I don’t know about you but since I was I say 16.. (give or take a few years) whenever there has been a birthday or a wedding or a celebration of any kind the day is just is not the same without having alcohol involved..without having it planned into the day or night. For example; Birthdays have always been to me a reason to go out, have a drink and normally get the birthday boy or girl (excuse the language} completely and utter shit faced.
Wetting of babies head – the same. Hen do – the same. Night or day out without kids in tow – the same. To me it has always been the drink that has made the celebration. I could not imagine having a day or night out with my friends and not factoring in the drinking part.
Even Christmases, I can only remember one of my adult Christmas days where I didn’t have quite a bit too drink (OK to much to drink) and that was when my lilbit was born, she was only four weeks old and I was poorly and she was poorly and I was still trying to breastfeed so I had a couple drinks and slept most of the time. But of course I made up for that on the new years eve that year, it was my first night out since out since baby was born and I promptly drank around two bottles of wine and fell asleep before new years even came along and then I believe I woke up and made no sense to anyone for the rest of the evening.
The reason I bring this up is because over last weekend it was my partners birthday and we had a whole day out to ourselves (childless!!!) on Sunday. It was alien to me that we could go out and enjoy the day without drinking, without him getting drunk to celebrate turning a year older and me helping him with this. We went to the cinema and attended a food festival. I have to admit I struggled, a lot! The sun was shining, people were everywhere looking glam and to me everyone looked like they were ready to go have a drink (Sure that was all in my head but that is how it felt). As we walked closer to the waterfront area, more bars came into view, more people sat around enjoying pints and bottles of wine and cocktails looking like they were having the time of their lives. I could barely look at them. I get this thought you see..”Well if they can, why cant i?”. I made a few quibbles to my other half about this but I made it through to the food festival without having a major tantrum.
The first stop for us was a marquee set up as a little bar where we could sample crisps. I asked what drinks they served to which the lovely lady passing out the crisps advised me ‘its all free you can just sit down and a someone will bring you a free glass of wine and some crisps”. Oh I see, “do you serve anything else I asked”? “Well you can have water but really its about the experience of relaxing with a glass of wine and enjoying our gourmet crisps” she replied. We sat down, were again offered wine which was turned down and enjoyed the crisps until one more gentleman came over and asked us if we wanted a glass of wine and take part in a demo about the crisps and that was about enough for me.. Pretty sure I said something along the lines of “love if someone offers me a glass of wine again I am going to proper lose it”‘ (I am a Bristolian so proper is normal English to me)..so we made our move away from that stand pretty quickly to see what else we could find.
There was A LOT of free alcohol being offered and not much in the way of an alternative to us ‘non drinkers’ but I did find a juice bar where I could buy a drink which tasted a little like Pimms and looked quite a little like Pimms and that reduced my craving to be “like everyone else” around me drinking their cider and beer and wine and cocktails..
The birthday day went well without the drink, it was hard but I got through it and the bonuses are that I remember the whole day and I got up on Monday morning without any hangover depression ready for the week ahead.
I do have another celebration coming up…. a wedding next week and part of me is worried how I will cope with all of the familiar faces around me, all of whom I have regularly drank with and to be honest with whom I associate drinking and getting drunk. Don’t get me wrong I have been around my friends and not drank before but it is hard when everyone else around you is drinking and you are not. This is something I will just have to deal with on each occasion. I suppose another reason I am more worried about the wedding is because I have hit the month target and I don’t want to start thinking that this is enough, that one month has sorted me out, because I know, for a fact that it has not.
Going back to the lack of alternative drinks to try at the food festival, I am still sampling non alcoholic drinks at home and have come across some 0% wines recently online. The reaction to me trying these goes both ways when I tell people, some think it is not a good idea but I see these drinks as a way to stop my craving for that “glass of wine”. If I start to feel like I would need a glass of wine I pour myself one of the 0% ones. So far it works… (for me I might add) some of them taste just like wine but without the buzz and others have an altogether different taste but they are OK, I like them. I try each one with an open mind remembering they are not wine, that they wont have the alcohol taste or give me the same alcohol induced feeling when I drink them. I honestly thought that not having the alcohol would be a problem, but I find just having a glass or two of these makes me feel settled, gives me the feeling that I am having ‘grown up’ time without all the rubbish that comes with it like falling asleep on the sofa or having a heavy head in the morning. For me, at the moment, its a win win.
I thought it through and planned the start of 365 days of sober, I couldn’t just rush in and decide one day I was not drinking it would not have worked for me, a lot of thought went into it and a date was set to start. Having a clearer head daily is helping me see what I could get out of life and that the other ideas I have could actually become something if I work hard at it. This gives me hope that I can change my life more than I was expecting in this year and if my ideas do not work out at least I am learning new things and giving things a go instead of putting it all off for someone else to try.
Being sober for just one month has given me a new found confidence in myself and helped me see that you cant expect everything to be different overnight, you have to take small steps and work hard to get the change you are looking for and to reach the goals you have set yourself.