How to Stay Sober in the Summer of Freedom

I finished my 12 steps today, which means I am the oracle and you all have to listen to everything I say. No, I’m kidding. I have no fucking clue what’s going on, however something I’m doing is working and it would be mightily rude of me to not share what that is with you beautiful people.

It’s summer. Suns out. Guns, buns and the huns are out. Restrictions are lifted. It’s time to party. Oh shit. How do I party without the sauce? Without my columbian marching powder? Sans Molly, Mandy and everyone else who used to get me high?

Just because you’re sober doesn’t mean party life is over. What if I told you people go to festivals and stay sober the entire time. That fact baffled me too, don’t worry. ‘What?’ You say. ‘People go and don’t take LSD right up to the moment they are getting packed into their mates car along with the rest of the crying-comedown-cohort?’ Big fat liar.

No. Not big fat liar. Big fat truther. People do stay sober. Even at the messiest of festivals. ‘How?’ you ask. Read on my lovers.

Planning. Planning, planning, planning. Plan the SHIT out of it. I once had a friend that said ‘planning is for nerds’ well, my friend. I’m horny for planning. I’m a horny nerd. I’m a horny planning nerd. Plan your outfits, plan your drinks, plan your exit. (Sadly, planning to shag a messy brunette boy in a bucket hat is optional and not guaranteed).

Remember the strategic planning you put into drug purchases before an event? Working out how much you would need. Where can you get an 8th of (decent) coke from and at the cheapest price. Should you buy extra to sell when you’re there – but in reality you end up snorting it all or giving it to some girl named Jessica for free because you’ve trauma dumped on each other and she was your ‘twin-flame’? How much vodka are you going to need? Tequila or Sambuca? Apple sours? Wray and nephews! Do not forget the bedtime Amaretto. Not to mention the plan as to how you were going sneak all this stuff in? Mate. In addiction you were a planning maestro. Bring those transferrable skills over to the light side, my friend. Do you want alcohol free versions of your fave tipple? Are you a whizz on the old mock-tails these days? That cheeky revealer of an outfit you used to spill out of? Well, when you don’t fall over your bits stay in place in a bit better. Wear it.

We’ve planned our drinks and outfit, now plan your exit. Always have an escape plan. Whether it’s to your tent at a festival, home from the park or to the late night eatery (let’s be honest, which is a McDonalds drive through that we can do now we’re sober) after a house party. If you can’t organise an exit, don’t go. Simple as. You need to be able to get out of a situation that will challenge your sobriety. Doesn’t matter if you’ve got 1, 100 or 1,000 days – you’ll only get another by having an escape route. It’s not enough to just say ‘oh I’ll be fine’ then realise you’re miles from home, without transport as everyone is either tripping balls or snorting coke of some guy name Josh’s balls. It doesn’t even have to be home, just somewhere out of that situation. Can a friend cordon a room off for you to escape should you need it? If possible, always drive yourself. Offer lifts there, sure, but make it clear you will be leaving when you leave. You can’t promise you’ll stay until the bitter end. If you are staying, pack earplugs and an eye mask to block out the world and get that beautiful beauty sleep that we are blessed with in sobriety.

Your main priority over everything in life is sobriety. Yes I mean, everything. Some may find that controversial. I’m open about the fact that my sobriety is more important than my family, friends, career, even Pancake. ‘What? No! Call Cat Protection Services IMMEDIATELY on this woman.’ I mean it. You know why? Because if I don’t put my sobriety first I will lose everything that comes after. I will lose my friends, my family, everything I’ve built and the light of my life, Pancake. If you don’t put sobriety before your children, you will lose them. I’ve seen it happen and with real human children. When your sobriety is your first priority it does not mean you are neglecting any other part of your life, it means you are nurturing all aspects of your life.

To round it off: keep it in the day. Doesn’t matter if you’re at a 5 day festival. Just focus on staying sober today. You’ve done your planning, you’ve got the toolkit. Now the only thing you need to do is use those tools to keep sober today. Yesterdays sobriety isn’t going to keep you sober today and tomorrow isn’t even guaranteed. When I was first in recovery I would dream of my 6 months sobriety, 1 year sobriety. Then it became all consuming. I would look at my day count and see less than a month and the weight and expanse of time would take over. Every time I fell down this hole I would slip up, give up, relapse – whatever you wish to call it. I now have a few days under my belt and I only got here because I was told ‘just focus on today’. Today’s sobriety is your main priority, and you only need to do it today. Just for today? Not my whole life? That’s it, just for today. Just for this moment in fact. Look after this moment and the rest will look after themselves.

Once upon a time I couldn’t go 6 hours without a drink. I was discharged from hospital for a suicidal overdose, I’d had my liver cleared and been under observation. What was the first thing I did when I got out of that hospital? Go to my corner shop and buy 3 bottles of wine and called my coke dealer. I honestly understand how hard it is. Whenever I’d claimed ‘I’m quitting for life’ I never kept it up. No one had ever said to me, until I came into a 12-step program, just try it for today. Always just do it today.

Now I’m in a place to sponsor. I’ve completed my 12-steps and can’t quite bloody believe it, if I’m honest. I’m not even going to pretend it was easy and my life is now solved. Sobriety is tough. Each day is different, but each day I get my head on the pillow sober is an absolute fucking winner-winner-chicken-dinner for me. However you’re doing it, you’re amazing to me.

When you rest that head on your pillow knowing you got another 24hrs sober, you should be so bloody proud of yourself. Sobriety isn’t a life of lacking, in fact it’s a life of abundance: of emotions, of events, of memories. You’re in the driving seat and for once you’re in control.

Have a beautiful summer one and all.

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