Like my initial decision to take a break from alcohol, hitting the three month dry mark has been pretty non-eventful. I told a few friends and family I’d reached my target and gave my thanks for the obligatory ‘well done’ comments, but accepting praise felt a little disingenuous because, as was the case when I reached the six week mark, it hasn’t felt that challenging.
This was surprising because in the past I found even a booze free month a struggle, but with hindsight I realise I’ve been ready to stop drinking for a while now, I just needed to listen to intuition.
What is also surprising is that I find myself enjoying social situations more when I’m not drinking. I used to love the buzz I got from that first drink; I’d look forward to the fuzzy around the edges hilarity that knocking back a few used to give my world. Drinking socially seemed to strengthen my feeling of connection to those around me; I’d meet family or friends and we’d put the world to rights over some beers or a couple of bottles of wine. It was fun. But over time, the beer fear hasn’t just made an appearance on nights when I overdid it, but pretty much every time I got even slightly intoxicated. The morning after the night before would leave me with a thick head, woolly tongue and an underlying sense of guilt and anxiety for reasons I couldn’t quite put my finger on.
Eventually I had to face the truth of what my body was trying to tell me; I was no longer enjoying alcohol. I didn’t even like the taste much anymore.
Taking a break from drinking hasn’t been quite the panacea I’d hoped (I still get spots, I still want to fall asleep at three PM and I’m not so much laser focused as moderately attentive) but still, this experiment has revealed some interesting things about my relationship with alcohol.
I’ve discovered that rather than the social drinker I thought I was, I’m more of a habitual drinker. It seems I drank because it’s what I’d always done, because it was what I (wrongly) assumed others expected of me, but mostly because it was what I expected of myself. Now that I’m in the habit of not drinking, it really feels like no big deal.
There’s no denying that this has all been made easier by the current reduction in social activities, but on the occasions when we have been able to get out with friends or family I’ve found them just as enjoyable with a tonic water or a cup of tea. Maybe the reduction in FOMO (fear of missing out) opportunities just gave me the space I needed to pay attention to my intuition.
With my drinking habit tempered, I no longer walk into a bar with my focus on the cocktail menu (actually I don’t walk into a bar at all at the moment because they’re all shut)…but when I do, it’ll be to enjoy the socialising I love to do, but not necessarily with the drink in my hand which I thought I needed to do it.
Will I have a drink again? Maybe. Listening to my intuition seems to be serving me pretty well at the moment so I think I’ll let that be my guide.