theatre audience waiting for red stage curtains to open

Sober firsts

I love that Josie enjoyed her first theatre show sober, had an emotional response to it and woke up fresh as daisy this morning! Great work, Josie and let’s hope you get to enjoy some more shows over the next year!

When we do something for the first time sober, we’re paving the way for the next time, the time after that and the time after that – we’re making it easier for each time we repeat that activity in the future. We’re even making it easier to do other things for the first time sober as well because our brain is learning that any fear we experience can be set aside.

I remember the first time I went to the theatre sober. It was in London, it was A Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time and I was terrified. This was when I was experiencing lots of anxiety/panic attacks and it was particularly bad in crowds and it was particularly bad if I felt “trapped”, like sitting on a train, a bus or in a theatre, surrounded by other people. Without my go-to crutch of alcohol, I felt very vulnerable. For the first half of the play, I was fighting my anxiety. By the second half, I was so immersed in what was happening on the stage, I’d forgotten to run my own anxiety drama. (Great play, by the way – if you get a chance to see it, do!) That was very emotional, too, Josie!

A couple of months later, I went to see Imelda May live in concert. Again, I had to sit surrounded by people in an audience and again, I was anxious before going in. But, this time, because I’d done it and got to enjoy it before, my brain already knew I could do it and I was able to ignore the fear. I was only anxious for the first 20 minutes and it was a milder form of anxiety, before I got into the performance and had a great night.

And, since then, I’ve been on trains, at other performances and shows and have had no problems breezing through each one sober.

Every time you face a new situation sober (whether it’s a party, a concert, a show, a wedding or even a Friday night at home in front of the TV), when you remember that next time it will be easier, and the time after that it will be even easier again it can help you to face things and feel more confident and comfortable in that situation. You’re practising a new skill after all and you’d expect to get better and better at anything with practise. And, if you’ve done some mental rehearsal of sailing through the event in advance, you’ll get to relax and enjoy it even more quickly and easily.

It’s really important to celebrate all our Sober Firsts as they show how strong, courageous and determined we are. I also see them as symbolic of a doorway into our future sober lives and a better version of ourselves.

Make sure to post your sober firsts on here and let us know how they went.

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