Saturday, 20 February 2016

Sober Birthdays

It's my birthday next week (Wednesday).

I've never had a sober birthday before. At least, not since I was about sixteen.

Birthdays were an excuse to indulge myself as much as possible. In recent years it would take me three or four days of self loathing to recover from them.

Now I realise that birthdays are not actually all about me.

The smalls are super excited. When you are seven, a birthday is the most exciting thing in the universe.

Since my birthday falls on a school day, they have insisted on throwing a pre-celebration today. I have pretended not to notice the whisperings, the secret shopping trips, the wrapping and the hiding. I am practicing my 'that's the thing I most wanted in the entire world' face - like Gwyneth Paltrow before the Oscars.

For years I didn't publically celebrate my birthday, I just got quietly trashed and maudlin with Mr SM.

But last year I decided to throw a party. I invited about 25 adults and 25 children. I prepared Sunday lunch for them all, and booked a man to turn up with live animals - snakes, spiders, MEERKATS, a chinchilla, an OWL - to entertain the kids. I bought cases and cases of wine to entertain the adults.

It cost a fortune. And I did not enjoy it.

Well, I enjoyed the beginning. The first few glasses of wine. And the end - when I could get really stuck in, and congratulate myself on having made it.

But the middle was pretty awful. Catering for fifty people when half drunk is super hard. And being a good hostess is impossible after too many vinos. I tried introducing people initially, but I'd keep forgetting names (!), and quite quickly gave up.

I couldn't relax and enjoy myself. I charged around the house, glass in hand, constantly convinced that I ought to be somewhere other than where I was.

The next day I felt like death. Plus I was paranoid that no-one had enjoyed themselves. I knew I'd not be able to shift the black mood for days. And that's the day (March 2nd 2015) I quit. Forever.

(See Secret Drinker Hits the High Bottom)

So, this year I'm throwing another party. On Friday. My first ever sober party. After my recent dice with death, I want to be able to say thank you to all my friends for being there, and to celebrate life in general.

I'm not hosting at home (too much hard work!). Instead, I've booked a private room in a swanky restaurant. I'm spending all the money I saved by not drinking alcohol on alcoholic drinks and canapes for 75 people. How ironic.

I'm a bit nervous about it, but the nervousness is swamped by building excitement.

Seventy five of my best friends, all in the same room, and I'll be sober enough to talk to them all! I'll be able to introduce people, make witty conversation.

Perhaps I'll even do a speech. Without slurring, forgetting what I was saying mid sentence and falling off the chair.

And I'll remember every single minute of it, and wake up the next day feeling....great (if broke).

Whoop whoop!

Love to you all,

SM x


  1. Wow almost a year!!! And what a year. I hope you have a really lovely time. I had also stopped enjoying going out or hosting lots of people as I was frightened I'd get too drunk and fall asleep (black out) or fall out with someone or forget to put the kids to bed, etc etc I just wanted to be on my own and get drunk. That's so sad! Thank you for deciding to blog. When I read it, and the comments others make, it reminds me that the way things used to be when I was drinking was not ok or normal and that I am not on my own trying to do this. I am not far behind you and am looking forward to being a year af on the 11th of may and I know I wouldn't be here without your blog. Enjoy your birthday, your fancy party and your year af anniversary. You deserve it all xxx

  2. I'm so proud of you <3 Almost a year, how exciting! What an amazing flip of the switch. I hope you have a wonderful party and the best birthday celebration. You deserve it. xo

  3. What a year SM! So proud of you, and honoured to have been along for most of the ride with you. You are my inspiration. I know you will have a fabulous party, and as EH says, you deserve it xxx

  4. Congratulations. That's so amazing and you must be feeling fantastic!

  5. Hi SM!
    Happy Birthday! Do you remember me? Boston Strong/Boston Sober!?
    I am STILL sober! Yes! We've almost completed one year together! I am so grateful for your blog! It's been quite a ride! A roller coaster! I am actually a feeling and thinking human being again! Yes, everything feels real and raw. Almost feel like I'm naked. Exposed to the world. All of me is alive! Thank God! Please keep writing and describing what it feels like and how you are learning to cope with your newly sober self. It helps and inspires me.
    God bless you SM

    1. Hi Jen! So glad you're still here! Big hugs xxx

  6. Congratulations and happy early birthday, SM! Wow, I don't even know 75 people:) Sounds like fun. Did you consider not serving alcohol? I was not not drinking when I got married in 2010 and I chose to have a "dry" party.

    1. Gosh - your friends are more broad minded than mine! If I had a sober party not even my husband would come! Huge hugs xxx

  7. Dearest SM - Happy birthday and Happy 365 days! Cant wait till I'm at your point. With your help I know I'm going to get there. Have an awesome party - Love SFM x

  8. Happy Birthday and Happy Sober-versary SM!!! That's going to be one hell of a celebration. So, what time do you want us to arrive? We're cheap guests - we don't drink you know, thanks to you! Have a great time. Love SPB xxx

  9. Happy Birthday and Congratulations! What a wonderful gift you've given yourself and us too!

  10. Happy Birthday and sober versary SM. I've only just started following your blog and wow what a blog it is. You have a wonderful way of putting things, you really speak to me through your writing. I had my first sober birthday in a long while 6 weeks ago, it was a breeze, I'm sure yours will be to. As you said in one of your blogs recently, no vino can ever be worth giving up sober mornings for. Sober mornings are heaven. xx

  11. Happy birthday SM! So adorable to read about your little ones plotting and planning to give you a special day. I thoroughly enjoy reading your blogs. You've been through so much this past year, with such grace and humour. So much to celebrate! Have an absolute ball m'lovely xxx

  12. Happy Birthday for Wednesday SM! Happy soberversary! I hope you have wonderful celebrations. Happy Birthday wishes to you. May they all come true. X

  13. What an important, BIG, happy deal! Enjoy the anticipation, the planning and then...the event!

    You know, 'a day at a time' never made sense to me before embarking on Dry January. Up to then, and for the first two weeks or so of the new journey, the thought of - OMG! Not drinking!!?? Was something I couldnt even contemplate. But just slowly happens....realizations, awareness, acceptance. I have no idea if I'll succeed in doing this forever, but I have come to see the absolute wisdom of 'one day at a time.'

    January held not only my birthday, but the second anniversary of the loss of my spouse (of 48 years). I was at dinner with a friend on that day and I did raise a martini toast to him. But - I have been succeeding in what I have wanted: a cocktail when dining out. Period.(so, 4-5 x) And NO drinking at home, alone, in 53 days. Given my prior daily consumption, of hard liquor, that is HUGE. And credit goes to DryJ, to you, SM, for your uplifting sharing, and to all the other many, many generous folk in the sober community who bare their souls and struggles.

    1. Well done, NorthWoman! Huge congrats, and I'm so sorry about your spouse. I'm sure he'd be so proud of you xxx