Monthly Archives: January 2016

Why The Smug Sober B*st*rd Brigade Must Be Stopped

 

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Our Chief Medical Officer, Dame Sally Davies, is expected to imminently announce a reduction in the daily maximum intake of alcohol recommended for men. Essentially making the units recommended for men the same amount as what used to be recommended for women. (I always try to read sentences like these, but I hear the words blah blah in my head, because the are so bloody boring. So don’t feel bad if you just blah blah-ed your way through that first bit, cos so did I.)

Units never meant anything to me as a drinker. I had no idea I was meant to be consuming 3-4 units a day maximum. I used a few different types of measurements where my drinking was concerned.

If I was pretending to be sober in front of whichever boyfriend I had at the time, my drinking would be quantified in the “I’ve only had a couple”, a table of measurement which automatically made me able to convert any units I had actually consumed, to the amount of one drink or two.

The units of measurement in my head were far more simple. The amount I drank would be either until my money ran out, or just the estimated measurement of “sh*tloads”

And let us not forget the most reliable two-pronged unit measurement utilised by most alcohol abusers: the amount we drink before we black out, and then amount we may-possibly-allegedly-hmm-nevermind- units we drink during a black out.

So. We’ve all been told to drink a sh*tload less. Because 20 years ago, the last time these guidelines were composed, most people did drink less. Usually for socioeconomic reasons though, let’s be honest.

And maybe some folk will drink less. Maybe all this talk off the various illnesses that could be linked with drinking, will spur some people on to make different lifestyle choices. (Although, quite frankly, being scared into submission by doctors on the news never stopped me for even a moment.)

But I know one thing that will put lots of people off doing so. Because it was something that was a major turn-off for me for years when I was desperately trying to cut down on the amount I drank.

The Smug Sober B*st*rd Brigade. They come in various different forms, but by God they are all as annoying as each other.

You will be able to spot them straight away. Especially on a day like today, when so many people will be talking about the new recommended maximum daily unit intake of alcohol.Because they will be loving it. Many soap boxes will be out. Many ugly shoes will be standing on them. Many whiny voices will be proclaiming that they knew this was coming. That they have been saying the same for years, but no one would listen.

Without taking a moment to think about why people haven’t been listening to them.

The day that people can be bored into submission when it comes to drinking less? Then these soap box naysayers will finally make their fortune. If the moment ever arrives that people want drab lives full of pompous preaching? Then their time shall come.

But none of us like being preached to. Nobody likes to hear a priggish voice giving guidance. Most of us will run screaming in the other direction. And if that direction happens to contain a pub? Then so be it.

Conceit does not win people over. It alienates us. So whilst the Smug Sober B*st*rd Brigade may be having a grand old time having chats between themselves, their self-satisfied rhetoric will never reach new ears.

If the Great British Public are now being faced with news that they must seriously consider altering their drinking habits, then the least we can do as non-drinkers is leave pompousness at the door and, for goodness sake, just be approachable.

Just be visible, accessible, real-life examples of the myriad of alternatives that exist outside of drinking. Just be honest and say these habits are a bit strange and scary to make familiar at first, but after a while they become as easy and as second nature as drinking became after we all started doing it as teenagers.

We need to stop the smugness. Stop acting like there is some secret f*cking handshake that only a few people know about. That cutting down on drinking can be done in line with these guidelines, that all these people need do is ask and a normal, non self-conceited dialogue can ensue.

So please, Smug Sober B*st*rd Brigade, please stop erecting barriers between the non-drinkers, and the people who would like help trying to drink less. It’s unnecessary, it’s annoying.

And it’s upsetting watching people who truly want to change, get smacked down and judged to the point where drinking excessively just seems easier than trying to create inner-change without external support.

How To Avoid The Dark Side of Dry January

In 2013 the charity Alcohol Concern launched a campaign called Dry January. Its premise was simple. Encourage people to abstain from drinking after the heavy festive season, and raise some money for charity whilst doing so.

It was a lovely idea

In theory.

In practice? Not so much.

Whilst some folk did find it an ideal opportunity to give their liver a few weeks off and raise funds for a good cause, others found that it opened the door to emotions they had never felt before. Obsessing about alcohol. Feelings of deprivation. Chronic doubt. Mistrust of their own intuition around what they are consuming.

I’m not against charity. That would make me a complete tool. I’m just one very normal lass.

One quite alarmed lass, actually.

I write about non-drinking. The stuff I write ends up places. Really quite a lot of places. And so people see it and contact me.

And the emails I started to get after Dry January concerned me. A lot.

