I have decided to get my 41 year old ass in to shape and add exercise to my routine. Many, many moons ago I was a happy outdoorsy kid who never stopped moving. I did really well a sports and could turn my hand to most disciplines.
Fast forward a few years and into secondary school, I began to get bullied and as my confidence took knock after knock so did my interest in most things.
School became about survival, and towards the end of my school career I just avoided it as much as possible. I would find any excuse to get out of lessons and that included P.E. The trouble with P.E was, they could get at me more, running round a field or a pitch I would be knocked over, kicked or walloped with whatever bat/ball/ stick we were playing with, and that’s not to mention the taunts in the changing rooms.
The lengths I went to, to avoid the bullies is unbelievable when I look back, and really quite sad. Maybe one day I’ll share those but for now looking back at terrified teenage me is just too painful. My over riding memory of my time at school is just bone crushing fear, I’d skive and get caught, then be in loads of trouble but even that was better than facing the torture of being bullied every day.
It’s taken me a long time to stop allowing those bullies to affect me and I suspect part of that pain was tied up in my drinking, alongside many other things. While I’ve been looking after myself much more in the last 2 and a half yrs, I haven’t really stuck at exercise. Maybe there is some block because of the bullies, maybe this is my last bit of self sabotaging behaviour or another way to not be kind to myself.
Whatever it is it stops here, I am committed to including 30 mins of exercise a minimum of 3x a week.
It won’t be pretty at times, I’ve just done my 3rd work out of the week and these old bones do not know what’s hit them, but I do feel better once I’ve done something.
I won’t be blogging about how I work my way down to a size 6, and be pictured in super tight sports wear at every opportunity. When I do include exercise in my blog, it will be about a middle aged woman just trying to shake off those taunts, from all those years ago, and hopefully end up feeling a little happier in her own skin
In the two and half years since I have got sober, I have travelled more than I did in the decade leading up to 2017. This is a combination of having more money, energy and confidence to travel. Holidays in the wasted years were hard fought for, rarely could I afford to go every year and didn’t always get abroad. I do realise I am lucky to have achieved that, but the fact remains money was tight because of my drinking. In the two and a half years since I quit I have saved in excess of 8K! and that’s a conservative calculation. When I set up my sober counter app, I put down £10 a day ( 2 bottles of vinegary plonk for a tenner), I did’t include the fact I was smoking which essentially doubled my daily spend. I also didn’t include that I usually drank much more at the weekends, or on nights out, then there’s replacing lost items, phone screens, broken shoes. ripped clothes, days off from work, drunken take away’s, or carby hangover food, the list could go on, its safe to say the actual amount much much more.
That’s not to say I’m sat on a pile of money, I just know that I can afford to go away more, we have way more treats as a family now and I no longer have to buy everything from sale rails. (Still love a bargain, I’m from Yorkshire after all).
Forcing down the poison
One of our big holidays when I was drinking was to Mexico, it took us 2 years to save for that trip and quite frankly I had a shit time, I had a shit time because I was drinking. The 16 day trip is a blur . Being the classy bird I was, I decided to work my way through the cocktail menu and actually ended up having to force drinks down. Its all inclusive right? You have to get your moneys worth. Even then, that day forcing down god knows what ( they all tasted the same), it didn’t occur to me that maybe drinking wasn’t so much fun anymore. In fact I believed the myth that I needed to drink to have fun. That belief is so very ingrained in our culture I never even thought to question it.
Once I removed alcohol I actually discovered what fun felt like, well actually once I removed alcohol I actually discovered what it was like to feel anything.
The absolute worst thing about that Mexico holiday was the jet lag, it took me 3 weeks to recover, I was going insane with the exhaustion, it put me off long haul flights completely until…. well until I got sober. Looking back it could well have been a 3 week hangover on top of extreme jet lag, it was just horrible.
I don’t think I’ll ever be flying’s biggest fan, I’m quite small but I don’t like being cramped in spaces, and don’t get me started on seat recliners ( selfish bunch of b******* they are,) we’re all cramped dude, not sure why you feel your comfort is more important than mine.
