So, today I went with my boyfriend to a pub garden about an hour’s drive away. He’s in a band (he plays sax and blues harmonica) and they were playing an afternoon gig.

In the old days, I would only ever have gone to one of his gigs if I knew I could drink while I was there. For me, an essential part of the event was getting drunk. Often, I’d be sat on a bar stool on my own in a pub full of strangers and the only thing that would help me feel comfortable and relaxed was wine. The wine would loosen me up and leave me uninhibited enough to chat and laugh with other people. It would also give me something to look forward to, as I imagined that without it, I’d be bored just sitting listening to the same old songs and watching from the sidelines.

What I didn’t realise then was that:

a) It’s okay to feel a bit awkward and shy when you first arrive
b) You relax and get comfortable naturally in your own time
c) Your confidence and ability to engage with other people and enjoy the event comes naturally without any outside help from alcohol or anything else
d) It’s also okay to be a bit bored (it’s ten times better experiencing a bit of boredom than it is to get pissed and have to deal with all the next day consequences).

So, fast forward a few years to today and I had a lovely afternoon sitting outside in the fresh air, surrounded by pints and wine, tapping my foot and jigging to the music, chatting to the band members and their friends in the breaks and even having a laugh (so hard that I was nearly in tears at one point). Yes, it’s also possible to laugh hard and have fun when you’re sober – something else I’ve learnt over the years.

And, even better, I could drive us home. I was still feeling fresh and vibrant when we got home. I was able to prepare some food and help with general domestic chores. I’ve been able to do a bit of work and write this blog. None of this would have been possible in my drinking days… I would have arrived home ready to crack open more wine and would have waved aside any other responsibilities or commitments. And, shortly, I’ll be going to bed (showered and with freshly brushed teeth) and I’ll wake up in the morning raring to go be super-productive. When I add up the benefits to gigging, pubbing, socialising sober, it’s a no-brainer. Sobriety wins!

When you first start living life sober, it can be challenging to face some of these social situations alcohol-free, but the more you practise it, the easier it becomes. It’s also worth mentioning here that in the early days of your sobriety, it’s also important to protect yourself against any situations that might prove too challenging for you until you’ve built up some confidence. With preparation, planning and practise, these situations become a piece of cake and eventually, you can start to enjoy them and look forward to them without even thinking about drinking.

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