(Not quite) Sober October… or … I can resist everything except temptation

Sunday 30th September: A few glasses of wine during dinner with friends and that is my last drink for a month. Sober October here I come! No alcohol for a whole month!

Wednesday 3rd: I find myself thinking about alcohol coming back from a lunchtime walk to the library, mostly because I have to dodge around a group of people coming out of pub. “Imagine drinking at lunchtime!” I find myself thinking, followed by, “Oh, we’ve got leaving drinks coming up soon at the cocktail bar – but I won’t be able to have a proper cocktail.” I allow myself a self-congratulatory thought that this sober October thing is going really well, if I’ve only just had my first conscious thought about not having alcohol. Then I realise it’s been three days. And the leaving drinks event is three weeks away.

Friday 5th: A late afternoon crisis at work. Is it my fault for getting it wrong? Or were the instructions given convoluted and not clear? I leave work feeling sad and angry. My usual reaction to a day like this is to go home and climb into a bottle of wine but I can’t do that today because (a) I’m being sober and (b) it’s the first Friday of the month and that means Gardening Club. So I eat my dinner and go out to Gardening Club and listen to an entertaining talk about tulips. I forget about work. I forget about wanting a drink to wash away the work effluent from my mind. Instead I have a cup of tea and some cake in the break and fail to win a prize in the raffle.

Saturday 6th: I catch up with a friend in the afternoon. We do some walking in the cold and wet, and then decide to go for coffee but in this part of Walthamstow at this time on a Saturday there are no coffee places open. Instead we find ourselves in a wine bar. The wines by the glass all sound lovely but I have a sparkling mineral water flavoured with natural blackcurrant juice instead. “I’ve got this,” I think.

Wednesday 10th: I got to a colleague’s leaving drinks. Without thinking, I drink a glass of prosecco. Why did I do this? I didn’t really want it and I feel bad afterwards. In part because prosecco on an empty stomach isn’t good, and in part because I have failed in my attempt after only 10 days.

Saturday 13th: Catching up with friends, one of whom usually works on a Saturday so is very happy to have a day off and be out and about. The sun is shining, it’s surprisingly warm. We shake our heads in amazement and say “This must be the last good day of the year.” So we spend the morning walking around a market and a park and the afternoon at a local brewery. Drinking beer. Yes, even me. And I don’t feel bad anymore because I’ve already broken my promise so all this means is a heftier charitable donation at month end.

Friday 19th – Sunday 21st: A weekend away in Yorkshire with my friend from Cambridge. *sigh* Wine with dinner on Friday night, beer with dinner on Saturday night and wine with dinner on Sunday night (after a beer with Sunday roast pub lunch). I sleep badly all three nights, possibly due to my body processing the alcohol.

Tuesday 23rd – Another leaving drink, this time for a dear colleague and former manager. The party is at a cocktail bar, the cocktail bar that does the really good cocktails. Having already broken my promise, it would be pointless to not partake. And the Dark Pear (pear vodka, elderberry, blackberry and red wine) sounded too delicious not to try. Three times.

Saturday 27th: – Oh look a wine sale! I’m not saying I’m obsessed or anything, but when the good wine shop is having a sale, it’s definitely worth having a look (online, from the sofa, with a cup of tea). They have some good stuff, including some quality Australian bottles. The husband and I get carried away and order a case of wine. But I don’t drink any.

Wednesday 31st:- The wine we ordered arrived. We unpack it and look for somewhere to store it (wine racks are quite full because of my partial sobriety this month). But still I don’t drink any.

Thursday 1st November: What have I learned from trying to avoid alcohol for a month? Mostly that I have appalling willpower. (Really, ten days? Shame on me!) Secondly, a lot of social interaction is based around consumption of alcohol. This is probably quite typical for Britain but also I wonder what the alternative non-alcohol options are? Thirdly, I don’t miss that mid-week bottle of wine, or even that Saturday night “good” bottle. But I do love wine and I would not want to live without it forever.

Out of 31 days, I was alcohol free for 25. Although not an official registered participant, I will now make a donation to Macmillan Cancer Support’s Go Sober fundraising initiative.

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