Somehow the thought of having a glass of star at the pub just doesn’t work for me. If I’m going to sit down with the whole purpose of consuming a beverage in a social setting I want it to be a beverage that I will actively enjoy. This leads me to cranberry juice, dandelion and burdock or rose lemonade, sugary drinks which are basically thought to be the devil.
I usually don’t find it had to avoid sugar, I don’t have much of a sweet tooth and I’m usually happy to drink sparkling water or tea during the day. But sometimes you want something a bit more special, something to tantalise the taste buds and make you smile. It’s not just the quest for something tasty to drink that’s making me worry about the increase in my sugar intake. Somehow without the recourse to alcohol, I find myself craving sweet things more in general, a couple of squares of chocolate or some dried fruit after a meal seem impossible to do without whereas previously dessert had always been a pointless indulgence. Funny how things change.
I guess it’s all part of the learning experience, part of discovering me ways to enjoy my tastebuds. I wonder what is thought to be worse for you? Sugar or alcohol? By choosing sugar am I making myself less healthy than if I continued to enjoy a glass of wine? Only time will tell.
I don’t think I’ve ever had such a productive weekend. Both spare rooms cleared out and redecorated. The plan is to do the whole house, at the current rate we could have that done in 6 weeks or less. We’ve been talking about it for years.
Of course that’s not just about not drinking, other factors combined to compel us to get to work on the house but not having a glass of wine with lunch is bound to have improved productivity. I continue to sleep like the dead.
I dreamt about alcohol last night. I dreamt that I was at big social events and people handed me drinks and I drank them thoughtlessly or out of politeness and then realised what I was doing and wondered how not to drink the new drinks that we’re being poured without causing some kind of offence. I woke up convinced that I had already failed and then remembered that it’s eight o’clock on a Sunday morning and I have’t touched a drop in a week.
I’ve been through a week without a drink before obviously, this on it’s own is far from having been a test but so far so good. The days are slipping painlessly by. I wonder if future days will be more painful or if this the significance of alcohol is entirely imaginary? My dream suggest that I have felt an obligation to imbibe more than a genuine desire. How much of our lived are compelled by the the expectations of others? Who would we be if we left ourselves alone to be who we are without criticism, conjecture or expectation?
Is it odd to say that in some ways it’s like a weight has been taken off me. The burden of knowing my limits has been removed. The fear of saying or doing the wrong thing having taken chemical leave of your senses. The discipline of dragging myself, hungover, from my bed. I woke at 7am today, bright eyed and bushy tailed from 6 hours of sleep, an almost unheard of phenomena.
Not that I’ve done much useful with the time, just drinking tea in bed, reading and chatting but it’s time I might not have had and time is a finite resource that runs through your hands. We were meant to be circuit training this morning but the man’s head rendered him incapable. I’m glad that won’t be me anymore.
I’ve been reminding myself for some time never to waste life. The inevitability of mortality reinforces itself in your mind year on year and the key to living is fearing neither death nor life nor ageing and instead focusing on making the most of each passing moment. Be here, now, not yesterday or tomorrow. This moment is worth a hundred days that have already past and a thousand that may never come.
Last night was the first real test. A trip to the pub as a thank you for helping a friend move house which turned into dinner as we all decided that it was too late to cook. I wanted a glass of wine, I could nearly taste it. Cold and dry, sweet and familiar, slipping over my tongue. It had been a warm day, always conducive to spoiling oneself and, having been tired and a little low, a nice alcoholic cuddle seemed attractive. I almost wanted my companions to convince me.
I am, however, a lucky girl. Everyone was on side and the truth is that once we were sat and comfortable and chatting about this and that, the fluid that filled my glass ceased to be the point. I sipped my ice cold lemonade and was perfectly happy. The craving passed into oblivion, as all illusions must do.
As much as 300 days still seems like a long time and there will be tests along the way…I have been reminded that the significance we place on alcohol is purely psychological. We imagine that we need a social lubricant to get the party started but the truth is that friendship, affinity and connection are more than enough juice to slip comfortably into an enjoyable evening.
The night before last sleep grabbed me by the ankles and dragged me down. I had to fight for wakefulness when the time came and the time came much later than it should have. Last night however sleep did not come, an argument that I won’t detail, left me unable to relax or turn off long after it had been resolved, a silly thing really and caused most likely by alcohol.
Alcohol causes blood sugar to rise, when it drops again it can make people irritable and aggressive. I’ve seen it a lot, felt it sometimes. A good time spoiled by crashing spirits and a raging and confused system. I wish that being the sober one had rendered me more capable of handling the situation but the shock of suddenly becoming the target of cursing and raised voices just left me feeling hurt and confused. Utterly under equipped to deal rationally with the irrational.
Tears came. Not good. Hard to lift the spirits to their former glory. Dispute past but not forgotten. Bone tired and down.
Last night I had a pang. Not for alcohol but for a sense of inclusion. my husband had bought a bottle of retsina at the weekend. I can’t say that retsina is my favourite but it’s one of his favourites and the year after we were married we saved up for a plush holiday in Crete during which a fair amount of retsina was consumed. Last night he drank retsina and I did not.
I felt left out, shut out of the shared memory. Not that I even know for sure that he was remembering our time in Crete. I may have been indulging in that memory alone. I nevertheless felt, for that short while, adrift from our shared past, longing to take just a sip as a remembrance and homage to times gone past.
It struck me yesterday that possibly part of the lure of alcohol for me is the long drink. That point where you’re just sat in comfortable silence or occasional chatter with a glass that you’re taking your time over. Most soft drinks I will guzzle. Tea cannot be delayed as it will go cold. There are few substitutes for a glass of wine in that regard.
I was mulling over this on the way to the pub for dinner, and then, as an experiment, I ordered some rose lemonade and I thought…Yes, this I can take my time over.
It’s an interesting question whether the early days will be the easiest or the hardest. Will being booze free come more easily once I have new habits, routines and favourites in place? Or will I just see the end post ahead of me and feel impatient to reach it? All of this remains to be seen.
Of course, life for the tee total is harder now that we have a war on sugar and even eating an apple is considered to be bad for you. Excluding tea, coffee (which I don’t drink) and water, all non-alcoholic beverages contain a lot of sugar, even if it’s artificial sugar. So for those aspiring to go booze free, everything apart from water and tea is basically off the menu. There aren’t many treats available in that selection unless you invest in pretty glass tea pots with fancy teas that open like flowers. It’s interesting to note that generally when I’ve been avoiding alcohol before, I’ve often ended up eating more chocolate. The alternative treat for the end of the day.
Am I feeling optimistic, excited, enthusiastic? Or anxious and trepidatious? In fact, none of the above. I simply see a road ahead that must be followed and I don’t yet know where it will take me.
I stopped blogging through tumblr when I created my own website. It just didn’t make sense to me to run two blogs at the same time. I’ve restarted this blog because of my decision to stop drinking for a year. I figured it was too big a thing not to share and I’m going to need support to get through it. I’ll be diarising my experiences here. This blog will be all about booze…or rather the lack thereof.
My first day is tomorrow, last night I drank like a fish and this morning I woke feeling like hell. I currently have a beer by my side. I’ve chosen the worst possible year to do this, I have two weddings and my own fifth wedding anniversary to negotiate my way through without touching a drop. Am I looking forward to it? He’ll no! But I feel like it’s something I need to do…
Wish me luck.