When I gave up alcohol for the year (at first I stipulated that I could drink when abroad, but then I vetoed that and decided to actually give up completely), I thought that I’d document the journey on here regularly. Giving updates every month at least.
I don’t really know why there’s been the silence on here – why I haven’t written more about the no booze life. It probably would have saved a lot of conversations because I still find myself talking about it, and being questioned about it, a lot – being a 27-year-old non-drinker does make you the object of fascination. Which, in itself, I think says a lot about the society (and its relationship with drinking) we have both carved and inhabit.
I don’t mind talking about it – by the way – the above isn’t a don’t question me! But, I do find it interesting that not drinking is so interesting…if you get me?
Anyway, the last update was in St Lucia – 6 weeks’ sober. Now here we are at the end of August and I’m 8 MONTHS’ SOBER. Over half a year. Not a drop since 11.45pm on the 31st of December 2015. Many people think that my radio silence was because I succumbed to the bottle – but, nope – still sober!
The reasons for giving up are listed on my 1st of January post, so I won’t go over those again. Just scroll down the page (should you be interested). What I’ll discuss now is the journey (why does ‘journey’ always sound pretentious?) and the questions that most people ask.
Has it been really hard?
Honestly, for me, it really hasn’t. I should probably mention that I didn’t give up alcohol due to a dependency or addiction. Mind you, if you are drinking every week/most days, I don’t think you can really say that you aren’t slightly dependent on it until you do try and give up.
If – for instance – I was meeting friends for a drink mid-week, drink would be synonymous with alcohol. I wouldn’t go to the local and order a soda water…we’d order a glass/bottle of wine. I think I always thought I could take it or leave it – but I would always take it- so until giving up, I couldn’t 100% say that I could leave it.
But now I can.
Have you been tempted to drink?
Yes, I have. Not to the brink – but there have been a three times that I have been tempted.
The first was on a family/friends ski trip back in March. And no, I wasn’t gagging for a jaeger bomb at apres ski – in fact, being able to use the year of sobriety (and already being three months in) was a welcome excuse not to drink those revolting concoctions.
It was when the family and our friends were out to supper. My father had brought one of his good friends on the trip, who was a wine buff and consequently ordered some seriously nice wine – so my siblings and friends told me. There was one particular bottle of red on the table that my friend, who was sitting right next to me, was drinking. It smelled incredible. And I’m not going to lie – I would have loved a glass. (I actually had a similar experience of this temptation – where I just wanted one glass – of an Aperol Spritz in Italy, and also a small beer in France).
The second temptation was a different type. For about two weeks at the end of April, due to stress, deadlines, long hours and work taking over my entire life, I wanted to go out and get properly shitfaced. I wanted to go on an absolute bender; to forget about everything for a bit, to escape, to fall into the welcome abyss of drunken incoherence. To drink until I blacked out. Blacked it all out.
I didn’t though, and instead I took up more regular tennis lessons and bashed out the stress on court instead. And, after a couple of weeks, the sensation passed.
In terms of these types of temptations – the getting absolutely shitfaced urges – there are better ways to deal with it. Even though you’re going to get the immediate release, you’re probably not going to feel better in the morning – the stresses will still be there and they’ll just be accompanied by a horrid headache.
The third was after meeting a really nice guy, who – praise the lord – I actually fancied (I swear the older you get, the more difficult it gets to properly fancy someone, the crushes you used to get – those all-consuming emotions – seem to fade away with the years. There’s a depressing aside for you).
Anyway, back in June I clocked said guy at a festival and immediately said to my sister – ‘who is that?’ That kind of initial – yes, that guy is hot. As luck (or perhaps my sister put in a word – I don’t actually know) would have it, later that night said guy – let’s call him X – came over and said…Actually, I’ll move this to dialogue now – it’s probably easier.
X: “Hey, can I get you a drink?”
(Me – in head – ‘Oh my god, it’s the fit guy.’ ‘Oh he’s asking you for a drink, oh say something!’)
X: Oh, ok.
(Me – in head – ‘What the f— are you doing? Do you realise what you’ve just said? How rude that sounds? Save the situation! Save it now!’)
