On the Solidarity Wagon

So… Sober October, eh? Do you or anyone you know take a break from booze during October? Or perhaps my old nemesis, dry January? I think it’s a fabulous idea for those of you who aren’t alcoholics or have a problem with alcohol. Hubby is doing it this year, and it makes me giggle how I’m abstaining from alcohol free beer to show solidarity! Isn’t that quite funny? The alkie showing moral support for the non-alkie who’s on the wagon for a while. I think it’s brilliant.

I suppose it could be a number of things. Macmillan Cancer Support is a charity here in the UK that is largely behind the concept and they’re a wonderful charity that does heaps of good up and down the country. They also organise the Mighty Hike, of which there are several different ones you can do and we did the south coast challenge in the summer, now toying with the idea of the Jurassic coast. Whichever we choose next, I’m looking forward to see what difference all the running and working out will make – lots, I’m sure – as I was absolutely destroyed last time. So anyway, even if the only objective for your Sober October is to raise money for a good cause, that’s a brilliant reason in its own right.  Hey, lots of people grow a tash only to raise money for a good cause rather than fashion reasons, so I think it’s a pretty solid reason. It could also be that you just fancy being super kind to your body for a while – an excellent reason too. Or you’re embarking on a health kick temporarily or kick starting a healthier life style and using Sober October to get firing on all cylinders. Awesome. Maybe you’re even toying with the idea of cutting alcohol out of your life altogether, not because it’s a problem but because you just know you’ll be better off without it? Then again, if you don’t have a drinking PROBLEM it clearly wouldn’t be causing problems, so what do I know? I’m trying to figure out if I’d have any real reason to stop drinking alcohol if I could “enjoy” it in a “normal” manner. You can tell how alien this is to me, the alcoholic, by my excessive use of inverted commas. It just doesn’t exist in my world.

What about when you’re an alcoholic like I am though, or have what you’d consider a drinking problem? What about Sober October then?

Well. In my ever growing tribe, people regularly discuss how to explain why they no longer drink. Some people don’t feel comfortable openly saying they have a problem for various reasons, which I can completely understand. In this instance, Sober October or a dry January offers a brilliant cover story and you start your sobriety shoulder to shoulder with everyone else who’s giving it a whirl and no one has to know you’re any different to the next person. I’m sure that makes things easier in a lot of cases and that’s terrific. Then of course at the end of it, you can just say you enjoy sobriety so much you’re just going to stick at it. Your sobriety is your business and it’s up to you how, when, why and if you share and, indeed, what and how much you share. Whether you are ready to tell the whole world your story or otherwise, I’m sure a first foray into a booze free existence is made easier when lots of people are doing it too. As with everything though, each to her own.

Personally, I never did Sober October. I just didn’t bother with ‘sober’ anything, to be honest. Some years I attempted dry January but for me it was only ever something to suffer through and then afterwards (if I managed more than a couple of weeks that is – which I don’t ever remember doing more than once) go on to drink more than ever to make up for it. As I’ve outlined before, I could only stop drinking once something clicked in me and I just knew I was done with it, and not a second before. This was MY experience, I don’t claim it’s anyone else’s – we’re all different, remember. So, for me, I don’t know that it would have made any difference, not even from the undercover perspective because when I was done, I was DONE and one of my ways of anchoring my sobriety has been to tell absolutely EVERYONE (and a few more people besides) exactly why and precisely what my reasons to stop were (and ARE – not like my reasons are going anywhere). That’s MY story. Had I reached that turning point at the beginning of October one year, I suspect it would have been coincidental to me, I can’t imagine it would have made me less likely to open up but again, that was one of my ways of getting a handle on my new life of sobriety. I mean, sharing about drinking, alcoholism and addiction is why my tribe is so important to me, but it’s been equally important to be able to share with my family and friends.

It’s funny because it rolls off my tongue quite easily now. I think I always felt at peace with saying it once I had that click and truly wanted out of my addiction, and although there were times I did worry about people’s reaction it was never enough to stop me from speaking the words. No one reacted badly anyway. Mostly the response has consisted of hugs and assurances I’m doing a good thing. So yes, I suppose I’m very lucky. In particular, hubby and Cherokee should both receive some sort of award for how much they have listened, engaged and talked with me – hubby many, many evenings on the sofa, and Cherokee via long e-mail exchanges. My brother D should also be given a medal for scooping me up in his arms and hugging me like he hasn’t done since he was four and crept into my bed after having a nightmare, only this time I suppose he felt he was protecting me and not the other way around. Oh fuck this, I didn’t mean to turn all soppy, where were we?

Sober October.

I guess what I think of it is this: GOOD STUFF. I mean, how can anything that prevents us from doing something that is harmful even in moderation be negative? If you’re a normal drinker and you use this one month to raise money for a good cause at the same time as you’re being good to yourself, awesome. If you want to kick start a life of sobriety, awesome. If you piggy back on it to get into the sober way of life without too much fanfare or spotlight on your personal situation, that’s awesome too and I wish you all the best. Welcome in, you’ll like it here – sobriety is fucking amazing.

Today I’m not going to drink.

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