My experience of a year booze-free.

MORNING!!! (In loud cheery voice at 6am when I’m writing this). 

And why am I up so early and so chirpy on a Saturday morning in December? Well there are a few reasons (including peri-menopausal early wakening, the radiator making that annoying loud banging noise when it starts up, needed a wee etc) but a big one is the fact that I accidentally gave up alcohol this year. Or rather that’s the reason that I have lots of energy and feel full of beans, DESPITE waking up early on a Saturday morning. I haven’t written about it for a while so thought I’d do a little update for those interested. 

So a year off the booze – well nearly a year as my last drink was New Year’s Eve, but I’ve got no intention of drinking so I imagine it will be a year, and beyond. One of the books I read was ‘The Unexpected Joy of Being Sober’, by Katherine Gray, and actually that sums it up very well. It was entirely unexpected and it really is a joy. I would have said I was a very happy drinker. A very heavy drinker in my 20s and 30s, my drinking had decreased in my 40s and was down to generally only 2-3 days a week and not too many completely overdoing it occasions. All in all, an in-control, social, happy drinker. Really no reason to give up on the face of it and this time last year I had no intention of doing so. 

But what I am now is a social, happy non-drinker. It’s quite funny when I meet another ‘ex-drinker’ .. we can’t help but rave about how fabulous it is. And a year ago I never imagined for one moment that I would be writing that. There are just two downsides to being a non-drinker:

1. You can end up talking about it a lot because people are naturally fascinated and curious … as I would once have been as well. After all it’s still very unusual and hence we (including the Husband who has also given up this year) are an oddity. Don’t get me wrong, I’m quite happy talking about it but during the Christmas party season I seem to be ending up talking about it more, due to people asking, and it can get a bit repetitive. Throw into the pot being Vegan, which people are also curious about, and you can imagine how many of my conversations go. Once you’re introduced as, or known as, the ‘Non-drinking, Vegan’ it’s quite a label to get passed. Not that anyone else ever gets introduced as a ‘Boozy, Meat-fiend’!

2. The drinks selection in pubs is pretty dire. At home, or taking our own to parties, no problem at all with some of our favourites in the photo. I quite like sparkling non-alcohol wines for a party. I’m very happy on non-alcoholic beer (but the ones pubs sell are the worst of the bunch). And my new non-alcoholic ‘Gin’ from Lidl is delicious but if pubs do sell an equivalent ‘Gin’ it’s always very over-priced and they give you a stingey measure. I do quite like a Peppermint tea though, with a Biscotti on the side if you’re really lucky!

And that is it. I actually can’t think of any others. 

I still totally enjoy a night out even if everyone else is drinking. Because I don’t want to drink, thanks to the subconscious brain-reprogramming, there is no sense of missing out, or needing willpower, and drunk people are quite funny until they all start yawning and falling asleep. 

And it is absolutely marvellous always waking up hangover-free. It is also marvellous never having to worry about ‘2 big nights out in a row’ or ‘I won’t be up for that in the morning because we’ve got a big night’. We just know that we’ll be totally fine and can do whatever we want the next day. 

We never have to get taxis or discuss/argue about who is going to drive and can offer lifts to others. We can take a car on a pub crawl for a speedy homecoming. 

We can feel ‘drunk’ at the end of an evening with the same buzzy feeling, fuelled by good conversations (once we’ve moved on from the whole Sober/Vegan thing), and laughter. 

The kids prefer us not drinking – let’s face it none of us are at our best when hungover! 

There is no sense of being knackered because it’s December party season as it’s a lot easier to recover from a late night, when you haven’t been drinking, as typically your body chucks in the same amount of deep sleep when not disrupted by booze. (A caveat to this though is when a night out leaves me too ‘buzzy’ to get to sleep as someone who loves people this can happen easily for me). 

We are less likely to overdo the late night nibbles when not drinking and hence save a lot of calories. 

It is perfectly acceptable to have a large ‘Gin’ and Tonic when on your own in the middle of the day. It still feels amusingly naughty though. I had a right bender the other day .. 2 G&Ts followed by a beer. Crazy. 

And so the list goes on. 

The old social programming has been replaced. Instead of:

‘I’ve had a stressful day, I need a drink’ >> ‘I’ve had a stressful day, I’m glad that’s over, I’ll chill out now’ 

‘I’ve got to host a dinner party I need a drink to relax me / get me in the party spirit’ >> ‘I’ll pour a nice alcohol-free beer in a posh glass’ 

‘Yay, something great happened, let’s open the champagne’ >> ‘Yay, something great happened, let’s share a bottle of sparkling A/F wine with the kids too’ etc etc. 

There used to be a real sense of relief for me when December was over and I could start my January detox. This year I haven’t really got anything to detox from .. well I have been gorging on the Vegan mince pies, crisps & Twiglets a bit, but that’s about it. 

So there you have it, my end of the sober year update, written at 6am on a Saturday morning in December .. because I can. Please like / comment / share to spread the word as there may be someone out there who could benefit from this today. Thank you, Sue X. PS Previous blog in the comments if you’re wondering how this all started.

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