Am I doing enough?

I read an article today that was shared by Kate from The Sober School blog. Her site seems to be aimed much more at people thinking about quitting or just getting started with giving up the drink, so it doesn’t apply to me as much anymore, but I still follow along because she’s pretty inspirational. When I first started to seriously look at my drinking and came to the decision that I needed to quit, I was pretty bummed about it. I worried about how uncool it was to have a drinking problem and expected to spend the rest of my life as an outcast, living on the fringes of society, but Kate’s site was the first I found that had a different approach and helped to allay my fears a bit.

Anyway, Kate’s awesome, but to get to the point of this post, she shared this article today and it really got me thinking…

I’m not really sure whether I’m doing enough.

I know that there’s more than one way to skin a cat, everyone’s journey is different, my path is my own, yadda, yadda, but surely there are some recoveries that are better than others. Surely there are healthier ways to go about things – specific things that make sobriety better/happier/more successful.

I don’t think that I’m living as a ‘dry drunk’ as described in the article, but I do worry that I’m somewhere in between white knuckling it through and having a deep, life altering experience. People have said to me before that “as long as your not drinking, you’re doing it right”, but there must be a bit more to it than that. Is connecting with an online sober community enough or should I be connecting with sober folk in real life? I’ve heard that real life connections are infinitely better, but I’m painfully shy and the thought of going along to a meeting makes me shake in my boots. I also have close friends and family that I’m completely honest and open with. They’re definitely a great support, but I wonder how important it is to have real life support from those who know exactly what you’re going through.

And then there’s the emotional side of things. The desire to numb my feelings with wine for many years must have stemmed from emotional issues, but I don’t really know where to start with identifying or addressing those problems. I suspect I’m just an overly sensitive, anxious, painfully shy person who is highly skilled in self-criticism and has a penchant for overthinking any situation. So that’s awesome – no idea what to do about it though! I’m loathe to go to a counsellor to talk about this stuff because I hate parting with money unless it’s for something physical that I can put in my house. I don’t even know whether a ‘counsellor’ would be able to steer me in the right direction – is it a therapist? Or do I need to be paying someone with a PhD to fix me? A psychiatrist? Psychotherapist? Psychologist? Or will I just naturally figure out new coping mechanisms by myself over time? (See, over thinking things again.)

I also know that a lot of people find something new to devote their spare time to. Hobbies, or yoga or running or whatever. But I haven’t really channeled my focus in any one direction. I’ve dabbled around, making a few healthier life choices and have enjoyed the freedom to think about stuff (like my career and big life choices) that I just wouldn’t have looked at seriously before (because wine was the centre of my universe). I wouldn’t go so far as to say removing alcohol has changed my life completely though… should it have?


In sugar quitting news, everything is going swimmingly. On Friday night I caved and had half a glass of ginger beer and I’ve had a couple of hot chocolates before bed. The ginger beer happened at work drinks. I was already feeling a bit deprived being sat in a middle of a bunch of people drinking wine, so out of the alternatives (ginger beer or water) ginger beer won. That was a lesson in poor planning. And the hot chocolates were the result of feeling anxious/overwhelmed and wanting the comfort of sugar. I’ve been really good with making sure there aren’t any hidden sugars in my food though, so I’d say I’m under the daily recommended amount of 6 tsps.

I’ve always said that this sugar free experiment won’t be at the expense of my sobriety. If it’s all too hard then I’ll be throwing in the towel, but I’m happy with how things are going so far. It hasn’t been as painful as I expected.






Month six was a good one. I was really beginning to relax into sobriety, cravings had pretty much died off completely and socialising was becoming easier. I felt strong. There were a bunch of times I was grateful to be sober (especially when I had to drive!) and the prospect of this new sober life stretching out ahead of me didn’t fill me with dread as it did in the beginning.

Roll on month seven and I feel like it’s two steps forward, one step back. My resolve over the past few days has weakened and I keep picturing myself going back to drinking at some stage down the track. I know I only have to focus on the here and now, and it’s not so important to be okay with not drinking forever, but I still get a bit stressed over thoughts of the future.

I want to move cities (if not countries) at some stage in the next couple of years and the thought of settling in to a new place without the ease of getting to know new friends over drinks is really daunting. I’m now a pro at staying sober during the day to day grind of work and home life. Routines make things easy, but turning my life upside down is really going to throw a spanner in the works.

I guess that’s the challenge though right? The possible always seems impossible until it’s done. I’ve always relied on alcohol to make boring evenings fun, to make socialising less stressful, to ‘give me dutch courage’, and so on. It’s not until you take away the alcohol and learn to live without it that you realise you don’t need it. Boring evenings aren’t less fun without wine anymore, I’ve had enough practice to know I can go without and not miss it. It’s a matter of doing it and proving to yourself that it’s okay. I just haven’t had the chance to prove to myself that I don’t need alcohol in my future, because I haven’t got there yet…  Am I making sense? Probably not.

In other news, I am about to commence operation ‘I quit sugar’. I’ve bought the book and I’m doing the eight week detox with a couple of friends. Week one involves cutting out obvious sugars, so no sugar in my morning coffee or bowls of icecream in the evenings. I’m on the soda and limes instead of ginger beer. My diet is dull and cardboardy now that I’m not washing everything down with fructose, but it’s only for eight weeks. Doing a sugar detox feels like such a luxury when I compare it to being sober because I know there is an end to this if I want it. If, after eight weeks, I want to go back to a sugar laden diet, I can. Which is funny because that’s how I started out with sobriety – it was just an experiment really. But I liked parts of it, and I was curious to see what would happen if I kept going, so I did.

When did I start worrying about whether it was forever or not? It’s a hell of a lot less stressful when I think of sobriety as ‘just for the foreseeable future’. Simply as a means to getting healthy again. Not bothering with alcohol for a while because it wreaks havoc with my anxiety. Sometimes thinking in the short term just has to be enough. I don’t know how Mrs D and others can be so confident in proclaiming that they’ll never have another drink again in their lives – it must take a lot of sober practice to have that confidence and I hope I get to that point too! #sobergoals

Earl Grey’s Orchard

Warm, creamy, aromatic and tart…this one’s a goody!

With a base of fragrant mulled apple juice, topped with a head of chilled Chantilly cream, it ain’t doing your waistline any favours, but it is so, so worth it.

You’ll need:

  • 1 L apple juice
  • 1 cinnamon quill
  • 1/2 tsp whole cloves
  • 1 tsp honey
  • zest of half an orange
  • 2 Earl Grey teabags

For Chantilly cream:

  • 100 mLs full fat cream
  • 1 tsp icing sugar
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg

This will make 4 short glasses or 2 tall ones.

Add your mulled apple juice ingredients to a saucepan and simmer over a low heat for 10 – 15 minutes.

While your apple liquid is simmering, whip the cream with icing sugar and nutmeg. Once thick, leave in the fridge to chill.

After simmering, set aside your apple liquid to cool for 5-10 minutes.

It should still be fairly hot when you pour into glasses.

Dollop your chilled cream on top. It should melt slightly, but float.

The tangy apple cuts through the cream, perfumed with Earl Grey tea and spices. It’ll set your taste buds singing!