Orange & Lemonade

Yesterday lunch time I went out with Gaz’s team from work for an unexpected light lunch. It’s the kind of situation where I’d usually indulge in a “cheeky” glass of wine or a cocktail (or two) because a) unexpected social interaction mid-PMDD-monster-times and b) who doesn’t love to break up the day with alcohol?

Except I ordered orange juice & lemonade. It was lovely: a little tart; cool and refreshing.

If you follow me on instagram, you’ll know that I decided to stop drinking last week. No more attempting moderation, no more weeknight wine, and definitely no more binging on 12 or more double shots of vodka on a Friday night. No booze, none, nada. It’s been a long time coming.

After a couple of years of trying to bring my intake under control and ultimately failing — because “I needed a drink”, “just one more”, “I’m under a lot of stress” — I realised that the only way for me to control it was to not drink at all. Not only that, but to never drink again.

Alcohol is quite literally a poison that I have voluntarily taken into my system time and time again, to the detriment of both my physical and mental health, and yet I hold on to it like a crutch… a lifeboat for the days I feel like I’m drowning. For what purpose or benefit? None that I can think of.

When trying to moderate, there’s always that choice: do I have one? Can I risk two? Is today a drinking day or not a drinking day? If I have one glass today does that mean one less at the weekend? What is a moderate amount of alcohol anyway? If it takes me a bottle of wine to get drunk where some people might need a glass, does that justify drinking a whole bottle? What about two?

And that generally leads to eating a little less at lunch to ‘save up’ calories for the drink later, skipping a meal altogether because you know it’s going to be a heavy night, and before you know where you are you’ve consumed more calories as liquid than food. Add that to waking in the morning having forgotten chunks of an evening, general brain fog that is a perma-hangover, disrupted sleep, weird twitches and persistent dehydration… it’s not exactly a boatload of fun I’m opting out of.

If I were the sort of person who could have a glass of wine and then stop, this wouldn’t even be an issue. But I’m not and never have been. I am not an “in moderation” person when it comes to anything in life. Give me all or nothing!

I still dominate the dance floor when I’m out (I can’t dance but that doesn’t stop me). The conversation, jokes and “banter” still flow easily. I still act like a prat, make loud/rude jokes and generally behave inappropriately: because I have never needed alcohol to do that.

The questions — because when you go from notorious pisshead to completely sober there will always be questions — are easily answered honestly: I am concerned with my drinking and have decided to stop. No, I am not pregnant. No, I don’t need you to stop drinking in front of me. Yes, I can be designated driver.

And so back to lunch… around the table, some order diet cokes, some order white wine, and now it’s my turn to choose. Except I don’t drink now, so there is no choice, no anxiety over what I should do. No rationalising what I should consume, when or how. No justifying excess consumption. I just don’t drink.

Orange & lemonade, please.

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6 comments so far

  1. Chantelle said:
    On March 23, 2017 at 2:56 pm

    I hope this isn’t too difficult for you and I hope those around you respect your choice. Regardless, I know you can do it, but good luck anyway.

    Reply
    • Jem said:
      On March 23, 2017 at 3:02 pm

      Thanks Chantelle :)

      Previously when I’ve attempted to give up I’ve done it with the goal of “for X months” or “until I feel ready” and so I’ve constantly questioned when I “should” drink again and ended up caving in early.

      Because this time I’ve decided that’s it for good I’ve not even given it a second thought. I’m finding it super easy, having no cravings and don’t miss it. I think my stubbornness is working in my favour here :)

      Reply
  2. Tracey said:
    On March 23, 2017 at 10:49 pm

    This is an extremely courageous and brave decision. All of what you’re saying resonates with me, and I previously took a year off to drink because I was asking myself the same things and needed to evaluate my relationship with alcohol.

    I’ve always been an onlooker in your life, but I’m cheering for you especially as you navigate through this choice. Sometimes others don’t realise that this isn’t just a choice you make once, but one that you make every single time you are presented with the opportunity to drink. I wish you strength to make this choice over and over again, and all my best :)

    Reply
    • Jem said:
      On March 24, 2017 at 10:07 am

      Thanks Tracey – appreciate the support :) And you are totally right, it’s something that is going to crop up time and time again. I recognise that it’s easy now because of the novelty of making a new decision but it might be that in X weeks or X months time when I start to forget why I made this choice in the first place I may struggle. Hopefully the benefits of not drinking – and my continuing stubborness – will keep me strong then :)

      Reply
  3. Rachael said:
    On March 24, 2017 at 12:54 pm

    I’ve always found it easy to not drink, because I don’t like a taste of a lot of alcohol. Occasionally I’ll have a tequila and orange, or a mojito, but that’s about it. I can sympathise with people who might not find it that easy.

    So, good for you! I hope it goes well for you. :-)

    Reply
    • Jem said:
      On March 28, 2017 at 11:50 am

      I don’t think many people like the taste of alcohol – they like the taste of alcohol “and something”. So what they really like is the sugar in the mixer, or the combination of whatever additions make up the flavour of the thing they’re drinking.

      I know I trained myself to drink vodka neat, so I can train myself to prefer water instead. So far so good…. :)

      Reply

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