An Alcohol Free Christmas

I am very overdue an accountability post.  In my head I have been keeping up this blog, but in reality I haven’t.  But the good news is that I am still Alcohol Free and its been a great few months.  I have gone to weddings, parties, and holidays (admittedly with my teenager so probably easy enough to avoid the booze there), and I have never had really strong urges to drink.  Even when I got stranded in Liverpool during Storm Ophelia, and was feeling really stressed, it didn’t really cross my mind to “drown my troubles.”

The biggest challenge I faced so far, was when we had some friends over who had recently got married, and my husband opened a bottle of champagne to celebrate with them.  I have always loved champagne so this was a test.   It was hard to raise my glass of sparkling water in a toast, but I did it, and I was so glad I didn’t give in afterwards.

I was nervous about Christmas Day because the bottle or champagne or prosecco would always have been part of my tradition on Christmas Morning.  So I did the safe thing and bought AF Sparkling.

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Alcohol Free Sparkling. Bit disappointing!

The bottle looked kinda the same as the real thing, the pop of the cork was fantastic but the beverage itself was disappointing….. it is just carbonated grape juice, which I would have known, if I had read the ingredient list!  However it served its purpose, looked nice in a champagne glass and got me over the bump.

The rest of the day went off without a hitch.  I drank lots of sparkling water with elderflower cordial (this Bottle Green one is good) and I really didn’t miss wine at all.  In fact after a long dinner, I didn’t feel bloated and sleepy as I normally would, and I have to believe that is because I was sober.

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bottle green cordial

Looking forward I am feeling stronger about this decision, and I know I will carry it through for at least 12 months.  I am almost afraid to say it out loud, but right now I think I might continue to do this forever.

One thing I am really grateful for is that my friends and family largely respect my decision, and don’t make a big deal of it.  This definitely makes it easier for me to continue.  People are interested and some want a story or reason for my decision, but most accept that it is a positive thing not a negative one.

 

30 days… I am not an addict

Yesterday I read an article on One Year no Beer, that said if you can’t give up alcohol for 30 days, then you are addicted.  I never really thought I was an addict, but I am pleased to have that confirmed for me.

Read the article here: http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/ruari-fairbairns/stop-drinking-addiction_b_9110896.html

The funny thing is I grew up in a family of non-drinkers.  Neither of my parents ever drank alcohol, one sister and one brother never did either.  I didn’t drink until I was almost 18, which by today’s standards in Ireland is old.  I am a bit long in the tooth now, to still be resisting the idea that my parents knew best, because it turns out that maybe they did…..don’t they usually?

So after 30 days, I haven’t had any physical difficulties with the exception of one evening when I took a delicious home made goat’s cheese pizza out of the oven, and it smelled so good, that I desperately wanted a glass of Malbec to drink with it.  But I just thought…..No I do not want that, I only THINK I want that. So I replaced the image of the big glass of wine in my head with a nice refreshing sparkling water with ice, mint and lemon and I was Ok again.  I was enormously pleased with myself; It is hard to beat the smug bastard feeling that goes with this new way of life.

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I have told some friends what I am doing, and I have had a range of reactions, from “I want to do that” to “I would throw myself off the pier if I couldn’t drink again”  I’m not trying to make a statement or tell anyone else what to do, but some people do seem to take it personally.  There are some friends who I haven’t told yet, and I am not really looking forward to it, but I feel the best way for me is little steps, just one day at a time.

When I look forward to the next few months, I see a wedding, a Ball, a weekend away with my hill walking buddies, and lots of Christmas nights out alchohol free to work through.  I don’t know what I am more focused on: the lack of booze, other people’s reactions to my not drinking, or putting in long nights looking at other people getting drunk.  However, I am feeling strong and hopeful that I can keep going.  I am doing lots more walking and even took out the bike a few times, which is always something I resisted.  I am waking up earlier, feeling less tired and reading more too, so its all good.

Hold the Gin, I don’t want it.

 

 

 

21 days, and counting

21 days and it has been easier that I have found it in the past.  I think this is down to my new mindset which I must credit to the “One Year no Beer” lads (More on this later).  My new mindset is that I am not denying myself something but that I am offering myself a better way.

Any previous attempts that I made at “giving up drink for Lent”, or “dry January” wouldn’t last a week, because I would be so focused on when I could have a drink again. I don’t even mean a huge binge, but that one glass of wine with dinner, but the one glass of wine means there 3 or 4 more glasses in the bottle, and then it would be a waste to throw it out etc etc.

I am admitting now what I always knew; but didn’t want to, that Alcohol is not the magic ingredient is making a great night or a great life, but it is a very profitable substance that I have been brainwashed into thinking I needed and loved.

I am hoping I can keep this PMA but I am finding a lot of great resources on the internet to keep me on track.  Some of them are not necessarily alcohol related but just motivators for being a better version of me.

 

https://www.oneyearnobeer.com/  I really like this approach; 2 really positive upbeat guys that make an alcohol free life sound so attractive and beneficial, that you wonder why in hell would anyone drink alcohol….. it’s only taken me 30 years to ask that?

http://www.alustforlife.com/  This is really more of a mental health resource but also pushed forward the idea that being Alcohol free will give us better mental health.

https://nowineimfine.wordpress.com/  I love this blog.  Although we are living on opposite sides of the globe, I feel our experiences are similar.  Anyone giving up the drink, and wanting some support, should read this blog.

The other thing that is working for me is that I am actively practicing gratitude and taking more time to appreciate what I have in life.  This pic is from my beautiful beach walk yesterday.

 

I’m not drinking anymore.

Why is that so hard to say?  Over the past few months I have playing with the decision to stop drinking completely.  Just over two weeks ago, I made the decision to just stop.  I have set myself a challenge of not drinking any alcohol for one year.    Do I drink too much?  Do I drink too often?  I don’t know; but I do know that I no longer enjoy it.  I hate waking up after a night out feeling groggy, tired, hungry and just wondering did I say or do something offensive or embarrassing?

For the past while I have been cutting back, trying events and social situations sans alcohol and it made me realise that I can do it, and feel better for it in the morning.

The advantages so far:

  • Taking the car: no worries about wearing heels, or getting caught in the rain, and I go home when I want
  • Feeling fresher (and slightly virtuous) in the morning after a night out.

Things I need to work on:

  • Its really hard when somebody sees me as their drinking buddy, and I feel like I am letting them down. (I know that makes no logical sense, but it is how I feel).
  • Finding alternative drinks for nights out.  No point in cutting out alcohol and replacing it with sugar, so I need some healthy tasty alternatives.