I felt incredibly anxious all day. I surprised myself. It consumed my day really, I was on countdown, from the moment I woke up. 3pm they were opening, so Chris and I were going to go down for an hour before the kids came home from their grandparents.

I’d done my homework this time. I knew what alcohol free drinks they had and I knew which one I was going to drink. Heineken 0.0 (a.k.a my sober saviour). I had my response ready for when someone asked why I didn’t have a pint in my hand. I was going to answer ‘I’m not drinking at the moment’, if they probe further I would say ‘I stopped a few months back and just haven’t felt like starting back again’. I was not going to look apologetic!

Waiting to head down I was feeling some contrasting emotions:

  1. Looking forward to getting down there and enjoying my AF drinks. I couldn’t wait for the sense of pride when I left, having stayed strong and not drunk alcohol.
  2. Wishing I could go down there for the whole evening and get wasted. Yep, that was one of my feelings. It was a beautiful sunny day, perfect ‘drinking by the sea’ weather.
  3. I wanted to get it done and over with. Go down there, have a drink, come home and be rid of the anxiety that had plagued me all day.
  4. Scared I would give in and have a pint (I had already made an agreement with Chris that he would stop me from doing that), but what if I badgered him so much he gave in?

On the walk down I felt sick. As I walked in the manager was behind the bar, I breathed a massive sigh of relief, she knew I was sober now. “What can I get you love, a Heineken 0.0”? If I wasn’t social distancing I’d have jumped over the bar and and given her the biggest hug possible. I walked out with my Heineken and a pint of Coors for Chris (forcing myself not to sniff it).

We sat in the beer garden, the sun beating down on us, overlooking the estuary and it felt normal. It felt no different. We chatted to people, not one single person asked why I wasn’t drinking. I was convinced I would have a neon sign above my head, flashing in pink ‘SHE’S NOT DRINKING ALCOHOL, ASK HER WHY’. But people didn’t notice, or if they did, they didn’t ask (or care). I felt confident enough to go in for another round and this time ordered Seedlip and Tonic (it wasn’t great, will stick with Heineken in future).

We finished up, said our goodbye’s and walked home. That was it, the moment I had been dreading for months. The moment I had been building up in my head. The moment I had thought would prove I couldn’t socialise without alcohol. Turns out, I like my local. I like the people. I like the venue. I like it enough to not need to drink alcohol there. What a bloody relief!