I am by no means an alcoholic.
I am very conscious of how much I drink and the frequency. That’s what happens when (a) your father is the dictionary definition of an alcoholic and, (b) you’ve witnessed enough first hand to traumatized yourself into (generally) drinking in moderation and, (c) fortunately you haven’t been passed the alcoholic gene.
But I do suffer from the disease of social drinking peer pressure. And recent statistics show that I’m not alone; Australian women outrank Aussie men in the binge drinking ranks – the average woman consumes 8 standard drink per session.
At my work we have a lot of socializing. The engineers and Mands constantly want to go out for after-work drinks to let of steam and de-stress, or we have company events, or we go to the pub on Fridays for lunch with our teams or clients. Most of the time I skip Friday drinks. But lately there has been a lot of after-work and event drinking, and I’ve been to-the-eyeballs in stressful projects.
And then there’s the drinks I do have when I’m out for dinner with friends, or at a party, or even just a glass of wine with my dinner a few nights a week.
So lately, I’ve been feeling I might be drinking a little too much. There have been several times this last month that I have been hung-over in the morning (whether it’s a weekday or weekend) and bordering on the blurry line between tipsy and drunk.
I don’t want to make a big deal about it, because actually most people I know have a really good attitude to drinking, it’s just another part of a balanced lifestyle, but for me there’s always been a big emphasis placed on and about alcohol (around my Dad and growing up in a Seventh-Day-Adventist community) so I’ve had to really consciously make an effort to not make it a big deal. When I have kids I want them to have a healthy relationship with alcohol so that they don’t abuse it when they’re teenagers. But because I have these concepts so deeply ingrained, I am more conscious of how it affects me.
So quietly and without fuss, I decided to have 30 days of sobriety.
I started this the day after Dinner Club #7 where I got more than a little toasted and Janine had to drive our car home (she was doing Dry-July). Here is my rundown of my 30 days sans-alcohol:
Day 1 – Wednesday 28th July
No issues with abstaining. But I did look at a peach-iced-tea and think “that would be really nice with vodka”. Banished the thought from my mind instantly and then internally scolded myself for 10 minutes.
Day 3 – Friday 30th July
This was challenging. We had a big group of 30 go out for lunch at The Australian pub for Burgo’s farewell and I drank LLB while everyone else had wine or beer. At the end of the day I walked in the front door from a long project closure meeting at which bank, opened the fridge and my nice bottle of champers was staring at me, along with a little wedge of beautiful french cheese….I debated with myself for a few minutes, but ultimately I shut the door and had mineral water with a wedge of lime instead! I still ate the cheese for dinner.
Day 4 – Saturday 31st July
Rosie calls up and wants us to meet her at the pub to watch the football. I tell Jay to go, but he decides to stay home and eat my cooking. Another successful day without the C2H5OH.
Day 10 – Friday 6th August
Tonight Nath and Mandy are staying over. As I write this, Nath & Jay are sitting on the couch watching footy and drinking Fat Yak beer. I wish I was drinking Fat Yak beer. Mandy is glamorously getting hammered in Darling Harbour at a Publishing awards night. It is getting easier, but I do really miss my glass of red on a Friday night after a long work week.
Days 12 to 15
Sometimes I try to remember what wine smells like….a bouquet of lilies in the evening, a barrel of American oak, dark chocolate? I read a funny quote once from the leader of the brat pack Mr Frank Sinatra and it went something like this
I feel sorry for people who don’t drink. When they wake up in the morning, that’s as good as they’re going to feel all day!
Well, I don’t think it’s exactly true, but it’s pretty damn near close!
Day 16 – Thursday 12th August
I drove past Leichhardt Cellars in the evening and wanted to stop in and drop $115 for a case of Rekoderlig Pear Cider (yes it’s expensive but it’s from Norway and it’s the best cider ever), but that would be a waste of money right now while I’m not drinking. I’ve decided that it will be my first drink when I’m free of this godforsaken land without alcohol.
