Saturday 24 February 2018

Sober Birthdays

As IT'S MY BIRTHDAY, I thought it would be a good time to reflect on birthdays past (drunk) and present (sober)...

In the last of the drinking years, I'd begun to greet birthdays with a mixture of excitement and dread.

I'd be excited because a birthday is one of the only days of the year when you can properly let your hair down without any guilt or remorse. On a birthday, anything goes, and you have to be forgiven any bad behaviour, right?

But I'd dread birthdays too. Another year gone of nothing much changing and nothing much happening. More broken promises and unfulfilled dreams.

And I knew that it was likely to spin out of control. Which it inevitably did...

I would wake up on my birthday morning, and have to cope with three very excited children with a hangover. Because the night before had been the eve of my birthday! A great excuse to indulge a little more than normal.

And a little more than normal was an awful lot!

Then, because of said hangover, and said birthday, I would - obviously - have a long, boozy lunch.

By the time the evening celebrations rolled around, I'd already have drunk a bottle of wine, and would be well into the second, which meant that half way through the party/dinner/whatever I was up to, I'd be slurring, forgetful, confused and sleepy, and a terrible host.

I'd collapse into bed (possibly before the last guests had left), and then wake up with the 3am horrors, trying to remember which secrets I'd spilled and who I might have upset.

The next day would be ghastly.

The morning after my birthday party three years ago was the day I quit drink for good, and you can read about how awful it was on page one of The Sober Diaries. 

(If you click here, you can read the first few chapters for free with the 'Look Inside' feature).

My first sober birthday, nearly a year later, was a little bit hard. It's difficult not to remember, with rose՛tinted glasses, the ghosts of birthdays past, and to feel a little nostalgic....

....but since then, sober birthdays have been AMAZING.

This morning, I woke up feeling perky, but pretended to be asleep as I could hear the pattering of tiny feet and whispering outside the bedroom door.

I could be genuinely excited as three children and the terrier all piled into our ancient, creaking bed, and Mr SM produced bacon, eggs, coffee and presents on a tray.

I realise now that birthdays are as much about the children as they are about me, and today I can spend the whole day on the same level as them, not looking for ways to escape with a glass of vino.

Kit's birthday present to me is having his hair cut.

He's been resisting this for weeks, and his hair has got so long that he can barely see. As I type this, he's in the barber with his dad, and I'm looking forward to receiving his three inch long sideburns tied in a ribbon... It may be another year before I can get him in there again, so I'm going to make the most of it.

This evening, after birthday tea with the kids, Mr SM and I are going out for dinner and to the theatre in the West End.

It's going to be brilliant, and I won't wake up part way through the play to find that I've fallen asleep on the stranger next to me and am drooling on his shoulder (this did happen once, back in the day).

And I can spend the evening reflecting on a year when I did stuff. Stuff that mattered. 

I faced my fears and exposed all my secrets and vulnerabilities to the world, then discovered that my story was changing people's lives, which is the best birthday present ever.

And I'll fall asleep, tired, happy and sober.

Happy birthday to me, and love to all of you.

SM x


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  2. Happy Birthday lovely Clare! Enjoy your day. Xxx

  3. Day one for me. Trying not to think about mountains such as sober holiday, birthday, Christmas, meals out.
    Took 'ugly pictures' this morning(ish) of me waking up hungover and spilling over the top of my jeans.

    1. Take one day at a time. Don't be too hard on yourself. Easier said than done, I know x

    2. Great idea taking a ‘before’ photo! It’s a good idea to find a photo of you as you want to look too, then you can stick it on the fridge for inspiration! You can do this! 😘😘😘

  4. Happy Birthday Clare!!! You wonderful lady. I hope you have a lovely day and your evening sounds fabulous! Thank you so much for giving me the strength to carry on 'booze free'. Sending big birthday hug to you! Jacqueline xx ����

    1. Ps I tried to send a present and cake picture but it doesn't seem to have worked! Jacqueline x

  5. Happy Birthday Clare! Wishing you the best day ever. x

  6. Happy Birthday Clare. I'm on day 48 thanks to you. The wine witch is still whispering in my ear but this is the longest I have been AF in almost four years.

