Almost 12 Months – My Toolbox

Yeay! So proud of me! Yes it was me that made the decision and did all the hard work but I had a toolbox that was overflowing to help me to get here.

Podcasts…..I didn’t even know what they were (I was probably too drunk to care) but I have listened to Janey Lee Grace podcast Alcohol Free Life, lots of them, on sobriety and mindful drinking on my way to work every day. Janey Lee Grace is an English singer, author, television presenter and radio DJ. She has now created ‘The Sober Club‘ and is a huge influence in the sobriety movement including doing a wonderful Tedx talk. She is really very interesting.

Audio books – I’ve read all the ‘Quit Lit’ available on audible. It was so good to know other people had the same drink problems and still functioned, they went through quitting booze in the same way and came out all amazing at the other side. They survived! I could relate to each one of them and the books and people’s stories remain in my toolbox for when I may need them.

Friends – This has been one of the best bits. My best friend used to be wine. I had some people friends but didn’t speak to them or see them after 7pm because I was with my actual best friend, wine! Now fast forward almost 12 months and I see my friends, speak to them, hear them and hopefully inspire them as much as they inspire me. I do find myself drawn to interacting with inspiring positive people all of the time now and try to avoid negative situations as much as I possibly can. Now sober though I do have to work on my ‘face’, I’m not very good at being patient and understanding with people who moan constantly. I do need to work on this as not everyone has a positive outlook on life. I must try harder!

Exercise – for those of you who know me I’m slightly obsessed with running, walking, marshaling and yoga. I absolutely love it and everything I get from it. Now I’m hardly a typical sporty person as a curvy size 18. I’m not very fast or very good at exercise and I have literally zero balance. However what I lack in ability I do make up for in passion. I get a lot mentally from exercise. I get clarity, friendship, chatting, laughter, stress relief and it all helps to ‘Calm the Chaos’ in my mind. Seriously…if you can grab your trainers today and move a little, do it.

Alcohol free drinks – Some people stop drinking and don’t have alcohol free drinks, but for me it was what got me through this 12 months. I do like a nice glass, and I like a nice fizz in it. I’ve reduced the amount of this that I drink now but in the early days I drank almost as much as I did proper wine. But I wasn’t concerned. My favourite drinks are Freixenet % and Nosecco. Seriously, I’ve shared these with friends who drink and they like them too. The difference is, you don’t make a dick of yourself! Unless of course, you are a dick! Supermarkets are stocking more alcohol free drinks all of the time, alternatively there is the ‘Wise Bartender

Pete – My partner of 8 years. So the history is, I’ve drank literally the whole time I’ve known him. The whole time. And so did he. Can you imagine one of the first thoughts going sober was…..what if we don’t like each other? What if he doesn’t like me? What if I’m boring? The fact is though, being as bad as I was, we didn’t actually have any quality time anyway. Once my best friend (wine) came out to play…I caused arguments (over bugger all) I fell asleep on the couch after about an hour of opening a bottle, or I’d walk out on him, or go to bed in a huff – I never ever remembered why. I generally was non existent in our relationship. From day one I need not have worried. Pete stopped too which was great, we spoke at length daily about how we were doing with this extreme change. We drove around supermarkets sourcing alcohol free drinks. We’d go out for a drive or long walks so wasn’t sat at home craving wine. Pete has helped me by being my rock every single day. We never ever fall out, we go out for lovely meals, we have more money and more quality time together. Our relationship is amazing and so is he! Why did I even worry?

My boys – So really I don’t like to think of how my drinking has affected my boys who are 19 and 21. And the reason for this is I’m incredibly ashamed. Really fucking ashamed! They saw it every single day. Albeit probably for only a few minutes, they avoided spending time with me (obviously) they would get bugger all sense out of me, I would never remember what they spoke to me about and so really what was the point? We went on holiday’s and parties and their friends, family and girlfriends were around us……around me and the wine. What did the boys think? What did their girlfriends think? What did they say to them to makes excuses for their mum’s behaviour? So now I have a great relationship with them both, we talk every day and I remember it. I’m more patient and speak to them rather than at them. I’m also incredibly proud of them and help them with things including interview prep and Daniels photography work.

