Three weeks sober.
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Today, I am three weeks sober.
Let’s stat this out:
21 days sober.
62 drinks passed.
Average steps per day up from 7,453 to 12, 342.
2 workweek hustles won.
4 workouts completed so far this week.
2 days where I almost caved.
19 days where I didn’t.
Did I say that twice?
The past three weeks have been disconcertingly easy for me. I guess it all boils down to choosing to stop drinking rather than forcing myself to stop drinking for events like Dry January or Sober October. A choice that has come from a desire to live my best life and be the person I have always wanted to be (and never believed I was capable of being). Whilst it has been easier this time to stop, I have still almost caved on two occasions.
Looking at those times where I was desperate for a drink, it’s interesting to see where I used to follow the loving yet abusive embrace of alcohol down the rabbit hole of drunk. The first was after helping a friend move house, a physically challenging activity that we have always celebrated by going to the pub for a pint, or four, and ending in a takeaway. Followed by four more pints. And putting a bed together pissed at 2am in the morning when alllllll you want to do is sleep. Or vomit. And then being too hungover to clean the old house the morning after.
The second was in the middle of a particularly stressful week at work. That point, on a Wednesday, when you realise it’s Hump Day and that is a good enough reason to either commiserate or celebrate with a pint, or five, a takeaway and the joy of feeling like shit on Thursday morning. You know, the one where you stay in the pub until midnight, stumble home, order a takeaway, get to bed at 2am and the alarm goes off at 6am. Your carcass barely turns up to work, and when you do all you can physically do is eat carbs all day and die in a corner.
I didn’t expect either of these two situations to come up. I expected to find weekends difficult. I expected to find social events with large groups difficult. I know that the first time my friends and I all meet for drinks, I’ll find that difficult too. But a stressful Wednesday and post-moving house?! Well, they caught me off guard.
A couple of weekends ago, I picked up a selection of alcohol free and low alcohol ciders and beers from a local supermarket. I wanted to try everything I could get my hands on so I knew where I could find a life raft if I suddenly discovered that I was drowning. These were my saviour. As with most of these types of beer and cider, they are often overly sweet and so I rarely drink more than one. Luckily, on those occasions where I was quite literally gasping for a drink, they were there and acted as a relatively good substitute for a craving that I couldn’t ignore.
So where are we today? I have completed the busiest (and longest) week of my working year (GCSE’s, woo!) and have been told at least 34 times today about how I should treat myself to a drink this weekend. I’ve repeatedly said that I don’t drink. My colleague has repeatedly said, “yeah, but only temporarily.” I’ve never said anything about this being temporary, in fact it’s been quite the opposite. It’s as though my decision to stop drinking makes other people so uncomfortable about facing their drinking habits that they try to undermine my efforts. Whether that is unintentional or deliberate, I don’t know. What I do know is that it only motivates me to succeed even more.
It is Friday night. I have finished work, instigated a pub meet with friends, had a coffee, a pint of icy water, picked up some low alcohol Sole Star (cheers Adnams!) and driven us home. I’ve cooked a healthy dinner for three (feta stuffed chicken breast wrapped in parma ham with asparagus, courgette and some highly pretentious quinoa, pumpkin and sunflower seed basmati rice for anybody who gives a flying fuck), gone on a second supermarket run because the boys wanted dessert, filled the car up for next week, not eaten dessert and had an apple instead, put a load of washing on, washed the pots and prepped breakfast for tomorrow. We’re snuggled up watching a film on the sofa now (Black Panther). I’m like the delicious filling in a Husband and Foxy sandwich. It’s the dream. Well, it’s not the actual dream because nobody is naked, but it’s close enough.
Tomorrow, I will be hangover free. I’ll hang the washing out, chuck another load in, make breakfast, lounge around with freshly ground coffee, snuggle some cats and spend the day with the people I love most in this world. Hopeful and hangover free, capable of making good food choices and sticking to my resolution to be a healthier, happier me. And still being able to find joy in every tiny thing, still bellowing with laughter at the slightest amusement.
I have never felt this confident in my entire life. I have never had such clarity of mind, such emotional stability and such resolution to change. I can only attribute this to being sober. This week, to support my goal, I’m going to start reading some recovery books, beginning with The Sober Diaries by Claire Pooley. In January, I read Smashed: Story of a Drunken Girlhood by Koren Zailckas and much of what she wrote resonated so clearly with me, that self fulfilling prophecy of never being able to connect comfortably with people unless drunk, followed by the never-ending cycle of anxiety that this creates and hides and creates and hides.
Next, I’ll read The Unexpected Joy of Being Sober by Catherine Gray. Then I’ll read Blackout by Sarah Hepola. Then This Naked Mind Control Alcohol by Annie Grace. And I will keep reading to remind myself of why I am doing this, to learn how to move forward, away from my past, and to face my fears head on and my future with strength, vitality and passion. I will keep learning, developing, growing (emotionally, not physically); loving life with a joy where drug enhancements are not required, or wanted.
Because my name is K and I am an alcoholic. I am three weeks sober.
And smug as fuck.