“Sober is not boring” – a bold statement that is so true. Leanie shares her blog post celebrating the fun to be found stone cold sober.

Celebrating

Two and half weeks of sobriety deserves to be celebrated with a cheeky little blog post. I hope this gives a glimpse into the challenging attitudes one faces when one decides to make that extraordinary – and apparently incomprehensible – leap into NOT wanting to poison oneself on a daily basis.

Things I’ve heard since I decided to stop drinking: “I didn’t realize you were feeling so bad.” “Yeah right, I’ve heard that before.” “But a little bit of what you fancy does you good!” and “Come on, don’t be boring, just have one with me.”

It’s Your Problem, Not Mine

My response to those, in order:

I don’t “feel bad.” In fact, I’m totally in love with my life in every respect, more than ever before. Annoyingly so. I want to slap myself repeatedly about the chops with a half-read self-help book. The things I adore include my kid, my job, my little cottage, my music and songwriting. Unbelievably, I even love my relationship with my ex-husband, still my friend and love of my life, my friends and family, my writing, my art, my yoga. Aside from the odd hormonal cataclysm, my decidedly restricted culinary skills and the fact that I can’t seem to keep a plant alive for more than three months, everything is groovy. I’m a happy little hippie.

That makes me realize that, as much as I didn’t need drink before, I certainly don’t need it now.

My Need Has Ceased To Be

It is pushing up the daisies. That need I had has become an annoying, expensive habit that controlled my thinking and muddied the process of doing the things I wanted to do.

My need, in actual fact, never ‘was’.

My need is ‘deed’ (that last bit needs to be spoken in a Mike Myer-style Scottish accent to appreciate its maximum hilarity). Sober is not boring but it is eye opening.

Onwards

Yes, of course you’ve “heard it before.” That’s because I stopped drinking before (after reading Jason Vale) but started again, for some reason, after a happy few months. Yes, I failed, that time. Alcohol’s myth returned. I thought I could moderate my drinking. I could, and can still, to an extent. Several days can go by without drinking.

On those days I’m a veritable angel of abstinence. I have special halo polish. When I do drink, I do so with great gusto. I’m excellent at it. I am filled with the spirit of hedonism, supping away, feeling creative, feeling philosophical, musical, lyrical. The truth is, nothing particularly creative ever results from those times. Scribbled-on scraps of paper are disposed of the next morning, predictable chord sequences and cheesy lyrics dive headfirst into the bin willingly, me left with self-ridicule and a fuzzy brain.

Alcohol Lies

Drinking doesn’t de-stress me. The very act of moderating becomes a stress in itself. Not drinking is the freest I’ve ever felt. It might be that this is another phase. I may go back to drinking and try to do it moderately and then slide merrily down that hazy helter skelter until I hit the bottom and start all over again. But for now, I don’t want to.

I can see alcohol for what it really is.

Flavoured poison that kills off brain cells and damages my body, even in moderate amounts. Addictive liquid that kills far more people than other, “illegal” drugs. Alcohol is not fun and sober is not boring.

Fancy That

“A little bit of what you fancy.” Why do we “fancy” it, though? Did we fancy alcohol when we were kids? Did we need it to make parties more fun? No. We are conditioned by advertising and by society to believe that our lives are somehow inferior without alcohol. That alcohol is cool, that it gives us courage, that it makes us have more fun, that it’s a reward after a hard day (or any day, actually). Mums chirp cheekily on Facebook, “Is it wine o’clock yet?” Posts proudly declaring today’s status as “Hanging” or “Last night must have been fun – I can’t remember it.” Without plagiarising authors who have written on the subject, suffice to say that

alcohol actually doesn’t relieve stress, it causes us stress.

It actually doesn’t taste nice until we grow accustomed to the taste, it suppresses our senses so that actually, we don’t have more fun. We just don’t care so much about being bored or about the idiotic things we do or say when we’re under the influence. Sober is not boring – it’s actually nice to remember what you did and what you talked about the next day.

Moderation

As for “a little bit” – of course, I get that. If you can do that, and you want to, then great.

But for me, and for most, a little bit doesn’t stop there.

It becomes a lot. And that then brings on feelings of guilt, lethargy, deadened senses, wasted time. For now, at least, I don’t want even a little bit.

It has been proven that this realisation, this debunking of the myths surrounding “flavoured ethanol,” leads to something apparently called “spontaneous sobriety” (I rather like that, don’t you? It sounds crazy and carefree). This is a far more successful route to stopping alcohol abuse than support groups like the AA, who treat alcoholism like an incurable illness that needs to be fought against and suffered forever more.

Doesn’t it make more sense to teach your brain to unlearn the stuff we’ve been conditioned to think about booze, so that drinking is no longer appealing?

Support Helps

Many of my friends and family have been really supportive and I’m thankful for the things they have said. Their comments help to stamp out those little niggling thoughts that creep in every now and then, for a while, while my brain adjusts to this reconditioning. So far though, I haven’t even missed it. Not a jot. No one needs to worry about drinking around me. That’s cool. Just don’t be freaked out when I have a cup of tea and dance like the Mad Hatter on speed. Sober is not boring and neither am I.

Sober Is Not Boring

I feel happier, I wake up bouncy(ish). Food tastes better. I can make plans without wondering whether I might feel “worse for wear” that day. Way more stuff gets done in the evening – drawing, reading, playing music, yoga. I feel more attuned to the natural highs of life, like listening to a good tune, dancing like a loon, feeling the sun on my face or simply having a cup of herbal tea with a book and an incense stick burning. I’ve added years to my life already, without even considering the health benefits.

Judge Not

One thing that has become blatantly apparent to me is this: those few who (albeit unwittingly and with good intentions) belittle your decision not to drink, simply want to justify their decision to carry on drinking. That’s all it is.

The one thing I’ll never do is lecture anyone on their choice. But please don’t belittle mine. I’m sober as a judge. But I’m not judging.

Now, is it carrot juice o’clock yet?

Find out how sober is not boring and the fun you can reclaim by not drinking. Read a sample of This Naked Mind here!

Share your story with us and inspire others to stop – just like you did!

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