With my recent foot surgery and related confinement, B’s post-treatment fatigue and the fact that we both still experience sleep problems. you could be forgiven for thinking that the atmosphere at our house is akin to a non-stop party.
But let me add something else to the mix. I have not consumed any alcohol for more than 6 months.
‘But why?’ I hear you cry. ‘Isn’t that one of the few pleasures you have left?’
That’s one way of looking at it. Another is that me + stress + alcohol = not a good idea. Before November I seemed to be getting into the habit of drinking a glass of wine almost every night, and quite a bit more on weekends. Relying on it to get to sleep can’t be good, let alone the danger factor of drinking too much on a night out and coming home alone. There’s also the simple matter of decorum. Drunkenness is unbecoming in a woman of mature age. Compelling evidence of this is provided by Courtney Love, Tara Palmer-Tomkinson, Tara Reid and Denise Welch.
I decided to read a book on ‘giving up’ first, as I believe there’s a book for everything. Despite being a tad preachy and irritating, Jason Vale’s Kick the Drink… Easily! worked for me. Of course I already knew that alcohol is no less a drug than heroin or cocaine just because it’s legal, but it did re-awaken my realisation of that fact. It also challenged my belief that alcohol needs to form part of normal life, especially socially.
Jason places a lot of emphasis on the perception of ‘missing out’ as a reason why people find it hard to stop drinking. Once you question what you’re missing out on, exactly, it becomes easy. It sound mad but I can honestly say that I haven’t missed it at all, in fact I rarely think about it. My social behaviour has changed only slightly. I still go to the pub eg. for after work drinks, but I don’t stay late. There is nothing worse than being stone cold sober and surrounded by tipsy colleagues discussing football or (even worse) work. Alcohol is a complete necessity in that situation.
That said, I think I would have found it harder to give up 15 or 20 years ago, when I went out a lot more. Even, on occasion, dancing. I’m not foolish enough to believe that I would have participated in a line dance to Nutbush City Limits without a few alcopops under my wide elastic belt.
I’ve also become a very cheap date. Dinner for 2 at a decent restaurant now often comes in under £50. B has the occasional glass of wine but he’s always been a complete lightweight. He’s also been avoiding it lately as his tolerance seem to have been affected by the chemo. After just 1 glass he has a headache all the next day. Hopefully this will pass, at which point it doesn’t bother me at all if he drinks around me. I don’t feel an ounce of envy.
Before you start thinking that my diet and health must have improved due to this change, let me set you straight. I’ve found that cake is the perfect replacement for alcohol (although slightly more unwieldy on the dance floor). I’m not missing out on those empty calories!