Life without alcohol: ten months sober

I’m more than 300 days sober now (304 to be precise), which is very nearly the bulk of a year. So far it’s been one of the strangest years of my life, but I won’t go into that until the year is properly over.

Hallowe'en lantern

Ten months in, I’m sort of newly realising that I’m still actually fairly early on in my journey, and there are still things that are tripping me up, and things that I’m encountering sober for the first time. I haven’t done a music festival this year, and I don’t think I’ll be ready to do one next year either. I still don’t feel fully comfortable in pubs and clubs, and in fact I’m going to them less and less frequently.

I won’t be playing the ‘election drinking game’ this December. This was something that I did for every general election for years and years – I made huge jugs of cocktail with crappy old alcohol from the back of the cupboard to ‘use it up’, and then put food colouring in the jugs to match the political party colours. The game was very simple – ‘sip for a hold, glug for a gain’ – so when Labour held a seat in Newcastle, you’d take a sip of the red cocktail, and when the SNP gained a seat in Scotland, you’d take a big glug of the yellow cocktail (2015 required a LOT of yellow cocktail). Geth and I would be sick for days afterwards, but it was a tradition. I didn’t do it in 2017 because it was too soon after the 2015 election, but this is the first general election for which it’s no longer an option, and strangely, I feel a bit bereft as a result.

(I’ve also realised, in my wiser sober state, that following politics is not actually good for my mental health at the moment, and while I’ll obviously be voting, I will be getting an early night on election day instead of watching the results.)

I’ve also not navigated the Christmas period sober yet. While I will have had nearly a year to prepare for it, I’m still feeling quite a bit of trepidation about the whole thing. I’m already a bit sad that I won’t ever again have mulled wine, or Christmas cake made with whisky, or Christmas pudding with brandy poured over it for the flambé effect. I am, however, excited about doing the extra parkruns over the Christmas period, and Geth has promised to have a quiet Hogmanay with me so that we can do the New Year’s Day double parkrun.

I had a fairly ridiculous moment at the A-ha gig in Leeds on Saturday night when I went to the bar to get drinks for myself and Geth. Because of avoiding bars for the most part over the last few months, as well as the fact that it’s usually Geth who buys the drinks, I hadn’t actually been in a situation since I got sober where I was carrying a pint of beer for someone else. When I was still drinking, if I was collecting a pint for Geth, I would always take a big sip of it before carrying it back to the table so that I wouldn’t spill it while carrying it (the extra beer would be lost either way, so it wasn’t like I was stealing his beer – just preventing the excess from dripping all over my hand and the floor!). It wasn’t until I had the beer in my hand on Saturday night that I realised that was no longer an option.

Cue an extremely slow walk back into the main arena in an attempt not to spill the beer (which was ultimately unsuccessful as there was a door in my way), and then a further realisation that I couldn’t even lick my own hand clean, and…it just all felt a bit ludicrous, really. Maybe I should start carrying protective plastic gloves.

I’ve not reviewed any booze alternatives this month as I’ve been a bit too busy for non-diary blogging most days. I will try and do some over this next month, though, as I’ve got a bit of a backlog.

Mental health improvement plans are still quietly trucking along in the background. Hopefully next month I’ll have a bit more of an update on that.

4 thoughts to “Life without alcohol: ten months sober”

  1. Hullo! I’m Don’s friend who commented on your “last cider” post back in January. I’m not sure why but something tonight suddenly made me think to pop in and see how you’ve been doing in the meantime.

    Anyway, I’m really glad to hear you’ve been making it stick, albeit with the inevitable challenge along the way. I think you kind of just have to embrace the absurdity of some of the situations like the one you describe at the gig, and indeed the novelty of this being “the first time I’ve done xyz sober”. I mean, hey, some people pay a lot of money to get to do new things all the time, right…?

    And how lovely to read about your parkrun tourism kick! “Gamifying” things was a big plus for me in the early days (…months, years…) – tracking my sobriety-driven weight loss in a wee Excel file, doing parkrun every week I could & diving into all those lovely stats on the website, and so on. Spin on the best part of six years and I too have the tourism bug (and a parent who insists on driving me to a new(-to-me) parkrun venue every time I’m back in Newcastle – it’s nice when you have them trained…). Whatever it takes to keep the good habits going, I reckon, and getting to see new places is as good a reinforcement as any. Mind, when I did Gateshead there was a five-minute hailstorm as we were waiting at the start… you do begin questioning what constitutes a “good” habit at times!

    Anyway, I’m rambling. Basically I just wanted to say well done and keep chipping away. Back in January you said “I’m still scared about various things, but the positive feelings are really outweighing that now”. I’d ask whether that’s proven to hold true over time, but the fact that you’re ten months in and where you are is answer enough. And I’ll raise my glass of Crodino to that.

    1. Thanks for coming back and commenting! I absolutely identify with what you described about gamifying everything – it feels like I’ve done a lot of that this year. Less scared about sobriety now, but feeling at the moment as though I still have a long way to go (which is a healthy realisation, probably).

      I love parkrun (although it’s easy to grumble when it’s as cold as it was this morning at Jesmond Dene!) – maybe I’ll see you at one of the Newcastle ones sometime.

      1. Our parkrun paths will no doubt cross at some point, yep! I was actually at Jesmond Dene a few weeks ago when we were up for the weekend for a family wedding, but from the dates I think it must have been the week you were at Gateshead. JD is a toughie all right – and I say that as someone whose regular parkrun is called Hilly Fields… (where, of course, you would be most welcome if you fancy doing a new venue the next time you’re in evil London… and assuming the name isn’t too offputting!)

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