I’m back…

Oh dear, it’s almost two months since I last posted. I slipped back into drinking again during this time but fortunately nothing too dramatic or excessive. It started creeping up again – as it always does. It started interfering with my health, happiness and productivity again – as it always does. I’ve had no horrendous hangovers but too many days of feeling a bit crappy for the whole day. It dawned on me again that this is shit – as it always does…

So, here I am again on day 3 🙂

Still here

I thought it was time I updated here, it’s been quite a while. I’ve been absent for a few reasons, some good, some not so good. I’ve still been reading other blogs at times and still am so appreciative of the courage and honesty displayed there even though I’ve been silent about it.

I’ve been spending any spare time on my artwork and am now soooo close to having a full enough portfolio of illustrations to start approaching people to kick off my goal of making a living from it. So that is definitely good.

My drinking has been on again, off again, going round in circles. I’ve sometimes been off for as long as 3 weeks but just keep slipping back into it. Each time I end up drinking again I seem to just push it a little harder which is obviously such a bad sign. It’s not normal or healthy to know that a full bottle of wine just isn’t going to be enough. I usually buy some cans of cider or beer *for my partner* at the same time as the wine and end up starting on that too.

I’m sick and tired, depressed and have little energy at the moment. It’s day one and I’m trying again.

I’ve been doing a lot of meditation and listening to buddhism podcasts. I love the teaching of Josh Korda from dharmapunx. Something about his talks really resonate on a deep level. It’s increasingly becoming clear to me that the low-level feelings of discomfort and alienation that I can’t ever remember not feeling is the core problem. I’ve come to the conclusion that my spiritual work and my sobriety work are inextricably linked. After reflecting on this I changed the sub-header of this blog from ‘Drinking less and living more’ to ‘Drinking less and waking up’.

Hugs to all, whatever day you’re on, I hope it’s a good one for you x

8 days in and doing OK

Not terrible, not great but OK – which is OK for now.

It’s been an eventful week with a real mixture of experiences and feelings. I went out bowling with some people from work and didn’t drink which was surprisingly enjoyable. I find it hard to do general chat with people I don’t really know and usually hide behind a few drinks. Doing it sober was easier because my head wasn’t totally fuddled and I could think straight and talk sense. I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s not actually any easier to do drunk – I think I just talk more crap and tell myself I’ve done OK with it.

What I did find interesting was nobody really noticed or commented on me not drinking. I drank pints of soda and lime and in the dim lighting they may have looked like pints of lager. When we left, people were asking myself and my partner how we were getting home. When I told them I was driving they finally realised I hadn’t been drinking.

Yesterday was a nice sunny day where I am and I went to sit in the garden with the cat. I’ve realised this is a big trigger for me, it’s what set me off 9 days ago. I was thinking ‘Ooh, wouldn’t it be nice to have a glass of wine in the sun and read my book?’ The drinking part of my mind has a very short memory. That’s exactly how it started last time. I drank the bottle, went to my local shop and bought another bottle and some chippy chips. I stuffed myself with chips, drank half of the 2nd bottle, crashed out on the sofa, woke up in the early hours with a sinking heart and a banging head and proceeded to drink what was left. This is the sorry scenario I played out in my mind yesterday to answer that nagging craving voice.

I felt restless, flat, bored and had craving after craving all day and evening. I have so little motivation to do anything at the moment. The house is a mess. I’ve done almost no artwork. I’ve slept huge amounts and binge-watched netflix. I’ve eaten crap food and not really cooked much. An extremely slobby unproductive week all in all – but at least I didn’t drink! I did manage to do a trip to the supermarket yesterday for groceries and just ignore the wine section although I really, really, REALLY wanted a drink. That felt like a real achievement.

I’ve identified a Tuesday meditation class and a Thursday SMART meeting and my next goals are to start attending these. As a person who considers two ‘social/out of the home’ events a month to be plenty to suddenly go to things twice a week will be a big leap. Although I really enjoy and need time alone as a ‘creative introvert’ type it has gone too far in the last few years. I’m tending to isolate and lose the momentum to face my fears/intertia and go out and meet new people.

I feel like I need to meet people that understand where I’m at and what I’m feeling. My few old friends and partner are lovely people but none of them seem to understand or believe how deep my problems run. My wolfie voice is saying ‘See! You’re really not that bad! Everybody says so.’ but it’s time to stop listening to that and acknowledge that I’ve had about 27 years to get really good at hiding aspects of my drinking.

