If you've recently quit drinking, and you're giving yourself a hard time about all those years of bad behaviour and self-indulgence, then stop it right now.
Perhaps you're a 'normal drinker' (curse you), and have a newly-sober friend who you're kind of avoiding because you're worried that they might not be any fun, or that they'll start judging you.
Well, that is so lame.
Here are five (of the many) reasons why ex-drinkers are the best people around:
1. We Are People of Excess
We talk about having 'a genetic tendency towards addiction' as a bad thing. And in some ways it is. It's why we got into a bit of trouble with booze and ended up quitting altogether.
But being an addictive personality, an all-or-nothing person, is also an incredibly wonderful thing.
You see, we are not just excessive in our love for alcohol, or nicotine, or shopping, or whatever, we are also excessive in doling out love, in following our dreams, in indulging in our passions for other things like art, literature, running or yoga.
Whatever we do, we like to do with all our heart, its just that, for a while, that mainly involved booze.
2. We are Survivors
We made it through days, weeks and months of taking one day at a time and battling with our inner demons.
We learned how to pare ourselves down to the bone and then rebuild ourselves, piece by piece. And every emotion, every set back we dealt with head on, with no props or anaesthetics to blur the edges.
And we came out of all of that strong. We know that we can walk through fire and emerge, not only unscathed, but fiercer, because we've done it before, and we can do it again.
3. We don't Judge
In today's society we are always judging each other and ourselves. We scrutinise each other's Facebook and Instagram feeds, we gossip and we bitch.
Well, we ex-drinkers know better than anyone that no-one is perfect, least of all ourselves. We don't look at the glossy social media and fall for it, because we know that everyone has a secret pain, that we are all gloriously, messily flawed.
So we don't judge. You can tell us the very worst thing you've ever done, and we'll nod, give you a hug and say "I've been there too."
4. We Make Really Good Friends
Because of all of that, we are really good friends to have around. And we value our friendships, because for a long while we didn't deserve them, and we're terribly grateful to anyone who stuck around.
We nurture our friendships too. We don't just meet up at parties and tell the same stories on a loop, we'll get together for a coffee and a good chat, for a long walk, for a trip to an art gallery or a yoga class - in fact we'd prefer that.
And if we do meet up at a party, we'll give you a lift home.
5. We Have Stories to Tell
And ex-drinkers are far from boring.
If you want to hear tales of a life well-lived, of triumphs and disasters, of excess and passion, then talk to the ex-lush. And they'll tell them without slurring or repetition.
So hurrah for you! Hurrah for us! Hurrah for them!
To read my tales of drinking, and then not drinking, in The Sober Diaries, visit my Amazon page. You can read the first few chapters free with the 'look inside' feature.
Click here for daily inspiration and information on the SoberMummy Facebook Page ('like' page to stay updated), or follow me on Instagram @clare_pooley.
Love to you all,