Three weekends in and I’ve still not hit the wall. I’m still enjoying not drinking, and while last weekend had some wobbles there were few this weekend.
The closest I came to a wobble this week was on the countdown to 5pm at work, with a colleague’s leaving drinks and a wedding reception to attend. As the weekend drew nearer I started to feel like there is slightly less joy to that weekend countdown when there’s no glass of wine on the other side of 5 o’clock. It did make me wonder why I have such a strong association with the end of the working week and a booze drink. I think this is pretty typical of our culture; we see that glass of wine/beer/G&T etc as a reward, as a gift to ourself for our hard work. I love my job but it can be stressful at times and my office environment is full of people doing REALLY stressful jobs and there is definitely a link between having that rewarding drink and unwinding and letting all the crap of the week go so you can enjoy the weekend. Some of the drunkest nights I’ve had have been Friday after work drinks with colleagues. I suspect as the year goes on and this gets harder (and I am sure it will, once the novelty wears off) I am going to have to ensure that I make plans for Friday nights or Saturday morning so that I have something to look forward to that isn’t alcoholic.
The wedding reception was tricky at first – it was a low key affair being held in a craft beer pub in Hackney (there are many many craft beer pubs in Hackney. If you throw a brick in Hackney and don’t hit a craft beer pub or a microbrewery it’s probably because the brick hit a hipster first.) We arrived before the wedding party and I felt a little awkward holding my lime and soda surrounded by many drunk trendy people, students and Craft Beards (which is what I call people REALLY into Craft Beer). This was the first time I’ve found it hard to get into the party mood while sober – I couldn’t quite get comfortable, or find my way into conversations. This was exactly what I’ve always been worried out – that I am a boring person, bereft of charm and conversational skills. Being drunk has always been like having layer of liquid confidence – a sparkling armour that makes you hilarious and fun; and if you’re NOT hilarious and fun then at least everyone else is drunk, and you can always say later ‘god, how embarrassing, I was SOOO drunk.” This moment was always going to come, and I suspect there will be more, so it was good to get the first one over and done with. This is also exactly why I need to do this. I can’t go through life drinking just so I feel interesting. I need to learn to be interesting without being drunk. Or perhaps get up enough self esteem to believe I already am.
On Saturday I had a good hair day. These don’t happen often. I insisted that Mr RockstarDinosarPirate and I go out, because I couldn’t waste a good hair day on a quiet night in. As it turned out this good hair day coincided with a flying visit from Mr RockstarDinosarPirate ‘s beer blogging friend’s Dad Mr F, over from Colorado which is even more Craft Beer obsessed than Hackney. Mr F loves his booze. Mr RockstarDinosarPirate and I were in Colorado for his birthday earlier this year and Mr F has more drinking stamina than people a third of his age and can be very insistent that you join in. How many of your friends’ Dads make you do tequila shots at 3am at an afterparty? (The day after his birthday we had a flight to New York with one of the worst hangovers I’ve ever had.) Mr F was very keen to see us and we arranged to meet them in Brewdog. On the plus side, this meant that my Good Hair got to go out. On the downside, it meant I needed a strategy for Saying No to Mr F. We decided telling him I’d given up for at least 3 months wouldn’t work. We considered trying the Medication Strategy (sad face I am on antibiotics) but that wouldn’t work either. We thought perhaps just accept any drink purchased for me and pretending to drink it whilst sneakily pouring it into Mr RockstarDinosarPirate’s glass. In the end we went for simply making sure I always had a drink in my hand, so the topic never came up. It worked, but mainly because by the time we met up Mr F and family had been drinking for much of the day already and probably didn’t even notice that I was sober.
Non-alcoholic options in bars (in London, at least) are definitely getting more interesting. But then perhaps they’ve always been interesting and I’ve just never asked. Why would I? I’m too busy seeing what rums they have. Brewdog had a delicious sugar free cola from Hamburg. Unfortunately due to the ‘always have a drink in hand’ strategy this meant I had more than was probably wise, and the caffeine hit meant I was up watching You Tube videos of Penn and Teller until long after Mr RockstarDinosarPirate had drifted into a somewhat craft beer induced slumber. At my colleague’s leaving drinks I discovered ‘Raw Fyah’ – a super spicy ginger beer made locally in Hackney. Super tasty (and I have to admit it would be lovely mixed with a spiced rum) but again too many and I’d have a sugar high of epic proportions. I don’t want to exchange an alcohol problem for a sugar one. But at least there are more interesting options out there for the non boozers than your basic J2O or a lime and soda.
Sundays are fast becoming a joy. When you’re not shattered or hungover the weekends seem longer, and whereas Sundays used to be recovery space in between PARTY TIME and OH GOD MONDAY – usually involving a duvet, a pizza and some sort of Netflix marathon – they are turning into an occasion to see friends, see London and try new things. Today was a real treat – afternoon tea with some Dry January pals. We put on party dresses and makeup and treated ourselves to tea and cake as a reward for our effort at sobriety, and shared some of our experiences. It’s clearly not just me who is loving Sundays, and it was interesting to hear that most of them are also sleeping better. I’ve always been a terrible sleeper but for the last two weeks have found it much easier to get to sleep and stay asleep. I’ve been waking up feeling rested rather than ragged and drained. After stuffing ourself with cake and scones the sugar high hit us like a train. I’ve always had a sweet tooth but never noticed sugar highs with such intensity before; we wondered if we were noticing it more because none of us had had alcohol for weeks. We then went on a sugar crazed spending spree of epic proportions – buying bags, makeup and perfume and justifying it all as being money that we’d SAVED by not drinking so therefore TECHNICALLY all of this is FREE STUFF. Sugar logic is potentially as dangerous as alcohol logic – and at least with alcohol logic it’s at night so most of the shops are shut and the worse purchasing decision you can make is a Pot Noodle.