Best Friends Forever

This is a guest post from the wonderful @SueK. She was the first online friend that I met in person and we now get together regularly. She even appeared in the TV item with me (here if you haven’t seen it). She is gorgeous and stylish and warm and honest and brave and real. She’s also a brilliant cook (a regular contributor to the ‘Drink of the Week’ archives) and a fantastic writer. Does this woman’s brilliance know no bounds?! Enough raving from me, here is her post…


When I first stopped drinking, it was painfully obvious that I’d lost my ability to care for myself properly. I was dealing with every single thing – physical, emotional, happy, sad – with alcohol.

I celebrated with alcohol. I commiserated with alcohol. I drank when I was sad to cheer myself up. I drank when I was happy because I was happy. I drank to relax after work. I drank because I was relaxed on holiday. I drank because I was cooking. I drank because I was eating what I’d cooked. I drank to take the edge off being uncomfortable in social situations. I drank an extra glass to help me get to sleep. I drank because I was with certain people and that’s what we did together. I drank when I was out because large groups freaked me out. I drank when I was home alone because I freaked myself out.

Drinking alcohol was how I habitually coped with everything in my life.

Take alcohol away and that’s a shit load of coping to learn to handle. Giving up drinking is massive, people. Massive, huge, colossal, monumental — for the body and the mind. It’s brave, courageous, character-building. It’s Very Hard Work.

There is quite a lot of talk about ‘self care’ and sobriety, but for some of us, that’s a meaningless concept. What does it really mean to take care of yourself? Be kind to yourself? Look after yourself?

Self-care can seem foreign and impossible after years of self-neglect and self-abuse. I really struggled with this when I first stopped drinking. I was great at caring for other people, and shite at caring for myself. But one day that started changing.

One day, not long after I stopped drinking, I was off work, at home alone. Mid morning I was moping around, fidgety, bored, distracted, anxious. I had nothing to do, nowhere to go, nobody to talk to, nothing to cheer me up – not even wine o’clock on the horizon. It was painful, and I was thinking how horrible life was going to be if this was what being sober was all about – with no relief in sight from any of this crap.

And then out of nowhere, came these thoughts… wouldn’t it be great if I had a sober best friend who was coming to spend the day with me today? What would I be doing right now? What would the day be like? And I wrote down what I’d do if this was indeed happening:

I’d take a shower and get dressed, and make an effort to look half decent for her. Probably even put on some earrings and lipstick. I’d pick up the crap lying around the house and vacuum up the dog fur, so the place was clean and inviting for her. I’d pick some flowers and put them in a vase on the table. I’d make sure there was some of her favourite deli food for lunch, and some mineral water chilling in the fridge.

In short, I’d make an effort. I wouldn’t be sitting around in my crumpled pyjamas, looking and feeling like crap. I’d give her some consideration and care, and make the place and myself nice for her arrival. So why not do the same just for me? Seriously, why not? So I did. I got ready for a day with myself.

I felt about 300% better. It was the same day, totally transformed by a simple idea – I’m worth spending some time and consideration on. I’ve tried to make a habit of this now – keeping myself and my environment nice, just for myself. It’s a far better way to live.

Here are some other ways to play this game: What if your sober best friend was coming to stay for the weekend? What would you do for her to make her welcome and comfortable?

Make up the bed with clean sheets and pillow cases. And put some lavender drops on the pillows. Fluff up the best towels and set them nicely on the end of the bed. Scrub the bathroom, and put out nice soap and toiletries, and some scented candles. Put a sprig of Daphne or jasmine on the bedside table. Buy her a magazine and slip it under the pillow as a surprise. Get some lovely nibbles and non-alcoholic drinks to share when she arrives. Plan some relaxing activities you know she’ll enjoy (a walk, a yoga class, a movie, some op shopping) and plenty of down time just to chill. Invite some mutual friends around for brunch or an afternoon tea. Cook a lovely meal, or go and try a new restaurant – make dinner an occasion.

Why not do the same for yourself on the weekends?

What if your sober best friend is feeling upset and irrational and emotional, vulnerable and insecure because she just quit drinking, and the adjustment is overwhelming?

