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Perimenopause, sobriety and me

Thank you for taking time out to read this post. Maybe you are already living a sober life or maybe this post has sparked intrigue. I feel this message is one that is very important, especially in the busy world we live in where there's little time for pausing, processing and progressing. Often we stay stuck and not able to move on from anxieties because rather than understand them we are bombarded with distractions and ways to suppress our thoughts. No wonder that we use quick fix techniques to cope such as alcohol and drugs.

Alcohol is everywhere we look - on TV, on social media, on advertising and easily accessible most places we go. It's openly encouraged. We are influenced to drink alcohol as a societal norm. We are all aware of the 'happy hour' and the fun times that booze can lead to but there's a downside that's not talked about as often.

TW: The following three stories are my own and from two others, Kate and Lucy, who kindly shared their journeys with alcohol and all the benefits that a sober life can bring.

Kate's story...

Ever since I was a child, alcohol appealed to me. I watched grown-ups walking around with glasses filled with bubbles or some rich golden liquid that seemed to make them happier, smile more and have more fun. I am fairly sure that I knew I wanted ‘in’ even at the age of eight.

I grew up in a big and busy house in London. My father was a publisher so there were always authors like Roald Dahl and Dorris Lessing around the dinner table, telling stories about their latest books, dealing with awful agents, or adventures they had been on. Our house was like something from a novel and I was at the centre, peering out at it all, often from behind the sofa way after bedtime. Every night there were G&Ts followed by wine followed by whiskeys so I just always associated these things together – adults, fun times and alcohol.

By fourteen I was drinking cheap beer with friends and that progressed to sitting in bars when we were old enough, and then pubs and wine bars as I reached my twenties. It was just what people did. It was the era of the ladette and I was definitely one of them. I was working in the media industry in London and drinking most lunchtimes and every night. I was having the time of my life. Or that’s what I thought anyway.

As I stumbled from party to premier, I didn’t realise that although I was having fun, I wasn’t really evolving as a person. I was simply stumbling, intoxicated, through my life, meeting fellow drinkers as I went. I look back now and I can see how every part of my life was stunted because I drank so much. There was no room to grow when you spent every

morning recovering and every night back out getting trashed again.

Despite the endless accidents, the predictable text messages every morning asking if I was alive, and the embarrassing recollections, I carried on drinking. I honestly don’t know why the car accident, the fall through the glass shower door or the face plant at a posh office book launch didn’t make me stop, but they didn’t.

I loved alcohol more than myself so on I went, into my thirties, stopping briefly during two pregnancies but picking straight back up again once the babies were a few months old. Society gave me mummy wine culture and I grabbed it with both hands.

I didn’t really hit rock bottom, but I did feel like I was taking a step down a very long ladder, going towards it, every single day. I could drink a bottle of wine every night of the week and never feel drunk. It was just what I did. My tolerance was so high by my early forties. But I knew when I looked in the mirror, when I woke up every morning that it was damaging me, and my relationships and my self-respect, my ability to be the mother I wanted to be, the wife I wanted to be and the friend, colleague, and on and on into every corner of my world.

On 20 December 2021 I pulled out my mobile and filmed myself drunk, begging my sober self through the camera of my little iPhone, not to keep doing this to myself. And that small act changed everything. I haven’t had a sip of alcohol since.

I have just passed a year sober and since I stopped drinking, everything in my life has improved. That is not an exaggeration! I have found a sober community (Instagram) that is full of generous, supportive, kind people many of whom are genuine friends. My relationships are better with everyone, my kids are proud of me, I look ten years younger, I have energy, I sleep 9 hours a night, and I like myself, no, I LOVE myself for the first time I can remember in my adult life.

I feel like I am finally growing instead of standing still, and I don’t ever want to go back. My advice to anyone who feels like alcohol is having a negative impact on their life is to cut it out and see what happens. What do you have to lose? In my case, it was a lot! Too much to keep on gambling.

I have found the meaning of true connection; I no longer feel all of that shame and regret. I feel like I am learning to know myself and I look to the future with excitement and a sense of adventure. It’s hands down the best decision I have ever made in my life.

Kate's blog can be found here @walkingthestraightline

Lucy's story...

Shortly after I turned 45 and with several long periods from booze under my belt I came to the conclusion that alcohol was no longer serving me and decided to stop. That was 18 months ago and was the best decision I’ve ever made!

I thought alcohol was my friend; It was there when I wanted to party, to celebrate successes, to comfort me when I was down or felt lonely. I drank through university and it was almost a prerequisite for working in advertising. I spent seven years living and working in Singapore having one hell of a party and despite the Monday blues, wasted Sundays nursing a hangover, I just couldn’t imagine a life without alcohol.

It was shortly after turning 40, almost seven years ago that my relationship started to sour. I’d given birth to our second daughter after moving to Madrid. I was in a job I loathed, with a very challenging boss and raced back to work when my daughter was six weeks old as I was terrified of losing my job. Loneliness, entwined with undiagnosed post-natal depression combined with my work situation turned into a rather lethal combination.

Wine became my only escape, my tool to cope, a sense of reprieve. Life became happier when we moved home to the UK but a seed had been planted and I started to question my relationship with booze, wondering if life might be calmer and happier without it featuring.

The list is endless on my reasons for going sober but essentially my biggest why’s are my

daughters who are six and eight. I wanted to be a fully present Mum and enjoy being with them and them being with me, not constantly snapping and losing my temper.

There were some obstacles that I had to overcome when I decided to give up alcohol. The major one was caring what other people thought and a lot of rewiring as alcohol was so ingrained in every aspect of my life. I also had to do the work to realise that this wasn’t about anyone else, alcohol was taking away so much and the only element holding me back was caring what other people thought, would I be viewed as boring, would I stop getting invited to social gatherings.