To my boys, Daniel and Adam, I’m very sorry for being a really rubbish mum for the last few years! You are in my toolbox as a reminder of what I missed out on.

Writing this blog is actually helping me, for 12 months I have lived by dealing with the practical aspects of not drinking, and keeping myself busy. Now I’m reflecting on my behaviour and being more mindful of how I feel and what I do and say. This is kind of like my therapy. So thank you for listening….

I’ll write again on Sunday when I’m celebrating being 12 months sober. We have a really lovely special day planned and I have some chill time by the sea in mind too 😘 have a great day everyone Xx

And breathe……..

There’s one thing that hasn’t changed since I went sober and that’s the amount of things I try and cram in a day or week! I always did prefer to be busy every day until wine o’clock. The difference now is that I can give all of my energy to doing things now rather than feeling like I’m wading through treacle. I was always counting down the hours until I could sit on the couch for hours drinking wine. This was actually my main driver for such a long time.

So I’ve had a busy old week as usual. Monday I went for a drink and catch up with a friend and sat in a restaurant, had soft drinks and cheesecake and chatted and laughed for hours. I would not have done this previously as I’d have insisted of meeting at 5pm so I could be home for 7 at the latest! I’m so grateful I can be present for those friends and I loved it.

Tuesday is run club day, Tuesdays are just not long enough and that’s a fact! We recently set up a new run club and Tuesdays are the busiest organisation day for the club at night. Lots of co-ordination goes on in the background to make this club work for the over 100 people who attend each week. I always take a moment at the end of each session to just look around and see the runners cooling down, chatting with friends, giving wonderful feedback – we made that happen! And it’s so satisfying to see!   

Wednesday was pretty standard. Busy, but I managed to fit in a class of Retro Legs Bums & Tums despite being incredibly rushed getting home from work and wasn’t sure I could make it, for the short time I was there I absolutely loved it, had so much fun, belly laughs all whilst exercising!

Thursday saw me again incredibly busy with work. I went on a coaching course and spent over 3 hours in the car getting there and back! Then home, bite of tea – usually toast as I’m so strapped for time and back out to a local coffee shop. I attend a weekly session run by an incredibly inspiring friend where we chat about things that motivate us, why we think the way we do, body image, fitness, nutribollocks and science, all whilst drinking hot chocolate and eating cake with friends. I absolutely love it! Who knew!

By Friday I realised I hadn’t actually run myself and I had missed it, so running group had a homework run for the couch to 5k program. I went along with some of our people on the program, running the streets in the dark with flashy lights and hi-viz on. We had a chat amount mental health the whole way and even had some giggles. I went home very happy I had ran, and happy I had dragged others along for the ride (and they thanked me for it)

So today (I’m knackered writing all of this) I was up dead early to go to my favourite park run and run with some graduates of the couch to 5k program. The lady I ran with was fantastic and didn’t stop, I did walk a couple of times – but I still made it and achieved a really good time. The sun was shining, but it was fresh, it was a really great day for a park run and a really great day to be alive! I love my local park run and know a lot of people there. My graduate lady did comment that I’m famous as so many people said hello as we passed them. It’s just that friendly and I love it.

I’m off out to a black tie event tonight at a local stadium, I’m going at the invite of my friend who is nominated for an award for being an inspiration in fitness and wellbeing category. Good luck to you Lesley! I of course will be sat, fully present, with my alcohol-free fizz in my glass and clapping all the inspiration people who have been nominated.

I’ve learnt a lesson this week, and to be honest I’ve known for a good few months, I do need to slow down, just a smidge! But I do get so excited at how much I can fit in and enjoy now. But I do need to be more mindful of taking a little rest every now and then. It’s so important to remember self-care, we would tell others how to look after themselves, but we are often the last to take this advice.

Have a great weekend

Sue x

Everybody has to start somewhere…..

Over a period of 12 months, I had visited my GP, had Cognitive Behavior Therapy, had talking therapies and eventually attended counselling from an alcohol specialist service. Trish my counsellor asked me what I wanted? I said I wanted to cut down my wine consumption. Each week she would encourage me to cut down and each week I would ignore her, obviously I didn’t want to ‘cut down’ after all. At the end of the summer in 2018 I missed a session and didn’t re-arrange and so I slipped off their radar. I’d feel a failure and drink more after the sessions rather than less. After I fell off their radar I had a couple of months of drinking as much as ever, every night.

