It was midnight at the party and someone said "I'm putting the jug on, does anyone want a hot drink?". OMG yes I thought and called out "Me please!!!" before heading over to my bag to fetch one of the tea bags I had stashed in there earlier.
Yes, I was at a party at midnight. And yes, I had tea bags stashed in my bag. Get me.
The party was at someone's house we were staying in for the night (child-free!) so there was little chance of me escaping the festivities any earlier, but to be honest on this occasion I hadn't wanted to. The vibe was good, the crowd was lovely and chatty, I felt good in my outfit, and was having a nice time.
And boy did that midnight cup of tea hit the spot. It was rather a fancy blend - a 'Hot Cinnamon Sunset' Black Tea with Cinnamons, Orange and Sweet Cloves (the smell of which made other party goers jealous!), but it wasn't just the warmth or flavour of the tea that made me happy. It was the underlying feeling that I knew was looking after myself.
I wasn't sloppy from having drunk too much wine. I wasn't wobbly from being full of booze. I wasn't loose-lipped from having obliterated all the check-points between my brain and my mouth. I was sober. I was being social. I was proud of myself. And I was content.
The tea bag I carried with me was symbolic. It was a little message to myself before I headed out that I was taking care of myself. Having it in a mug with hot water added further amplified that message. Life was good.
I travel with tea bags. Whenever I leave my comfort zone (my 'sober bubble' as I like to think of my neighbourhood life) alongside my toiletries, clothes, and technical devices I always pack tea bags.
I get a recycled plastic container with a lid and fill it with enough bags to last for the days that I'm going to be away. I count them out: one bag for each morning (my favourite green tea with mandarin), one bag for each evening (chamomile of course), and a few bags of something random for during the days (on this occasion the delicious Hot Cinnamon Sunset).
Just getting the container out and packing these teabags is enough of a ritual to make me feel secure and good. I'm letting myself know that I'm looking out for myself as I venture out into the big wide (boozy) world. And this is so important in sobriety.
It's a brutal fact that for most of us sober people we are the odd ones out in the worlds we move around in. Certainly in my wider circle of life I don't know that many non-drinkers. Most of my family and friends all drink alcohol regularly. I'm not tempted to touch it any more, but I still have to front up to social events and gatherings and have that little point of difference to contend with. Me always the non-drinker in a crowd of people drinking. So the tea bags in my handbag are a lovely little personal touch to remind myself I'm brave and amazing for being sober, and that I deserve the very best.
I think it's really important to develop little self-care habits such as this when we stop drinking. 'Self-care' can be a foreign concept to those of us who have spent years boozing and neglecting ourselves. It can feel oddly indulgent after we quit to be making little loving gestures towards ourselves - but these little gestures are so important!
Treat yourself as you would treat a best friend going through a monumental life change. Buy yourself flowers or a magazine for no reason. Spend an hour browsing in your favourite bookstore, luxuriate in a bubble bath for an hour in the afternoon. Or pack your favourite tea bags when you go travelling. That works for me every time.
Mrs D x