The Stag Weekend

Day 181: Another milestone reached on my recovery journey. The rest of my life journey. For those who aren’t aware of the specifics I’ll give you a quick update. When I ended up in hospital back in February and gave up alcohol one of my ongoing anxieties was how I’d continue to have a ‘normal’ social life. Typically I’m from a generation of men who socialise centrally around alcohol and pubs. We aren’t a coffee shop or walk in the park kind of group. I knew that staying sober would be a challenge in itself but throwing in stag weekends, weddings and holidays would bring a different kind of pressure.

So anyways, it was one of my best friend’s “Stag” this weekend. 14 of us in Liverpool for two nights. My anxiety levels and general mood in the week leading up to the trip were not great and I was really apprehensive about socialising with a large group of blokes in what would largely be an intoxicating environment.

I needn’t have worried.

I had a great weekend and stayed sober. When I first arrived, found a long stay car park and checked in to the hotel I was still on edge and that feeling never subsided until after I had met up with the group (who had already arrived earlier than me via train). I was honest with people (some of whom I had never met before) and they were understanding and supportive of my sobriety. Considering I’ve had very little exposure to socialising since my mental health breakdown and alcohol detox it was an ‘extreme’ to jump head first into a two nighter in a party city.

So how did I not only get through it, but also enjoy it?

1. I bought myself some new Jeans when I first arrived in Liverpool from the Levi shop. I haven’t bought myself any new denim for a few years and considering I’d be saving hundreds of pounds by not drinking over the weekend I wanted to feel nice in some fitted jeans now I’ve lost weight. I managed to not only fit into a pair of 34” waist tapered slim 512s’ but with enough room to spare too. It gave me an early confidence boost prior to meeting up with folk and going to bars.

2. I went running on both mornings. I took my kit and was up early to appreciate jogs around a ‘quieter’ city. Liverpool Albert Docks is ideal for a run as you can hit the pavement for miles along the River Mersey with no traffic.

3. Coffee. It’s my new ‘beer’ so I made sure I treated myself to a few trips to coffee shops on my own during the weekend.

4. Sightsee. I’ve been on many city breaks over the years and not seen enough of the place I’m visiting because I’m either in a pub or my bed. Getting up early meant I had enough hours of daylight to appreciate Liverpool and take some pics.

The 1908 Grade I listed Royal Liver Building along with Liverpool’s most famous foursome

5. For me the hardest bit of the trip was being in pubs and bars where there were big crowds, loud music and boisterous atmospheres. Finding a table and sitting back made it easier. I could people watch, join in conversations and listen to the music without feeling I had to be central to it all on my feet and queuing at the bar for drinks.

Overall I’d say it was a success. I had plenty of me time and also interacted with the group. I spent very little in pubs / bars (£10 in total over two days is madness considering one of the lads spent £250 in one day) and I came away with good memories. I was there for my best mate and he appreciated my attendance. He seemed to have a great time and that’s all I wanted for him. It’s been a big step for me and it gives me more confidence going forward knowing I can go to his Wedding and have a great sober experience.

£50 for two day’s parking sucked though!

My leaving gift to Liverpool

Twas’ the night before…

Day 177: I’ve had a pretty rotten week if I’m being honest. All I’ve wanted to do is sleep. My anxiety was through the roof last weekend and once that subsided at the start of this week my depression arrived. It’s a pretty standard cycle I’m becoming accustomed to so in some ways the crash wasn’t as bad as it used to be in the past. I’ve accepted I wasn’t well this week so eased off doing things I’d normally do such as hitting my 10,000 steps and my cycling / running. That might contradict the whole idea of using exercise to lift the darkness but as I’ve said before, sometimes the dip is substantial enough to knock you sideways, sucking all the energy out of you. I’ve felt a bit better today though and made sure I went out for an evening walk with my oldest daughter whilst my wife put the youngest down. I’ve had a shave, a shower and listened to some podcasts about well-being and sobriety.

Tomorrow I’ll be driving to Liverpool (about 3 hours away) for one of my best friend’s stag party. Two nights away with around 14 other blokes. I think I’m the only teetotaller in attendance and that in itself is a stressor for me. I’ve only done a few social events in the last 18 months and even less since my breakdown. The stag is a good lad, respectful and intelligent. He’s fully supportive of my decisions and is happy I’m making it. Reality is that I might need to take a step back a bit over the weekend which will be a huge contrast to the old me who would have been central to everything. He understands. He is the only person I need to think about other than myself.

So I’ll pack my running gear and head out for an early morning jog around the City whilst the lads are all still sleeping. I’ll take my headphones and book for a trip or two to coffee shops. I might even use the hotel pool. I want to socialise and I want to have fun so hopefully I will. I’ll let you know how it goes!

It’ll certainly be a different experience to that of my Stag weekend in Liverpool back in March 2012!

See you soon Liverpool!