Saturday, 28 November 2015

What's the Real Alternative?

One of the most difficult things about quitting drinking is having to adjust the movie you have in your head of the future.

Pretty much every image I had filed in the drawer labelled 'my perfect future life' involved alcohol.

There I am, at #1's wedding, raising a glass of champagne. Look at me and Mr SM sitting on the deck of our (future) holiday home in Cornwall sipping on the Chablis. Ahhh, and me holding grandchild #1 with one hand and (oh yes) a glass of vino in the other.

It takes a while to replace all of those images with - similarly happy and rose tinted - ones without the booze.

The trick is, I think, to be realistic about the alternative vision of your future. Because it's not just that one glass of champagne you're raising at the wedding, is it?

If I had carried on drinking then, undoubtedly, by the time I'd got to that point in my life I would have been an awful lot worse.

The real alternative future would involve me ruining #1's wedding by getting drunk, doing a slurred, impromptu and incomprehensible speech, and then dancing on a table singing to ABBA.

There would be no holiday home in Cornwall for me and Mr SM, as Mr SM would probably have walked off into the sunset with a more sober lady by then.

If #1 were still talking to me after the wedding fiasco, I would definitely not be trusted with the grandchild unless I was breath tested in advance.

Always ask yourself what's the real alternative? 

If the answer to that question is drinking happily and moderately for the rest of my life then you wouldn't be reading this blog. That is not us, my friends.

My movies of the future also never involved me looking old. I've always been afraid of ageing. Aren't we all?

(In my neck of the woods people spend a fortune trying to avoid it. I know many women who are unable to look surprised, or cross, or anything other than blank, bland, puffy and waxy).

But, after the cancer diagnosis, when I was thinking that I might be riddled with it, instead of feeling sorry for old people I was jealous. Fist clenchingly envious.

I'd look at the wrinkles around their eyes and mouths and think look at the evidence of twice as many smiles as I'll ever smile. I'd see them shuffling along cautiously and think see how they've trodden twice as many paths as I'll ever go down.

I realised that the alternative to growing old isn't living forever in our pert, healthy bodies - it's dying young.

The truth is that our real future is not so bad. Many studies have shown that people get happier and happier as they get older. Our forties are, apparently, our most unhappy years, run ragged by young children, ageing parents, trying to keep all the balls in the air.

And living life sober is not some form of terrible compromise either - it's better. More real. More vibrant!

For the first time, I am completely at peace with the future. Getting older. Staying sober.

Because I have seen the real alternative and it sucks.

Happy sober weekend to you all!

SM x


  1. Do you know, that blog is just so true. I know what you mean about old people and hurray for us that we've realised in time. When I got to fifty i was so pleased that i had made it as there was a point when I thought I might not. Thats far more terrifying than any amount of wrinkles and saggy bits. Of course being sober makes us all look younger, touch of the Dorian Greys never goes amiss.

    1. I loved Dorian Grey! It's true - I look 5 years younger ;-) and now I'm pretty sure I'll make it to fifty as well!

  2. No. It is not some terrible compromise.

  3. Dear SM - Great post. I too have thought about all those future occasions I will not be able to raise a glass of champers too - but you're so right - it would never have been just one - and who knows if I would have made it there ..... happily. Thanks again for this awesome blog. You totally rock! Love SFM

  4. Great post SM. I have always had a think about my age and feeling and looking old. But I have to remind myself that it is better than the alternative!! It's something I have to work on, self acceptance as I am now and loving myself as I am now. You are inspirational to me. A x

    1. Thanks Angie! So glad you're back with us!

  5. Some great points considered here. I remember panicking about how would we move to the coast if I couldn t drink as all the pics in my head involved drinking. I have rewritten the script for my future and replaced the drinking with loads of fun activities.