But I’ll tolerate flying to keeping ticking off my bucket list
Having just returned from New York, I have been pretty jet lagged, on top of the miles and miles we walked while there, I have managed to recover quickly, with much less drama than the Mexico holiday.
The best bit
The absolute best bit of sober travel is seeing the world through clear eyes, experiencing things that you would never have done when drinking, I have swam in an Olympic pool half way up a mountain, I’ve seen snow in central park ( I nearly cried), I’ve fallen in love with travelling by subway/underground/ metro, it feels so exciting every time I step into a station, I’ve jumped off cliffs (under supervision) into crystal clear waters, I’ve seen multi- coloured fountains dance to cheesy 80’s music and I’m just getting started. Do you know what I did on holidays past? I parked my arse nearest the pool bar and didn’t move for a fortnight.
I went to Barcelona for my first sober city break and fell in love, I came home bursting with stories of my experiences and adventure. A friend of a friend said told me there hadn’t been that much to do when they visited a few years earlier (Cue Vicki’s confused face, Barcelona is pretty old, I’m fairly sure there’s always been plenty to do), turns out she meant there wasn’t much to do when you slept off your hangover for most of the day and then hit the bars.
Fresh eyes are an actual thing when you quit drinking, once the puffiness goes down ( its there I promise) the world becomes techni colour again, its exciting and wonderful, I often feel excitement bubbling up in my chest at the thought of brand new experiences, I’m like a child and I hope beyond hope it never goes away, I missed so much through drinking I feel like I’m trying to grab everything at once ….. patience is not my strong point.
Here’s to living
I started this blog saying I had travelled more in the last two and a half years, than the decade prior, its occurred to me that I’ve lived more in the last two and a half years than I had in the two decades prior. I used to get sad and angry about the years wasted but for whatever reason I wasn’t ready for my freedom until Sept 17. It hasn’t been easy but one thing I do is celebrate my sober wins, however big or small I do a little happy dance inside every time I achieve something that would have not been possible while I was drinking, and after the best part of two decades there is a lot. I made a choice not to remain angry or sad because that just means more time wasted on booze, its had enough of my life, its time for me to start living on my terms.
I made it! and I’m in love! I arrived on Saturday and it snowed. I love snow, so walking through Central Park on Saturday evening was a dream come true for me. I actually felt quite emotional and reflecting upon why…..its because I never thought I deserved to do amazing things like travel to fantastic cities. Luckily through sobriety, I have realised my worth and that life is for living.
My emotional journey continued on Sunday, wide awake at 5am we decided to explore the city and were out and about by 6am. It was magical, Times Square was empty so lots of opportunities for pictures, we found a diner that was open had pancakes and were at the top of the Rockefeller Centre by 8am. I blame jet lag for the early start, but thank sobriety for feeling great, while being awake at that time. This meant we were able to spend a magical few hours in the city without the crowds. Getting to the ‘top of the rock’ is also a massive achievement, terrified of heights for as long as I can remember, I shocked myself at not only getting up there but going outside and actually enjoying it
Sunday went from great to amazing
Then it was time to head back to the hotel to shower and change ready for a very important date I had at noon. The date was a little delayed by me turning up at the wrong restaurant and having to hail a cab (check me out), then racing 30 blocks to the right restaurant. This type of mistake happens to me more than I care to mention but I blame a super busy brain missing important info from time to time (that’s my excuse and I’m sticking with it).
Anyway back to the very important date… I was lucky enough to meet two wonderful women who are also on this same sobriety journey. An international sober social!
Connection is the opposite of addiction
Cathleen and Debra were my brunch buddies along with the lovely Brandi (Debra’s daughter) and my partner Richard. As with all the sober sisters I’ve met there was an instant connection and it was amazing, we talked like we had known each other for years and I felt so happy to be with some members from my tribe. I’ve met up with several wonderfully, smart, strong beautiful women through this sober path and each time is as fantastic as the last. Check out what Johann Hari has to say about connection being the opposite of addiction – its bloody true!