That’s all for now. Strength and hugs to anybody who’s struggling and a happy sober weekend to all X

I’m struggling

Struggling with what? Well, everything really. I’m struggling to write this and with the things I’m finally having to admit to myself and what it all means for my life.

I slipped really badly on two occasions in the last couple of weeks. When I started out on an alcohol-free January it was an experiment, a health-improvement measure but not really a serious admission of having an alcohol problem. Things are changing and I’m admitting I do have a problem.

I spent the last 36 hours mainly in bed. At first really hung over and then just feeling deflated, defeated, anxious and depressed, unable to face life and the world. I’m emerging now – I have to, I’m working tonight and I have stuff to do today to keep things in my general life together.

I’m trying to ‘try different’ and have started listening to podcasts. I’ve discovered the bubble hour and the Josh Korda talks which I particularly love. I can’t remember specifically which blogs linked to these but if yours does then thank you, they are wonderful resources. I’ve managed to link up an ancient ipod shuffle with itunes on my PC so I can listen to them while I’m at work. I’m also listening to them when I’m working on my artwork at home which is proving to be a lovely combination.

I’ve identified some SMART recovery meetings that are local to me and am thinking about going but as I’ve written before, walking into a room full of strangers is really not my strong point. Extreme social awkwardness and anxiety is probably the original reason I embraced alcohol so fondly so it’s going to be a huge hurdle to get over and actually go anywhere. I’ve also found a local buddhist centre where I can go to meditation classes but I have the same issue about actually getting there.

I’m still struggling with what to call this, how to label where I’m at, or whether to label it at all. Admitting it’s moved from an experiment to a problem is partly terrifying, partly a relief and it’s also triggering something akin to a feeling of grief. Part of me has taken a deep breath, a huge sigh of relief and part of me is flailing around like a wild animal saying ‘Don’t even think about using the A word you crazy fucking bitch!’.

Anyway, that’s where I’m currently at. It’s not a comfortable place but it is what it is. It’s time to get serious about committing to changing things and I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed. I do feel a bit better now I’m written this out so if you’ve made it this far, thanks for reading.

Wishing you all a lovely weekend.

Day 22 – weird dreams, more self-analysis and one reason why I think I started drinking

I don’t know what is going on with my dreams but it’s all getting seriously weird. I vaguely remember reading somewhere recently that alcohol depletes vitamin B12 and a shortage of B12 leads to poor dream recall. That fits, I’ve rarely remembered my dreams for years. In the last 22 days I’ve remember quite a few – vividly!

Yesterday I was throwing some sort of family party on a houseboat which involved my rampantly anti-drugs 80-something father smoking hash in a bong – the absolute and total horror!!! Today it got even stranger. I was with one of my historically hard-drinking-buddies in some sort of foreign package holiday scenario – lots of sunshine, outdoor bars and people partying. I had a craving for a nice cold pint of lager but resisted. Then I swallowed a pill that a total stranger just popped into my mouth. WTF?! I haven’t taken anything recreational in pill form since my twenties and even then I was always very, very cautious and would absolutely never in a million years just pop an unknown pill from a random stranger. Just what is going on in my head at night? (well, day actually – I’m a day-sleeper because of my job). Unbelieveable! I really don’t know what to make of that.

On a less weird note, I’ve woken up to find I’ve had some traffic to my blog and even some followers. My heart is warmed and I’m far more touched than is probably cool in this situation, but that’s me, about as ‘uncool’ and socially clueless as it gets by ‘normal’ standards 😀 I’ve become aware I’m writing the blog in a sort of diary form, not really reaching out in any way or getting involved in any of the other blogs I read. This is not because I don’t want to I just find it excruciatingly difficult to connect to people. I’m like this in real life and it seems I’m the same online. I’ve even clicked on ‘leave a comment’ a few times and sat starting at the empty comment box like a rabbit in headlights and eventually just given up and left. I’m also highly self-conscious about the fact that for some reason I’m finding it reasonably easy to abstain when others are really struggling. I’m paranoid about coming across as smug because that’s the last thing I want. I can relate to so many of the struggles that I read about – they just happened to me before I started this blog.

