Every time I drink I wake up the next morning saying “That’s it; I’m never drinking again”.
I’m 27, soon to be 28. It’s getting embarrassing that I’ve repeated this proclamation for 10 years now and done nothing about it. I don’t drink often, but when I do drink I go for the “all or nothing” style: I either a) make my glass last the entire night, drinking water and eating more than consuming the alcohol, even forgetting it’s there, or b) drink everything in sight, party all night long and ruin the next 2 days in the process.
So what keeps me drinking?
1) I’ve never set a proper boundary; I say I know my limits and I’ll “just have one” but that’s not enough of a boundary for me, personally.
2) I don’t want to be left out. Sadly, it’s so much a part of our culture that to refuse a drink immediately puts you in the line of questioning or potentially being left out of invites/forgotten about socially, or just simply looked on with suspicion… (I know plenty of people are able to handle this with utmost grace and style, which I find very refreshing… These people are my inspiration!)
Recently I attended a party that was extremely boozy; I wanted to get to know everyone there and I was already worried about being the odd one out and having to answer all the vegan questions; so I nervously sipped on my wine throughout, quite pleased with the way I was answering – the evening was going well. So well that I carried on to the 2-4-1 after-dinner cocktails, and was among the last few standing at the pub for a few more pint-sized rounds after that… You see, I hadn’t intended on drinking at all (I swear!) however I was presented with a cocktail aperitif before the food which I couldn’t resist, and during the meal my glass was constantly topped up by the waiters, and as we all got merrier and merrier, the drinks seemed to keep flowing from every direction, with the typical bonding ritual of clinking our glasses and proclaiming “cheers”! to every new thought that came our way. I couldn’t help but get sucked in… I felt part of the group, and it’s been a long time since I’ve felt that way.
I’m lucky that I don’t get sick, but my hangovers are depressing. They last the whole day, if not two days later – I get this weird anxious/paranoid vibe that I can’t shake, and everything looks gloomy and a bit evil…
Knowing this would happen, how did I get from “I’ll just be sober for this one” to “Okay, I’ll just have ONE” to “Okay, I’ll join in with wine, but I’ll keep it moderate…” ? (Oh moderation how you confuse me so when I’ve already had a glass.)
I don’t know about you, but I find it really hard to say no when a drink is handed to me and I’m thrust into a “cheers!” situation. It seems like a personal insult to the person who bought me a drink, on the other hand, it’s a big deal for me to take that drink – I know with deep certainty I’m going to feel like I want to curl up and die afterwards… is it worth it? How did I get here?
Alcohol is a sensitive subject. People are touchy about it; it’s the easy ice-breaker, it’s socially accepted and encouraged to drink, however it’s also a subtle and insidious drug that has damaged far more than it has healed.
I’m always sceptical about things which are blindly accepted as “normal”.
How did we get to the stage where Friday night was culturally accepted as being a time for getting blind drunk and peeing all over the place? We look at the weeing willies in the street and shrug, “oh well, Friday night!” as we hop-scotch across their never-ending rivers of pee, acting nonchalant. This is “normal” in London – if you don’t believe me, just stroll around the West End at 11.30pm – though you might want to bring your waterproofs…
Who or what is this alcohol consumption serving?
What part of us does alcohol bring out?
My answer used to be that it made me feel a bit more free. A little more spontaneous, maybe a bit more fun. Now I realise that this comes from a place of insecurity. Alcohol may artificially loosen me up by lowering my inhibitions, but it’s not worth it. By masking my insecurity with alcohol, I never get to see it for what it really is, so I never have to deal with it.
Years ago, I found myself sober on a big party night out – I don’t know how it happened, maybe I was on medication, or maybe I just wanted to try it after having had a few too many boozy nights. I drank free tap water to my hearts content, danced all night long, was the last person to leave, had a great night’s sleep and woke up the next day feeling refreshed and kind of like I’d just had a healthy dose of exercise! It was the equivalent of a zumba class – although everyone around me was wasted – and it only cost me the £5 entry to the club!
I remembered that forever.
Chatting to a dear friend of mine, we both agreed that these sober nights out were our best ever! We agreed to make it a regular thing. We arranged a get together, got dressed up and headed off for our night of sober dancing. When we got to the club, we headed instinctively to the bar, perhaps a bit too shy to start dancing right away… It was awkward. We nodded our heads to the music, drank our sugary fruit cocktails, and surveyed the area. Everyone seemed wasted already, and everyone was in little private circles, dancing around their handbags. It was intimidating. We awkwardly shimmied over to the dance floor and did our best job at letting loose, but it just felt forced. After some time (and a short interval where we let our inner geeks roam around the venue assessing the lighting situation…) we got there. We even made it up onto the podiums, and there we shimmied and moshed and high-kicked to our hearts desires! We walked home under the late night sky in fits of laughter, bubbling with energy, into a deep and restful slumber, and up early enough to enjoy the morning and the rest of the day.
I knew I wanted all my nights out to be this way.
I knew it was in line with everything I was learning from Yoga about the peace and freedom that is to be found in mental clarity, in stillness, in becoming more and more aligned with our most natural, healthy, harmonious instincts.
I had to reflect on the truth of the situation.
Here’s what I wrote one horribly hungover day:
Alcohol, I am breaking up with you because:
a) I become who I hang out with, and I don’t want to hang out in drunken crowds because it bores me to death.
b) I don’t have the money to throw away on you; I’d rather spend it on a nice meal, or put it towards a holiday.
c) You take away my freedom: by the pretense that you’re opening me up to freedom. That’s manipulative. When I drink, I’m not choosing from a place of integrity, instead I start to follow the crowd, or else behave in a selfish way.
d) This is a relationship I simply don’t want to be in anymore.
As part of my NY’s resolution to do everything with love, as part of my ongoing journey to living beyond the mat, I’m breaking up with you.
So… I broke up with Facebook, animal products, coffee, and now alcohol. As you can see I am teetering on the edge of the social suicide cliff…
Or am I?
If you’ve gone sober, how did you do it, and how are you getting on?
I’ll be interested to see how this one plays out. Giving up animal products has made me look and feel so much better, often people are more supportive than they are negative, which is incredibly encouraging.
Giving up coffee raised a few eyebrows, but it’s so easy to have a decaf where nothing else is available, and people are more often than not equally as supportive.
I wonder how being sober will affect my relationships.
Honestly; I’m a little scared…
It wasn’t a healthy relationship to be in, but I’m nervous about what being without it will bring.