On the 1st January 2015, I made a pledge to myself that I’d give up drinking.
I feel I should explain that this plan was not put in place as the result of realising I had a drinking problem – I didn’t. Over the last 5yrs or so, I’ve been drunk no more than once a month. My decision to stop drinking was down to two main reasons:
1. I was using alcohol as a social crutch. My anxiety had reached a point where I couldn’t go out and socialise without a drink but the more I drank, the more anxious I became. Vicious Cycle for one.
2. I don’t possess a tipsy point. With me, it goes – sober, sober, sober, blackout drunk. Not cool.
It’s now been 120 days since I made the promise to myself and I’m proud to report that in that time I’ve had only 1 small glass of champagne (family 30th birthday party) and 1 can of cider (my birthday party).
When I began researching the benefits of not drinking, it brought up lists of dreamy possibilities – what a load of crap! Here are some of the things that the internet says will happen when you give up drinking as well as my cold, hard truth.
1. Heightened sense – yeah, that’s right. Stop drinking and you evolve in to some super-human like Daredevil or Spiderman (but without the horrific back story). I have yet to receive my superpowers and/or cape though. Maybe it got lost in the post.
2. A better understanding of who you are – because obviously you can now spend all that time when you would’ve been drinking, mediating on your existence. WRONG. If anything, it makes you question yourself more – especially when you’re the only sober person in a club at 2am. Urgh.
3. Weight Loss – I guess this is only short term because once those heightened spidey senses kick in, you’ll be eating all of the food.
4. More time for hobbies – Ah yes, not drinking means that you don’t go out and so have more time for macramé crafts. Mmhm ::serious face::
5. Better sleep – This is the one I wanted the most. Alas, my insomnia is related to my RLS and BPD so no such luck.
As a contrast, here’s what actually happens when you stop drinking:
1. People will assume you are pregnant/an alcoholic/on medication for a “disorder”/generally insane – the reactions I have had are nothing less than pure horror. Pure. Horror.
2. Everyone will try and get you to drink – Peer pressure is real folks and it’s game is strong.
3. It’s much more difficult to have a lie-in – I’m beginning to realise that drunk/hangover sleep is one of the world’s greatest gifts. Without it, you find yourself waking up at 7am on a Sunday with no-one to text as all your friends are still asleep.
4. There is a limit to the amount of fizzy pop the human body can hold – my first night out not drinking, I had 4 pints of coke and felt HORRIBLE. Unfortunately, the variety of non-alcoholic drinks available in pubs is slim to none.
5. All of the Existential Crisis – you will have many. This will mostly occur during the early hours of the morning when you discover that you’re not so chivalrous in holding your friends hair back when you’re sober.
6. You will save money – Hooray, a benefit! Night outs have gone from costing me £50+ to about £10. This is occasionally increased when we visit a bar that feels it’s necessary to punish non-drinkers with extortionately priced soft drinks. Gits.
For reals though, if you’ve been a social drinker for over a decade, it is hard to break that cycle but it IS doable and I do feel better for it. Much like smoking though, there are times when it’s all I can think about. Here’s hoping that fades over time