Stopping drinking has been the biggest act of self love, I have more patience, my confidence levels are soaring, I have more energy, holidays, Christmas, birthdays, all these events that I thought would somehow be less than without alcohol are so much more. I feel like my life has started again but with a much happier ending.

Lucy's instagram can be found @figuringoutmyforties

Vicki's story...

The last few years of training to become a NLP coach, a journal therapist and EFT practitioner have helped me on my journey to creating a heightened awareness around holistic well-being and about what alcohol brought into my life, or more like what it took away. I guess you could call it an awakening. Looking back I should have seen the signs earlier but you never do until you give yourself space to step away and analyse your life from the outside in.

Now having the tools to express, reflect upon and make changes happen is something I am passionate about sharing with others. This is one of the reasons that The Pause Place was born. I want a safe space to support women through transitions in their lives through learning the therapeutic benefits of journaling, coaching and other forms of relaxation techniques.

Growing up I knew my father was an alcoholic. The type of alcoholic that drank daily but never to the point of oblivion, just enough to block out life's stresses. When he decided to stop it was too late for his body that had become weak and he didn’t survive his heart attack. I’ve also had other close family members and friends who have had parts of their lives stolen by alcohol; some who admitted they needed help and others that said that they were a social drinker so it wasn’t alcoholism.

Society showcases booze as something that goes with every occasion. Celebrating? Drink alcohol. Upset? Drink alcohol. Tired mum? Drink alcohol. Grieving? Drink alcohol.

How can we find it easy to go against the norm when everywhere we are told to reach for the booze? What other drug is so readily promoted and deemed acceptable to partake in frequently??

At around age 14 I had my first alcoholic drink. Looking back it was hardly surprising given my Dad had died the same year.

As a teenager living near Blackpool weekends were all about hitting the town and getting drunk. Then at university the drinking was multiple times a week to fit in with the constant social events and clubbing. I’ve had nights where I’ve been dragged from toilets as I’ve passed out vomiting, said and done things I regretted and had too many blackouts that I care to remember - some to the point of not knowing how I got home.Thank goodness those were the days of no social media and no iphones to capture the moments we wished to forget.

I wish I could go back, wrap my arms around her and tell my younger self that alcohol was a toxin that wasn’t serving me in any way.

I have had years not drinking alcohol when I was having IVF, pregnant and for about a year after their birth plus I did another year off about six years ago. What made me start again was being at a funeral. Noticing negative patterns of behaviour here?! In 2017 I was suffering burnout and high anxiety so my alcohol intake went up again to help me cope. Or so I mistakenly thought it did!

People drink for fun, to relax, to let go of stress but also to shut out reality. When we have too much anxieties to cope with in life, we can block it out as it may be too difficult to face and alcohol is the perfect tool for the job.

It was Christmas day 2022 when I last had a drink.

The week before I’d had a reunion with old school friends in Blackpool and drank far too much, ending in me vomiting for two days and having blackouts again. I felt like I’d poisoned my body, which to be fair I had.

I didn’t touch alcohol for that week but on Christmas day felt it was the done thing to celebrate with a glass of fizz and G&T. I instantly regretted it. It was that moment that I knew my relationship with alcohol had come to an end.

Perimenopause has brought with it many things but a positive has been spending the last few years on a self-reflection journey. I began to understand myself better, learn how to take care of my mind, body and soul and how important holistic wellbeing is. It could also be that I am now nearing the age my father was when he died. Whatever was the reason, I knew that alcohol does not play a part in this new chapter.

It’s been just over five weeks and there has been testing time when my old triggers, like stress, anxiety and tiredness have made me ‘crave’ a drink. I realise now it’s a habit to break. A habit that we can all probably relate to. Cook a meal in the evenings and pour a glass of wine. Sit for a roast dinner and pour a glass of red. Get invited to the pub with mates and have a G&T.

The road isn’t going to be easy because I’ve got to reframe my thinking around alcohol and external influences definitely don’t help. I do know that our brains are trainable and this new mindset is achievable and in close reach for many. Maybe I’ll be seen as ‘boring’ if I don’t drink. Maybe people will stop inviting me to places as the event is based around booze. It’s hard seeing a lot of influencers on social media suggesting that we reach for drink, especially the ‘mummy wine o’clock’ culture.

If you look for it there is such a fantastic supportive community on social media and in your community for sober living.

Even though some may say five weeks is nothing, I am proud to have got to this milestone. I take each day as it comes because every day being sober reminds me how wonderful life without alcohol is.

I wake each weekend more alert and able to have gratitude for a new day. No more wasting hours under a duvet missing out on family time because my head is banging and my stomach feels like someone poured paint stripper inside. My skin is brighter, I’ve lost weight, I sleep soooo much better, I am more present for my family and most of all I love the person I’ve evolved into. Yes, I may have had to face some truths and learn other ways of coping, but I’ve used my coaching mindset skills, EFT tapping training and journaling to help me find these triggers, reframe my thinking and move forwards to a life I love.

If you are thinking about a life of sobriety and would like to know more about how coaching, EFT and journaling can help please send me a message and together we can chat over how to make positive changes happen for you.

More top tips on bringing calm to your life found over on instagram @thepauseplace

If you have been triggered by these stories or would like to talk to a professional please reach out to the following organisations:

Drinkline Helpline: 0300 123 1110 (weekdays 9am–8pm, weekends 11am–4pm)

AA Helpline: 0800 917 7650

Frank Helpline: 0300 123 6600 (24hrs a day, 7 days a week)

Samaritans Helpline: 0300 123 6600 (24hrs a day, 7 days a week)

Mind Helpline: 0300 123 3393



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