People who had never previously had an issue with alcohol were writing to tell me they couldn’t stop obsessing about it.

Those whom historically would have had a couple of glasses in the evening, were completing Dry January and resuming their original drinking habits, only to find they wanted to drink far more in case there would be no more later on. Creating a lack and scarcity mentality that was proving difficult to break.

People who had used their month as a detox from junk food as well as alcohol, realised they were finding it difficult to regain balance between health and social life.
Dry January was doing so much good for charity. But seemingly at a large personal cost.

It is possible to Do Dry January AND avoid the pitfalls that come with it. It just takes willingness to make your plans a little bigger than before.

Life experience has taught me, in a meandering way, that the pitfalls of non-drinking can befall anyone, no matter what their current relationship with alcohol is.

That obsession can affect almost anyone at any time.

That in fact there is only a very small, clearly defined set of people who will never be vulnerable to this disordered thinking or acting. And it’s incredibly surprising who these people turned out to be.

We all have heard of least one person who has a very simple dialogue when it comes to their drinking or non-drinking. A person who has had a one-off bad experience with alcohol. And decided straight afterwards to change the way they drank, or not to drink at all.

It really is a common thing. Someone’s behaviour can affect them so much that they feel a permanent aversion to alcohol. And that’s a really simple story. Because the decision is never questioned. Never revisited. It’s usually people who are indifferent to alcohol who make this leap. They’ve never really thought about alcohol unless they were drinking it, so the one time it negatively impacts them they decide to swerve it permanently

Conversely, whether we like it or not, we all know one person who drinks a lot, but it doesn’t affect their outer world. Physically for some reason they can take the alcohol abuse. Mentally, hangovers do not stop them from living their lives. And emotionally they never think about alcohol unless they are actually drinking it. There’s no back-and-forth. No questioning. Their alcohol consumption is never internally obsessed over, so it never changes (I was never one of those drinkers though, trust me).

People who have an alcohol abuse problem are far from indifferent to alcohol. I should know, I was one for years. And people like us, we think about alcohol far more often than when we are actively in the process of drinking it.

We think about it the morning after whilst feeling ill and berating ourselves.

We think about never doing it again.

Then we question whether never doing it again is too extreme.

And then whether we should merely change what we drink, where we drink it. Or who we drink it with.

This cycle of thinking is ceaseless. It knows no respite. And all this endless bargaining and justifying produces a complicated relationship with alcohol. Which is what alcohol abuse is. A very warped and disordered way of thinking about alcohol.

And this is the crux of the Dark Side of Dry January. Unfortunately, incentivised non-drinking endeavours like Dry January, can turn a person who is initially indifferent to alcohol, who has no alcohol abuse problem, into a person who has a complicated relationship with alcohol

Without even drinking it…
Because when we are indifferent to alcohol, we rarely think about it. But enforced non-drinking forces us to think about alcohol. And think about it in terms of lack.

When we feel lack about alcohol we struggle to feel balanced around it ever again.

And therein lies the Dark Side of Dry January.

There is a solution. It lies in putting our emphasis onto the wider word that surrounds us. For some it is volunteering. Radio 1 and 1Xtra’s incentive #1MillionHours is such an easy way to work volunteering into a busy schedule.

For others learning a new skill or taking up a new hobby will take the emphasis off any tendencies to turn former drinking time into obsessive thoughts of non drinking.

Aim for anything that makes life seem bigger and you can’t go wrong. That way you get to leave Dry January as a well balanced person who has done a wonderful thing by raising money for good cause.

Rather than a person who never quite manages the art of indifference, ever again.

My Amazing Ladies

I make it a point to never talk about any of the women who come to me for one-to-one sessions. But I’m making an exception to this rule, just this once, because they have absolutely blown me away this Christmas season.

In sober communities it’s very common knowledge that many people use Christmas as a reason to throw away everything that they have built. Whether it’s been an alcohol-free life for the entire year, whether they decided to take the bull by the horns this summer, or whether they decided to ditch the bottle right before the Christmas festivities began.

But these ladies. All of the ladies who have come to me for a session this year. Every single last lovely one of them. They kicked sober ass this Yuletide. 




And not one of them did it by hiding in the house. These chica’s? They partied their sober asses off. Loud and proud.

They organised themselves well in advance. Worked out where their weak spots were and obliterated them. They dismantled any beliefs that were holding them back from embracing the Christmas season. They grafted until they believed they were worthy of the best experiences possible.

They were all so focussed. So determined. Their positivity blew me away with each message I received from them.

