It turns out what is in your glass is the least interesting thing about you — my friends cared about me, what I was doing, how my job was going, what my kids were into. And some of my booziest friends were my biggest champions — finding alcohol-free alternatives, making sure I didn’t pay for everyone else’s drinks on a night out, and celebrating my milestones.
Funnily enough, some of them come to me now with questions about a sober life, and for advice on cutting back. Lots of people want what I’ve achieved, so I can pay back my amazing friends with my own experiences. They also love having a free taxi to every event — I’m always the designated driver!
Since I’ve given up drinking, I feel as if I have achieved so many new things — from taking up roller derby, to doing a headstand in yoga, to hiking in Iceland. I’ve started a coaching business around my sober journey — I help other frazzled midlife mums ditch the drink and live a full life they love. My relationship with my husband has been transformed — we argue less, and we hang out more (he still drinks by the way, and it doesn’t bother me). We moved out of London together and now live six minutes from the beach on the Kent coast.
We committed to a full house renovation, turning a dilapidated 1978 bungalow into a family home. I don’t think I’d have done any of these things if I’d still been distracted by a boozy life, and preoccupied what I did or didn’t do the night before. I also sleep so well, with no more 3am wake ups wondering if I needed to apologise to anyone, or getting up to see if I’d lost my phone in a late night cab. As a mum, sleep is priceless!
I feel like my kids get the best of me. I say ‘yes’ to so much more now. Yes to playing hide and seek, to building a train track, to baking a cake. Before, I’d have been too knackered or hungover to play with them. I’d have made excuses, made promised that it’d happen ‘later’. One memorable occasion, I spent £16 on back-to-back episodes of the new Paw Patrol series, because I couldn’t face hanging out with them and coping with the noise and activity that comes from young kids. I can’t imagine doing that now — I’m on the floor, playing games and having a lovely time. They won’t be young for long — I want to soak it up as much as I can.
The biggest surprise has been that nothing has actually changed. I still sing loudly (and badly) at karaoke, I still dance on tables, I still stay up late talking to my friends, I still have fun at weddings and celebrations and I don’t miss out. In fact, because I remember every moment the next day, I’m more present than I ever was before. And I bloody love it.
Anna Sudbury’s top tips for ditching the booze
In my sober coaching business, I help people put in place a tool kit that gives them the best possible chance of ditching the booze. Here’s my advice for anyone wanting to give up booze.