Monday, 30 March 2015

Day 29 - Sober in Switzerland!

I've really missed being able to post every day - this blog, and all of you - have been like my own personal AA sessions.  I'm writing this with one finger on an iPhone, so it'll probably by short and riddled with spelling errors - apologies!

So, here's the update: after a gruelling 16 hour drive with #1, #2 and #3 only pausing from the sibling bickering to consume unhealthy snacks thrown at them in desperation by their parents, we finally arrived in stunning Switzerland.

Needless to say, by this stage I would have given my right arm for a glass of chilled Sauvignon Blanc. In order to stop myself drinking I went into a mad frenzy of cleaning. I was like a whirling dervish with OCD, running around the apartment with a wet cloth and spray detergent. The husband and children thought I'd completely lost it. Has anyone else found that their house has become infinitely cleaner since quitting drinking?

Since the night of the crazy cleaning there have been a number of other white knuckle moments. They are generally linked to 'firsts'. The first lunch up the mountain without a cold beer, the first cheese fondue without red wine to go with it, the first hair raising icy off piste mogul run (mainly done on my arse) without a congratulatory restorative drink at the end. All the outdoors and exercise have - as I'd hoped - stopped me constantly obsessing, but it means that when the cravings do hit I'm not as prepared for them. I'm blindsided.

In Jason Vale's book (kick the drink - easily), he constantly reminds us that children don't need alcohol to have fun and a huge lust for life. I never found that analogy terribly helpful - I'm far too removed in too many ways from my child self. What has been really helpful, though, is remembering one of my best ever holidays....

When I was nineteen I took off for 3 months around South East Asia armed with a rucksack, a copy of South East Asia on a Shoestring and some scrawled notes from my friend Philippa who'd just returned from a similar adventure. I fell in love - with the landscapes, the culture and a rugged, blonde Texan called Buck.

Buck had a tattoo on the sole of his foot reading 'the Buck stops here' in Thai. At least, that's what he asked the tattoo artist to write. It probably translated as 'gullible American asshole'.  I was at the age where you feel everything so intensely - love, anticipation, fear, joy - it was a magical time.

But you know the weird thing? I have hundreds of vivid technicolor memories of that trip and in NONE of them am I clutching a glass of alcohol. Usually I'm holding an old fashioned curvy glass bottle of Coca-Cola. My backpacker budget didn't stretch to imported wine. From time to time I'd drink a Singha beer, but I wasn't bothered about it.

I drank virtually nothing for 3 months and it was one of the best times of my life. And perhaps part of the reason it was so vivid and intense wasn't just my age. Perhaps it was because I hadn't blunted all the edges with booze.

So every time a craving hits I picture my nineteen year old self - skinny, gorgeous (although I didn't know it then, obviously) and sober, looking over the Padi fields listening to Frankie Goes to Holllywood on my Sony Walkman, filled with wonder at the world, and I think "that's how I was before you invaded my space, wily wine witch, and that's how I can be again."

I hope you're all doing okay!

Much love from the land of melted cheese, cuckoo clocks and 'discreet' bankers,

SM xx


  1. Yay for you!
    I think getting in touch with your 19 year old self on a sober vacation is perfect!
    With Joy,

  2. Thank you so much for writing this blog, I came across it at a much needed time. I, like you, have no reason to poison myself on a daily basis. I have a lovely home, 2 beautiful kids, loving husband, 2 dogs and a good job...yet I feel the need to drink 1 to 2 bottles of wine every night.

    I wake up every day saying 'no wine tonight' yet by 3 or 4pm I'm planning it all out in my head and all sense flies out the window. I'm 46 and my skin and body are starting to show the effects of years of this habit and I hate my puffy face and dead eyes. I knew this 'look' was coming but somehow I thought I was invincible and that I would be able to continue looking bright eyed and bushy tailed whilst continuing to fuel my body with wine. Not any more! I'm done!!

    Having read your blog, I can see that there is a life without wine and I've just got to re learn how to live it. Thank you so so much for writing this blog and showing me that this is possible. I would love to join you on this journey so today is my day one!

    Enjoy the rest of your ski trip and I look forward to hearing more about it v soon.

    Take care!
    Nicola x

    1. Hi Nicola! I'm so glad you posted! We are exactly the same age! I suggest you read Jason Vale's book - I promise it'll help get your head in the right place and make the first few weeks easier. Good luck! Please stay in touch and keep at it - it really is worth it! Hugs SM xx

    2. Nicola, you can do it! I found cravings usually last about 10 minutes, I do anything to distract myself. Painting my nails has become a good one as it is not possible to do anything with wet nail varnish. Maybe a meditation app even cleaning. The first few days are the toughest but once you start sleeping better, having more energy and feeling proud of yourself it gets easier. Don't beat yourself up if you slip up, just get back on the wagon again. Good luck, big hugs, Laura x

  3. Thanks SM and Laura! It's getting to the witching hour now and I've got the mind battle going off in my head. It's mostly telling me 'why do it now? Why don't you just wait until the Easter holidays are over?'

    I thought the Easter holidays would be a good time to quit because I could focus all my energies on being sober and not worry about work but it's so tempting to put it off!! Thing is there's always some excuse to that I will find to delay quitting and I just can't keep delaying! Anyway, just jotting my thoughts down in words has helped to work them out of my system.
    My husbands cooking me a lovely meal tonight and I know he will have wine but he is one of those strange creatures that can just have one or two glasses and be satisfied (what is that all about??). Anyway, I plan to enjoy the meal and hope feeling full will keep the wine witch at bay. If I can get through tonight, I know I'll be able to do it again tomorrow.

    Wishing you both a lovely sober evening,
    Nicola x

    1. Good luck N! Try going to bed really early for the next few nights with a hot chocolate and some relevant reading - Jason vale, Alan Carr or Lucy rocca, or surf which is great! Just think about how amazing you'll feel tomorrow! Xxx

  4. Hi sm glad you are having a great time we've missed you !! Welcome Nicola to the sober mummy club well done for making the decision- it's really worth it x I'm now on day 23 and like you have a lovely home and family and great job but the wine witch always kicked in at 6pm for the first week I distracted myself with this great blog ( and kindred spirits ) and as recommended to you the Jason vale book it will really help you get into the thinking of what you are gaining rather than pining about what you are missing x I've also found sipping freshly squeezed lemon in hot water helps as soon as the wine witch appears and also copious amounts of manic cleaning seem to keep the witch quiet too !! I promise you within days your skin will look fresher and your eyes whiter and brighter and although for me sleep is erratic I feel so fresh and energetic in the morning and that feeling is enough to make me continue not drinking the next day x stick with it and with us and share any strategies you have !! Good luck and bottoms up for hot chocolate and clear heads

  5. Hi SM and all you lovely ladies in the club. I went around South East Asia with the same yellow book so this post, like all of your others has a lovely resonance with me. Thanks for writing this blog. It's great to have this level of peer support and understanding. I'm 2 weeks in but my goal is not to drink at home. Or at least I think it is. Not sure if it's he wine witches goal and mine may show itself more fully in time? Anyway I've had 4 nights out in the time and managed to drink one or two large glasses each time and no more. So we'll see how it all goes. It's one bottle of wine less each night for two weeks so I'm feeling pleased about that. First time I've managed more than one night in absolutely years. Looking forward to the next instalment. Becca.

    1. Thanks for posting Becca! Well done you - let us know how it goes! Do you still have the yellow book? Mine is one of my most treasured possessions - filled with notes, phone numbers etc. Not the same these days as backpackers do it all by Google and Messenger x