As part of my 30 things to do whilst turning 30, I decided to not drink for a month. Naturally I chose February, shortest month but also the least going on. With the hype of Christmas, New Years and Australia Day behind me and my body pleading me to give it a rest from over indulging, I launched into sobriety. Now I am writing this from the perspective of a month back on the booze and my it makes me realise how much alcohol can change a situation. It can take you to dizzying heights and leave you curled up in a ball of anxiety filled with self hate and regret. It can be responsible for some of the best nights, days, experiences of your life and at the same time be responsible for some of the worst. This is my experience with alcohol any way.
I sometimes fear that I rely on alcohol to much, that I use it as a crotch and I was honestly terrified that I would not be able to go a month with out a drink. I was terrified that no one would want to talk to me when I was sober. That I would have nothing interesting to say, turns out I was wrong. I could still go out and function around people, I can’t guarantee I had anything interesting to say but that is the case when I am drinking any way. I won’t lie it is much harder to want to be near those who had been drinking a lot. Things just didn’t seem as funny as everyone else thought they were and I got tired a lot quicker than usual (this could also be old age) and I noticed people really do shout a lot when a they are a few drinks in.
I was grateful in the morning for not having drunk, as being tired it a lot easier to deal with than that feeling that your insides are just a little grimy and that your cells are begging you for water. Not to mention the booze blues which I can be plagued with, even if I only had one or two drinks. Not to mention you can get up and function, get things done instead of laying in bed watching endless hours of mindless TV.
The first few days where difficult. I was so concerned I was going to fail. Work was so stressful and my usual release for stress was a glass of wine. Though more often than not that was turning into a bottle of wine, by myself. I had and still am a master at rationalising my own behaviour and actions to suite what ever situation I need them to. All of us are, it’s a human condition. If we can justify it to ourselves, then it must be fine, right? I knew this was not good and solution for stress but I felt trapped by it. I made it through though, sobriety in tack and I was beginning to feel better. I looked in the mirror and my skin didn’t seem grey, there where fewer lines and I was starting to look slimmer and I had a positive outlook on everything.
I am not sure how much weight I ended up losing over the course of the month as I am currently refusing to weigh myself but I felt good, I still do. It’s spoken about how many calories alcohol has but I always thought ‘meh, it doesn’t affect me’. Not surprisingly I was wrong, it did, those calories counted and when your facing 30 weight loss just isn’t as easy as it once was. So by the end of week two I felt giddy with energy and had stopped craving that glass of wine. Stopped being worried what people thought of me for not drinking and I had actually started to become worried about having to drink again.
I know this sounds stupid but I was worried that if I started again it would be a slippery slope to rock bottom. I would be found wandering the streets with a bottle of whisky (which I don’t even drink) having sold or my belongs for that sweet, sweet liquor… Now if you haven’t noticed already I have a flare for the dramatic which is part and parcel as to why I think my booze blues are so crippling bad and the month with out alcohol made me realise this was the case. It wasn’t until 3 weeks after I started drinking again that I truly realised this. I had not had to many drinks the night before but enough for me to know that I didn’t like being that level of drunk any more. The next day all I wanted to do was cry and curl in a ball and hide myself away from the world. I felt shame and regret and I was lonely, bone achingly lonely. A heaviness had descended on my chest and heart as if I would never feel joy again or know love. I was consumed by this and all I could think about was getting on a plane and flying home to Melbourne. As if being in Melbourne would make it all ok, as if this loneliness would somehow not be here if I was in Melbourne. It would be, this was and is the cycle that alcohol traps me in. I just hadn’t wanted to admit it to myself.
My month of sobriety ended on a trip to Prague with a dear old friend. Where it only took two glasses of champagne to get me giggling like a school girl and I must say it was an experience. I have defiantly cut back since that month. I try to only drink on weekends and I not to over indulge. Sometimes it won’t go to plan but most of the time I am content with only a few drinks. Though this is mostly driven by vanity. I forgot how good it was to lose a few kilos and if not drinking as much means I will look better in my jeans and a new dress then so be it. I have another European summer coming my way. However this doesn’t mean I will be putting down the glass forever; As what is life without a plate of cheese and big glass of full bodied red wine; or an ice cold beer on a hot summers afternoon; or sharing a cider and a bowl of chips with your closest mates at your local pub; or finally the perfect Gin and Tonic on hand cut ice. It’s all about knowing your limits and now I can tick one thing off my list of thirty things to do whilst turning Thirty.