If you can be anything be a unicorn
It can be a lonely path sobriety, I prefer to think of it, like being a unicorn ( I would wouldn’t I). Its lonely because we are brainwashed from a young age to think that alcohol is the answer to all out prayers and that if you have a drink problem then you are weak! Which is when people judge. We’re not weak alcohol is designed to make us want more, its dangerous and thank goodness for this sober movement that people are pushing back against this drug. Anyway I digress……
To all the sober warriors I’ve been lucky enough to meet
Debra, Cathleen, Helen, Sara, Sharon, Susie, Rhoda, Joanne, Jenny, Louise, and Janice, its been a pleasure to meet you, and long may my sober travels continue, I hope I get to meet more of us on this path. Its a great reason to travel and I may have taken a sneaky peek at flights today (don’t tell Rich).
Magic does happen
Our stories are always unique to us but so very similar, drink stop us being who we were meant to be and through sobriety we have taken our power back. With the return of the power comes amazing things, like travelling 3 and a half thousand miles to meet your sober sisters, or getting to the top of the rock and not crying, or getting straight back in the lift back down. That power brought back my self worth and because of that I got to walk through Central Park in the snow holding back the tears because it was so bloody amazing.
I am, very ,very excited this week. On Saturday I will be ticking something huge off my bucket list. At 9 am, Saturday morning, I fly to…. (drum roll please) fun city, the big apple, aka New York City!
I am in fact, so excited about this trip that I have barely slept for days and now feel bloody rubbish! I keep waking up with massive anxiety, I love travel and have had some amazing adventures since getting sober but, by god I struggle with the actual travel part of travelling. The anxiety, I have been feeling all week, has got me thinking about my first couple of weeks in sobriety.
They call it recovery for a reason
That first 10 day stretch into sober life was hard, really hard. I had some amazing support in the form of Kate Bee’s sober school and the wonderful Jan 17 grads. But in those early days, I would go as far as to say I was zombified (is that a word?) and I can appreciate how easy it is to give up, giving up in those first few weeks. When you drink and drink a lot, we get used to instant gratification. Quite often when we go a couple of days without booze and don’t feel amazing for the so called sacrifice we get disheartened, the wine witch whispers this ‘shit ain’t worth it’ and we jump back on the drinking roller-coaster .
What we don’t do is give our bodies enough credit, we don’t give allowances to our poor battered organs trying to recover from years of abuse, we want the same quick fix that drinking provided. I do remember feeling disappointed in those early days, the lack of sleep was horrific, I felt like a new foal, wobbling about unsteadily on legs that weren’t used to holding me up, even the daylight seemed too bloody bright
But like most things in life, amazing things happen if only we push through that discomfort. When I began my sober journey in Jan 17 I went about 6 weeks without booze, I pushed past those difficult early days and for the first time in a long time I began to feel good again. In fact I had forgotten what it was like to actually feel good. I’d been in some sort of permanent hungover fog for years, mostly without realising it, I just thought that was how life was supposed to feel, permanently tired and to be honest a little bit disappointing.
Don’t believe the myth
But then the doubt crept back in and I thought I couldn’t live without booze. I discovered the moderation myth and spent the next few months jumping on and off the moderation merry-go-round. Each time it was a little harder to come back from. Finally in September 2017, I realised I wasn’t living at all with booze in my life. I was barely existing, so armed with everything I had learned over the past months I stopped drinking. The rubbish feeling returned, the wobbly legs, the sleepless nights, the too bright lights and once again I pushed through the discomfort. This time when the wine witch whispered I told her in no uncertain terms to F**k off. After about 10 days I began feeling good again
The wine witch doesn’t really speak to me anymore, sometimes if I’m super stressed or tired, she’ll pop up ready to say something but shes easily squashed these days. I dumped her ass, shes toxic and she’ll take you down with her, like any toxic relationship she lies and is only out for herself.
New York baby!
Even though I am feeling lots of discomfort about this trip, I worry about getting to the airport, I worry about forgetting things, I worry about leaving my children (they’re old enough and have family around please don’t panic). I worry about pretty much everything till I check into my hotel at the other side, then I have to worry about finding my way round. But I do it, I push past that discomfort every time, because I know something amazing is at the other side. I see and do amazing things all because I stopped drinking and, after seeing the price of cocktails in NYC, I’m going to save a bloody fortune.
