The Heart of Friday Night

addiction alcohol alcohol-free coaching gifts of sobriety grey area drinker katebaily soberliving Jan 28, 2023

Last night I spent my Friday night at my home from home, the beautiful Be Yoga, owned and run by two dear friends Bryony and Silas. As I approached the door, lit up with fairy lights, anticipating the scent of aromatherapy and the pit pat of Clover’s (B and S’s dog) waggy welcome, I felt rich. I thought about Friday nights - what they used to mean, the welcome mat to inevitable hangovers, then how I used to struggle in early sobriety to work against that socially-bound muscle power of the end of week ritual. And I LOVE rituals. Now I love Fridays again and I am usually to be found watching a box set, eating crisps. So as I once again broke with tradition and hauled myself out. Gasp. I felt very lucky that my Friday night could now be going to hang out with my other family, and do a sound bath and yoga nidra, drink tea and chat real things.

The heart of my evening was connection, not disconnection through substances ( or Netflix - which I am completely fine with and is still a tool for me) and it was collective napping which I really am more and more convinced might restore us to health and community. Pubs were never easy because of sensory overload and having to talk to people, which is draining. Having said that, lying down for a period of time is is not always easy for me and I am still processing a lot of stress on a daily basis with the extra needs parenting and caring role I have, which can make the journey uncomfortable. So to be fair I was not just having a nap - although that is like a super-goal.

But, during the evening I had a very clear sense of what I need. It was a going back to basics, a realise that I have got all up in my head again, that I want to be ‘clever’ and to be an amazing writer and to do this I need to sacrifice something. And in that process is some violence. And I call bull shit on that and on myself.

I need kindness, kindness to self that comes from not forcing myself past my limits which I am prone to do. Sobriety has given me such a gift of awareness of the edges and what I need but I still am prone to forcing myself into dark corners of shame, grief, or sadness as if by really feeling it, going right to the edge I can finally fix it, like that rock bottom thing - if only I unequivocally knew I was done with alcohol - that awful teetering on the edge that we did for years trying to keep that pain in our lives. Someone once said to my on a sober forum when I had gone back after another Day 1 ‘How long will you keep going and sticking your hand back in the bush of bees to get stung?’ I remember an old friend in my 20s asking ow long I was still going to keep trying to make things right with a family member who was emotional abusive to me.

There is something for me here about boundaries and saying no, and knowing limits which is about that fundamental principle in yoga philosophy of kindness and kindness to self which comes first. Things we weren’t taught were kind.

Kind actions and words are like a social glue that binds us together. Kind actions can shift a sh*tty mood. Kindness fosters our feelings of being connected, which lights up our mirror neurons in the brain. These brain connectors fire up both when we act and when we observe the same action performed by another. The neurons release serotonin and oxytocin and it feels gooooood as it mirrors what it sees as if the observer itself were doing the action. Scientists in Berkeley and Harvard discovered that the brains of people watching strangers being kind to each other lit up the same regions as when people were kind to them!

But for those of us who are prone to fitting in and people pleasing, that have attachment wounds, we need extra TLC and tools around kindness – we need to remember to give it to ourselves first because we can get depleted and end up giving too much of ourselves.

In the philosophical texts of yoga, kindness is known as ‘ahimsa’ or ‘do no harm’ this applies to everything: being kind in all that we think, say and do. Kindness, however, needs to start with ourselves if we are to be successfully and actively kind to others. It’s the old ‘put on your own oxygen mask before helping others’ analogy. It’s interesting to look at alcohol through the lens of ahimsa.

Alcohol does enormous harm to body and mind and so if we are to care about kindness, we can use this as a good reason to not imbibe a poisonous carcinogen. If we recall the times we have said mean things while under the influence – booze-fuelled late-night arguments, or the mornings we have woken up full of shame and beaten ourselves up because of the night before – we can see that removing alcohol from the mix is the kindest thing we can do for ourselves and for those we love.

And the boundaries, to know the edges ( another post, another podcast, a whole life’s learning for me) are the how-to of that self-kindness for me. The first no, being the alcohol which allows to me to learn to hear all the other subtle messages , the ‘nos, not yets, I’m not readys) and the compassion to love hard on myself when I have gone crashing past a boundary to say ‘ sweet heart, I am so sorry, I did it again… But I love you and I am listening now.’


Neighbours - I love my neighbours, I love having neighbours - those non-talking bonds of geographic determination. ( Truth : I don’t actually love all my neighbours, I’m not a saint!) But most of them I do in a passive, loose, comfortable way. One of the weirdest things I remember last year was when I made a cake for my neighbour whose husband had recently passed. When my daughter and I delivered it, it turned out to be her birthday and none of her family had made a cake that year because they were all mourning. It was spooky…. a powerful moment for us both and strengthened our bond as neighbours.

If the last couple of years of the pandemic have taught us anything, it’s how MUCH we need other people, and not just our nearest and dearest, but our wider community, our support networks – be it our hairdresser or the post-person. When in doubt, you can look for cues of kindness from others – watch a gardening or makeover show, sign up to positive news sites and kindness accounts on Instagram – it can all make a difference on a difficult day.

And here is a seasonal light/dark/ yin/yang/ balance moment of needing both the outer and inner kindness and the wisdom and life’s journey seamingly to be about the wisdom to know the difference. When to gaze outwards and when to gaze inwards. And for us parents, carers, givers of too much, that maybe , just maybe we can receive, stop being useful for just a moment and take that moment of grace and rest.

When do you need to get out and connect? When do you need to nurture and retreat? Are there any activities or people you can do it simultaneously with ?

Journaling Ideas

What is the one thing I can do to be kind to myself today? How can I rest?

Check my mood. What’s the internal weather looking like today? Do I need a hug first, or a sleep or a cry, before I try being kind? What’s my energy level like?

What can I easily do to connect with someone today and speak kindly? (Perhaps chat to a neighbour, send a random card to a relative, compliment someone.) 


My book ‘Love Your Sober Year’ above

One of my oldests friends and god mother to my children is a writer, and social activist who has worked extensively with Kindness. Check her out here: Bernadette Russell: The Little Book of Kindness.

Kristin Neff’s work on Self Compassion ( Fierce Self Compassion that yang boundary I need in the kindness practice I’m talking about and there is a section on that here):


Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Cras sed sapien quam. Sed dapibus est id enim facilisis, at posuere turpis adipiscing. Quisque sit amet dui dui.

Call To Action

Stay connected with news and updates!

Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates from our team.
Don't worry, your information will not be shared.

We hate SPAM. We will never sell your information, for any reason.