I’m pretty sure this is learned behaviour that stems from my childhood experiences. This is a subject I’m utterly and painfully uncomfortable writing about – even on an anonymous blog – which I why I think that I have to. I also think it goes some way to explaining how I fell in love with alcohol. I don’t really know how to start this and it’s probably not going to read that coherently because my thoughts squirm around when I try to pin them down, but here goes…

I’m not a fan of labels. I don’t want to be labelled as I don’t like the assumptions that so frequently go with them. Having said that, I’ve been given a few over the years – sometimes viciously and slyly stuck somewhere up my mid-back where I can’t see them – the ‘kick me’ joke style – and sometimes with the best of intentions. I’ve tried to peel them all off, roll them into a small ball and flick them as far away as possible. The collection I’ve had include:

Freak, weirdo, misfit, loner, loser, geek, boring, clueless, ugly, other, stoner, pisshead, quirky, chicken, brave, beautiful, different, maverick, radical, sensitive, gifted, creative, funny etc.

I’ve included positive labels too even though they’re not the ones that started me drinking. No matter how many people have given me negative labels I’ve never lost my belief in the existence of people that would – and have – given me good ones, they’re out there but there’s just not as many of them. I fear and dislike closed-mindedness, closed-heartedness, meanness of spirit and people (including myself) being judgemental. Even though in my more compassionate moments I try to remember that most mean behaviour is motivated by fear more than anything else I also have slowly, over many years and incidents been conditioned to expect the worst from people.

To cut a very long story short I’d summarise it as follows. I have always been a misfit and an outsider. I was bullied the whole way through school and spent most of my childhood in such a state of anxiety that the adrenaline and nausea would be pumping from a few seconds after waking, the whole day would be torture and I’d be miserable and exhausted by the end of each day. I wasn’t totally alone, there were always 1 or 2 people that would recognise my ‘otherness’ and be drawn to it. There was fortunately always a small lifeline of friendship to keep me sane but in the main I can honestly say I feel like my life started the day I left school.

On top of that there were also other ‘unpredictable shit happens’ life events in my early childhood that took away any sense of financial security and even the security that a parent would stay alive (redundancy and serious parental illness). I remember feeling that no matter where I looked, there was nothing solid to hold on to. When I hear people talk about the joy of carefree and golden childhood days I just can’t connect to that concept. I visualise it as being like a fairground house of horrors with the floor moving around and scary shit jumping out at me from all angles. Even in my 40s my pulse raises and my muscles tense up when I concentrate on memories of being a kid. I remember being so tired of coping that I actually broke my own arm over a concrete step just to get a few days away from school. I still don’t know how I did that – I’m such a pain wuss.

You get the general picture. I was a wreck of a super-high-anxiety, rabbit in headlights teenager on the edge of a nervous breakdown sort of kid. Eww, blimey even just describing this is taking me as close to wanting a drink as I’ve been for 3 weeks. I’m not going to though.

Then, at 14, hidden away in some woodland near my dreaded secondary school I got drunk for the first time. Oh my fucking god, the bliss I felt that day. I was drinking cans of guinness and trying to ignore how foul it tasted. When that first sense of creeping numbness started I could feel my tightly strung-out tension receding. The more I drank, the further away all the shit seemed to go. For the first time ever I was feeling something close to relaxation and it felt like some sort of divine revelation. No wonder I fell in love with drinking from then on.

My drinking partner that day was my best friend at the time – a lass even more way-out-there-on-the-fringes than myself. I think we both had a similar sense of relief that day and both continued to drink heavily from that day onwards. I always remained fairly high-functioning but sadly she went into a slow slide into mental illness (depression and paranoid schizophrenia) and some horrendous self-induced tragedies. That’s a whole other long story 😦

So, I don’t think that was too long or rambling – I have a tendency to stray off the point when I write. I’d say I spent the first 30 years of my life desperately wanting to fit in) or at least be unobtrusive in not doing so) and trying to pretend to be more normal. I’ve spent the last 10 years observing that what is classed as ‘normal’ in our society is actually not all it’s cracked up to be and preferring my take on life – finally growing to like my ‘otherness’. I can even say that now, entering my 40s I’m actually very happy to have my ‘otherness’ and to be me. I’m not perfect and I’ve made plenty of mistakes but I can honestly say that I like and respect myself and my values, strengths and weaknesses.

Now I’ve (mostly) stopped wishing to be anything other than what I am and started embracing who and what I am it’s brought a level of inner peace that’s eluded me for most of my life. I suppose it’s a far healthier version of what I thought I was feeling all those years ago in the woods with the illicit guinness. It’s a tentative peace and I can easily lose contact with it but I know it’s always there within my reach as long as I am able to make the effort to keep an attitude of self-honesty, gratitude and acceptance rather than lose my way worrying about ‘social norms’ or chasing after a false alcohol-induced copy of it.

