December, 2014…I decided to challenge myself by going a year without drinking alcohol. One might think, What inspired this? Why would you want to take a year off drinking? It’s one of the most popular ways that people connect, especially when it comes to dating. “Want to meet for a drink?”; “Let’s all go for a drink!”And when there’s someone in the group of people who isn’t drinking, it’s almost like you’re an outcast. People literally get uncomfortable if you’re not drinking. It’s funny because, these people can keep drinking. My not drinking should have zero effect on whether they choose to drink or not. However, as human beings, we like people that are like us, so if one person isn’t drinking and the other person is, then there seems to be a challenge there.
But, I digress…what inspired it? I rarely drink alcohol. Always socially and usually when going out. In December, 2014, my sister, my friend and I decided to go to a concert together. My sister put her credit card as a tab and away we went. What I found was, while I wasn’t interested in continuing to buy drinks, and I’d had enough and was feeling alright…I found it hard to refuse when someone else bought me a drink…especially when the other two people I was with were continuing to drink. Perhaps it’s being raised that you can’t refuse free things? I’m not sure. So, I kept drinking. Then had about 2 hours sleep. And had the absolute worst hangover whilst commuting 5 hours to see our dad. Pretty sure my sister was still drunk when she drove the truck to the ferry. I was definitely feeling gross on the ferry and then while driving on the other end. I’d say, that was the instigator. I thought, why at this point in my life, am I finding it hard to say NO?
My guidelines were this: no drinking alcoholic drinks. If I happen to have a dessert that had alcohol in it, then that’s fine. It was the alcoholic buzz that counted. No drinks…not even a sip of someone else’s drink. One dessert that I did have, and it was delicious, is a whiskey hazelnut ice cream that I love. Aside from that, I didn’t even have the Bailey’s chocolates that my mom offered me. For me, that was discipline!
Speaking of discipline, that was also a motivator to not drink for a year. I really do not have much discipline and generally when I want something, I get it. I was inspired by an acquaintance who told me about how he went a year without drinking. I wanted to be able to go out with a group of friends and be totally okay and have fun, even when I wasn’t drinking. Also, my family are very much social drinkers, so holidays were a challenge. They are also big into peer pressure: especially my sisters!!!!
After a year of not drinking, I felt so good about myself. I had committed to something and I upheld it. I upheld myself…even when I was in NYC with some friends and they introduced me to the delicious drink “carajillo” (the best I could do was smell it…I did a lot of sniffing people’s drinks that year! haha). Or when I would attend a wedding. Or go out to dinners. Or go on dates. So many times that it was tempting, but I upheld myself. The most memorable was New Years 2015. I drank lemon water all night and I woke up on January 1st, 2015 feeling spectacular!!! 🙂
At this point, I do drink alcohol again. In fact, last night I went to a music jam get-together that a new friend invited me to. I really enjoyed it! I had 2 glasses of wine over the course of about 4 hours. Then this morning, I woke up (after not having had much sleep either, granted) and I felt like I’d been hit by a train. Well, that’s dramatic. I didn’t feel well though. I had to work a 12 hour day with babies. All confined to the same small space. I felt better after I’d drank some more water, but Whoa. I was surprised.
The alcohol industry makes so, SO much money worldwide. It feels like it is deeply ingrained in so many countries in the world. And we are addicted. There is something so delicious about that buzz…that “taking the edge off”. In my current job, I even had a point where I bought a bottle of Baileys and I’d drink a bit of it before bed at night. It feels gooood. And then it doesn’t. Because I don’t want to be the type of person that looks to alcohol to feel better.
In my ideal world, I wish I were a person that didn’t drink. That is vegan. That takes care of myself consistently.
However, I am still attached to the feeling that I get from drinking. The social interactions and the “camaraderie”, however false it may be.
It’s something I’m still thinking about. Evaluating for myself why I drink and what would happen if I chose not to drink again? I think it’s so important to really evaluate these things? At this point, I may not even be changing it, but to be aware that I have this relationship with alcohol (or sugar…). There’s a certain vulnerability in not drinking. It feels like segregating myself from the herd. Perhaps in a good way?
It felt really good to not drink alcohol for a year. I wonder how good I’d feel if I didn’t eat refined sugar for a year?! Ooooh. I think I’d need to have a co-challenge with someone for that!
Cheers! 😉 xo