Imagine seeing your drinking up on the big screen, in a cinema.
The opening scene looks fine – pretty harmless in fact.
A bottle gets opened and you promise to just have one drink…
But one leads to two… and you can guess what happens next…
If you’re feeling tempted to drink during the festive season, stop and do this quick exercise with me first.
I’ll walk you through it in this video:
Playing the movie to the end
The opening scene might seem so innocent and appealing. But what would happen in the middle of the film? What would the closing scene be? Remember, your drinking movie is always 24 hours long because that’s how long alcohol affects your body and your life for.
Draw on your own experiences
Christmas comes around every year. The chances are that you already know what happens when you have ‘just have one drink’ on Christmas eve. You already know what it’s like to be hungover on Christmas day or say things you regret at your work party.
Let me know: how does your movie end?
Brutal honesty is required for this. If you’re tempted to drink tonight – or at a festive event that’s coming up soon – tell me about that in the comments below. Play it forward and write down how that movie ends. Make yourself think about this in detail.
Looking for help and support to create an alcohol free life that feels fun, easy and empowering? My next online class starts soon – click here for details.
Playing the movie forward is such a powerful exercise! I have felt a bit tempted recently as I’m going away with friends this weekend. But I know that if I have one drink I will not stop there. I will want more and more and I’ll end up thinking about the alcohol, not our conversation. I will get so drunk that I won’t listen to their news or take anything in properly. I will make jokes that aren’t funny and say things that I regret. I’ll wake up feeling crap and come home exhausted. It’s not worth it.
Well done for breaking it down in such detail Ali – that’s the key with this exercise. I hope you have a great trip away with your friends this weekend, alcohol free!
Yes, well put!
Yes I’ve been tempted alcohol this week, it is all around but I know it’ll be a loop of misery. 1 beautiful temping bottle of red for 1 night only or bottle after bottles stuck on repeat. I know my ending, thank you for all your wise words
I haven’t had a drink for nearly a week and I know if I do have a drink then I will never stop
Well done for playing the movie forward – it’s really important to think through, in detail, what will happen if you drink!
I went 11 days AF. I went to two events the last two Fridays. I had no alcohol but I felt really bored & seemed awkward not drinking. I did feel great knowing a wouldn’t have hangxiety the next day because I didn’t say or do anything I regretted the next day. I did have wine on Saturday & Sunday alone.
Well done on those two events, it’s great you did them alcohol free. But you don’t want to rush into any conclusions. You will want to give sobriety a proper chance first so you can find out what it’s really like. Here’s my advice for getting over the awkwardness of doing something different and stepping out of your comfort zone: https://thesoberschool.com/sobriety-feel-less-awkward/
I followed all your blogs 6 months ago Kate. You inspired me so much that I finally quit drinking after years of saying I needed to. I did it!!! For the past 6 months I’ve led a better life. I sleep better. I wake up awake. I’ve lost weight. My skin is shiny. My eyes twinkle. I’m in the present moment. My sadness has gone. No more terribly dragging my heels until the next drink the next day, until last Friday. A lot happened which I found hard to deal with. It came to 5pm and I started to think of wine to fix me. First time in the past 6 months. I ummed and arghed what to do. I went to the shops and bought a bottle of wine. The first mouthful felt familier and it numbed all emotions, the next glass not so great until I had drunk the bottle. I ate half a box of chocolates and a whole tube of pringles. I felt utterly ill. My heart was racing. I didn’t sleep a wink. I was dehydrated and so ill. I remember this was exactly how I felt 6 months ago when I downed my last bottle of wine. In fact so ill I felt I needed an ambulance… The next day, Saturday, I was helping out in some communal gardens. I dragged myself there. I usually skip along looking forward to seeing everyone and mucking in with clearing leaves. I wasn’t me. I was a grey, hard to keep up with everyone. my eyes felt sunken and my character was plain miserable, optimism gone. I didn’t join in at coffee time. It was enough to sit quietly and hope no one noticed how grey I looked and quiet. My bubbliness gone. The rest of the day was a blur. I took myself to bed gratefully after a cup of tea and more water and thought, was it a good or bad thing to have drunk again. Well 3 days later I now know I prefer feeling sober. There were so many losses by drinking that bottle of wine but I gained a very clear perspective. Not drinking is the best thing I can do for me. Last Friday finally cleared my mind. I can’t and don’t want to drink again. I like me just the way I am without alcohol
I’m glad you’ve figured out what really matters – and what you really want your life to be like Jane. You can get back on track 🙂
Thank you for sharing your story. I am at six month sobriety also. Your story helped me to play the movie to the end. My first holiday season AF. Definitely getting triggered but I know the ending will not be good if I have a drink. Sobriety is so much more fun and relaxing.