I bet you’d be kind and supportive, listen to her blubbering, help as much as you could, tell her how proud you are of her, and how happy you are that she’s taken this massive brave step. You wouldn’t yell at her to pull herself together and get over it. You wouldn’t drag her along to happy hour at the pub, or make her walk down the wine aisle at the supermarket, or tell her she’s a looser who’s going to fail. You’d tell you believe in her. You’d tell her to take it easy on herself.

You’d be patient, compassionate.

That’s the way we are with friends. And that’s the way we can be with ourselves too.

What could you do to be your own best sober friend right now?

© 2014

  1. Cinderella 2 months ago

    How pertinent this post is today as it would have been 4 years ago. Love it so much, thank you SueK and Mrs D for reposting. Just brilliant stuff!!

  2. tourmaline 4 years ago

    Wow, a powerful realisation. Thank you.

  3. WobblyBird 4 years ago

    @SueK Thank you for this very wise post. I have received so much help from LivingSober but was still drowning in alcohol and other associated problems, and unable to get a handle on self care (I just didn’t get it). Suddenly now you have shown me a way to approach it. Yes I think I can do this. I always push all my self loathing down by looking after other people (logically I understand the problems/imperfection! of that). But ha, I will start off by asking myself how I would treat my BFF and try and treat myself the same way. It should help me push through not only the addiction but other issues that I have endless feeling for in friends and none for myself. Methinks a turning point for me – suddenly it has clicked.

    • SueK 4 years ago

      @WobblyBird, wow and thanks for writing. Self care is so foreign to many of us, but we can turn that around. I found it excruciating at first, but now it’s even a wee bit fun thinking of nice things to do for moi!

  4. akrasia 4 years ago

    What a great post – and such a coincidence as I have just sat down on my bed having changed the linen and sprayed lavendar on it as a treat to self -this being my first day off work in ages…only on day two, having had two spells of sobriety this year (one for six weeks and another for 35 days) then back to heavy drinking. Big night two days ago and huge hangover yesterday (then having to pull myself together to go to work) has prompted another go and I hope this site may be the help I need. This post really hit the mark

  5. Lucy 4 years ago

    lovely post, very helpful, good way of looking at taking care of ourselves. xxxx

  6. Amethyst 4 years ago

    Brilliant! Beautiful! Love this post. Thank you, Sue 🙂

  7. ninabridge14 4 years ago

    brilliant post, thoroughly enjoyed it, thanks for the thoughts and the prompting, I am my new best sober friend x

  8. Seizetheday 4 years ago

    I must remember that, I can easily relate to doing things for someone else. We need to make that someone else us, because we matter too. Thank you so much, simple and true xo

  9. Finallyfreetobeme 4 years ago

    I strongly recommend Gretchen Ruben’s book called The Happiness Project. I read it before my sober journey began, when I was really examining myself and my life and it helped tremendously! It changed my perspective on the notion of self-care. I had become completely lost in being mother and wife that I hardly knew who I was anymore……undoubtedly one of the reasons that I was drinking. This book helped me to re-evaluate in many ways.

    • AlexP 4 years ago

      @finallyfreetobeme – thanks for the heads up re: happiness project. Just checked out the website. Looks interesting.

  10. SueK 4 years ago

    Thanks so much for the kind and insightful comments everyone. I am currently getting my spare room all sparkled up for a visitor — my sister — but in the back of my mind I keep thinking about sober best friend me! Keep up the self care. It will make the sober journey easier. XXX

  11. Pinono 4 years ago

    That made me cry and I really needed those words today, thank you xxx

  12. Paula 4 years ago

    Wow – this really makes me feel so good! We can each be best friends to ourselves. I love it. Thank you.

  13. KAM 4 years ago

    I love this post! I never ever think about treating myself as good as I would others, particularly my best friend! Part of my issue with drinking is that I’m a bit of an over achiever and I never ever put myself first. Its always me taking care of everything and everyone else and not doing anything for me. Ive used booze and wine as my “treat” and coping mechanism and here I am…not even 35…and an alcoholic. Well I’m determined to beat this shit! It wont be easy, it hasn’t been easy, but damn it…I sure do giive myself an “A” for trying and not giving up. I’m going to vow to treat myself better. I am my own best friend! Damn it feels good to say that. Thanks all!