Bloody hell I’m exhausted now, I think I need a nice cup of tea. If you’ve got as far as this then thanks for reading and I’ll make you a virtual cuppa too 🙂

Day 21 – Less obsession and more pies please

A whole 3 weeks have gone by since I last had any booze. That’s the longest time without a drink in gawd knows how long, I can’t even remember it’s that long ago. Although I still get a kick every day when I check the day counter app on my phone I find I’m spending less time thinking about not drinking which is a big difference from when I first started.

I’ve moved on to figuring out why it’s been easier to stop this time, compared with previous attempts. Somehow, something has flipped that mysterious ‘switch’ in my head that somehow changes everything.

It’s not the first time it’s happened to me. I used to be a smoker. I used to smoke like a bloody chimney in fact – for 13 years. I tried to quit over and over and failed. I read the Allen Carr book and quit, then failed again.

I’ve come to the conclusion that quitting an addiction is as inexplicable as falling in love. No amount of intellectual understanding or logic can tell you if you’re in love – a switch flicks and you just are, and the thing that flips that switch is such an individual, subjective choice. I spent so many days making and pondering lists regarding smoking – and later drinking. Even though the pros list was tiny (and mostly illusory) and the cons list was as long as my arm it still didn’t do it. Even the living example of my mum who had a serious smoking related illness at far too young an age wasn’t enough to make me ‘get it’.

I think eventually I just got too tired of feeling shit all the time. I clearly remember walking up the hill to the nearest tube station to go to work one morning. I was in a sorry-ass state that day. I was severely hung over (a daily occurrence back then) and was struggling to walk up the hill. I had a fag on the go, was out of breath and was coughing and spluttering and coughing some more, holding onto my head because it felt like it was going to fall off and wondering if I was going to have to throw up in the gutter because I felt so sick. I remember thinking ‘This is fucked up! I’m only 27, this shit shouldn’t be happening’. And so began my experiential rather than intellectual understanding of why quitting smoking would be a good idea.

I think it took me about another 6 months to actually do it. Many more feeling shit episodes followed until I’d had enough. I read the Allen Carr book again and this time the understanding merged with the experiential feelings and the switch flipped and I quit easily. I remember stubbing out my last fag just as my housemate came home drunk. I told him that was my last fag and he laughed, having heard it all before. Fortunately he took the same journey himself a few years later.

Back to drinking (not literally!). I’m a very visual thinker and an image popped into my head that may go some way to explaining why not drinking seems easier for me this time. It went like this…

A common theme I’ve seen on blogs is how people struggle to fill their time when they stop drinking. Again this is a totally subjective experience. For some people the extra time seems like an abyss – wondering what the hell to do to fill it seems to become a source of panic and stress and therefore a relapse trigger. For others the extra time is a glorious revelation and an unexpected bonus.

I imagined the time as a big empty pie crust waiting for a tasty filling. Some people have no idea what to put in a pie / do with free time, and may panic. One option is to start checking out recipes for pie fillings and just get on with giving it a go. Some may remember much loved but long-forgotten fillings and get to work resurrecting them. The pie crusts are going to keep coming, day after day and our work is cut out to deal with them all.

My version of this is that I have plenty of fillings. The fillings have been queued up for years, stored away in cupboards, filling the fridge – packed into the freezer and the fuzzy bits at the back of my mind. Spending too much time in lazy, default drinking meant that I never got round to doing anything good with any of the pie crusts that came my way. Crust after crust went off, got dropped, got eaten unfilled because I ‘couldn’t be bothered’. In my treading water life there hasn’t been a decent supply of crusts for a long time and I’ve been thinking – ‘Am I just going to let this continue and sit there in my 60s, 70s etc. regretting that I wasted all that lovely filling or am I going to get off my ass and make some damn delicious pies?’

Now I’m finally making some tasty pies and not just sweeping forlorn piles of pastry off the floor and chucking it in the bin it feels like an experiential understanding of the benefits of not drinking, rather than just the intellectual ‘pros’ list. I’m drawing a lot, exercising, cooking nice food and not eating crap, I’m have the discipline to 5:2 fast again, I’ve lost 4lbs, taken time to play games and read etc. I think this is one of the main factors that is making it easier this time round and it’s a hell of a lot nicer than coughing a lung up into a London gutter 🙂

Now I read that back to myself I have no idea if it’s going to make sense to anybody else but hey, it’s how the inside of my head goes.

