The most commonly asked question when I mention I don’t drink anymore is “What not even socially?! What about Christmas/on holiday/Audrey’s wedding?” To people who can just have a few at a social event, have a laugh, feel rough the next day and then not drink again for a while it is difficult to comprehend. And plenty of people think that because I’ve managed to break the habit of drinking all the time I could just drink occasionally.
It’s a nice thought. Every alcoholic would love to be able to drink like a ‘normal’ person. I somehow don’t think I’m the one who would be able to manage it, so I’ll carry on the way I am, regardless of the date or my location.
This is a picture of Sam, because she loves it when I include these. As you can see it is just past nine in the morning, and she has a bottle of wine in the office. She does this every morning. I'm quite worried about her really.
It was Christmas Day less than a week after I gave up drinking. Instead of starting the day with a hangover and a huge Irish coffee as is traditional (in my house anyway) I felt OK, had a cup of tea, and carried on with Christmas stuff. Occasionally I drank Ribena out of a wine glass. I told everyone I was fine, frequently. It was odd, but OK.
If you know me and asked what I was doing for New Year, I lied when I told you I was going to a party. I stayed in by myself, drank more tea than I knew anyone could drink, watched Jools Holland and felt pretty bleak. I knew it was a new start and everything, but a life without booze was feeling very scary, and I was also convinced I’d never leave the house again. I mean what do people who don’t drink do when they go out anyway?
The next morning I got up and went for my first ever run. The park was deserted; everyone else was in bed with a hangover.
And did I feel ever so slightly pleased with myself? Oh yes. In fact I should have been wearing this T-shirt.
I was lucky on this one, and went away to Athens, which let me and everyone else off the hook of working out what the hell to do for a sober celebration. It was a spot of a turning point, I think, in that I could pinpoint exactly how I’d been 12 months before, and spot the improvements. For a start I wasn’t covered in vomit, or hysterical, nor had I lost my coat in a bar. All in all 40 was a better birthday than 39. And the Parthenon was very impressive too.
Tom from Moodswings had, of course, been very practical in suggesting ways I could get through the first weeks without drinking. Part of that was to go out to various places where drinking was not the focal point of the evening. I am now spectacularly cultured, as my best mate is much more highbrow than I am, which is not at all. We went to the ballet and the theatre (this ranged from Shakespeare to a play about Fred Dibnah, OK so it wasn’t all highbrow). I did manage to head off the suggested classical music concerts with trips to the cinema. We had a great time.
Night at the pub
I’ve found it is possible to go to a bar without saying “I’ll have a large glass of wine, oh actually, no it’s cheaper by the bottle...” which were the start of many an evening which descended into chaos. Lots of places seem to sell alcohol-free lager (at HUGELY inflated prices I might add, but won’t) which is brilliant for me as I can swig it from the bottle and look like everyone else. I have a feeling I may sit there looking a bit pious. Slap me if you see me doing this.