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Which pubs, bars, restaurants and take-aways do you avoid?
messageSeeking Sober Sisters for mindful drinking experiences
Posted by tarafitness March 03, 04:49PM

Hi fellow parents/carers.

Like a large number of people, I resolved to take a break from alcohol during January.  The run up to Christmas and the NY had seen a marked increase in my alcohol consumption, and subsequently my weight.  I was also experiencing a kind of numbing mind fog, which I thought might be exacerbated by the booze (as well as an increasing sense of anxiety and unease - which I assumed was unrelated, but have since realised was very much not).

A week or so into my short term sobriety stint, I started assessing my relationship with alcohol, and decided to do a bit of reading on the matter.  I'm not going to go into too many details on this post, except to say that I discovered that I fell into the category of 'grey area drinker':  Not a 'very occasional glass or two of wine' girl, but also not a steaming-drunk, blacking-out, morning-drinking type either.  I found that more and more I was increasingly becoming reliant on that glass of wine at the end of the day, to 'help me cope' with the chaos around mealtimes and the trauma that often can be the bedtime routine.  Mummy juice was in full flow... Wine O'clock anyone?  Is it too early for gin?? etc... It all helps, right?  Except when it doesn't.

It's really hard to find support for parents - or just anyone really - wanting to quit/control alcohol who doesn't identify with the 'alcoholic' label, and who hasn't hit rock bottom.  AA would be entirely inappropriate for me (not least because I'm an atheist), and the only nearby SMART meeting is on a weekday (it happens to be a day I'm not working, but I've been told I can't take my toddler with me, so that counts that out!).  

I didn't find hard to quit alcohol itself - before I was even half way through Alan Carr's Easy Way to Control Alcohol I knew that I wouldn't drink again.  However it has still been challenging to change my habits and mindset.  To develop healthier coping strategies for life as a working parent of small children.  To learn how to cope with cravings, and to be able to sit with the emotions that I'm not able to soften/dampen down with alcohol any more, no matter how uncomfortable that may feel.

It really feels like alcohol is so deeply entrenched in our culture, not only as Brits, but also as parents, particularly Mums, and it's not something I've even so much as questioned until now.  I find this really startling, and I'd love hear from anyone else who is also sober/teetotal/alcohol-free/a non-drinker or just sober curious, as it seems that the only people I know who don't drink are pregnant!  I've read/listened to a tonne of interesting and inspirational 'quit-lit' lately, and I would dearly love to discuss this all some more, so PM me if you're interested in doing so.

Cheers! (haha)

Tara

messageRe: Seeking Sober Sisters for mindful drinking experiences
Posted by Angelina March 04, 01:05PM

I don't drink but it sounds like you need to explore a whole new way of life - things like mindfulness, yoga, meditation - all things that help you manage your emotions and wellbeing - everything that alcohol helps you hide/ ignore 9in the short term anyway).

messageRe: Seeking Sober Sisters for mindful drinking experiences
Posted by LondonFermentation March 04, 07:37PM

I quit booze in Dec 2018 and never looked back. Happy to chat more smiling smiley

messageRe: Seeking Sober Sisters for mindful drinking experiences
Posted by tarafitness March 07, 12:24AM

Angelina Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> I don't drink but it sounds like you need to
> explore a whole new way of life - things like
> mindfulness, yoga, meditation - all things that
> help you manage your emotions and wellbeing -
> everything that alcohol helps you hide/ ignore 9in
> the short term anyway).

Thank you, that's excellent advice. I've recently started a local yoga class on the weekend and I'm absolutely loving it - not least for being about to carve out a bit of me-time!

I tried mindfulness meditation a few years ago, but didn't keep up the practice. I've got the 'Serenity' app which I'm finding helpful - when I remember to do it! I know it will be helpful when I get back into it properly.