Good for you Deb. I was definately getting triggers to drink too. Keep to drinking sparkling flavoured water if you like it. I love waking up AF ready for a new day. Keep going. I will
I had three weeks sober after listening to one of your recordings – then I thought I’ll just have one and starting drinking heavily again – that was three weeks ago and I want desperately to stop again but it’s really hard – I’m thinking of making a fresh start in January – is this a good way of starting again?
Hi Lynne, it sounds as if you could do with some help? I share a short blog here every week, but if you’re looking for a structured plan to follow – with daily coaching and support from me – the best way for us to work together is via my online course. My next class starts in January, here are some details: https://thesoberschool.com/course/
It starts out fun, social or romantic. Anticipation of camaraderie, smiling, laughter and fun. A warm welcome with the first glass, followed by a buzz with the second. My feelings go numb. I get sleepy, I begin to check out. I wake up at midnight now unable to fall back asleep. I have an awful night of insomnia. Wake up feeling yuk. I feel unwell, dull ache in the center of my forehead, slightly depressed. It’s nothing tragic. That’s the problem. It’s not too bad. But I don’t get to feel really good again unless I can abstain for a week or so. Getting sleep back on track requires a whole other set of discipline habits. I’m not getting anywhere. Just living in the gray. I don’t want to give up that one hour, even when it costs me the next 24 or more. I feel a hopeless battle. I have all the answers but no solution. I can list all the reasons why I should live alcohol free & all the benefits. Yet I remain unwilling to let go of that one hour completely. I crave that little bit of numbing pleasure just enough to keep me stuck.
Wow, that’s a lot of your life that you’re giving up for just one hour? I get the sense that your limiting beliefs are really leaving you with a bad deal there. I recommend you read this: https://thesoberschool.com/numb-out-and-escape/
Colleen, the best way to work this through properly would be via my online course, so we can dig a bit deeper as to what’s really keeping you stuck and wasting so many days feeling unhappy. Here are more details about the class: https://thesoberschool.com/course/
Definitely do the course Colleen, I did and it changed my life for the better. I first tried will power alone and that got me so far until I caved in and thought I could moderate again. Now after Kate’s course I am happy to go AF, I still miss my glass of wine occasionally but not enough to have it as I feel so much happier being AF, something I’m not willing to give up. I know my wine will never make any situation better. I have stocked up on so many delicious AF drinks for Christmas and I’m looking forward to chilling out and really relaxing. I wish you the best of luck on your journey Colleen, just give it a go you won’t regret it, I promise.
I have a Christmas party coming up on Friday night and I’m feeling very anxious at the moment about my forthcoming trip to Paris on New Year’s Eve and all the surrounding Covid tests I will have to have. Plus I’m travelling alone and meeting an American friend there. My movie would start with fun and that first drink. Followed by lots of dancing and more drinks. I’d end up crawling home in the early hours, full of booze and collapse in bed. My anxiety the next day from the hangover would be magnified and much worse than it is already. No doubt tempting me to drink again that day. After a few days I’d be back to drinking just to feel less anxious and more normal. With all the feelings of self disgust and nausea that booze brings I’d be ill in bed in no time. Not being able to stop vomiting. So it’s just not worth the bad consequences. Let alone being so irritable that my wife wouldn’t want to be around me.
Those are two challenges Elaine – but you’ll feel great when you make it through them, alcohol free! You’ll learn so much about yourself. Our biggest breakthroughs are often in challenges like this 🙂
This is day one for me it is 17.45 by now I would have opened a bottle of wine and be half way through it watching quiz shows on T V. Because drinking has become a habit with me (I know I drink far too much) I am wondering as I try to give up drinking will I have any ill effects. I have been told by going cold turkey this could be dangerous. To try and take my mind off wine I have taken myself off to bed. I know I won’t be able to do that every night as I wouldn’t be able to sleep through until morning.
Lilian, if you’re concerned about the physical effects of stopping drinking, you must seek medical advice. Please speak to your doctor.
