Thursday, June 30, 2016

Six Months Alcohol Free

Just before Christmas 2015 I bought a bottle of Baileys. It had been such a long time since I'd had it, normally opting for whichever wine was on special (oh, $5 cleanskins, thankyouverymuch) as I was less concerned about matching alcohol to food as I was to mood. Rough week? Wine. Shit of a week? Bourbon.

So I grabbed this bottle of Baileys and had myself a glass of the stuff on ice. Oh it was good. So I had another and I forced myself to watch as the creamy liquid swirled between the iceblocks and coated them, rather than just gulping it down. It's so hard to go slow when it tastes like a heaven flavoured milkshake. 

It took a week for me to finish the bottle. Now, there are only 9.4 standard drinks in a bottle of Baileys (compared to a bottle of bourbon which has around 20) so it wasn't like I'd been binge drinking every night, but the idea of having finished a bottle of spirits to myself in a week really put me off.

I'd been feeling a little low in recent times (a huge event in November was the very start of what became my downhill freefall earlier this year) and the combination of feeling down and finishing a bottle of Baileys sent alarm bells going off in my head. 

There are a few alcoholics in my family. And a few who aren't technically alcoholic but drink more than is healthy. 

I looked at the empty bottle and wondered if this was where it all started? Would feeling a little down and having a few festive drinks turn in to feeling down and having a few New Years drinks? Then continue on to be feeling a little down and having a few too many drinking for drinking sake drinks?

I didn't want that to be me. 

So on the 30th of December I decided to set a personal goal of twelve months alcohol free. Starting immediately.  

I can't tell you why I chose twelve months, it just seemed like a good number at the time and I sure as hell can't explain why I decided two days before New Years would be a good time, having to test my resolve straight off the bat.

Today marks six months and I've not had a drop of alcohol in that time. I know, I'm just as shocked as you are.

I've still been to parties and pubs, but I've stuck to water or diet cola. I tell ya, you don't realise how much drinking is a part of our culture until you're the only one (or one of only a few) not drinking. I have a new appreciation of people who choose not to drink and a helluva lot of respect for recovering alcoholics surrounded by their demons seemingly wherever they go.

Most people are surprised to hear I'm doing it. Even though I was never a massive drinker, I was partial to a few glasses of wine once a week, especially if there was cheese and crackers on offer too. And let's not forget that on a rare night out with friends sans kids I would be very economical with my drinking - a glass is $7.60? Buy the bottle for $20, it's better value! Shall we split another one? Why not, we never go out! 

It hasn't actually been that hard and I honestly can't say I miss it all that much. I do miss the sense of relaxation though, and have had to find new ways to unwind. Unfortunately my go to anti anxiety tool right now is to eat my worries away, so hello muffin top and hello #glowgetsFAT. But my weight is not a priority right now, my mental state is.

I don't think I'm particularly healthier for having done this for six months, particularly given the whole eating my feelings thing (FYI they taste like chocolate), and I don't predict to be a beacon of health at the end of twelve months, but I feel great that I've stuck to something for half a year. I feel even better for sticking to it during what has probably been the most challenging few months of my life, complete with nervous breakdown

So I've succeeded for six months, let's see if I can go another six months. 

Have you given up anything? How long did you last? What did you do instead?

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