Day 17 – Friday 13th August
There is something definitely evil about Friday 13th. Everyone at work went to the pub at lunchtime and then for drinks after work. I went to the pub and had a sparkling mineral water, which is nice and refreshing and actually my favourite drink ever, but it was sunny and we were sitting outside and the glasses with dewy condensation and amber coloured ale looked so inviting. I still didn’t say anything about not drinking for 30 days, but Mands cheekily asked me why I wasn’t and if I had something to tell her, but luckily (well not really) I actually had a meeting at Fairfax in the arvo so that was my excuse! Mandy called me on her way to Coffs with Nath, which also happened to be about 30 minutes after a big cry because Harley was being naughty and biting his leash/not peeing outside/jumping up and down/biting everything in sight, so I think she could sense my overwhelming agony and suggested that almost 20 days was good enough and that I deserved a nice hearty glass of red! I almost caved, but instead drank soda water with lime and made burgers for dinner, repeating my ‘Bad Boys’ mantra “whoosa”.
Day 24 – Friday 20th August
I am quite proud of myself! There have only been a few times that I’ve really wanted to cave; mostly around the beginning when I was used to having a nice glass of wine in hand in the evening, and recently when things got soooo emotionally draining with Harley, but other than that it’s been pretty easy to abstain from drinking. I have noticed that social engagements have been minimal though! I’ve also lost almost a kilo from not drinking, which isn’t that much really, but it’s something at least.
Day 25 – Saturday 21st August
The Clarkes & the Williams went out for tea. To The Cowry – a fancy restaurant on the Terrigal Hillside. Jay & James had matching wines with each course. Nat & I had sparkling mineral water, a fruit cocktail (for Nat) and LLB (for me). Nat is 6 months preggers, so I was her sober buddy 😉 The Grasshopper Rock Pinot Noir from NZ that accompanied James’ pork belly smelt divine. I got the waitress to write it down so I can find it when all of this soberness is done with!
Days 26 – 28
I’ve been thinking why it is that I/society need a reason not to drink. I read an article in a Jan’10 Cleo while I was getting my nails done that said that Aussies feel they need a reason not to drink; whether that be because they are the designated driver, pregnant, doing a fun run early in the morning, etc etc. And it is true. I have noticed that people want to know why you aren’t drinking, and if you’re a woman they automatically think it’s because you’ve got a bun in the oven. I am wondering if it’s purely an Australian thing, because we are a land well-known for our love of drinking (even our past Prime Minister could down a yard glass 1.7ltrs in 11 seconds) or whether people all around the world have the same issue. I think it may be restricted to countries with crazy youth; like Australia, Ireland, England & USA, or have a weather driven psychotic issue like the Russian’s who often drink so much that they fall asleep outdoors and die of hypothermia. Generally speaking German’s don’t have an issue, everyone drinks but not many get drunk, and the same can be said of the Danish/Norwegians/Swedish (this generalised information has come to me from a conversation I remember having years ago with my aunty Lydia’s husband Tim, who in my opinion is an oracle). I think it’s all to do with up bringing and how alcohol habits are viewed by young kids from their parents.
Day 29 – Wednesday 25th August
The billboard sign on Victoria Rd advertising the 3Weeds pub in Rozelle has a saying by Oscar Wilde:
‘Work is the curse of the drinking classes.’
Day 30 – Thursday 26th August
Jay is very excited to learn that this is my final day. He asks me if I want cheese and champers for dinner on Friday. I do. But then he reneges because the pizza I made for dinner on Wednesday night is still upsetting his tummy. I secretly wonder how I, cheese lover extraordinaire, have ended up married to a lactose-intolerant man. It’s really a rhetorical question and not a literal one. I say that I’ll think of something nice to go along with a nice glass of something. I actually really can’t be bothered!
So, my little experiment of 30 days alcohol-free is at its end. I am feeling proud of myself that I actually stuck though it, considering I had some hideous work moments, and adopted an (at times heinous) puppy, so my stress levels have been hectic. But mostly I’m ambivalent about drinking. I could take it or leave it. I have control. And that’s the way it should be.