Thank you so very much for this timely message. I have been sober for 15 months – going really well until my brother died unexpectedly Saturday. 24 hour movie – I will be repeating that in my head. Peace to all my sisters making this wonderful change in their lives.
I’m so sorry to hear that Dawn. Take extra good care of yourself at this difficult time. Sobriety is a very powerful act of self care.
All my drinking movies ended the same. There was literally no different ending to any of them! They were all painful endings. And with each movie that ended, another small piece of my dignity was taken with it. My movies were on a continuous loop that I could not seem to stop.
It took me 20 years to finally come to that realization. It was finally time for me to face my fears and practice vulnerability. The only way to do that was to break free from the cycle. Something I could not do on m own, so I asked for help and I made a decision. I know now that this is the bravest way I can live. I surrendered to my fears, my grief, my sadness, and the uncomfortable moments of my messy life.
A year ago, it was time for me to heal. Time for me to live a life of intention. Time to declutter, …literally, mentally, physically, and emotionally.
I am an alcoholic. It does not define me, nor does it define my character, my heart, or my soul. Alcoholism is not a cause for shame or self-hatred. Never recognizing it might be. Never changing it would be. It is both an addiction and an allergy for me. More importantly, I am not alone. I am not a freak. And even if I am, I am one of at least 107 million “freaks” and that’s okay by me
I will live in grace and gratefulness for the support I have received, for the love I have experienced, for the life that I have been afforded, and for the sobriety that abounds. I will remember all that I have worked so hard for, all that I have achieved. And I will know that all of this goes away should the darkness of alcohol enter my life again. When there is ever a choice to make, or a challenge to face, I will make the right choice and I will do the right thing.
I will do the work, share my experiences, go to meetings (in whatever form that may be), and will journal, and create, and create new habits. Healthy habits. I will look after my well-being, I will live well, love better, and protect my sobriety like I would protect my own child.
Today, my movies have lots of different endings – and they are all more peaceful & happy endings. The best part now, is that I REMEMBER all the endings too!
Reading your blogs is just one of the very helpful ways for me to stay sober. We always need reminders, new insight, support and fellowship with others who struggle. If I become too confident or complacent in my sobriety, I just KNOW that is exactly where the drinking demons will come looking for me. So I will continue to do the work…
Hi Kate, I’m new to your website and newsletter. I want to say thanks for the inspiring movies about the Christmas holidays. They motivate me to push forward through it. Yes it will be difficult but getting prepared for it helps! Thank you! 22 days AF
I have decided to be designated driver. Prefer to enjoy Christmas now. Taken to drinking pints of iced water and hot Vimto. Much nicer waking up and actually wanting to do things instead of locking myself in the house
Hi Kate, i just came from that movie – filmed a week ago… Friends came over to stay for a long weekend in our country place – bags full of lovely food and way, way too many bottles and boxes of wine. On our last dinner i was sucked into a “black hole”, blackout with a terrible row (words only) with my hubby – so i heard… in the middle of the movie i wake up in the morning not remembering anything, but realizing i,ve hurt my dear hubby big time and ruined my friends lovely weekend… The end scene was three days after, me feeling sick of shame and hangover. I will not be watching that movie again, ever. Been 7 days AF now and looking forward to your january course.
Thank you Kate for your weekly messages. Since taking your course summer 2019 they really help keep me on track. I am trying to focus on self care this holiday season and drinking certainly does not fit in. I drink a Kombucha late afternoon and then sip on hot tea until dinnertime. It helps if I can eat early. Sleep is so important to me, and I’m not willing to mess that up. It takes very little to mess with my sleep, sometimes just two drinks. I’ve had a few slip ups along the way, but am pretty happy with my sobriety. This time is hard for sure, but I want to wake up in my movie refreshed, happy and energized. Good luck to all of you, we can do it!
Katie thank you so much for your videos. I’m almost 5.5 months sober and I want nothing more than a drink! I know if I drink again I won’t stop and will likely end up back in hospital. It’s just NOT WORTH IT! I owe it to myself and my family to stay sober and to be the best version of myself. Your videos inspire me to keep going. Thank you xxxx
I realize that as amazing as it may taste and feel with that first glass, it never stops there for me. That’s because even if something like needing to drive stops me from having more, all I think about is how much I want that second glass and beyond. It’s the only thing on my mind. And, at almost four years sober, I certainly remember what happens when the second glass and subsequent glasses come: I start slurring, I start to hang on people, and I wake up at 2 in the morning feeling so ashamed and disappointed in myself. That’s not mentioning the hangover the next day or having to hear stories from other people about how much “fun” I had the night before.