I started to have some really low points, rock bottom events if you like. I behaved ridiculously, started arguments for no reason whatsoever and walked out of restaurants and hotels and went missing.  I had regular blackouts and would be absolutely mortified the next day when I found out just how ridiculous I’d behaved, it was becoming a nightly occurrence.

One of the low points was a fall out with my mum where she pulled me on my drinking and I was distraught, really distraught. I’m pretty sure both of us cried for days!

Another low point was a couple of days later, I asked my son to lend me money to buy a ‘stop drinking’ book and he came with me to Waterstone’s to buy it. I’m still so ashamed of how low I stooped when under the influence of wine. I wasn’t just under the influence of wine on a nightly basis, it was on my mind pretty much all the time. I’d work and be looking forward to wine o’clock. I’d go running and dripping in sweat call in Tesco on the way home to buy copious amounts of wine.

Anyway, I read the book, downloaded books on audible, joined club soda, followed everyone sobriety related on Instagram, I kept myself extremely busy and I stopped drinking. The first few days were tough, but with the invaluable support of my partner Pete who stopped drinking with me, it was so much easier to do this together. I chose to drink alcohol-free substitutes, Nosecco and Freixenet 0% were my absolute saviours. I drank them by the bottle, but I didn’t care, I wasn’t drinking poison so could justify it.

I didn’t really tell people for the first few days, but then people actually started to comment on me being different. Being chirpier, clearer skin, losing weight, being all-around happier. After a few days and weeks I told everyone as I was so thrilled with how much better I felt.

I genuinely think that I got through those first weeks and months by filling the days full to the brim with ‘quit lit’ audio books, podcasts, books, social media support, running, yoga, park run, visiting friends for coffee and cake. What I was actually doing was making up for all the hours, weeks and years that I had lost of my old wine drinking life.  It felt absolutely amazing to be so full of vitality.

So here I am writing this at almost 12 months sober, people are still really supportive, I’m still enjoying life to the fullest, with such a positive outlook, still doing crazy shit, never still, always on the go, trying to inspire others, trying to help people if they need it. All because I can….

Thank you for reading my blog post! Do something lovely for yourself this weekend, I know I will 😊 X

Disclaimer: I do not condone just stopping drinking, please seek medical advice before you make any drastic lifestyle changes

The 28 Day Alcohol Free Challenge

My Shiny New Life

In the first few months of my sobriety I would tell literally anyone and everyone that would listen, that I had stopped drinking, it was a massive deal to me! The most common thing I told people was that I felt ‘All Shiny and New’ hence the name of the blog.

I know it probably sounds really cheesy, but I don’t care. I suppose people do feel like this if they make such positive changes to their lives. For me, giving up Alcohol has been the most empowering thing I have done. I have now taken back the control that I had lost over the past 8-9 years. And that feels great! So here’s a few reasons why my life feels All Shiny and New?

  • My day starts with waking up feeling alive and fresh, clear headed and calm. “I’m not the kind of person to leap out of bed singing with the birds or doing cartwheels, but still I have a mental clarity like I’ve never had”
  • I have direction! “I know what I’m doing each day and have the energy and focus to deal with what life throws at me – even the bullshit”
  • I sleep, like a bloody baby, its amazing!
  • I can focus on my work and do a good job, I have no idea how I functioned in my job in recent years.
  • I exercise most nights. “I’ve not really got any better at the whole exercise thing, but it’s certainly easier to get off my arse and exercise is so much more enjoyable”

These might not sound like massive things to everyone else, but collectively these things have changed my life, daily.

I still have no free time

But even though I’m All Shiny and New some things will never change!

  • I’m always late! “Literally for everything”
  • I’m always skint, who takes all of my money?
  • I have no concept of time, like at all! Following on from me being late, I then spend my time taking on more tasks that any one person can handle.

However, I am honestly all round a much better and happier, more motivated person. Some might say All Shiny and New……….