Me: I mean, not because I don’t want one. It’s because well, actually, I don’t drink. Not that I’m an alcoholic or anything don’t worry *awkward laugh* – it’s because I’ve given up for the year. Just you know for work purposes; basically I left my job last year to concentrate on my business – and you know, I decided that I couldn’t afford to be hungover, so gave up. Also, I’d been drinking for about a decade – and well our generation didn’t really get into drinking lightly, it was more ‘let’s neck a bottle of vodka in a field’, so I was quite interested in seeing what the human body could actually feel like without alcohol. So, yeah, that’s why I said no. I’m Alice by the way.
This guy, this poor guy. He’d come over to ask if a girl wanted a drink and instead got a pile of word vomit from a demented loose cannon.
Though he did look slightly bewildered by my lengthy tale – one that he clearly hadn’t banked on – somehow, probably sheer manners, he didn’t turn and run for the hills.
X: Would you like a soft drink? How about a ginger beer?
Me: Oh, yes. That would be nice.
He bought me a ginger beer (a non-alcoholic one) and we chatted for a bit. And then he left. To be fair, I was being quite dull – I’m not saying that not-drinking makes you dull by the way – but it does mean that at around 12.30/1am you do tend to get pretty tired (well, I find I do) because you don’t have all the alcohol sugars giving you that buzz.
Back in my tent, I got really cross with myself (Urgh, if I’d been drinking then I would still be awake, I could have got drunk, we’d probably have kissed. I never fancy anyone and now I’ve just f-ckd it up because I’m too tired because I’m not drinking), and part of me was tempted to go back to the party and get pissed and kiss him.
I seem to have gone off on quite a tangent with that third temptation to drink. Hope you enjoyed that story. I should add, that I turned being pissed off into being proactive, and messaged him the following day – which led to a sober and really rather nice date.
Do people become really boring when they’re drinking and you’re not?
No and yes.
I have a great time with friends up until around 11.30pm (if we’ve started at say 7pm). We’re friends for a reason – because we like similar things, have fun memories – the alcohol doesn’t make us friends. We met sober, became friends sober. Yes, we’ve had great times getting pissed together – but I’m still going to get along with you without booze.
It’s just a group of friends hanging out and talking about entertaining things, reminiscing and sharing anecdotes.
But at about 11.30pm – and this is the ‘yes’ part of the question – people start telling the same anecdotes again and again and again. Or, indeed, if it’s a debate, they start saying the same argument again and again and again. It’s actually quite fascinating how small the time lapses become, too. It’s not one point and then making it again 20 minutes later, it can literally be seconds after finishing it. Sort of like you’re surrounded by a school of Doris (the fish from Finding Nemo – or more recently Finding Dori – with short-term memory problems).
Have people tried to pressure you drink?
Yes. At the start, most people wanted to push me off the wagon. ‘Oh go on, you’ll never do a year.’ ‘Oh, stop being so boring.’ (FYI: being a non-drinker doesn’t mean you’re boring. Also, why is it that so many people want to make you drink? It’s like you’ve rebelled and they want to put you back in line.)
When I hit about three months, though, it stopped. People recognised that I was serious and it was more ‘kudos to you’, ‘wow, that’s impressive’, ‘she means it’.
I don’t think I’ll have people pushing me for the rest of the year, for the remainder of my sober challenge. But, come New Year, I imagine they will be back with vengeance…Which leads neatly on to the last question…
Will you drink again?
At the moment, I’m not sure. It’s 50/50.
The reasons not to drink again:
Life as a non-drinker has treated me well. Apart from ginger beer gate (which I then rectified), I don’t feel like I’ve missed out.
As a non-drinker, you can get so much more done – not having a hangover ever is INCREDIBLE. And I don’t feel like not drinking alcohol affects my personality (even though it does have an effect my sleeping patterns).
The reasons to drink again:
I do really like the taste and warming sensation of a nice glass of red wine.
I also really like the refreshing taste of a cold beer.
I still – annoyingly – see the appeal in getting obliterated from time to time. Even though I know that it’s not going to actually make me feel better in the long term.
Despite the subhead, I won’t conclude properly today. After all, I still have another four months to go. But I think, if I do drink again – it will be in a different way. I have definitely started to reevaluate my relationship with alcohol and indeed British society’s relationship with alcohol.
I think that it’s a weird thing – how it’s just so ingrained in all of us and also how we use it. We use it for everything.
Alcohol to celebrate. Alcohol to commiserate. Alcohol to relieve. Alcohol to grieve.
Anyway, that’s where I’m at now. Eight months sober. Four to go.
I’m signing off. Until next time…