Wednesday 8 March 2017

First Times

I was walking down the street the other day when I passed one of those blackboards on which someone writes 'motivational thoughts' for the day.

I usually find that sort of think a bit sick making, but this one made me stop and think, and I'm still thinking about it days later.

It said: When did you last do something for the first time?

One of the main reasons I knew I had to quit drinking was because I was completely stuck in a rut.

My life was on a loop - doing the same things with the same people in the same places, over and over again, and I was pretty sure the booze was to blame.

We get so used to turning to alcohol for any celebration and whenever we want to wind down and relax, that we stop searching out new experiences, new ways of having fun or of chilling out.

Plus, regular drinking causes a rumbling depression and a sense of what's the point anyway?

Doing something for the first time can be scary, and years of self medicating fear and anxiety with booze makes us really bad at dealing with those uncomfortable emotions sober, so we tend to avoid unknown scenarios.

When you quit, you have to deal with 'firsts' all the time. First party sober. First holiday sober. First Christmas or birthday sober. Which is really hard. BUT you start to get pretty good at it.

You get used to facing fear and anxiety head on and begin to feel fairly invincible.

You have loads of extra time, energy and money. You actively seek out new ways of celebrating, relaxing and de-stressing which don't involve drinking.

Then you look back at the previous few months and realise that, suddenly, your life is filled with things you've recently done for the first time (or, at least, the first time in ages).

My readers have done all sorts of amazing new things after quitting the booze: yoga, meditation, setting up a business, making new friendships, raising money for a charity, finding love.

As have I. I started this blog. I finished my first novel and was short listed for an award. I found an agent, then a publisher and have nearly finished my non-fictional book.

None of these things would have happened if I'd still been drinking.

I had some horrible first times too. First time getting cancer, doing radiotherapy, getting through all the endless tests and dealing with the idea of death and motherless children.

None of which I'd have been able to cope with if I'd still been drinking.

One thing the cancer experience taught me (it's a cliché, but it's true) is that we only have one life, and we have no idea how long it's going to be.

So we really have to make the most of it by constantly seeking out new experiences and doing things for the first time, because, like a shark, if we stop moving forward, we die.

(Is that really true about sharks, or is it just a maritime myth?)

So, ask yourself when did I last do something for the first time? Then go do something new.

I'm off to find myself a toyboy.

(Only kidding).

SM x


  1. The last "first" I did was yesterday - my first sober birthday! I found that it was much more enjoyable than my previous birthdays, wherein I would begin celebrating with copious amounts of vino the week before, only to wake up on my birthday hungover and haggard looking. This year felt so good though... well... aside from my dear daughter who has taken to waking up at 4:30 a.m. as opposed to her usual 7:30. Oh well, thank goodness for being sober... I see her new schedule as an opportunity to see the beautiful sunrises we are having. How different your mind thinks when it isn't fogged with a cloud of booze.

  2. Wonderful SM - just wonderful :)
    Love the last bit.... Well you CAN do anything you know!
    Michelle xx

  3. Earlier this week, I had t go to a 2 day workshop which was held at a university where 15 years ago this week, I was mid way through a Masters programme. It is the week of my 55th birthday and therefore, 15 years ago I was turning 40. We had a party! Needless to say it was a fairly riotous affair and culminated in shots in a local pub. I was very drunk, so drunk, I couldn't get out of bed the next day. That was 15 years ago and I felt the ghosts close behind as I walked through the lovely grounds on Monday evening. It was a great birthday party, spent with people I had become close to. So as I face my second sober birthday (this time just the two of us are off to a great restaurant for lunch), I realise I am not the same person. My experiences over the last year have forced a change - some good, some not so good but the journey has been interesting. One thing, christ do I miss being 40 - where the fuck did 15 years go?


  4. The last time is did something for the first time...last month did a fitness class where you have to army crawl and do piggy backing. That type of thing isnt really my bag ...but it was so much fun. Re: Toyboy - I don't have the energy for one, think they are a bit like puppies, they need a lot of attention. xxxx

  5. This is just what I needed to read this morning...been stuck in a deep hole. Thanks for the reminder about only one life.

    1. I've felt the same Tamsin, I think it's the time of year too. But the suns out today so hopefully spring is on it's way!!! :-) xx

  6. Fab post as always!! Feel a bit lost now I'm upto date on your blog though, feel like I can't wait for your next post!!!!

    Perfect timing for me because I have just signed up to do a hot yoga class, never ever done anything like yoga before so excited and apprehensive at the same time but I'm doing it, so go me!!

    I've enjoyed my first sober Xmas and New Year's Eve of 2016 and I will have my first sober birthday in August so can't wait for that! I spent last years birthday on a glamping trip saying "im not going to drink" that lasted til 8pm then I downed about 6 large wines and a bottle of proseecco!! Eeeeeek!!

    Happy Thursday everyone! :-) xxx

  7. Love the post, as always, makes me ponder the possibilities, which are many when one is truly sober.

  8. Yes, all the firsts over the last 6 months - quite wonderful and terrifying both. First time becoming a grandmother - which for me was a big push to stop drinking - I remember all to well my own drinking mother - her early death - not being able to leave my children with her and I knew the pattern had to change.

  9. Very insightful, and I am really having to think. I've done a lot of firsts this year, but none lately. I will take this as a challenge to do something tomorrow. What it will be, I'm not sure. I look forward to the challenge. ; )

    Great post!

  10. Last week I quit my job where I didn't feel like I was being treated fairly. I went full force contacting old and new clients for freelance work, made a new website etc. There is something about not drinking that makes me so much braver :)

    Then today was cold and gray and I found myself longing for a series of vodka tonics and a complex meal to cook. I didn't have any of course, but it sucks that after 8 months AF and so many good changes in my life I still have moments when I just want to drink. Thanks for the reminder- so many new firsts to look forward to, as long as I don't give up.