Advice for Days 30-100

First off, HUGE CONGRATULATIONS! You've done the first month, and it's by far the most physically gruelling.

By now, I hope, you're sleeping like a baby, and your energy levels are improving. Maybe, now there are no hangovers, you're learning to love mornings again?

You probably haven't lost much weight yet (sugar cravings, anyone?), but I bet you LOOK different. Bright eyed, dewy skinned, less puffy.

Maybe the cravings are getting a bit better too - probably just as powerful, but less frequent. Once a day, rather than all day.

By now you're detoxed. Your liver is doing high fives and thanking you profusely. You are all sparkly and clean.

But now, I'm afraid, the hard work begins.....

Because days 30-100 are all about introspection. Endless naval gazing. The asking of all those big questions like how did I end up in this mess? Who am I (without alcohol)? Who was I (before alcohol)? Where do I want to be? How the hell do I get there?

If, like me, you're British, then the idea of any form of self analysis is anathema. My response to any big LIFE questions was "Pass the bottle!"

It is horribly uncomfortable for all of us life-avoiders, but it's inevitable when you strip your comfort blankets away, and you'll come out the other side a stronger, better and more aware person.

(For more about how this all feels, from when I was going through it, click here)

The other big theme of days 30-100 is learning to deal with fear and anxiety.

Up to day 30, you're so far down in the trenches, and the cravings come so thick and fast, that it's difficult to see any pattern.

But now you'll start to see that there are some major triggers, and the biggies are fear and anxiety.

We get so used to dealing with these uncomfortable emotions by blotting them out that we forget how to cope with them. And if you spend long enough avoiding coping with fear, you find - eventually - that you've completely lost your courage.

Days 30-100 are about tackling fear and anxiety (and all the other nasty emotions like envy, self doubt, boredom, etc) without any props, but in doing so you will, slowly, slowly find your courage returning, and - with it - your self respect.

(For more on this, from my Day 77, click here)

So, once you've done all the introspection and all the dealing with bad stuff sober, you also have to cope with other people.

It's normal for the first month to hunker down and not go out much. And if people ask you about your 'not drinking' you can shrug off the question easily - you're detoxing/having a month off/Dry January etc.

But, eventually, you have to start socialising again.

This one takes a while. I still don't have quite the same level of anticipation about social events, but it's gradually coming back.

My advice, and it's controversial, for the early days is to fake it till you make it. The last thing you need when you're still feeling fragile is to have someone grilling you about why you can't have 'just one.'

So I suggest you lie (I'm driving/on antibiotics/detoxing) or fake (drink virgin cocktails, let them fill your wine glass and don't touch it) for a while.

I realise that this is not ideal, but the truth is society is really screwed up about alcohol, and we non drinkers are made to feel like the ones with the problem, not the addicts still quaffing away.

For more on how to cope with, and actually enjoy, partying sober read: Sober Mummy's Party Survival Guide.

Over the next sixty days, you'll find that you get fewer and fewer cravings, but when they do hit they're almost harder to deal with because they're from left field. You're not expecting them.

This phase really is a rollercoaster. You'll have wonderful, pink cloudy days of real euphoria, and some days of despair. That's perfectly normal.

It's known as Post Acute Withdrawal Syndrome (PAWS), and you can read more about it here.

It's all a bit like my favourite children's book: We're Going on a Bear Hunt:

You can't go over it, you can't go under it, you've got to go through it.

But, after all those ups and downs and insides and outsides you'll find yourself gradually shedding off all those ugly duckling feathers, and one day you'll catch your reflection in the pond and you'll think "Why, I'm a swan!"

By Day 100 it won't be so hard anymore. And you'll be braver, slimmer, nicer, a better parent. Your life will be easier, more fulfilled, and going somewhere.

So keep at it. One day at a time. Baby steps....

SM x

15 comments:

  1. Today marks 30 days booze free for me. Funny enough, I got to your blog after stumbling across your audiobook while looking for any self help... sober living books. Lol I’m listening to your audiobook right now!!! Thanks so much for sharing your journey. Happy to be part of it 💖

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  2. I have been sober for almost 4 years now. The physical cravings last about 7 - 10 days then its all in the mind...I combatted the repeated thoughts by repeating the following mantra everytime I thought of alcohol. Note I use alcohol and not "drink" - its from my NLP expereince... "I dont use alcohol as I value the state of my health, wealth and all my relationships both now and in the future". I said this in my head for about 6 months every time I thought of alcohol. Plus look into the dopamine receptor overgrowth theory that was proven last year, The new dopamine receptors never die off. Alcohol compulsion causes more to develop (as do opaites,barbituates, amphetamine, and cocaine). I use amino acids that are dopagenic precousor elements. As a result I do not crave ever. Yet I know some sober for decades who stii have cravings. If one has bipolar or suspect bipolar DO NOT USE amino acids (sports supplements used by athletes and bodybuiders) Also SMART RECOVERY is a very good support group and meetingas are held nationwide...seasrch smart recovery