Happy pie making x

Day 20 – So how bad am I really?

Day 20 was actually yesterday but my internet connection was having none of it for the whole day. I’m back on today so here goes.

This non-drinking experiment has been a long time coming. I’ve been pondering my alcohol intake for years, whether I drink too much and whether I should knock it off – probably since my late twenties if I’m honest with myself. Now that I’m not drinking I’m finding it fairly easy, which is a shock and not what I expected at all. I know this is a common – and potentially dangerous – theme in quite a few of the alcohol blogs I’ve looked at, but I can’t help thinking – how bad is my drinking really?

A few months ago I was chatting to one of my colleagues while we worked. She is well known for being a wine lover and we’ve had a few pleasant conversations about nice wine-drinking-chilling-out scenarios. This night I asked her how many bottles of wine she drinks in a week. The conversation went like this…

Me: So how many bottles of wine do you drink a week?

Colleague: (She pondered for a few moments as she needed to take her husband’s consumption into account for shared bottles) Hmmm… probably about 6 bottles a week plus quite a few Jack Daniels on top.

Me: Shit!! Really!!! You look so slim and healthy you’d never think it!

Colleague: OMG don’t say it like that! It’s not that bad is it?! There’s only 3 glasses in each bottle so it’s not that many drinks.

Then I realised that she was totally in the dark about how many units of alcohol she was actually consuming.

Me: Ummm, I really hate being the person that’s saying this to you but each bottle of wine has about 9 units depending on its strength. I’m also guessing you’re not pouring singles of the JDs.

Colleague: (laughing nervously) Er, no… probably not.

Me: (cringing apologetically) So, I’d guess you’re drinking around 70 units of alcohol a week.

Colleague: Hmmm… maybe I do need to consider cutting down a bit.

What’s interesting is that this isn’t a young party girl. She’s a bit older than me and is a devoted mother of 3 with what sounds like a lovely home life. That level of drinking is totally normalised with her husband and friends. She went on to say a close friend of hers had been warned to give up drinking for at least 6 months as she was showing signs of liver damage. Apparently she hasn’t managed to stop.

This gave me some perspective on my own drinking. I drank similar amounts in my teens and twenties and at some points in my thirties but I haven’t drunk anywhere near that amount on a regular basis for years now. Recently I’d say I have generally had 2 bottles of wine a week, 3 bottles would be a heavy week. It’s never spaced out though – a glass here and there – it’s always open a bottle and finish it on 2 or 3 days of the week. It’s rare that I drink more than a bottle but it does happen occasionally. Even my bigger drinking over Christmas wasn’t anything raucous or extreme. I drank 4 bottles of wine and a 4 pack of lager over 3 days and that was done slowly with plenty of food. It was enough to give me a bad hangover on the 4th day though 😦 As heavy drinking has become so normalised it’s sometimes hard to remember that even 2 bottles a week – with about 18 units – is still more than the health guidelines say is safe for a woman.

The other side of the story that rarely gets told during ‘how much do you drink’ conversations is how much mental energy is spent to keep a person’s drinking at that level. Sure, I’d only drink on 2 or 3 days a week but I’d usually be tempted to drink on at least 5 days. This means I was using focus and willpower to keep my intake down. This means I’ve also been losing focus and willpower from other areas of my life to compensate.

During my previous attempts to take a break from drinking I’ve managed up to 10 days and then started again. I’ve jumped in my car in the early hours to go to a 24 hour supermarket to get some wine after having vowed to go another alcohol-free day and then decided – fuck it! These attempts, however many days they were have also always required immense levels of self-control and willpower. This time something is different – very different – and so far it’s been easy. I don’t fully understand why but I’m certainly not complaining.

I’m on day 20 now so doing a month is looking very manageable – even including my birthday meal next week. I read recently (on the hello Sunday morning website I think) that at least 3 months off booze is required for you to fundamentally re-evaluate your relationship with alcohol so I’m going to extend my dry January to do 100 days.

I’m actually thinking that a year would be amazing too. Judging by how much I’ve managed to get done in the last 20 days I feel like my life would be totally transformed if I scaled that up to a year. I’d also have done everything in a year that would normally involve alcohol so would be in a position to observe its role in every aspect of my life.

Ambitious talk for day 20 I know but may as well aim high eh? 😉

Day 12 was a mixed day

Some good things happened today, and some not so good.

