Booze free Blog

Support me through a year sober.

Day 22

Last night was no fun. Hubs managed to stand on a rusty nail and it went straight through the flip flops he was wearing and deep into his big toe. We didn’t need help treating the wound, which we cleaned and bound at home but a tetanus jab was the only wise course of action. We arrived at accident and emergency just before seven, we were still there at ten.

By that stage, Pete had been called through by a grumpy looking doctor the best part of two hours earlier and I’d begun to wonder if his foot had fallen off or something. I finally spotted him through a glass door, where he’d been waiting alone ever since he’d been called. We were both kinda surprised, Pete didn’t really need treatment, he was more of an inconvenience, we figured they’d stick a needle in his arm and send him on his way ASAP but we thought wrong. I don’t know if it was my loud declaration of ‘You’ve been waiting three hours for a tetanus jab?’ that got him sorted but, while I was outside looking for the daughter of a rather distressed looking elderly lady who was also waiting alone in a corridor, he received his treatment, just seconds after my penetrating queen’s English echoed round the halls.

Pete was hungry, tired and irritated. We stopped at the pub on the way home for some wine to go and a couple of bottles of alcofree beer. They also gave us some bread rolls. It’s good to have friends. The plump salmon fillets that I had marinating in catjip manis had to wait for another day and I made a hasty BLT just to fill the stomach before bed time. What a waste of an evening and all hopes of an early night down the pan. At least we have a weekend away at the end of the week.

Day 19

It’s Saturday night and I’ve been watching my husband paint. He bought me a manicure this morning and so won’t allow me to help as it may risk my finish. Thinking about the insanity of man turning down help from his wife because she might mess up her manicure makes me think about our fifth anniversary next week and how I should refuse to toast our success because I’ve decided not to drink for a year.

I remember working with a lass who decided to quite alcohol for a period. Not because she had a problem, just because she thought alcohol was unhealthy and best avoided. She and her partner had bought a house together the previous year and he wanted to celebrate their first year in their new home by opening a bottle of champagne he’d been saving. She declined. I remember thinking she’d made the wrong choice.

Now I’m facing the same dilemma and five years of marriage feels like a bigger thing to celebrate. Marriage isn’t always easy and we’ve weathered some damned hard times, looking back I believe that there are some couples who may not have made it down the aisle in similar circumstances and yet here we are, five years on and still pretty happy about it. I want to celebrate my anniversary.

Okay, yes, we’re going away for the weekend and staying at the same place we did for our honeymoon. (The first one when we were broke rather than the second one that we used our monetary wedding gifts and saved to afford). So on Friday morning we are heading to Cornwall to stay in a tipi. I’m looking forward to campfire cooking and starry nights. I’m happy to sit around the campfire with a cup of horlicks or a bottle of alcofree Foster’s Radler and that should be celebration enough but….I still want to toast my marriage.

Nothing else has the symbolism of champagne. What can replace the golden, sparkling liquid the name of which is synonymous with celebration. On the one hand I tell myself that one glass won’t hurt, that this challenge is about me, no one is sponsoring me or has anything riding on my getting through the year without touching a drop so why the hell shouldn’t I? On the other hand I feel it’s a cop out. It’s not that I worry I’ll fall back into bad habits if I have a glass, but there’s a principle at stake, isn’t there? Or is there? Is it the spirit of changing my habits overall that matters? Round and round it goes.

Day 15

The boringness continues. There’s not a lot you can say about booze or the absence of it. Rather than running out of wine, I ran out of dandelion and burdock, black currant and liquorice is just not the same. I’m not a big liquorice fan. Hubs loves it but he hasn’t given up drinking and if there’s beer in the house that will always be his first choice and the black current and liquorice remains all but untouched. Ho hum.

It’s surprisingly expensive not to drink. The good soft drinks, as in not coke or j20, are as expensive as the booze in pubs, sometimes even more so. The choice is sometimes limited too, surprisingly few pubs stock tomato juice and if they do, it’s often a few token bottles. Our local tends to have an impressive stock, which is a good reason never to drink anywhere else I suppose.

I’ve been thinking about exploring the notion of alcofree cocktails. Seeing what I can create. Watch this space.

Day 14

Don’t worry. I didn’t fall off the wagon. I’ve just been super busy this weekend. The clear out and redecoration project is continuing apace. Bathroom is now redecorated (wall adornment, some new sealant and the fact that we’re not keen on the colour of the side of the bath not withstanding). We’ve got bags and bags of stuff to take to the charity shop. Next step is to decorate what is going to be my office which involves a big clear out, after that it will be the bedroom, the stairs and hallway, the kitchen and last, once we’ve finally made a decision about the sofa, the living room.

I’m excited. When we moved in here we bought very little new and didn’t decorate at all. Everything just fell into place which was what we needed at the time. We were both over stressed at work and had no energy for anything else. Now I think we want to take possession of the space and put our mark on it. Yes, it’s seven years later. Yes, it’s still a rental. But it’s our home and we’re committing to it. It’s a good feeling.

Day 12

When you are redecorating, take time every day to stand in a room you have completed and bask in contentment. When the house is in chaos, when you’ve worked until midnight and gone to bed paint stained and exhausted, take a few moments to remind yourself why you’re doing this. It helps.

We completed the two spare rooms last weekend and the downstairs hallway yesterday. We’ll work on the bathroom tomorrow. The rooms to come are larger and have more stuff in them but if we work on one a week. We could have the work completed in a month. A month isn’t that long. Or at least that’s what I keep telling myself.

There was a time when a reward for hard work would have been a beer or a glass of wine. Last evening it was ovaltine. New me, new rewards. The ovaltine was very nice, comforting and reminiscent of childhood. Onward we go.

Day 11

There comes a point when there is nothing further of interest to say on the same topic. Yesterday was just a day. I didn’t drink any alcohol but that doesn’t erode the fact that it was still a plain old, common or garden day. I kept busy, performed some chores, got on with life and that was it. The absence of alcohol was not note-worthy, it was simply part of the fabric of the day. Ho hum.

Day 10

Champagne. Champagne, cava, prosecco, dry, cold and tingly on the tongue. My favourites. I’m not craving them and wouldn’t have thought about them at all if it weren’t for a question asked of me by my husband. ‘Surely you’ll have to have a glass of champagne at your cousin’s wedding?’

Of course champagne is the toasting drink of choice. Associated intrinsically with celebration. To raise your glass and take a sip is to give your well wishing, your love and your seal of approval. The speeches and the toasts are a big part of the wedding day celebrations, by not partaking am I conscientiously objecting to the toasting ritual? Or is toasting with cranberry juice an acceptable alternative?

I have just a little over a month to decide whether a single glass to toast a marriage is an acceptable, even necessary, breech of my commitment. In my mind a commitment is a commitment but then I was committed to attend another event until the invitation came and that I cancelled because it was the right and loving thing to do for a beloved relative. Is taking a glass of champagne on his big day also the right and loving thing to do? My conscience is by no means decided.

Day 9

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.

Day 8

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.

Day 7

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?