2015

Never Judge a Book By Its Cover...

...So says Carolyn Howard Johnson, creator of The New Book Review which is one of the most highly regarded book review websites.

Needless to say she does not show the front cover of any book. Instead she publishes high quality reviews from external reviewers to stand and be judged on their own merit without prejudice from a front cover, good or bad.

Today she has published a review of Sober is the New Black . The review was written by Anna Buttimore B.A. Hons, herself an author and administrator at Law Care, a support service for those in the legal profession struggling with alcohol and addiction.

You can find the review here

Carolyn is keen to increase awareness about her objective book reviews so I ask on her behalf that you share the page within your social network as you feel appropriate. Rx.

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Thoughts Thoughts and more Thoughts

Posting from my sun lounger to share my thoughts, and boy, do I have a lot of them. 
I am reading Caroline Knapp's book, Drinking. A love Story. I bought it a long time ago but needed a break from sober books. Plus, it never actually appealed to me despite its rave reviews. 

But I am blown away. 

I am so sad she is no longer alive because I feel compelled to write to her shouting 'YES, ME TOO! I GET IT AND I GET YOU'. Since she's not here I'm pouring it out to you instead. 

A 'journey of self discovery' is a much better way of portraying what I feel is often self indulgent, over analysing of oneself. I, for sure, am guilty of this. Perhaps perversely I enjoy reading about someone else having the same degree of self scrutiny, puzzlement and theories as they try to sort themselves out and live as normal people do. 

What I have learnt most profoundly, is that I am an addict. 

Whether to alcohol, food, sugar, cigarettes or a myriad of other pleasure giving (and taking) substances and behaviours that I have not yet tried, merely giving them up is not the solution. As Caroline says, this is merely 'Same dance, different shoes'. 
Instead, something is needed to fill the void of neediness within me. Something is missing and I've tried for many years to plug it one way or another, a true serial addict. 

Through fear of jumping out of the frying pan into the fire, I'm going to search for the cause of that space. 

What is it that is missing?
What am I trying to replace?

Another blogger suggested a book called 'Feeding your demons' which I will check out as a starting point. 

Any experience of this kind of 'stuff' out there please share below. 

Me, I'm off for another sparking water. 

Sunday, 12 April 2015

Simple Sober Solutions

'What time do you want to leave the beach?'
'I don't mind. I'm happy to leave whenever.'

This was the question OH asked me one day this week, around 4pm, and my honest reply. As I answered him,  my mind was flooded with all the factors I would previously have weighed up and hedged my bets upon, terrified I would miss out on a drinking opportunity.

  • I want to leave now but don't want to look desperate to get back to the apartment for a drink.
  • I want to suggest a visit to the beach cafe but not for ice cream (or coffee). 
  • Does the beach cafe sell wine?
  • What will be doing next? 
  • Are we going straight for something to eat?
  • Did I leave wine in the fridge?
  • Will we go out later for dinner?
  • Is there enough wine in the apartment if we stay there all evening?
  • Can we legitimately stop off at a supermarket on the way back?
  • Can I, oh so casually, add a bottle to the basket because 'I'm not sure if we have any at home'?
  • Can I justify more than one bottle?
  • Will the kids notice? Will they remark? Is it worse if they don't? 
Still, OH is waiting for my answer. He knows I will have a specific answer so will not try to double guess me, knowing it will inevitably be wrong.

  • Does he know what I'm thinking? 
  • Can he see straight through my charade?
  • Does he pity me or feel irritated by the confines within which I make us live?
  • Surely he cannot know or why would he put up with me?

The truth is he does not mind when we leave the beach because to him it is a simple one-dimensional question whose answer is of very little consequence. The question does not induce anxiety, mental contortions of Olympic standard, nor does it have good or bad answers.

Only now do I agree with him. We packed up and left.


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