There’s nothing I used to love more than the clink of ice cubes as they fall into a gin and tonic, fizzing Prosecco as the cork leaves the bottle and the smell of Aperol on a hot summers day, but sometimes love is not enough, it can get complicated! This is why I’ve decided to call it quits on drinking for good.
Drinking is a way of life for many Irish. Our biggest problem is not how much we drink but how we drink. Just as much as we can enjoy a cold beer or glass of wine on a summers afternoon, we can loathe the troubles alcohol brings.
Most Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays for months on end I woke up dehydrated, anxious and nauseated after a few sociable drinks kicked on to a club or karaoke, where 1 drink would lead to 20! The fears, the tears and alcohol amnesia would have crippled me for days necessitating a dark room, cold shower, beach swim and salty food to restore any semblance of humanity. A short time into my alcohol free life I feel worlds away from that wretched creature who used to wake up cracking one teary bloodshot eye open and cursing her appauling life choices made the night before.
I’ve become slightly mystified as to why I kept doing it when it caused significant pain to my head, stomach, pockets and mental health.
But it’s all fun and games…right? WRONG.
I, like others used alcohol as a social lubricant to gain a greater confidence and ease myself into unfamiliar surroundings. Did you know for women, binge drinking is defined as more than four drinks in one sitting. I couldn’t believe this. It sounds like what used to be a regular night for me and most people I know! Drinking too much is normalised, so we forgive each other’s drunken tomfoolery, antics and complete bullshit. We tolerate hangovers and recovery periods as if it’s par for the course.
As I started to reflect more honestly on my relationship with alcohol and how it made me feel, I realised uncomfortably that almost every regrettable decision I’d made had occurred under its influence and often made me feel anxious, guilty and sick to the core. Growing up in a household affected by addiction I did not want my life to follow suit. I started to wonder…could I actually give up alcohol? Could I eliminate it from my life?
Like many of us I’ve abstained from alcohol for a month under the guise of a detox, a fresh start to the year. Despite feeling better afterwards, I always looked forward to resuming normal service at the bar.
I slowly began to realise that a month is only a taster of what life could become. I want to make a lasting change. I want to like the person I’m becoming, remember the new people I meet on nights out and make more time for different endeavours. I’ve decided not to go it alone, because along with the social lures and cultural norms, alcohol is everywhere, really addictive and habit forming, especially when you’ve been indulging for years.
The good news is there is plenty of support available, from apps to podcasts and online communities such as @weareunwstd which I am so grateful to have found.
This year and for years to follow I plan to explore different strategies and gain an insight into what it takes to live an alcohol free life. My main concern starting this journey was the fear of being bored – or ‘boring’. This was my own perception of an alcohol free Kate, silly I know! However, my quest for self improvement and personal growth far outweighs those fears and there’s only one way to find out!
There are so many things I love about being booze free including: better sleep, reduced anxiety, closer connections, more adventures, earlier mornings, a sense of calm and losing weight both mentally and physically without trying too hard.
I’m keeping a diary and will share with you what I discover along the way.