And so, sitting with Dr Pepper in hand, I celebrate my first sober weekend in years. My first sober weekend in a decade, precisely.
Five dry days isn’t much, but it’s left me curious. What would five dry weeks look like? Five months?
I don’t know when I’ll have my next drink. In the meantime, I choose not to drink. So what have I learned from this weekend?
Wine costs money.
An obvious fact. But that’s some £30 saved in five days. Not a huge deal – I drink too much to consider buying the really good stuff – but if I calculate this saving over a month, if becomes a bigger deal. Over one year, it adds up to anything from a fabulous holiday to a whole wardrobe of new outfits. And if I calculate the amount of alcohol I’ve spent in my lifetime… actually, let’s not go there.
Where is the boundless energy, the skip through the meadow, the handsome passer-by tipping his hat to me? Because, through my bloodshot eyes, I can only see as far as the next afternoon nap and that annoying bloke in the office eating a bag of cheese and onion crisps.
Wine can take me in any direction, from a bright-eyed and loquacious raconteur to a cynical, bitchy mess. Sobriety takes me in just the one direction – slightly boring, but reassuringly consistent. Sexy, is it not?
I have tamed the monkey.
A chattering monkey sits on my shoulder. Let’s call her Coco. She accompanies my every waking hour, mischievously leading me on hours of random associations, imaginary scenarios, bursts of anger and endless thoughts, thoughts, thoughts. As I grind these thoughts, minute after minute, hour after hour, she won’t shut up. “What about this? But have you thought about that? Do you remember when? What would happen if?”
Coco has been silent for the past five days. I promise I haven’t poisoned her.
I feel proud of myself.
This is a tiny achievement, these five little days of sobriety. And yet it’s significant. It’s the start of something huge. In considering how to navigate sobriety over the past few months – Sisters of Temperance being part of that slow process – I am coming to realise that sobriety may unlock everything I’ve always wanted for myself.
Small steps, sister, small steps…
Food tastes amazing.
Everything tastes better without the grape sauce. Even steak.
I get excited about the small things.
A glass of ice-cold sparkling water. A kiss from my dog. A scoop of homemade ice cream. Riding my new bike by the river. The tulips in my garden. The sunshine on my legs as I take forty winks. Everyday pleasures, experienced just that little bit deeper.
I get stuff done.
Reading, cleaning, organising, focusing, thinking rationally, taking care of myself, taking care of others.
I’ll try to get round to paying the gas bill tomorrow.
I savour the moment.
Savour the air, the birdsong, the silly grin as I cycle through a big puddle, the touch of the pillow against my cheek as I switch off the light. It doesn’t sound like much. But oh, it is.
I like this feeling. I really like it.
I don’t know when I’ll drink again. In the meantime, I’m appreciating all the joy that sobriety has given me over the past five days. I need to remember how good this feels – and how it suits me.
– Sister Temperance
I rather enjoyed it.