  14. Leaf 4 years ago

    Wow Sue, this is spot on! This woman GETS IT! Inspirational and comforting. Thank you Sue. I’m off to have a shower with my sober best friend (he he) with a beautiful, fragrant, relaxing shower gel.

  15. madandsad 4 years ago

    That was wonderful! Wow, maybe the best people in the world are the ones who have drank way too much and then stopped – I just can’t believe how supportive everyone is. And such honesty and baring of souls from each and every one. What a wonderful collection of people we are 😀

  16. prim 4 years ago

    this was just fantastic. that’s a great game!

  17. lookingup 4 years ago

    This beautiful post is exactly what I needed to read today,as I struggle with self doubt and a flat feeling at day 64, it has really helped me and given me a new way to think about myself, thank you for sharing.

  18. Spinnerz 4 years ago

    This is exactly what I need. I sit around moping and feeling sorry for myself (not even necessarily about not drinking – but other life circumstances) but if it was a friend of mine doing the same I would be much more compassionate and helpful. Time to treat myself that way and to hell with others ! Well maybe not so strong to others ! Lol

  19. Ducky 4 years ago

    Really really really lovely. I want lavender drops on my pillow and a surprise magazine too. Made me smile. Thank you.

  20. Colourful1 4 years ago

    Thank you so much Sue, A lovely post. And you described why I (and so many of us) drank so well. It really struck me (I’ve been doing a little “you weren’t such a bad drinker” lying to myself recently). I am now going to go and clean up my kitchen, clean up my room, and settle down to a lovely evening with myself. My GF will be quite pleased when she gets home too! 🙂 xx

  21. Watergirl 4 years ago

    Thank you Sue. That is so well written, and I will take that on board. I will take care of my sober best friend. Xx

  22. Stacey 4 years ago

    Beautifully written. I love the idea of the Best Friend Forever. @SueK thanks for the inspiration. I’m off to make my best friend a cup of tea out of the new gold espresso cup I bought because we all deserve to be treated like Queens.

    • SueK 4 years ago

      We do deserve to be treated like Queens. I must dig up my gold tea cup. … It’s very old and very flash!

  23. DaisyB 4 years ago

    Thank you so much Sue

  24. Jules 4 years ago

    Fabulous post @sueK. Really nice way to look at self care as I struggle with how it works. I can see it a lot clearer now.

  25. Alongtimeoverdue 4 years ago

    @SueK, exactly all the reasons I drank. I had no idea what I was letting myself in for when I started on this journey. I naively expected life would be peachy the day I decided enough was enough. Little did I know what was ahead. Thank you for affirming the journey is hard. At times life is so hectic I have contemplated a return because it would be much easier. But then I remember the guilt, the foggy head, the physical hangover….the list goes on, that is what I got sick of. I am absolutely at the bottom of my best friend list but I just had the nicest thing happen. As I was revisiting Lotta’s programme and had neared the final words, a knock on my door. No-one ever visits my office as a rule. My gorgeous friend who I confided in a few weeks ago popped in for 10mins to say Hi. The Universe is so kind and so perfect, when we let it be….

  26. thirstystill 4 years ago

    Sue, that’s really beautiful. I found it hard to figure out what “self care” meant, too, but your approach–stepping outside yourself to treat yourself as you would a dear friend–is powerful and lovely. (It also made me weep a little bit because I’m realizing I would like to know some real-life in-person sober people, but that’s a different story and I’ll figure that out in good time.) I’m so glad you’re here sharing your story. xo

  27. Prudence 4 years ago

    Thank you. That is a beautiful post. Amazing.

  28. AlexP 4 years ago

    Fabulous post. Thanks @sueK. Think I’ll have to come up with a name and an image for my SBF – like I did with Wine Witch Delores.

  29. Lori K 4 years ago

    I love this. I’m my own sober best friend 🙂 A great reminder that we have to love ourselves in order to get better. xx

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