Updated: Nov 10, 2019
1. Your days will get longer.
At the worst points of my drinking, 2013ish, I used to find the days intolerably long.
“Do you find they just go on and on forever?” I would politely inquire of acquaintances, receiving mildly alarmed, blank expressions in return.
This Long Day Syndrome was partly because I had been paid a lot of money to finish my first novel only to find my brain didn’t work anymore, and partly because I’d moved back to my childhood home where I had no friends because everyone else was actually busy.
Not being able to write is a special kind of torture — privileged, sure — but painful, none the less. Moving back in with your parent aged thirty is a less… specialist type of angst.
My point is that days can be long when you’re drinking. But, trust me when I tell you, that those days, circa 2013 — when I drifted around my dad’s house like a newly-single dandelion seed — had nothing on my first days of sobriety.
Do you know how long a day is when you don’t start drinking in the afternoon or early evening? That shit stretches out into infinity. Especially once the drinking hours hit.
The period between seven and nine o’clock, time really puts the brakes on. In those two hours alone you can relax in a bubble bath, read a few chapters, learn a new song on the guitar, hoover the sofa for cat hair, make, bake and eat a courgette cake, get your taxes in order and decide what you want to do with the rest of your life.
2. You will have no excuse not to exercise.
I’m serious. The days are so long now, what else are you supposed to do? By five pm you have already cleaned your hair and body, been to work, done the laundry, massaged the cat and written an essay.
Plus you don’t feel sick and tired anymore which adds to your new awareness of this whole body thing, which seems to actually want to be run.
It’s like a dog, waiting by the door, with its lead in its mouth. Except it’s harder to ignore, because it is, dangling from your actual head, communicating its wishes to you through thoughts and nerve endings and feelings in your stomach.
Take. Me. Out!
3. Your idea of fun will change irrevocably.
Once upon a time I turned the music down at a party, stood on a chair, and told the room full of good looking adults I would like to sleep with that it was time for Musical Bumps.
“When the music stops you sit down! Last one sitting is out!”
Later, at a nightclub, I moonlighted as a student of contemporary dance, refusing to speak, except through the language of movement. For hours.
At another party, I challenged a handsome stranger to a race down three flights of stairs on my hands. When I had beaten him, I bounded straight back up the stairs to find another stranger to race.
I took stairs-racing seriously, developing a technique of sliding my body over the carpet so violently that I picked up enough speed to beat anyone in the house who dared contend. In my mind, I had developed an international reputation. This was a new sport, and I was at its forefront.
I can’t imagine what my hair looked like. I didn’t even think about it. The next morning I had the most innocent carpet burns of my life.
These days, if I have fun, it is fleeting. Three minutes tops. An hour of fun might happen, but it’s more of an annual thing, and never at the appointed moment, i.e. your wedding reception.
Plus when fun finally happens it is so rare and meaningful to me, that I usually feel like crying with gratitude.
Which kind of ruins it.
So, ask yourself these three questions before you go and do anything stupid like getting sober.
Do you truly want to get fit?
Is that novel really so important?
And are you honestly ready to stop stair-racing with strangers?
Think carefully before you do anything stupid.
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