I’ve been so inspired by these strong women, that I had to give them a little shout out. Not pointing any fingers. Not quoting any of their incredible messages. Because these women all deserve privacy, (it’s why you’ll never find any testimonials on this site. Not because they haven’t offered, but because they shouldn’t feel they have to share their journey with anyone, and if they do? It should on their own sites, taking full credit for the work they have done on themselves.)

And, yes, I know they aren’t My Ladies. That they belong fully to themselves. But they mean the world to me. And I’m so proud of them that it felt only right to share their massive achievements with everyone who feels they want some extra inspiration. 

I can’t wait to see what 2016 brings for them. I’m so excited they’ve started it alcohol free. Brimming with confidence. Excited for the future.

And totally ready for it. Not because of anything I did. But because they decided to use the tool kits given to them. Even when it was hard at first. Even when it took courage to try something very different and new.

I know you’ll be reading this, my sober kick ass ladies. So let me say it one more time: I’m so very proud of you for your determination to stay on course this Christmas. But not only for doing that. For going past merely surviving this Christmas, which is how so many people expect it to be. But thriving this Christmas. Deliberately. With focus and with grace. 

You have inspired me more than you will ever know,

Love Carrie xx  

My Amazing Ladies

I make it a point to never talk about any of the women who come to me for one-to-one sessions. But I’m making an exception to this rule, just this once, because they have absolutely blown me away this Christmas season.
So many people use Christmas as a reason to throw away everything that they have built. Whether it’s been an alcohol-free life for the entire year, whether they decided to take the bull by the horns this summer, or whether they decided to ditch the bottle right before the Christmas festivities began.
But these ladies. All of the ladies who have come to me for a session this year. Every single last lovely one of them. They kicked sober ass this Yuletide. 


And not one of them did it by hiding in the house. These chica’s? They partied their sober asses off. Loud and proud.
They organised themselves well in advance. Worked out where their weak spots were and obliterated them. They dismantled any beliefs that were holding them back from embracing the Christmas season. They grafted until they believed they were worthy of the best experiences possible.
They were all so focussed. So determined. Their positivity blew me away with each message I received from them.
I’ve been so inspired by these strong women, that I had to give them a little shout out. Not pointing any fingers. Not quoting any of their incredible messages. Because these women all deserve privacy, (it’s why you’ll never find any testimonials on this site. Not because they haven’t offered, but because they shouldn’t feel they have to share their journey with anyone, and if they do? It should on their own sites, taking full credit for the work they have done on themselves.)
And, yes, I know they aren’t My Ladies. That they belong fully to themselves. But they mean the world to me. And I’m so proud of them that it felt only right to share their massive achievements with everyone who feels they want some extra inspiration. 
I can’t wait to see what 2016 brings for them. I’m so excited they’ve started it alcohol free. Brimming with confidence. Excited for the future.
And totally ready for it. Not because of anything I did. But because they decided to use the tool kits given to them. Even when it was hard at first. Even when it took courage to try something very different and new.
I know you’ll be reading this, my sober kick ass ladies. So let me say it one more time: I’m so very proud of you for your determination to stay on course this Christmas. But not only for doing that. For going past merely surviving this Christmas, which is how so many people expect it to be. But thriving this Christmas. Deliberately. With focus and with grace. 
You have inspired me more than you will ever know,
Love Carrie xx  

Day 1 of Grand Gestures

  A lot of people like to call this day one.
They wake up filled with more determination to counteract the self-loathing. 
They relish in the hangover, confident it will fill them with resolve.

Maybe there will even be some humiliation to look over in retrospect. Something to fear going back to.

It doesn’t matter what brings any of us to day one. Not really. Day one is just a spring board to the life we want.

I don’t like to measure things in days when it comes to the concept of “giving things up” it’s too much like watching the hands of the clock of life go by. Like gazing instead of participating.

There will be many grand gestures today. The pouring out of bottles. The chucking out of food we decide is bad for us. Maybe even the people we feel are toxic.

The grand gestures you feel work for you are none of my business-and if they help you feel great today? Then so be it.

What I would ask you to do is get yourself a journal today. And make a resolution to fill it with all the new things you are going to explore, now you aren’t going to be spending your time drinking.

And if you do decide to detox yourself? Well, that’s even more time on your hands, isn’t it? So that journal is going to need to be filled up faster with more things to focus your attention on.

The world is so full of people who don’t drink. These people all have busy lives. Lives that never were divided into drinking and not drinking. Just being. Just doing. Just having.

If this is your day one? Then I am excited for you. And I hope it’s everything you wish it to be.
This truly can be your year. There’s a whole wide world waiting for you. Don’t settle solely for not drinking through it.

You deserve so much better than that x