After a year of sobriety, I don't want to go back to the toxic 'mummy juice'

Photo: iStock
Photo: iStock 

As 2019 comes to an end, I've realised this is the first year I will be going into the silly season as a sober person.

Sure, four years ago on Christmas Day will mark the birthday of my youngest child, where I was very sober indeed, albeit drunk on newborn love, but this time is different because I'm doing it by choice.

On New Year's Eve last year, I took my last sip of an alcoholic drink – Appleton's Rum and dry, in case you were wondering – after deciding to see what a year without alcohol would look like for me.

As I sit here now, my app tells me I haven't drunk for 11 months and 14 days.

I'm not entirely sure where all those months and days have gone, but I can say for sure that not a single one of them was spent in a drunken blur or nursing one of those nasty two-day hangovers that seem to get even worse as the years tick by.

When I reflect on what has changed over that year, I want to say a lot, and nothing, all at the same time.

On the one hand, a lot has changed in how I spend my time and money.

No longer working out my daycare run route to swing by the nearest booze shop to get "mummy juice" to get me through the witching hour, I have more time to do things I want to do and more money to spend doing it.

I've become a regular gym goer, sometimes hitting up F45 group fitness classes six days a week. 

Advertisement

I don't use alcohol as my coping mechanism any more. When I'm stressed, I sit in the stress and ride that wave out, knowing a clear head is the best way to cope and definitely the best decision once the feelings have passed and I'm left without the guilt and nausea from a hangover.

Another change is I don't crave alcohol any more. In fact I could probably count on one hand the times I have wanted alcohol and each time was due to something incredibly upsetting or distressing happening, and my instinct to make the hurt, pain and yuck feeling go away.

Turns out it does go away, even without alcohol's interference. 

My opinion on the whole Big Alcohol industry has also changed, but that's probably a whole other column or book at some stage. 

The way my kids view alcohol has changed. No longer do they run to the fridge to get my wine from the door to top me back up, instead as pre-schoolers they talked to me about my "fake beer" I drink and how "Mummy doesn't like wine any more". (Coffee, on the other hand...) 

But some things have stayed the same.

As so many sobriety advocates on Instagram and the likes of Kiwi recovery advocate Lotta Dann say, a boring party is still a boring party – whether you're sober or not.

I still enjoy going to events, something I was dreading as a newly sober person.

Drunk people can be so annoying, but I've realised it doesn't really matter about a person's state, it's all about how I am doing and how I choose to react.

I've also discovered a bit of a placebo effect. I've been enjoying 0 per cent beer and often find when I'm around others drinking "normal" beer, I become my jovial "drunk" self, gaining enthusiasm and joy from those around me – all without having to ingest alcohol.

I've been to plenty of functions now where alcohol has been a central feature for most people there and I've had an absolute blast.

The best part is when my introvert self wants to ghost the event and leave, I just pick up my keys, walk out and drive myself home.

How good.

Then the next day I can remember all of the shenanigans from the night before, much to my own amusement. 

I know it is the season for drunkenness, what with all the warm weather and socialising, but it's also the season of people evaluating their lives and looking to the future and what they want it to look like. 

For me, I have found far too many positives in living sober than I ever did by being a drunken mess or that mum who "needs" wine to get through the stress of parenting.

Being sober has become less about what I'm doing, or not doing, and more about who I am. 

I will never say never, but at this stage I am not planning on toasting in the New Year with an alcoholic beverage.

I've learnt too much to go back to who I was.

As my sober app likes to tell me, I didn't come this far to only get this far.

Greer Berry is a Stuff columnist based in Manawatū, New Zealand 

Stuff