  7. Many happy returns !!! I love your posts . You really capture the joy of being sober after years of excess.
    I hosted my first dinner party last week ( first af )dinner party. Others drank alcohol ,I didn't.
    I was able to watch first hand others getting drunk.
    It really really hammered home why I'm doing this.
    One guest ended up crying at the table , seemingly after only couple of drinks.
    That might have been me a couple of months ago.
    The next day I had the "I'm so sorry, what did I do,say " convo that we have all had.
    I'm so thankful I made this decision and thankful I bought your book as it kick started all this!!!
    Have a lovely day xxx

    Love Sarah b

    1. Oh god, we’ve all been that weeping guest! Huge congrats to you putting it behind you! 👏👏👏

  8. Happy birthday Clare.
    Enjoy your day!
    Made me think about having a sober one myself
    There's a strange concept!

  9. Happy Birthday! Day 16 for me - also the longest I have been sober for in a long, long time. Your book has been inspirational and I keep dipping in and referring back to it to help me. Thank you.

  10. Many Happy Returns Clare! Just returned from celebrating my granddaughter's 1st birthday today ... She and her 3 year old sister certainly reinforce how to enjoy a birthday AF :-)) Happy weekend all.

  11. Happy Birthday!
    Day 306 for me today! I’m excited to have my (technically third) sober birthday in a few months (I was sober for 180 days before, so I did a bunch of the milestones during that time....relapsing isn’t fun, man!). Your blog has been a big part of my sober travels. Thanks for sharing your story.

  12. Hope you have had a wonderful birthday evening. What better present than to know how much you have helped so many of us during the past year. Here's to many happy returns. Xx

  13. Happy Birthday Clare! 🎁 🎂 xx

  14. Happy birthday! Yes what a year you have had. Congratulations!

  15. Love this post! My birthday is the day before St. Patrick's Day, so I would have to drink for three days straight! (pre-birthday, birthday, St. Paddy's day) Ugh. It was mind-numbingly awful.

    Thank you for being such an inspiration.

  16. Happy birthday! Another inspirational post, thank you. They keep me on the straight and narrow. Will re-read when it gets closer to my birthday. Am currently tackling sober cinema hot on the heels of sober 21st birthday party (not mine - eldest daughter) Will try theatre next xxxx

  17. Happy birthday Clare.
    You have had an amazing start to this year with your book etc. Look forward to meeting you one day!
    I love the fact we are all paving the way to a new way of thinking a healthier way of living.
    Not drinking alcohol will become socially accepted as normal.
    Up the revolution :) xxx
    PS. Have a fabulous evening with Mr SM, he must be so proud of you.

  18. Thank you so much everyone for all your birthday wishes! I had a fab day, but I think the best bit is waking up the morning after feeling amazing! I never get tired of that one! Xxx

  19. Happy Birthday SM, hope you had a great day! I'm getting excited for my big day; not my birthday, my first soberversary this week on 1st March. I really am excited like a kid before a birthday :)



  20. Happy birthday, fellow Clare! Eat all the birthday casket, dance in the kitchen and make birthday memories, you wonderful lady xx ( 55 days in, thanks for the support and inspiration ) x

  21. Happy birthday SM .... just wanted to say thank you for helping me start my sober journey which is well and truely on the way... your book is always close by ❤️

  22. Happy Sober Birthday, congratulations on all you've achieved.

  23. Happy birthday! Mine is also on the same date and last Saturday’s was the first sober birthday I’ve celebrated for a toe-curling number of years. Big, huge, MASSIVE thanks to you, both for your blog and your book: they’ve done an awful lot to help me through this first month. And, now this birthday’s done, I’m much more confident that I’m moving towards a view of sobriety that’s not quite so white-knuckled!

  24. I am reading this at 4.35am - awake from the 3am horrors!!! You truly are inspirational! You should be extremely proud of yourself x all you lovely ladies.

  25. Just finished your book which started and ended on your birthday, so appreciate how significant this time of year is. I'm 4 days without a drink, and have read a book each day to inspire me, yours was the most inspirational and I am stocked up with Becks blue and hot chocolate for that 'me time', instead of a bottle of vino. I want to get to that field of bunnies :) Thank you for writing your story. Xx

  26. Belated happy birthday Claire! I’m reading your book at the moment and it’s giving me hope. Im at the bit about the obstacle course and the field of bunnies. I’m snowed in and I have the flu. I’ve just left an abusive marriage. Right now it’s hard to see any light at the end of the tunnel. But I just have to keep going and I know that I WILL make a better life for myself and my children. It’s not just about giving up booze, there are lots of ways to turn your life around xx