I've read that alcohol can infantilise you to a certain extent - if you use it to manage your emotions. Your emotional development stunts, and can even cease if you're using it to suppress and numb experiences that are difficult or painful. I think also that - because of the addictive nature of alcohol - the more you use it to cope with life when it gets tricky, the more opportunities you will find to drink, as everyday situations that you were previously able to handle, start to feel insurmountable without a large glass of vino to take the edge off. I know that was certainly getting to be the case with me!

messageRe: Seeking Sober Sisters for mindful drinking experiences
Posted by tarafitness March 07, 12:25AM

LondonFermentation Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> I quit booze in Dec 2018 and never looked back.
> Happy to chat more smiling smiley


yay! that's awesome. I'll get in touch smiling smiley

messageRe: Seeking Sober Sisters for mindful drinking experiences
Posted by Soylent Green March 07, 12:31PM

I became virtually tee-total two and a half years ago when I was diagnosed with a chronic liver condition (not alcohol related). Although I do not miss it on a day to day basis, I still find social occasions difficult. There reaches a point in the evening when you feel a chasm between you and your 'merry' friends, whose loud, slightly incoherent banter is no longer amusing to the stone cold sober. At this point I usually bow out gracefully, but it leaves me feeling isolated. You have to be brave to go to a party and not drink, especially as unlike quitting smoking, no one congratulates you for giving up drinking. They are more likely to make a joke about it and commiserate without sympathy or empathy.

messageRe: Seeking Sober Sisters for mindful drinking experiences
Posted by tarafitness March 10, 04:55PM

Soylent Green Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> I became virtually tee-total two and a half years
> ago when I was diagnosed with a chronic liver
> condition (not alcohol related). Although I do
> not miss it on a day to day basis, I still find
> social occasions difficult. There reaches a point
> in the evening when you feel a chasm between you
> and your 'merry' friends, whose loud, slightly
> incoherent banter is no longer amusing to the
> stone cold sober. At this point I usually bow out
> gracefully, but it leaves me feeling isolated. You
> have to be brave to go to a party and not drink,
> especially as unlike quitting smoking, no one
> congratulates you for giving up drinking. They
> are more likely to make a joke about it and
> commiserate without sympathy or empathy.

I totally agree, and this has been a common theme throughout the quit-lit I've been reading.  It's been such a revelation, in as much as disclosing to me my own complicity in the alcohol brainwash that (Western) society undergoes.  Despite alcohol being a highly addictive and harmful drug, for which there is no safe minimum, its consumption is actively encouraged and pushed onto others.  Advertising for it is everywhere.  Greeting cards are adorned with it.  As children it's omnipresent, and kids know of it as a 'special grown up liquid' that only adults drink, and therefore something to look forward to when they are themselves of that age.  

One of the triggers that prompted my booze break happened at work drinks in the run up to Christmas.  I was talking to a colleague whom I discovered doesn't drink.  I asked her if it was a 'religious thing' (embarrassing point #1 - it was none of my business, and she didn't owe me an explanation!), and when she told me that it was simply because she didn't like the taste, I then proceeded to tell her about all the alcoholic drinks that were 'actually quite tasty', and even encourage her to try mine - WTF?! This seemed perfectly normal behaviour at the time (probably because I was tipsy), but afterwards I did look back and think it troubling that I was trying to push alcohol on someone who was perfectly happy without it.  I imagine that some part of this was due to the fact that I was envious/incredulous of her happiness, as I was relying on alcohol to give me mine. Also, alcohol - ethanol - is a vile tasting substance that can kill you if you drink it in its pure form.  It only 'tastes nice' when we mask the flavour and/or drink enough that we develop a tolerance/taste for it.  She was right to stick to her unpoisoned orange juice!

