Booze free Blog

Support me through a year sober.

Day 31

The hungover feeling lasted all day, I wasn’t as productive as I’d hoped to be and ended up having a nap in the afternoon. Hubs put it down to calorie restriction on a workout day but I’m always reluctant to accept that, surely the human body should be better designed and, besides, how is anyone supposed to lose fat if our bodies can’t cope with consuming fewer calories than we expend?

I went to bed early, only to wake up needing to empty my bladder, that journey downstairs blew my whole night’s sleep. I was awake until way after the sun came up. I tried to switch my brain off but I lay there worrying about war, and racism, and Ebola, and child marriage and the state of my boy dog’s health. On the plus side my husband encouraged me to stay in bed when he got up and my boy dog, for the first time in weeks, replaced him at my side offering furry companionship.

Nevertheless, I woke to read about horrors and hardships and I fear that we live in dark, dark times, the possibility of warfare and genocide at our doorsteps looming greater and greater. Clinging to the faint hope that decency and rationality will ultimately triumph while seeing fewer and fewer decent people on the world.

Now I must soldier on. There is work to be done.

Day 30

One month down, 11 to go. A month is the longest I’ve ever been completely dry before and I suspect that that may have been behind the dreams I had last night, in which I got absolutely plastered. I was sending an epic message to a friend that made no sense and planning to meet with another to see open air theatre with the crazy energy that occurs when you’ve had too many and that you just can’t muster when you’re sober. In the morning I almost felt a little hungover, as if the force of the dream was enough to produce that effect in my body. I’m glad not to be. I’m glad hangovers are a thing of the past.

One month in to my booze fast, I have started to take steps to control the other cravings that seem to develop when alcohol is off the menu. I’m drinking lemon water instead of cordials and juices, and chocolate has again been removed from my daily consumption. I feel I’ve had enough time to adjust and I can now regard alcohol free as the norm rather than something that needs to be compensated for. I think that’s a step up.

Day 29

I drank six bottle of champagne and twenty some odd of beer over the course of the weekend which would have made it a raucous celebration were they not all alcohol free. Did I miss the booze? I’d like to say ‘no’ but the truth is that I did. I was on my holidays and celebrating my anniversary, my hubby was drinking and I wasn’t. I felt, at times, that I was detracting from his fun and the distraction that alcohol offers from my woes was missing.

I felt cripplingly insecure on the beach. I carried towels and books in such a way as to cover as much of my body as possible. My husband tried to assuage my insecurities my telling me that no one cares what I look like, he pointed out men with less than perfect bodies and asked me if I thought they cared about my opinion on their body. Of course they didn’t. All that seemed to do was reinforce the notion that I don’t look good. ‘Yeah, you look bad, but so do all these others and no one cares.’

The thing is that women are brought up believing that people care. What you look like, how you wear your clothes, the image you present on the beach, are all of vital importance when you’re a girl. Girls are supposed to be pretty. Telling us that no one’s looking and no one cares just doesn’t ring true, of course they’re looking and of course they’re judging, or why else do I need to bother with nail varnish, or make-up or straighteners?

As much as we tell ourselves that it only matters what our partners think, we’re not really taught to believe it. It matters what the world thinks and the world is always telling us that it has an opinion. We are scrutinised and found wanting, we are expected to know exactly how flawed we are and be working to rectify or disguise our flaws, we are looked at with accusing eyes if we fail to recognise how far we fall beneath the ideal. Confidence is not desired in women, women should anxiously walk the tight rope between not trying hard enough and being too overtly equal, women should seek to enhance what they have with lotions and potions in fancy bottles. Working to be beautiful is part of a woman’s place in the world. To do less is regarded as either arrogance or insecure abdication of feminine duty in terror of the fact that none of our efforts are meaningful.

We try to rebel, to sock it to the man. We try to show the world what we look like without the slap and the hairspray, what bodies look like without a personal trainer or a personal chef or a photoshop artist and we’re accused of attention seeking. We get so wound in how unattractive we are that we stop feeling sexy or sexual and then we’re mocked for not being enthusiastic in bed. But it’s all such a surprise, we’re so unprepared. Why would you want this? This isn’t what men want.

And on it goes. The spiralling down to a shell of unattractive flabby womanhood, in our minds, long before our bodies take the dip. And you wonder why we don’t ‘make an effort’. Why we don’t put on something ‘feminine’. Well that’s why. Because what’s the point? We lost our understanding of it somewhere around the time it stopped being fun and we began to look in the mirror and see a painted monstrosity where a romantic heroine was supposed to be.

Apart from that, it was really good. The weather was perfect. I just wish that heat didn’t go with stripping off.

Day 24

I managed to perform some first thing in the morning, wake-up, while still in bed Yoga type stretches. For the first several moments I fell back to sleep between stretches but, for the first time in months, I was conscious by the time husband had had his shower.

Now I’m sitting at my computer in the kitchen, looking forward, with as much excitement as one who is not gifted in the morning can muster, to the day when we collect my desk and I can move into my newly decorated office. My office is going to be amazing, the brightest, most contrary office in the world. With an antique pine desk and multi-coloured walls. You’re going to love it.

In other news, I eagerly anticipate the arrival of my alcohol free champagne and my weekend in a tipi. Such is the life of I.

Day 23

Today I am ordering dealcoholised champagne.

The thought of toasting my anniversary without a glass of champagne almost makes me want to cry. How crazy is that? It’s not the alcohol hit, as I’ve said before, it’s the shared moment, the symbolism of raising a glass in celebration. A moment that I won’t be able to be a part of.

I wonder why we’ve never come up with a better means of celebration than raising a glass of champagne? When it comes to celebrating a pregnancy, for instance, it’s almost a perversion. The expectant mother is unable to partake of a celebration that effects her most intimately. She is reduced to being no more than a vessel for the joy of others. It’s not that giving up alcohol is a hardship for an expectant mum, giving up personal pleasures for the benefit of a new life is important and a first step into the sacrifices that result from motherhood. It’s that she is not and cannot be involved in the moment of celebration, she is apart from it.

My anniversary is on Friday. I’ll let you know how it goes.

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.