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  3. Saw you on Lorraine today and realised I am you! (the old you). I am counting this as day 1. I have downloaded your book to my kindle and have only put it down to look at your blog. This is going to be a nightmare for me, I drink apron 4 times/week but I cannot remember the last time I went a week without drinking. Even when I am ill, like now with the flu. The wine witch is well and truly in my head and I need to get rid of her! I don't want my children thinking its normal to drink. I am not setting my self any rules saying I will never drink again as that is too much pressure for me but I know I have to change, starting from now. I think your book will help. Thanks for sharing your story.

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  4. Hello
    Your blog and your book are great. Thank you for sharing your story and for being so honest. I have just finished 28 days sober and there are times when I am doing it at an hour at a time. Why is this so difficult? How did I end up like this?
    But thanks to you and your inspiring and erudite description of how it is, you make being sober is the new black!
    Up to now I hated the idea of being teetotal. Alcoholics were big cranky ugly men who gathered around to tell stories which sounded bitter while drinking endless cups of sugary tea.
    I certainly didn't want to join that miserable gang!
    After reading your work I am now able to focus on what I CAN do!
    Thank you and may God and the Universe continue to bless you and yours. Good luck with the healing process, you so deserve it. You are a true star and long may you shine

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  6. Hello again,
    This may seem as if I am looking for attention but I have just celebrated over 30 days alcohol free so I treated myself to an Orla Kiely duvet cover given that I am sleeping so well now!
    Besides, it wasn't cheap so it'll remind me of what I have done and encourage me to continue.
    Now I wish I could sort out the chocolate binge eating that I seem to have adopted.
    One step at a time.....
    I suppose....

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  7. I'm at day 41 and couldn't have done it without reading The Sober Diaries, so thank you so much for sharing your amazing, funny and truthful story. I'm still not sleeping brilliantly but really hoping that bit will improve soon - Thank you once again and bring on the next milestone and chapter.

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  9. Noooooo !
    I knew it was too soo inviting a friend for a meal when I was just at my 14 days no alcohol.
    I feel so guilty... I cannot believe I have to start counting from 0 ���� it could have been day 15 ��

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  10. At day 41, I think I may be in the PAWS phase. (The wall?)So many amazing changes...mornings are fresh, head is clear, skin is vibrant,awesome to be sober at end of night watching my drunken friends stumble and slur etc...but anxiety is creeping back in as I am starting to see some of the issues that escalated my drinking. Numbing myself is so very tempting. Knowing there is information and others out there struggling gives me hope and inspires me to push through the discomfort.

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  11. Glad to see I'm not alone even after reading the fabulous book. I also have 3 young kids, left a good job, stay at home mum & privileged lifestyle. I've tried moderate drinking, but there's always that ONE drink that makes you topple. Last night I joined husband at friends to watch the rugby - and I drank. I woke up as I normally do at night to go for a pee and "fainted". I hit the floor so hard it woke up my husband....I'm still in pain but more in shock, how did I let it get so bad? Time to stop before it becomes even more dangerous.

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  12. Hello on day one again did a few stunts of 21,20, 19 days but let the oh we have friends stayor nobody will no or. Feel so great what wii a glass do a glass t a botto 2 bottles so here I am again 💯❤️🌈

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  13. Hallo from South Africa. Today is Day 7. I have cultivated the ‘wine connoisseur’ ever since my marriage started going south, through divorce and retrenchment (both in 2013) and ever since. I realized that my habit was not a healthy one, and wondered how on earth I would stop when I found your wonderful book. It gives me hope and inspiration. Thank you. Oh, I also joined a gym and bought a juicer.

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  14. I just wanted to say a huge THANK YOU to Clare for her book. I’ve not had a d48nk since February. Last evening was a milestone when I was offered a bottle of bubbles (not the ones for a bath!!) for completing some accounts and when they said “you do drink don’t you” I paused, rallied and said “actually no I don’t anymore .” Que shocked faces, then ok I’ll get you some flowers.
    So the thank you is for your honesty and the belief that others can do it too also giving the confidence to say NO .
    Much love and thanks. Vannessa xx

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  15. Hi started reading your book about 1 week ago and I am on day 31. So many things I can relate to, the sleep pattern and hiding the bottles, nice to know I am not alone or as I though a bad person or at least a failure. Many more days to go but I know I will make it. I am starting to feel a bit weepy now, just had a bit of a bubble quietly at my desk because my husband made light of my day 30 achievement.
    Love and strength to everyone xxx

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