Friday, 23 September 2016


One of the (many) miracles that has occurred since I quit drinking is the number of old friends who have reappeared in my life.

These are friends I'd thought lost for ever, who I hadn't seen or heard from for twenty or thirty years and yet, through a series of chance encounters and coincidences, they are back, and this time I'm hanging on.

It's awesome. I feel like an battered old jigsaw puzzle that for decades has had a few key pieces missing, but gradually they're being slotted back into place.

The latest of these lost friends is V. We were great mates at Cambridge University. We did the May Balls, punting and double dates. We got each other through the trauma of Finals. We went on holiday together. And yet, just a few years after we graduated, we totally lost touch.

Looking back, it was entirely my fault.

The last time we saw each other properly was at V's flat. She'd invited me to a dinner party with her and her boyfriend (now husband), and about five other guests.

I'd just started dating a man (boy?) who I was totally besotted by. He wanted me to join him and some other friends in a nightclub in Notting Hill. He kept calling me on my newly acquired mobile 'phone (they were a rare and miraculous thing in those days). I kept leaving the dinner table, mid conversation, to take his calls.

As soon as dinner was finished, perhaps before, I hotfooted it to the club. I barely said goodbye. I'm quite sure I never sent a thank you letter.

The truth is I was far too caught up in a whirlwind of booze, romance and danger, and V, with her steady relationship, serious career and grown up life, just wasn't on my wavelength.

Needless to say, she didn't call me again. I don't think I even noticed until a year or two had passed by. Then I shrugged and moved on.

I know what you're thinking: I was not a very nice person. I agree.

Anyhow, another old University friend who I've re-met recently, and who has rapidly become one of my besties all over again, bumped into V last weekend, and she's invited me round for tea.

To be honest, had I received this invitation back in the drinking days I would have been terrified. I probably wouldn't have gone.

I loathed seeing people I'd not seen for years. I hated the way their eyes would widen involuntarily before they had a chance to manage the outward displays of the shock of seeing me two stone heavier.

I was conscious of the fact that I'd always been a hugely optimistic, ambitious live wire, yet now I.... wasn't. I was depressed and bitter.

But now? I'm thrilled. I can't wait to catch up.

Incredibly, I'm back to my university weight, so look more like my old self than I have for decades. No more embarrassing silences followed by "You look really.... well." (Code for: "You look a bit.... fat.")

(See my post: Reasons to Quit Drinking #1: Weight Loss)

And, more importantly, I've rediscovered my joie de vivre. In short, I am me again.

I'm also a much better friend. The last year has really taught me the value of strong friendships and I'm not messing up this time.

So hurrah! And happy sober weekends to you all!

SM x


  1. I think you are taking on a bit too much responsibility for the fall out. Perhaps she moved away to Canada? It will be interesting to see!

    As for weight are one of the rarer versions of that. Most people do not easily lose weight in sobriety.
    And many of us are heavier than we were in university. That's is ok. We should not feel like we need to impress anyone. The though we are being judged on our appearance is silly and self critical. Comparison is the thief of happiness...there will always be someone better and worse off than us.

    What others think is none of our business. How we treat them today is.

    What if you get there and she has gained weight? Will you see her as any less valuable of a person? Of course not.

    I'm happy you are connecting to an old friend and I hope it goes well.


  2. Alcohol has a way of sequestering us with only the people "it" feels comfortable with, those that won't look at us with concern or disapproval. I started cutting people out of my life at the age of 14, all of a sudden I had no room for anyone who didn't drink, even life long friends. Then, when I quit drinking, some of those drinking friends no longer had time for me. What goes around, comes around. Sometimes it hurts, sometimes I think there is something lacking in me, that I should try more to "fit" in with the drinking crowd, but then I think, I'm done with trying to "fit in," I'm perfectly happy and free being exactly who I am. The people I "fit in" with will find their way to me or I'll find my way to them.

    I hope your reunion is filled with laughter and an easy feeling that you've never been apart.

  3. Such a good thing about long-time, or long-ago friends is that if there was a strong tie THEN, it's usually surprisingly easy to pick things right up again. Hope that proves to be.

    Of course she likely wouldn't judge you if you were still carrying the extra pounds, but - whether it makes us shallow or misguided or not - most of us like looking our best (or what we know our best to be), esp when walking into a scenario that has us a bit apprehensive.

    Second chances: one more plus of the sober life! Keep us posted.

  4. Great post - love to hear the positives of not drinking - I now know what my Brit friends mean if they say "I'm looking.....well". It means well fed! Ha! I know it's not all about the weight - but losing it can inspire even more confidence and get one into a vicious cycle. I didn't lose any when I quit - probably because I replaced it with ice cream - but it's slowly coming off now that I'm limiting ice cream and exercising more. Eat sensibly (less) and exercise - wow - that's novel.

    As always enjoy your posts - and thanks for introducing us to MakeItaTea.

  5. I typed vicious - but I meant virtuous or positive cycle (the opposite of vicious)

  6. Lovey to read. I am waiting for the pounds to start dropping off, 3 so far, love it. Have fun!

  7. 30 years of drinking has cost me a few friends along the way and some relationships and I acquired some people who have disappeared in my nearly nine months of sobriety. I'm still fairly certain that I wouldn't want to go on holiday with myself but I am starting to find a way to live more comfortably with "me". I have also lost about 15Kg and am now giving up on trying to get stuff altered and just buying new clothes, even a pair of Levis that are already too big - tee hee!! Spinning is still killing me and an old achilles injury stopped me running for a couple of weeks but losing the booze (and bread, potatoes, pasta, crisps etc) is a good thing. No hangovers means I can get up at 5:30am and go to the gym (not everyday). Anyway, good stuff SM. Enjoy your rebooted friendships - everyday is a learning day.


  8. Well done SM. I am like you in having let old relationships slide. I often find myself reminiscing (especially finding old photos and letters which accompany the sober clearing outs) and lamenting that I lost touch with so many old friends. University flat-mates, first job workmates etc. It was of course in the days before social media (which looking at some of the photos is just as well really)

    I am so happy for you, you are yourself again only with more wisdom, compassion and empathy. A proper grown-up. Hugs to you, x

  9. Great comments here SM. I hope your reunion goes well. xx

  10. Awesome posts as always SM - cannot wait to read your book! I seriously unimpressed a very dear friend when I had my new year 'slip up'. Totally not worth it. Thankfully I have managed to make amends in the past sober 8 mths. Have a great reunion - make sure you tell us about it. Happy sober weekend - my lovely sober cyber friends! Love SFM

  11. Interesting post. Makes you think about how boozing affects the quality and depth of friendships. Hope your reunion goes well x