I love wine o’clock.
I still do, but as I’ve been a sober sister for 500 days and counting, how did I get to this point?
Cue lockdown 1.
Let's take a step back to 2020. Lockdown 1. Around this time, I was becoming sober curious and took the enforced isolation as an opportunity to give sobriety a go. My son came back from abroad, and the two of us spent our time binge-watching Netflix, eating copious amounts of home-baked goods, and trying to make Sourdough bread. Every day felt like a Sunday afternoon, I was very lucky. The days turned into weeks, and alcohol just wasn't on the agenda. There was no wine o'clock, no need for that reward after a hard day at work or stress buster to help fix the problems that everyday life threw at me. As lockdown ended, I started to get a little bit anxious, but I couldn't figure out why.
Ahh, that magic time of the day. Wine O'Clock. How was I going to cope without it? I'm a feeder and love to cook whilst enjoying a lovely large glass of something icy. It was my ritual, my default setting for my entire adult life. This was going to be difficult. Yes, I felt like I wanted that taste of wine and to get that rush and hit of dopamine that the first glass gave me, but during lockdown I hadn't missed it, as I had other distractions to provide me with that reward, like chocolate, TV, reading and crocheting.
And so, looking back, it came as no surprise to me that my first sober spell came to an end a few months after lockdown. I had been in a bubble, in a state of suspended reality.
My inner voice told me “you’ve managed five months sober, you don’t have an issue with the booze. Cut yourself some slack!” I was kidding myself.
Fast-forward to February 2021; I already knew that keeping the ritual was essential, the only thing that needed to change was the contents of my glass, and so began the fun task of checking out the alcohol-free alternatives. I won't go into the details about the copious amounts of beverages I taste-tested - it took lots of time and effort, which was a good distraction. I eventually found a handful of excellent non- and low-alcoholic drinks that worked for me. So now we were getting somewhere. I was all set. But I knew it wasn't truly about the alternatives.
Something had shifted in me, because this time was going to be different, my forever choice. I was sure of it because during that trial period, I had discovered a big truth. And it was quite simply that I preferred the sober me. I had looked inwards and learnt from past attempts and finally was all set to stay on course this time.
It hadn’t just been about the glowing skin, increased energy levels and the nourishing sleep, (fun fact - not drinking makes you look younger) but way more noticeable had been the feeling of freedom I’d experienced, which had changed my attitude. I was more positive, less anxious and felt more connected to the people I love and to my surroundings. I’d figured out exactly why I wanted to make the change. I had turned my face towards the sun and it felt good.
It had taken three years of being sober curious to understand what alcohol did to my mind and body. Being sober will never give me the hit that booze did, and thank goodness for that. My wine alternative was still a prop, but not for masking my stress and anxiety; it was there to remind me that I was owning my choice.
Don't get me wrong, my life’s day to day crap is still there, just like everyone else's, but I deal with it better. Everything I say and do is the real me saying and doing it. Being a sober sister is a blast!
The ritual hasn't changed, just what's in my glass - as long as it's not a diet coke or a warm orange juice, thanks.
This issue, Michelle recommends: The Unexpected Joy of Being Sober, by Catherine Gray