Has our culture of drinking, drowned our ability to interact normally without our trusty faithful friend, beer?
I’ve recently decided to give up alcohol. Well I realised it’s going to be more a process than a straight up stop. Why the hell would you do that?! I hear myself ask a year ago.. Well it just hit me.. whats the point? What is it really doing for me? You know, apart from the loss of money, possessions, dignity, blackouts, injuries, mistakes, regrets, arguments, turning into someone else, painful hangovers, that feeling of pure dread the next day, anxiety, doubt of everything, contemplating life, negative thoughts, depression.. oh yea that’s it. I had fun didn’t I? From what I remember.. The cons far outweigh the pros, have done for a while. But I never realised it before when I was drinking all the time. It’s just how I felt.
It was over a year ago I first started to see alcohol in a different way, although it’s taken me this long to really do something about it. I went a while without drinking (being in a monastery will do that) and then one night had a beer, just one beer. Wow did I really notice the difference the next day. It took me a while to click at first. My mood was low, negative thoughts had crept in, I was doubting my choices.. being super self critical. Then I caught myself. Whats going on? I’ve been waking up in such a good positive mood every day why am I hating on myself so much? BEER. ONE beer. Could just one effect me so much?! And it took a few days to shift and get me back to feeling level headed again. But I had never really noticed it before. In ‘normal’ life when you drink throughout the week, a few ciders here and there, a mid week session to get through the working week, then comes the weekend.. You’re in that constant state of feeling. It’s just life. It is what it is. You have a constant flow of alcohol getting in your stream. I never thought my constant feeling would have been so alcohol inflicted. It’s only until you stop that your head truly clears, your mood improves, that you really see it. That those cheeky ciders could be changing your mindset that much.. And all this is without even going into the health side of things. Enough is enough. I’m done. I’m done feeling shit. I’m done feeling regret. I’m done not remembering why I’m feeling regret. I want to be able to go out and have fun and feel good. And wake up the next day bright eyed, bushy tailed and still feeling good. I want to go out and know that my choices are mine. They’re smart and reflect what I really want. Not what some smashed delinquent wants or does because she thinks she should. It’s not even like I’m particularly a fan of drunk Steph, she can be a bit of a douche.
When I started this journey, and I was so excited. This is the new me. This new fresh improved fantastic me. It’s going to be great, and I’m gonna feel bloody awesome. No drinking. Easy. Right? And it was at first. Sometimes whilst travelling I could go months happily without drinking and it was easy, I didn’t miss it. and I loved it. But that was probably due to it being more circumstantial. I went out to an open mic night, got my juice, met a friend who got a coconut. We chatted, watched music, had fun. I went home, felt fantastic, and the best thing, still felt fantastic the next day. Oh easy I thought. I got this. Or maybe it was first time lucky..
Then I went out again with a few friends, we went to a bar with a band playing Linkin Park. Amazing. I was pumped. Everyone orders their drinks. I’m just staring at the menu. Just order the juice Steph, then its over and done with and I cant order a beer. But I just stared. and stared. I couldn’t bring myself to eliminate the beer. Why?! Oh it’s fine I’ll order in a bit.. Oh just order the dam juice Steph. I left it and went and sat down. Then my friends beer came over I found myself saying “and another please!” before I had realised what happened. Bloody hell. was it really that hard.. But I made it last, it was the only one all night. I still beat myself up about it the next day but I spoke to some like minded people and then let it go. It’s a process. It was only one. I should be pretty chuffed with that. Since then I’ve had a few ‘just one’ beers. A few just being by myself in new places. And that’s fine too. It’s only one. I need to be kind to myself.
More recently I with out a group of people for dinner, easy enough. Then a bar, easy enough.. for the time being. Although I’m happy drinking my juice I suddenly notice myself. I’m enjoying the evening, listening and laughing. But I’m not engaging much, i’m quiet, I’m not laughing and joking around as much as everyone else, I seem more serious. Don’t get me wrong i’m engaging in some conversation I’m not being a total mute.. but what happened? Maybe it’s all being intensified as I’m really noticing things now and analysing? Do I really need dutch courage to be out with a few people having conversation in a chilled out bar? Then I start getting self conscious. Whats wrong with me. Why am I so serious. I’m usually fun, and cracking rubbish jokes.. Wheres that Steph gone. Can she only be coaxed out with a cider and a jagerbomb? Am I just making things worse by over analysing them?.. Then off out dancing at a beach bar. This is where it gets really tough. I’m still being strong, and I want to stay out and have fun. But the having fun part is getting harder. The confidence is draining, and being replaced with doubt and fear. Oh I look like an idiot dancing. Why did I buy this new girly dress it doesn’t suit me, I don’t know how to dance in it. I don’t know what to say to anyone. They’re all dancing and messing about with each other, laughing and being silly. Why aren’t I. God I’m boring. I’m not enjoying myself.. If I just had a couple of beers I wouldn’t care, could relax and fun dance, mess about be silly. It’s like giving up smoking, I spent my entire time thinking about having a drink but trying not to think about it at the same time. The funny thing is, the more drunk they get the less they care (if they ever did at all), yet the more self conscious I am.
I’m clearly not an alcoholic so why is it difficult? Why is it so hard not to drink, and be able to join in. To sit and chat with friends and strangers. So back to my first question.. Has our culture of drinking, drowned our ability to interact normally without our trusty faithful beer? Is that whats happened? From a young age, if you go out, you drink. Even now, I would rarely go to a coffee shop even with a good friend. You go for a pint. When I’ve been out before and I’ve not wanted to drink, I’ve turned it around and been like oh fuck it I’ll have a beer! It felt like a choice. It was my choice to have a beer. But maybe it wasn’t? I know this all sounds totally super dramatic… but after the other night it feels a bit unobtainable right now.. but I know i’ll have another sober night and I will be full of confidence and it’ll be fine. Of course it will get easier. I suppose I’m just in shock at the difficulty of it. The more I do this sober business and not use alcohol as a crutch then my confidence will grow. I can go out and have fun without all the awful side effects of drinking. It all comes with time. But how did it get to this point? And without me realising? I suppose that’s what happens when you start drinking at a young age. Binge Britain. You never develop the ability to grow confidence going out, meeting people, dancing, just on your own merit. Alcohol has always been there. Your best friend and worst enemy to help you along the way, then cause some trouble for a laugh. It will not defeat me.