THREE EFFING MONTHS MOTHERFLIPPER!

L: Pre-Day 1, R: 3 months

Today I am celebrating 3 months sober. It’s ok, you can pick that jaw up off the floor. Trust me, nobody is as surprised as I am.

In recognition of this monumental event, I’ve put together a list of things I have learned in managing my addiction over the past three months. And not once do I talk about shitting yourself, masturbation or Feminism.

1. Quit on a Friday.

That first weekend will always be the hardest to get through. Most people start their journey on a Sunday or a Monday and have four or five days of withdrawal hell coupled with abominable work hell before the weekend arrives and you can convince yourself that you’ve earned a drink as a reward for doing so well. Before you know it, it’s Sunday morning and you’re waking up in a pile of your own vomit, naked on the bathroom floor. And it’s not your bathroom floor.

By starting your stopping on a Friday, you get the first weekend out of the way when you feel the most shit. It’s a double whammy of shit.

But then it’s done and by the time you get up on Monday morning after a weekend of crying into the dog and binge watching Netflix, you’re through the worst of it and three days down. By the next Friday, you’re starting to feel better (and sleep) and have more strength and willpower to keep going because you’re seven days down and it feels fucking amazing after the abysmal first few days.

2. Stay out of the fucking pub.

I thought I was some kind of fucking Greek God and could continue all of my prior behavioural patterns without succumbing to the siren call of l’alcohol. I was a fucking idiot. Because you can’t.

A couple of weeks into my sobriety, I almost threw it all away because I was in craft beer pubs surrounding by incredible beer and pissed up mates. I had a strop. Walked out. But I could easily have gone the other way and thrown two weeks of progress away. Looking back at the times where I have almost caved, they have always been in bars and pubs.

The Maze in Nottingham in my second week of sobriety when I realised the bar had sold out of Bitburger Drive and I had already drunk 5 pints of fucking water and what I would not have given for a pint of delicious poison.

Patens on a charity treasure hunt, the fourth pub on a fun pub crawl that wasn’t a pub crawl but was a pub crawl.

Brewdog Norwich on the first day of our holiday.

Brewdog Norwich on the fourth day of our holiday.

The Jolly Brewer last Saturday when I tasted a mate’s new beer and nearly lost my fucking mind.

Get the picture? Avoiding the pub in those early days would have made things a little easier for me. Now, I have a time limit. I’ll take the dog (or the car) and make my excuses after an hour. After all, your mates will want to do awesome stuff with you that isn’t centred around the pub. And if they don’t, well… Fuck ‘em.

3. Plan ahead.

For everything. Weddings, birthday parties, hen do’s, holidays, Friday fucking night, a bad day at work, weekends, dinner parties, play dates, actual dates, BBQ’s, camping, airports, train journeys, Waitrose… PLAN FOR EVERYTHING. 

Alcohol free beer and prosecco have been my saviour and in researching new and interesting drinks, I’ve discovered alcohol free breweries and started learning about a whole new sector of the industry I love so much. There’s more to life then Becks Blue, trust me on that one.

Know what and where your triggers are, know what your emergency plan to manage them is, have back up AF drinks available for if you need them to support your journey. There’s a whole fucking continuous (and pointless) argument in sobriety support groups about AF drinks being a potential trigger and to be avoided at all costs. D’ya know what? Do what you need to do to stay sober. If drinking them triggers you, don’t. If you wouldn’t have stayed sober without them, who gives a fuck? You’re sober. That’s all that matters.

4. Talk to people.

I would not have come this far without the support of Hubs, friends and family. When I plan ahead for dinner parties or meet ups, so do they. I’ve had AF elderflower champagne brewed for me, Seedlip bought in and a spectacular gooseberry and lemon balm cocktail created especially for me. Instead of pub lunches, I grab coffee and cake with friends. Instead of Friday night benders, we have movie nights at home.

When I have almost caved, Hubs has said something that has made me pause and think about what I am doing. I would not have made it to this point without everybody around me. I’ve been very open about my journey from the start and I genuinely believe that this has helped me. I can’t cave in when everybody knows what I am trying to do!

On the other hand, there will always be people who tell you that just one drink will be fine. Those who try to tempt you out of your sobriety to make themselves feel better about their drinking. Or just those who don’t really think before they speak and have all the tact of a hammer. Have your responses well prepared. Try not to punch them in the face.

