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This time last week I was heading down to the south coast to watch my Mum get married. I was looking forward to doing all of it alcohol free. It can feel impossible to fast forward and imagine a life where booze doesn't feature at every turn but if you stick with it in those difficult early days, don't drink and just do something different you will change absolutely everything. Even the things you didn't even realise needed changing.
Tomorrow, I'm exactly 3 years alcohol free. Not a sniff. Not a drink. Not a blip. Not 'just one'. Zero. So why this weekend were a couple of things sent to bite me on the arse when I least expected it? I'm confident in my sobriety and I know I won't drink. But a couple of small booze-filled curveballs came my way that I'd like to share with you! Nothing earth shattering... just yet more confirmation that NOT drinking really is swimming against the tide in a society where you're simply expected to do it to celebrate and if you don't, you're probably a bit odd.
3 of us bounced into the hairdressers at 09:00 on Saturday morning to get our wigs sorted for the wedding. The first thing offered because we were celebrating? Prosecco, obvs! For a split second I thought 'maybe I should just have half a glass, so I don't look rude'. WHAT THE FRICK?! Rude?! I've spent the last 3 years working my arse off to get to where I am today so why do these crazy little intrusive thoughts pop up from nowhere?! I politely declined and my mum and our friend had a little sniff, probably to be polite because they're not big drinkers and they certainly don't normally drink fizz for breakfast! Rewind 3 years and I would have proudly sunk the best part of the bottle before leaving the shop pissed, loud and well on my way to peaking too soon...
Fast forward to post-ceremony drinks outside in the hotel gardens on a beautiful summers afternoon. My mum had already been in touch with the hotel to arrange AF options... there were soft drinks, AF beers and AF red and white wine. I couldn't have been better catered for and in fact there were probably half a dozen people on the AF options too so I certainly wasn't a Sober Lone Ranger!
'You could have Pimms, it's quite low in alcohol?' Erm, no thanks... I don't drink. An AF beer would be lovely!
Final alcohol related observation from the weekend when we were having our drinks poured for the toasts. I covered my glass and politely declined Prosecco from the same guy who suggested I could choose Pimms. I'll stick with my AF wine, thank you.
'But it's just for the toast?'
I could've raised a glass of frog's piss and the sentiment would have been exactly the same. Booze wasn't needed to wish my mum well. It was about the people in the room, the words spoken and the 4 days of love and laughter.
My brother and his girlfriend are both vegan - they didn't get offered sausages with their plant-based meal... just sayin'
Not one person got drunk at the wedding. No one was hungover at any point during the weekend. We did stuff before and after the ceremony. Not a single minute was wasted thinking about drinking, drinking, recovering from drinking and then drinking again on that horrific Hamster Wheel of Hangover Hell.
The entire long weekend was wonderful. I was tired through being busy with my family not because I started drinking at 09:00. I listened to what people had to say instead of being the loudest drunken dick in the room. I got up for a (s)wanky breakfast every single day because I wasn't hanging out of my arse hugging the u-bend on the bathroom floor. I could drive anywhere at anytime because I wasn't panicking about transport and who I could rope in to drive while I selfishly got sloshed. I dressed as Dolly Parton and sang 'Islands In The Stream' so very badly with my new step-brother-in-law (I think?!) who was Kenny Rogers and who was also very, very sober. The newlyweds couldn't quite believe what they were hearing or seeing. I went paddle boarding IN THE SEA with my youngest son and my nephew on Sunday evening as the sun was going down and didn't drown. I cried before my mum even stepped foot in the room to get married and not because I'd drunk my bodyweight in rose, fizz and vodka and was a pathetic emotional ruin for no reason other than being arseholed. I laughed and laughed loudly all weekend and there is nothing quite like genuine, sober and real belly laughter!
Booze free is boring? No, drinking alcohol is boring. Same shit, different day. Booze free is an absolute revelation every single day and I swear for every day you nail AF there is something glorious in it that you will notice. It might be small, it might be life changing. But it's always glorious and a little gift to yourself.
You have to remember that removing booze from your life isn't about giving anything up - it's about everything you gain.
It's the gift that just keeps giving - but you HAVE to show up daily and put the work in. This won't work if you're half arsed about any of it.
Don't drink, do something different and don't be a dick. It works for me and it can work for you too.
Have a wonderful weekend!