One good thing was that I went swimming for the first time in almost 2 years. Seeing as I live a 3 minute walk from my local pool it’s not exactly a hassle to fit it in so hopefully I’ll keep it up – just once a week for now.

After about 15 minutes I was really starting to feel it so I thought, ‘I’ll just do half an hour then get out.’ It was feeling like a real slog and a chore.

After about 20 minutes the endorphins started flowing and I started enjoying it. At 40 minutes I could feel the slightest pulling at the back of one of my knees (they’re both injured) so I slowed down and did a very slow few lengths and stopped at 45 minutes.

During my cool-down lengths I was pondering the parallels between the swimming and sobriety. I had to push through the early stages and resist the urge to give up. Once I reached a certain point it became easier and even started to become enjoyable, creating a positive momentum of its own. It was still important that I didn’t push myself too far and to take care of my known weaknesses too. Yes, I think there are a lot if similarities between the two.

I also had another drinking dream 😦 I was very happy to wake up and realise I hadn’t had a drink but I can’t remember the details of the dream. This was probably triggered by an unfortunate conversation with my partner earlier in the day…

I’ve just arranged to meet up with another couple for a meal for my birthday in a couple of weeks. This is obviously a tricky point for me. I’ll be over 3 weeks sober by then but I’m not complacent about how difficult it might be. One of the friends is an old-time hard-drinking partner I’ve known since I was 18. We’ve both grown up and calmed down a lot but the strong association with him and drinking is still there in the background and has been known to occasionally pop up cause some ‘hilarious’ drunken shenanigans, even though we’re supposed to be mature now 😉

I offered to drive there, partly to ensure I don’t drink and partly because he drove last time. The next part of the conversation went into stressful territory…

Him: ‘No, I’ll drive, you’ve got to have a drink on your birthday.’

Me: ‘I’m doing a dry January and that includes my birthday.’

Him: ‘Come on… it’s your birthday!… you can have just one can’t you? That’s not going to make a difference.’

Me (thinking to myself): That’s highly fucking unlikely!

This could have easily turned into an argument and probably would have less than two weeks ago. Instead of getting pissed off I just quietly stated that not drinking is really important to me at the moment and that the last thing I needed was for him to give me any hassle me about it. He apologised immediately and we were OK.

This incident gave me plenty to think about for the rest of the day. One thing it highlighted was the pervasiveness of British cultural brainwashing about alcohol. This is even more pronounced when you consider the fact that my partner is from a muslim family who obviously did not mark celebrations with alcohol. I pointed this out to him and the conversation continued…

Me: ‘You’re from a culture that never included alcohol in celebrations so why is it so hard to believe I want to do it?’

Him: ‘Yeah but I always found celebration times stressful.’

Me (after a pause): ‘So you’re saying you could have done with a drink?’

Him: ‘Yeah.’

At this point we both laughed at the ridiculous turn the conversation was taking and any remaining stress dissipated.

He’s been immersed in British culture for about 8 years now and the booze brainwashing – particularly regarding birthdays – has obviously seeped in. He’s now a take-it-or-leave-it-only-have-1-or-2 sort of drinker but in the past he has made mistakes with alcohol. Coming from a background where drinking is entirely absent (and highly taboo) he was suddenly let loose in pissed-up Blighty and learned his alcohol lessons the hard way. He once drank so much so fast at the encouragement of his hard-drinking Brit work mates that he passed out and ended up in an ambulance. Something even I’ve never done and I’ve done a lot of stupid drinking stuff.

There’s nothing stressful about going for a tasty meal with 2 easy-going friends and I’m sort of looking forward to being fully present and focused on the people, the food and the conversation – not on drinking. I can’t predict where my head will be by the time my birthday comes around but I’m determined it’s going to be a sober one.

Where do I start?

How do I even begin to write about such a huge life-changing idea and the reasons behind it?

It’s day 2 and my head is as tangled as a bowl of noodle soup.

I was going to wait until after new years eve to start dry January but then I started thinking about what message that was sending to my subconscious. I drank too much between Christmas eve and boxing day, ending up with the worst hangover I’ve had in ages.

Do I want another one of those clammy, nauseous sessions or am I going to start the year as I mean to continue? Why am I clinging on to the idea that a new years eve needs alcohol to be fun or meaningful? Why am I reinforcing the idea of losing something when it would be more helpful to focus on the potential gains?

These questions were in my head when I was trying to sleep on the 27th December and as it turned out, day 1 was actually almost over by the time I realised it was day 1.