I’ve dabbled in this before- through necessity- 3 pregnancies, Dry January, giving up for Lent but always with a focus on when it would be over and I could go back to drinking.
I’ve grown up with parents who drink, both socially and at home, alone and in company. An Irish Catholic background means drink is an integral and unquestioned part of your identity. A glass of wine to relax at the end of the week is well ingrained habit, but we’re not just talking Friday and Saturday night, but Thursday though to Sunday evening- that’s more than half the week. I’ve seen a family member struggle with alcoholism- it’s absolutely not a harmless drug.
I’m a social drinker and beyond two glasses there’s no off- switch. When I’m having fun I’ll carry on but as I’ve hit my 40s even one or two drinks lingers in my system and I’ve found myself using exercise as a way to sweat it out. Now all three children are in school our weekends are both full and precious. I want to be there and be present. I don’t need alcohol slowing me down.
I’d known for a while it was time for a change. I know I can build new habits- daily meditation and exercise are so embedded they’re second nature. Eighteen months ago I kicked the coffee habit and haven’t looked back.
This summer we got back from holiday and daily drinking and I stepped up my training for The Great North Run and that meant staying sober. The first challenge was my lovely school friend’s 40th- a lovely school friend who loves a drink and a party. Usually I’d have been right in there but this time, a week before the race I stood firm and ended up chatting to another runner who totally got it. This was closely followed by another 40th where there was drinking, dancing and all the antics. Again I stayed sober, danced, laughed and had just as much fun.
My husband and my birthdays both fall in November- which usually would involve dinner out and at least a bottle of wine. Instead this year we went to the spa, ate all the health food and honestly had the best time.
I’ve needed some support. I had to ask my husband to stop opening a bottle of wine and and offering me a glass in the hope I’ve changed my mind! My friends have been awesome and curious but have never tried to dissuade me or make me feel bad about not drinking. In fact the only peer pressure I’ve experienced was from my mother in law, horrified that I was turning down prosecco at 11am!
The language around drink is interesting. The label teetotal still feels like a stigma; the more American word sober somehow feels more comfortable. The market is changing and there are an increasing number of alcohol free alternative which make it easier. Yesterday I tried the most amazing passion fruit cocktail which I swear would not be any better for having alcohol added.
Many of the people I really respect don’t drink. These are the people who show up, full of energy and make an incredible impact. A friend who is a little further ahead than me said to me: If you have the willpower to do this, you have the will power to do anything.
Will I go back? I don’t know. I’m sleeping well, my skin is clear and I’m more focused. When I need to relax I can make a choice that’s not a glass of wine. I enjoy going out being able to drive and not mess around with taxis. I enjoy waking up at the weekend having had a good night, but without the hangover.
I can’t quite picture a future where I never have a drink but I’m also sure this is the start of a lasting change.
What about you? What changes do you have planned for 2020? Join our lovely Facebook community The Transformation Hub and let us know.