This trip is extra special for me because I am meeting up with a few wonderful ladies from my sober tribe, how amazing is that? This normal woman, from a tiny Yorkshire town, is flying to New York and meeting friends for brunch!! This stuff used to happen to other people, now I’m making it happen, I have the capacity for amazing things because;
I put down the booze.
I make no apologies for the amount of blogs coming your way about New York, this could well be a once in a life time trip, I’m going to record as much of it as I can.
Last night I invented affirmation/happiness balloons (its a working title 😉), while I am sure I’m not the only person to come up with this idea. I’ve never seen them before and thought they were a lovely way to spread some kindness
My middle daughter turns 16 today and I wanted to do something a little bit different but a little bit special 🎈
Enter…. affirmation/happiness balloons. I inflated 16 balloons and wrote single words I felt related to her, or small sentences hoping to inspire confidence and adventure.
There isn’t enough kindness in this world and key to my sobriety has been, being kind to myself. Once you allow kindness in it multiplies and we get to share it out. But often when we’re locked in a cycle of endless hangovers and wine o’clock it’s easy to forget how to be kind to ourselves. Or worse we feel alcohol is a kindness or a treat 🙄 but take it from someone who knows, anything that alters your mind and makes you feel rough, ain’t good for you.
I don’t get hangovers me!
Fibber! I said this exact sentence, many, many times over. What I didn’t realise was I was just constantly hungover, only when I removed alcohol from my life, did I discover it was possible to feel happy in the mornings, that going to bed early is a pleasure. I have more energy than ever and I actually have brain space to do and share nice things (see above invention).
The biggest kindness I gave myself was sobriety, as an extra bonus my mental health improved a thousand fold. Gone is the constant anxiety, worrying, second guessing, the sick churning feeling has gone! It hasn’t gone away totally, we’re supposed to have a little anxiety. I am anxious about sharing my story with you guys and I’m currently very anxious about a trip I’m going on next week, but I know it’s a mix of nerves, excitement and I will not let the fear stop me from going or sharing my story
Be kind to yourself
I hope my daughter liked her little words of kindness this morning (she’s 16 it’s difficult to tell 🤣) I’m taking some time out of my day to be kind to myself and going out for lunch, before the family gets together for a visit to Pizza Express tonight. With the added bonus of the epic alcohol free selection they do there.
Kindness is catching
Remember be kind to yourself today, you deserve it even if you just treat yourself to a balloon and write something lovely on the ribbon
As I enter my 3rd alcohol free (AF) year, this picture is on my mind. I feel so sad when I see this and I just want to give her a hug, but from this came life, a life I didn’t know possible.
Here is me almost exactly 3 years ago to the hour. Sad, broken and scared of sobriety, but done with living life the way I was, something had to change.
I guess I better introduce myself
Hi I’m Vicki.
I’ve thought long and hard about this blog, and I’m still not convinced anyone is that interested in some Yorkshire birds journey into sobriety, but I feel a need to record my story. Its been life changing and I thought for a long time impossible. Yet, here I am living the impossible life.
Can I live without wine o’clock?
Turns out not only can I live without mummy’s wine time, I can thrive! When I thrive so does my family, and basically anything I put my mind to becomes easier. I used to think I was doing OK, decent job, nice home, happy children (so I thought). But everything, truly has improved, since the beer blur that was in my life has been removed.
It takes work to be happy in sobriety, but lets face it drinking takes work too, thinking about when where and how much we drink takes up brain space, then recovering from said drinking takes time and makes life hard work. I used to find thinking up excuses to drink pretty tiring too in an already busy brain
So actually working on your sobriety could technically be easier, easier than dragging your sorry hungover ass around, trying to live life.
I still have to pinch myself that I am free from my nightly wine habit,and behind that freedom, came happiness.
I commit to writing my blog at least once a month! Its written here and on my list of 2020 goals that I placed in our gratitude jar (yes I am that person these days), so I guess I am obligated now.
While my message is serious, and I take my sobriety seriously, I do not take myself too seriously, I am a normal divorced (more of that later) mum of three girls, who found a better way to get through this one precious life we live.
If you’re heading into dry January good luck, you might just be surprised, if you’re sober curious, keep researching, its worth it I promise