Two months away from y’all and look what happened!

It’s been two months since my last post (RUBBISH blogger!) but look what happened while I was away…my 1 Year Sober Birthday!

I did post on the day, which was last Sunday, and shared the photo below but then promptly deleted the post (you see, RUBBISH blogger!).

Here’s the photo again. It’s a snap of what greeted me on the kitchen worktop when I came down first thing in the morning; a cup of tea ready and waiting to be poured and a ‘1 Today!’ badge, left out for me by my husband. I don’t think he realises how much it meant to me.

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On my  One Year Sober Birthday I looked back and re-read the posts from this year. It didn’t take long (again, RUBBISH blogger!).  The sense I get from reading posts from the early weeks and months of my sobriety is one of sheer relief. Each post is soaked in the freedom I felt from cutting loose from living with booze.

This is all fine. It’s better than fine of course. Nothing beats freedom. But I feel I need to put my experience into context if The Sober Garden is to be of any use to anyone who happens to be passing and, in their own early stages of sobriety, stops to read a few posts.

There was an earlier version of The Sober Garden, created when I first set out on living without alcohol back in May 2014. In this first Sober Garden there were posts that chartered my life without drinking; seven months of posts sharing my anger, shame, surprised joy at discovering I had a voice that had been hidden on the sea bed of a boozy ocean, a bit more anger, a lot more shame. I went through the grieving process of giving up alcohol and it was all there in my blog. But after seven months of sobriety – the first ever sober period in my adult life – I started drinking again. It was Christmas Day 2014.

2015 was, for me, a year-long in experiment in Drinking in Moderation (amongst other things naturally). I thought that this was my future, that my seven months of sobriety had re-balanced the books and that moderation could work for me like it does for millions and millions of people.  I managed it; I was drinking in moderation, restricting the amount I was drinking and how often but BLIMEY CHARLIE, THE EFFORT IT TOOK! The self-inflicted rules, the constant thinking about drink, when I could, how much I could, etc – it was relentless and there was no peace from it. I had continued to post very sporadically in the old The Sober Garden but no longer felt wholly engaged in the online sober community which had been SO supportive during my first, earlier sober period.

I deleted my blog. I knew what I had to do. I had to be rid of alcohol. I had to jettison the heavy stuff (and fuck me, isn’t the weight of living with a dependence on alcohol HEAVY?!) and set myself free. And that was it. December 18th 2015, I FINALLY said enough is enough. No more rules, no more moderation restrictions, I’m gunning for freedom.

I re-opened The Sober Garden and here I am one year later, free at last from booze.

So although it’s a One Year Sober Birthday, the journey actually started well before a year ago. And today is by no means the journey’s end. There have been times – recently even  – when I have fiercely wanted to drink, albeit fleetingly. When I’m feeling particularly low within myself; breath is given to the old ghoul who can’t wait to hiss into my ear,  “You may as well as get pissed, that’s how shit a person you are, that will prove how bad you feel”. Luckily and with mindfulness (yes, you need a bit of both), I have managed to give myself breath and denied him; I have paid him no attention and he’s gone, scuttling underneath whichever rock he’s crawled out of.

Sending love to each and every one of you wherever you are and at whatever stage of your journey you’re on, from The Sober Garden x.