Part OneWell I've made it through six whole months without letting a single drop of alcohol pass my lips. I have been surprised at how this radical change to my lifestyle has been much easier than I anticipated and has got even easier as time has passed. I have probably found it fairly straightforward as by the start of this year I had realised that alcohol was no longer my friend. I had stopped finding drinking fun and I was ready to find an escape route from my increasingly debilitating hangovers and their accompanying anxiety, fear and shame. It has been quite surprising how quickly my attitude to drinking has transformed during this time as well. Now I can see alcohol for what it really is (a poison) and what it really delivers (a load of empty promises), I don't feel I'm missing out by abstaining because my life has got immeasurably better since I stopped.
So to celebrate six months alcohol-free, I thought I'd look at some of the things I've achieved since January.
10. I've survived numerous alcohol-laden occasionsThere are a plethora of events that I associate with drinking including birthday celebrations, wedding anniversaries, hen parties, the Hong Kong Sevens and holidays. I have managed to get through every one of these occasions and more without drinking. Every time I tick off another kind of event that I have survived and enjoyed booze-free, the easier it has been to face the next. After six months, I no longer feel fazed about facing any event without drinking alcohol.
9. I sang karaoke at a Chinese banquet soberFairly early on in my sobriety I was strong-armed into singing karaoke at a Chinese New Year banquet. Never in my life did I ever think I would have the guts to stand up and sing in front of a group of strangers without being fortified by booze. While it certainly wasn't the performance of a lifetime, it was great fun and it proved that I don't need alcohol to make people endure my singing.
8. I sang a mini-gig at a friend's party
I was asked to sing a few songs by a friend's girlfriend at his birthday party as a surprise. I was lured into doing it with the promise of being accompanied by a very talented professional guitarist and I was comforted by the fact I had coped with sober karaoke in front of a banqueting hall full of people. Our friend is a massive Oasis fan so the set included a number of classic Oasis tunes and a cameo part for my husband as Liam Gallagher. We ended up singing six or seven songs and despite the fact that I definitely don't have the X factor, it was really fun and I was buzzing that I got through the set without making a complete nob of myself.
7. I helped friends with the launch of their fashion labelTwo close friends have launched a brand new sustainable fashion label called LaMy Dragonfly, and they asked for my help with articulating what the brand is all about. I really enjoyed discussing the thought process behind the label and thrashing out the messaging. It was good to tap back into my marketing brain and the reward was a front row ticket to their debut runway show which was awesome... my first and last Anna Wintour moment!
6. I've made an effort to take on a more active role sailing
Since I've stopped drinking, I've stopped getting hangovers. One of the numerous benefits of this has been that when we have gone racing early on Sunday mornings, rather than putting my hand up to be rail bait on board the boat and taking a very limited role in the actual sailing, I have been doing main sheet - one of the more important roles on board. We have also had some pretty good results on those races too and the sense of achievement at the end of each race has been really rewarding. Next stop... Etchells racing in the harbour!