Look out for the next post in a few days with more information on ‘Go Sober for October’ for anyone partaking. I’ll put some ideas and hints and tips in with hopefully a smidge of inspiration and motivation.

Thank you for reading and if you haven’t read ‘my slippery slope’ blog from a couple of days ago, please take a look 🙂 Sue x

My Slippery Slope

What made me want to stop drinking? Nothing actually, there was no ‘wanting’ about it; it was a need more than anything. I needed to stop saying ‘just one or two – which turned into much more’ I needed to stop waking up at 3am worried about what time I went to bed, did I behave like a tit, did we fall out, did I post random shit on social media (this was usually the case)

People did and still do ask me did I try to moderate my alcohol consumption? Just don’t drink as much? Just have a couple of glasses? I think some people are born without an off switch and I was one of them – but also alcohol is much more addictive than we think. We tend to associate someone who is an alcohol addict as a homeless person on the street drinking cider at 10am. But there are far more people addicted to and dependent upon alcohol than ever and yet they manage to hold down a job, a home and be a parent. These people are in fact fully functioning alcoholics.   

And one day that can come up and bite you on the arse, right out of nowhere! Now some of us are lucky enough to be able to do something about it, yes I consider myself very very lucky! I had lots of low moments, lots of really stupid shit I did where I would disappear and walk out of restaurants and Pete would have no idea where I was, I usually rang my youngest son to come and rescue me. Now I’m mortified about this, but at the time he kindly rescued me, had a word with me and mentioned having wine in the house wasn’t a good idea! Fancy your child having to tell you this. Not great!

One of my last low points was my sister’s hen party last year, I really don’t remember half of it, I was completely wasted and apparently spent a fair bit of time crying, Pete had to come and pick me up – fairly early on in the evening. I’ve blocked most of it out and feel a shudder when I see the pictures. (Sorry Laura)

So, have I always been a big drinker? No actually. I did the whole drinking in the park as a teenager when I was at school, on a Friday night. Then straight from school I met my first husband, Terry, the kid’s dad. It wasn’t very often we would drink, maybe on a night out. Certainly not in the house. I had the kids and still wasn’t a big drinker, I would get drunk on nights out, but the nights out weren’t regular enough for me to have a drink problem.

I probably really made it to being about 35 before I started going out and socialising and drinking lots. I was on my second marriage, that failed,  and was single for the first time in my life, off I was celebrating singledom and socialising at every given opportunity. I would say at this stage, still not drinking in the house, but binge drinking most weekends. I had turned into a right party animal.

I had been suffering from anxiety during my failed relationship and so even though I was enjoying being single now, I was still anxious, nervous and stressy. My mum told me recently that I was like this all through my childhood!  As time has gone on, I’ve realised two things about alcohol and my anxiety. Firstly, I drank because I was anxious and stressed and secondly I was anxious and stressed as a result of over-drinking. It was a vicious cycle!

So for the next years 8 or 9 years, I self-medicated to de-stress. I started to drink in the house and binged at weekends.  8 years ago I met Pete (whilst drunk), we would regularly indulge in drunken antics in town, partying until stupid o’clock, I don’t know how old I think I was, I would often gate-crash his work nights out, we’d end up in Wetherspoons or the village (depending on cash flow) every Friday night drinking numerous bottles of wine between us. We would buy wine most nights of the week and life was great, fast paced, but more often than not I was drunk of an evening and hung over the next day.

I would say I’ve known for at least a couple of years before stopping drinking that I actually needed to stop. I blamed my Dad passing away for my increased intake of wine, in the early days I would drown my sorrows in wine and then sit and cry. If I wasn’t crying I was causing an argument over random shit. In all honesty I was becoming a bloody nightmare!

In a later blog I will talk about how I stopped and what helped me to do it, but initially I wanted to give a history of my drinking to put my journey into context.

For people wondering why on earth I’m writing a blog, it can’t be because I’m bored! I’ve certainly not got time to be bored. But if writing a blog and sharing my story helps one person to cut down a little, or a lot then my story was worth sharing.  

In future blogs I will share How I started, my Toolbox, the firsts of everything, my shiny new life, and How Exercise and Challenges have changed my life

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