I was recently VERY blessed to be able to jump on a plane and attend my baby sister Sarah’s beautiful backyard wedding. As I have said before, going sober in COVID times has it’s advantages. The biggest being a rather soft, gentle and considered re-entry back into SOCIETY. If you have bravely navigated and pushed back against the day drinking of lockdown, you can then take you time and ease gently in to social situations as we all slowly re-enter the world like little sober butterflies.
Over the past few months I have been gradually ticking things off my list of ‘firsts’.
- Birthday party
- Live Gig
- Solo trip to Melbourne
- Girls trip
With each one of these I have been building confidence in my ability to socialise sober. This really is like a muscle. The more exercise, the more work you do being alcohol free, the stronger you will get at it. It will become second nature. On this quite last minute trip to New Zealand I had a few new boxes to tick:
- International Flight (hello bar cart)
- Wedding (hello day drinking and unlimited bar)
- Family (they had not yet met Sober Amy!)
I didn’t really have too much time to think about it to be honest, but given the good amount of exercise my social muscle gets (sober socialite that I am) I was not feeling too worried. I have all the tactics up my sleeve and was ready to deploy them as needed.
- Be Prepared: I took 3 bottles of bubbles with me in my luggage. I knew I would be tight on time and wanted to not be stuck with supermarket wine! (had I been able to plan ahead more I would have ordered ahead from Clear Head drinks!). This meant I was super stocked up and there was bubbles to be had right from the get go. The girls cracked open the champagne as they were getting ready and I was with them, filling up my custom wedding flute and cheersing the bride to be on her big day.
- Be Prepared Pt 2: Liquid Pig I am, I knew I’d potentially need another beverage option to help me get through the 12 hour drinking window. The hosts happily obliged me with a box of non-alcoholic beer (that turned up cold…go NZ! Fridge the beer!) and I was truly set with enough options to keep me super hydrated
- Some times being prepared doesn’t help: I had one scare which took me by surprise. On the flight over, I ordered a sparkling water. The air hostess (that’s not the right name now is it?) misheard me and went to pour me a cup of sparkling wine. I nearly jumped out of my seat and knocked it out of her hand. She must have thought I was mad. But that just gave me a little wobble. Sitting on a plane, all alone, who would know if I’d had a glass or two? Could I get away with it? Should I? The answer is yes, I could have gotten away with it. And NO I definitely shouldn’t have. Testing the waters is a thing for some people, it can help them decide if a life alcohol free is really the one they want. I DO NOT need this test. I KNOW this is the life for me. Having a cup of wine and trying to get away with it, trying to justify it to myself is not a place of good intention and it could have been a very slippery slop. That line is firmly in the sand for me!
- Keep Busy: When you are not drinking you have a lot more time and capacity for helping out. So that’s what I did. I put myself on bar duty, making sure the self service bar was stoked and the drinks cold (a tactic that may or may not be safe for you. I went with immersion therapy and it was totally fine for me). I kept the bride to be’s glass topped up, I found the photographer when he needed to be found. I was present and on and helpful when needed. In the past I would have had my blinkers on and be focused on my glass and that’s about it.
And that is what really the day was all about for me. Being present and focused and able to enjoy every moment of it. Where there moments where I had a little lull and needed a break? Yes of course. I gave myself those. Did I still meet some great new people and forge some incredible new connections? Yes I did…the wonder that these can still happen without having the drunken convos in the toilet line.
Did I survive my first sober dance floor? Nothing to report sir! NO dance floor! WHAT?? I’ll have to wait a little longer for that experience. But honestly the natural high I was on, I think I would have smashed it.
We can all do hard things, the reward is oh so very worth it!