This July, I celebrate 5 years of Sobriety. Yikes and Yippee! To borrow a phrase from the current Dry July campaign-I won’t drink to that. The first time I drank, I skulled vodka and creaming soda, felt silly, got dizzy and promptly threw up red. I’d like to think my relationship with alcohol became more sophisticated as I grew up. It really didn’t. It was less of a civilised-glass-with-dinner and more of skull-drunk-vom situation.I relied on it to shift my state; from shy to less-shy, tired to wired, anxious to chill, alone to less-cognisant-of-the-fact-I-was-alone. My hangovers and patchy memories got increasingly longer until it’d take me 2-3 days to recover from 1 night on the booze. So, I started my own Dry-July, one day at a time and have made it somehow to my 5th Soberversary! Here are a few things I’ve learnt;
Feel it once now or twice later: I may have thought I was escaping my feelings and memories by avoiding and blurring them in the moment by drinking but actually I was compounding them to feel two-fold later…when I was hazy and hungover. Did I do that? Feelings need to be felt to dissipate so welcome that moment of awkwardness, guilt, shame, jealousy and it will pass. Avoid and it will grow. I can do the same avoidance with bingeing TV, sugar and social media scrolling so instead try to do some deep breaths, welcome all feelings in and then observe them drifting by like clouds to reveal the blue-sky underneath.
Main character behaviour: At first, I was worried about what other people would think about my not drinking. Actually, once I’d refused the first drink saying something vague like “I’m not drinking tonight”, everyone accepted that and moved on. Then when I had more non-drinking days chalked up, I just said “I don’t drink”. Some people were curious or surprised but only momentarily. I realised, I’m only the main character in my own movie/life (played by Alicia Silverstone probably), everyone else is busy being their own main character and lemonade is a cool refreshing drink.
My natural state is hibernation: I used to think that I enjoyed parties but the fact that I had to drink my way through them should’ve given me clue, I like to be home. Preferably in lounge wear. Probably alone. I’m an introvert so need to recharge solo before/after being out in the world. I’m match-fit for lockdown. I do enjoy seeing friends of course but coffee and a walk is an ideal outing for me. According to French philosopher Blaise Pascal, “All of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone.” Yes, it can be uncomfortable and that’s why we are such bingers but sooner or later, everyone is alone so the quicker we make peace with it the better. And Blaise didn’t even have a phone! Sacré bleu!
Reasons why: I wrote a letter to myself about all the reasons why I wanted to not drink and the benefits of sobriety which I carried in my wallet and read when tempted. When I had a run of alcohol-free days, I became increasingly determined to not break the streak and the letter helped me remember why. Apparently, alcohol free is a trend now but remember, I did it before it was cool.
Could you do with a Dry July? Come on, let’s not drink to that together! Love and light xxx Yvette
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