This week marked the end of my sober curious journey. Yes, dear reader, it has been A WHOLE YEAR of being sober-ish.
Let’s recap on what happened to prompt this:
- Terrible behaviour on Mother’s Day last year
- Got tipsy at restaurant
- There might’ve been singing
- Went home for little nap
- Went to friend’s house
- Got off my face drunk
- Picked fight with sexist man I would previously have ignored
- Fell and hurt shin badly whilst dancing
- Snatched the ciggies out of the mouths of young adults and blew smoke rings whilst declaring “we did not spend 15 hours pushing you out of our vaginas for you to die of lung cancer.” Reader, I had not pushed any of the young adults present out of anywhere
- Only remembered snippets of evening (called a BROWN OUT. Yes. Unfortunately sounds like a type of diarrhoea)
- Had TERRIBLE shame attack but no proper hangover
After my bad behaviour, I committed to 100 days of sobriety which I managed fairly easily. I basically tried a whole lot of de-alc’d wines and champagnes and left social occasions early if I needed to. I broke my fast at my son’s 21st birthday with a glass of champagne and a glass of red wine at Marble. For my next 100 days I had the odd glass of wine at special occasions, I think getting our book deal for Chasing Marian might’ve been one of those occasions.
Then over Christmas I eased up and started having a glass of champers or red wine every now and again. And in January I had a bit of an a-ha moment when I realised that the reason all the books I had read on sobriety were not really resonating with me was because I don’t have full-blown alcohol use disorder, I am a binge drinker. I was kind of in awe at the amount of grog the people in these books were putting away on a nightly basis, this was definitely not me.
What was also not me were the themes that kept coming up in the books:
- Booze is carcinogenic
- How you never see people drinking less over the course of their lives, only more
- How terrible wine tastes, it is basically ethanol.
None of these arguments worked for me. My thinking is that:
- The sun and bacon are also carcinogenic and I’m not about to give up either of them
- I have friends and my very own SIL who have moderated their booze intake successfully
- Sadly, I still like the taste of a delish glass of red wine.
I know the current fashion is to give up booze completely, but I would still like to be able to have that delish glass of red wine so I’m on the moderation track (if you do have full-blown alcohol use disorder, moderation is not for you #justsaying).
I treat my booze allowance the way I do my daily caffeine allowance. I can only have two coffees a day, I’m not going to waste my caffeine allowance on shitty coffee. Same with booze, I give myself a two-three glass limit, I’m not wasting that on shitty wine. The other important thing for me is to not drink every day, that’s how I built up an alarming tolerance to the demon drink during lockdown.
Important phrases I’ve learnt on my sober curious journey:
“No thanks, I’ve had enough.”
“Think I’ll just have water for this round.”
“None for me, I’m driving.”
“If you don’t mind, I’m going to sneak out.”
Sometimes I don’t even say anything, and I do just sneak out of a gathering/party without making a noise about it. Because something I have noticed is that even if you’ve had a glass or two, you will reach a point where you’ve definitely had enough of the party but the others that are still drinking have not and they will want you to stay. They will INSIST THAT YOU STAY because they looooooove you so much (me when drunk). Run away before they start hugging you/crying (also me).
Would I recommend a year of sober curiosity? Absolutely. Because what I do agree with in all the sobriety books I’ve read is that as a society we have a real problem with alcohol, and I think it’s a very worthwhile exercise to learn how to drink mindfully. And you don’t have to do a year. Try a month or 100 days first and see how it goes. I will be continuing my sober curious journey by taking frequent breaks from booze and by keeping an eye on how much I drink at social occasions.
I read something (by Marian Keyes, obvs) where she mentioned that when she’s at parties, she repeats “All I have to do is not drink.” My mantra is: “All I have to do is not get drunk.”
I have managed that for a year, and it feels like one hell of an achievement.
Along For the Ride. A sweet romcom on Netflix, based on the YA novel by Sarah Dessen. Quirky, misunderstood girl heads to the beach after she’s finished high school and stays with father and new wife, makes friends, meets boy with tragic past, falls in love, sorts out father’s love life etc… I enjoyed it but also felt like it was lacking something.
Finding You on DSTV Box Office. Young violinist doesn’t get into Juilliard (or similar), goes to Ireland to find herself by playing with drunken fiddler (who looks AMAZINGLY well-dressed for homeless person.) Meets famous actor and falls in love. Many obstacles, the primary one being a terrible script and bad acting but love conquers all in the end. Every cliché in the book and whomever was in charge of the leading lady’s wardrobe deserves a spanking. Hilariously bad.
An English Garden Murder by Katie Gayle which is of course the pen name of writing duo Kate Sidley and Gail Schimmel. I absolutely loved this and gobbled it up over the weekend. It gave me cosy Murder She Wrote vibes. As comforting as a mug of hot chocolate.
Reminder that it is the Kingsmead Book Fair next weekend, and that I will be appearing on two panels. I will be facilitating a session with The Cooking Husband, namely Sinoyolo Sifo and I will be with the awesome foursome talking about Chasing Marian. Don’t forget to book your tickets and happy reading! xxx