This is such good advice especially for this time of year – I’m all for cheesy happy holiday endings too and want the first scene of my movie to not include alcohol in my glass. I’m having dinner with friends tonight and will order a cranberry soda mocktail as soon as I sit down. I made it through Christmas last year without drinking thanks to taking Kate’s course last year. Playing the movie to the end is a really helpful tool once you make the decision to be AF and stay AF! Thank you Kate for your positive approach and for all the good you do in promoting an AF healthy and happy lifestyle.
Wow I really needed this message today. I have been struggling for the past couple weeks. Thinking about drinking again often. This is something new for me in the six months that I have been sober. I don’t know really what is causing it and I haven’t drank and I don’t want to but it has been unbelievably difficult lately. It’s almost like I’ve gotten to a point in my sobriety where I feel like it’s not fun anymore. Waking up clearheaded feeling good is great but is it all worth not being even able to have a drink or two with your friends when you’re out? I know it usually ends badly but it really doesn’t all the time . So I am really struggling with this right now. I wish it would stop. Thanks for listening
Stay strong Jen, it won’t be worth it. Go to your sober toolbox and look after yourself. The cravings will pass, think what do I need, what needs are not being met. I understand your longing, you are romanticising the situation, it does look inviting this time of year with all the pretty lights, but it’s all an illusion. You’ve got this Jen
I am starting my AF (again) tonight so that by the Holidays, I will be strong, motivated and proud of myself. One day at a time, tonight is my night. I can do this with patience and being kind to myself – self awareness and living in the moment – I really do enjoy the weekly blogs, emails and support. I appreciate you, Kate.
It’s so true that we romanticize it, especially this time of year… Spiking hot cocoa or having candy cane martinis seems so festive and fun, but it’s so short-lived and not worth the consequences! I’ve been debating on drinking on New Year’s Eve… But after watching this video I am inspired to wake up on New Year’s Day hangover free and begin the new year sober and partake in dry January. I’m on day 52, which is the longest I’ve ever gone in my whole entire life. Playing the tape forward is hugely impactful. Thank you so much for this video and thank you so much for your work!
I’m AF for 6 weeks nearly and I’ve done lots of christmassy things I’ve been to Winter wonderland and it’s was magical I’ve been to the movies and my daughter said to me after winter wonderland mum you didn’t get silly I felt so proud !! My sister had her birthday weekend just gone I heard they stayed up all night and she felt so rough I’m so glad I never went !! My movie is magical opening scene I’m with my kids we’re happy smiling I’m taking it all in I have sparkling grape juice to drink and my kids can share it with me then will eat nice food and cooking closing scene I will settle down with hubby and watch a movie eat lots of snacks and have hot chocolate and cream and talk about what a wonderful Xmas we have had I plan to go running Boxing Day and New Year’s Day sober life is brilliant !!!!!
I love you closing scene. I’m looking forward to looking back at my first AF Christmas too. Happy Christmas Bonnie. 🙂
I am really struggling. Drank last night to blackout. Awoke at 3.50am unable to get back to sleep. I drinking every night. It gets to 6pm and I think I deserve a glass of wine. It never stops at 1.
I really want to stop this. I ruined last Christmas. My poor hubby and kids suffer so much.
I start with that glass of prosecco. Fast forward. Mum drunk and fallen asleep. Wasted Christmas Dinner.
Arguments, upset kids.
Wake up boxing day. Feel so ill. And not sure what happened night before…
I need to stop.
Please let me get to bed AF tonight.
I want my kids and hubby to get me back. X
I always have an AF bottle of fizz handy. It looks good, feels good and makes me feel I’m included.
Just recently my sons have had a Baileys at the weekend. I really fancied one as I said to my self “it never made me drunk” Thats because I was already drunk when I had one or two.
I haven’t had one and really don’t want to spoil what I have right now. Sobriety
Your timing couldn’t have been better Kate. Thank you. I played it forward and remembered my ‘why’. 253 days AF. I couldn’t and wouldn’t have done that without out you and your amazing course. Thank you.
Hi Kate I’m just new you are so good at explaining things. Thank you I’m really hopeful for this Christmas and don’t want to let down my children.