5. Find support.

Whether it’s AA, addiction support groups or Facebook Groups; do what you need to do. Club Soda UK (https://www.facebook.com/clubsodauk/) has been a good source of support for me as they have multiple groups based on sobriety length, age, location etc. If, like me, you start to find the constant “Day 1 again” statuses a trigger, get the fuck out and find somewhere else for the support you need.

Find like minded people who make you laugh and follow their Facebook pages or subscribe to their blogs. Even if you’re not planning on being alcohol free, if you’re not following The Sober Fish Story on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/soberfishie), you’re missing out. The motivational posts on this page will send you flying high every day, even if you’re not quitting the booze.

6. Get counselling.

You will start to feel everything in high-definition. And it is fucking agonising. If you’re problem drinking, like I was, there is usually a reason behind it. Whether it’s historic abuses, loneliness, boredom, unhappiness, grief… Once you take the booze away, you’ve got to face these feelings head on. It hurts. It really, really fucking hurts. Find a good counsellor, tell your story, cry it out, learn new coping mechanisms, step into your best life.

7. Fill your time.

You will have so much shitting time on your hands when you stop drinking and in those early days, you need to fill every second. From the minute you wake up to the minute you go to bed, fill EVERY minute. I started on the house and methodically went from room to room writing down everything that needed doing in each room and then started ticking off jobs. I use a weekly planner to fill every day with chores, self-care and fun stuff to make sure, even now, that every minute of every day is structured and spent achieving something. Writing, reading, exercising, trying new things, reigniting old passions… Figure out what you want to do before you give up the booze and make sure that you keep the list with you on the off chance that you ever find yourself not doing anything and thinking about drinking. Seriously, this could be your saviour.

If isolating yourself is what you need to do to get through those early days, do it. Eventually, you will reach a point where the isolation itself becomes a trigger. At that stage, start doing things that don’t centre around drinking.

8. Quit Lit

Read every fucking Quit Lit book you can get your hands on. Every sobriety blog, subscribe to it. Every podcast, listen to it. Learn about how alcohol works, what is does to you physiologically and psychologically, how other people have coped. Don’t reinvent the wheel. People much further along in their journey will have all of the experience you need to get through those first weeks, months, years. Use it.

Once you’ve read everything eighty six times, look into self-improvement books that focus on issues you would like to resolve. You’re a cute little caterpillar getting into a snug little chrysalis. Give yourself every tool possible to be the biggest, bestest, sexiest butterfly you can possibly be.

9. Drive everywhere.

I’m always the designated driver since Hubs got a medical driving ban in March but once upon a time, every social engagement would have been based around how we could get there, pubs on route, costs of hotels, taxis, trains etc etc. Now, I always drive as it gives me a) the independence to leave whenever I have had enough and b) means that no, I can not even have just one drink. Plus, most people will buy you AF drinks all night if you’re giving them a lift home! Winner, winner.

10. Be kind to yourself.

Take a deep breathe in. Breathe out. Breathe in again. And out. Now read this.

I WOULD NEVER TALK TO OTHER PEOPLE THE WAY I TALK TO MYSELF.

Read that again.

I WOULD NEVER TALK TO OTHER PEOPLE THE WAY I TALK TO MYSELF.

Because I can guarantee that you do the same thing. We find ourselves in the habit of speaking to ourselves so unkindly, refusing to forgive ourselves and holding ourselves to such a high standard of perfection that is completely unobtainable. Be kind to yourself. This journey will be the hardest thing you are doing right now but do you know what? You’ve already come through so much already. You have overcome everything that has ever been thrown at you and you have come out stronger than before. You have already achieved so much. This is just another slightly shitty step to the amazing life that you have fucking earned. You are worthy of love. YOU DESERVE THIS LIFE.

Anyway, enough ranting from me. These are my ten steps to sobriety, all neatly packaged up in swears and hilarity. I’m off to celebrate on the sofa with ice packs on my knee, hip and lower back (tendonitis in knee connected to iliotibial band syndrome in my hip connected to fuck my life back pain). I’ll be filled with codeine by 8pm and probably fast asleep by ten past.

Sobriety really is living the dream.

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