I've read that if you tell people you've stopped drinking, you find that - without prompt or invitation - many people start telling you of the many reasons why they don't need to do so themselves.  How they can take it or leave it, only drink a few times a week, really like the taste, etc... I experienced a bit of this myself last week, and I can't complain at all because I'm convinced I did the exact thing myself.  I know that despite previously finding IPAs really foul, I'd got to the point where I was beginning to like some less-hoppy styles.  I also found other people's non-drinking a threat to my own drinking, and I'm pretty certain that on more than one occasion, I've repeated that awful "I don't really trust people who don't drink" phrase - as if imbibing a mind-altering substance that removes your inhibitions makes you *more* trustworthy?? smiling smiley

I haven't been out a great deal since I stopped drinking, certainly not to any proper parties.  I'm a bit apprehensive at the thought - not because I think I'll be tempted to drink (that happened last night when my toddler was being an absolute nightmare) - but because of what you've described, that being on a different level to your peers... nobody wants to be the odd one out eh?  I'm not pregnant so I have no 'excuse' not to drink.  How funny is that, that I need an excuse 'not to'.  You never have to justify your reasons to not snort a line of coke, and nowadays it's perfectly acceptable to turn down an offered cigarette. 

Honestly, the last couple of months have been such an eye-opener to me!

messageRe: Seeking Sober Sisters for mindful drinking experiences
Posted by circlepsychology March 11, 07:28AM

Some people have found alcohol challenges useful in becoming sober (some websites and books on this) and a book by Catherine Gray - the unexpected joy of becoming sober.

If anybody is really struggling, we also have an addiction specialist at Circle Psychology Partners, Laura Smart. She has availability from April on Lordship lane www.circlepsychologypartners.co.uk

messageRe: Seeking Sober Sisters for mindful drinking experiences
Posted by tarafitness March 11, 12:58PM

circlepsychology Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Some people have found alcohol challenges useful
> in becoming sober (some websites and books on
> this) and a book by Catherine Gray - the
> unexpected joy of becoming sober.
>
> If anybody is really struggling, we also have an
> addiction specialist at Circle Psychology
> Partners, Laura Smart. She has availability from
> April on Lordship lane
> www.circlepsychologypartners.co.uk

Ooh yes, good point, challenges are a great way to assess how your body responds when you eliminate something for a set period.
Annie Grace, author of This Naked Mind (which is such an excellent read/listen), runs a free 30 day challenge called The Alcohol Experiment.  You get a daily email with tips and videos, as well as access to the challenge site where you can find more info/support, journal your experiences throughout the 30 days, and connect with others (if you wish).

I've read that 30 days might not be long enough to see health changes in full.  I'm 69 days in and feel a lot better than I did at 30.  A popular challenge is the 100 Day Sober Challenge.  Clare Pooley set herself that number of days, and then blogged about it.  Her blog led to a book called The Sober Diaries, which is very funny and at times incredibly touching.  It's also so relatable if you're a mum!

Other books-wise: yes, The Unexpected Joy of Being Sober is a fantastic read!  I also enjoyed Quit Like a Woman, Blackout, Sober Curious, Alcohol Lied to Me and We are the Luckiest (all listened to as audiobooks read by the authors themselves).  I'd love to discuss some of these with anyone else who has read them.  A few of these books also have associated facebook support groups, and there are online community sites such as Soberistas and Club Soda, the latter being a great source of information regarding low/no alcohol drink options/companies, venues that stock them, and forthcoming events.  Oh yeah, and they've recently started up a Club Soda podcast, which seems quite fun, with interviews and helpful info smiling smiley  I've also been listening to back episodes of the Home Podcast, which was one run by Holly Whitaker and Laura McKowen (two of the authors from the list above) for a few years.

messageRe: Seeking Sober Sisters for mindful drinking experiences
Posted by Angelina March 11, 12:59PM

You are right Tara, there is a huge amount of social conditioning around drinking.

It's a real money spinner and addictive - why wouldn't it be pushed on us all? And who doesn't like to forget everything and have a good time? So, it sounds like a win - win.

Unfortunately, I've seen the otherside, as have many people. I used to enjoy the social side, then I met a whole set of people who didn't drink at all - and for years I didn't.

And then I did, but for darker reasons - and of course this was never going to be good. I asked myself why I was doing it and had no good answer, so I just stopped. A few one offs (leading to the same conclusion) and just don't.

My other half doesn't and never has, my teen did and now doesn't (having realised you bring nothing to the party if you're drunk and you need looking after - that you're better to be the one that brings the music).

I'm not going to criticise people who do drink but you can find other things in common and do things that are a different type of fun. There is little overlap though.


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