50 Days Alcohol Free
Sunday 26th February. I was out in my local pub watching England beat Italy and Ireland beat France. Six Nations. Great day. That day I drank cider, wine, jager bombs, skittle bombs, many many bombs. The other half - JB - came to meet me. He’d been out cycling all day. I don’t remember much else after that.
This was not the first time this has happened. I am the person that goes to the pub on a regular basis, often when I’ve finished work. Jokes are made about the amount I drink or if I’m not drunk yet it is asked why. The first drink I will have may well be a shot. I won’t have any food. I go out, I drink, I don’t remember. This happens to many people, I am sure. However, this behaviour was affecting my life, my work, my relationship.
I’ve been with JB for over five years and I’ve always enjoyed a drink. We’ve enjoyed a drink together. We met when we were both quite drunk. Since about 2014, however, something in me changed. The drinking became excessive. It was almost daily. Only ever in the evenings. I have put this down to stress in my work life, something else which is well known. I was not handling the stress well and my only comfort was getting to the pub and having a drink. Due to the stress I was experiencing, I found that I could not focus on my work. The stress was affecting my everyday life. This, of course, would increase my stress and off I would trot to the pub to forget all about it. The next day, I would be hungover. This also affects my day, increases the stress and so the cycle continues.
I do not believe I have a drinking problem. I am more of a problem drinker. I read this article on The Pool on this very issue. When I read this, I could relate and thought: this is me. I do this.
“My relationship with wine is not a test of willpower, like seeing how long you can hold your breath underwater. This is a complete rewiring of my brain to make different choices when I walk into a pub, to make different decisions when I feel stressed or sad or hurt.”
Following that Sunday, I spoke to the other half and said “what if I gave up drinking for lent.” “Give it a go, see how you feel.” And so I did. I am not religious and do not follow any particular sky being. I googled lent to find out how long I would be doing this. Marked down Maundy Thursday in my calendar and that was that. A friend of mine - my shot partner in crime - was also off the booze. This would be a doddle. It was not.
I missed going to the pub. I missed having a drink. I started on the alcohol-free beer. Becks Blue first. Nice. I’ve also tried Bittburger Drive and Brewdog’s Nanny State. Nanny State is a clear favourite. I did try alcohol free pink fizz and pink wine. Not my cup of tea at all.
I’ve still been to the pub a couple of times. They serve Becks Blue. Watched the rugby, went there on a Friday night. Done. A couple of weeks in and I was just used to not drinking. Brilliant. I was looking forward to the Easter Weekend, though. I missed gin. I love gin. I am Gin Jen!
I had planned to go to the pub on the Thursday, however due to a scare with the other half, this was cancelled. He was taken to the hospital the day before with a suspected stroke. It wasn’t a stroke. The next day they wanted to look at his heart. Nothing wrong there either. “Just one of those things.” Brilliant. Obviously I didn’t want to let him out of my sight from there so we relaxed at home. I had a Becks Blue, didn’t fancy a drink.
On Good Friday we were taking part in the EPBC - a cycling event my brother and his mate put on every year. Great fun and drinking is involved. JB decided he could get on the bike and take it easy. I thought, yes I’ll have a drink or two. That didn’t happen and I stayed on the alcohol free. I tried the Nanny State this day. Really lovely. Many questions were asked why I wasn’t drinking. I usually only see this group of people twice a year and I’m falling off my bike after too many pints every time. It was a shock to most!
In my head I’ve thought, if I reach Monday, that will be 50 days alcohol free. That’s mad. I’ll blog about it! I don’t need gin to be happy.
And that’s that. I am still a work in progress and I will have a drink again. I am apprehensive about having my next drink as I do not want to fall into the same behaviour. I am getting my focus back and my head is so much clearer. I am still stressed, it’s only been 50 days, but I am handling this so much better.
This isn’t just down to giving up alcohol. I was prescribed antidepressants a few months ago. I will write about this separately. Being alcohol free, however, is a big deal for me.
It is also helping with my training. I am following my plan, I am going to the gym, I am running. When I ramp up the training for Snowdonia, I won’t be drinking. There is no way I can do those long runs if I am drinking. I know me. I can’t do it. I don’t know how the training will go. I don’t know what I am able to achieve this year. Everything is daunting to me.
I can go 50 days without alcohol though. I know that.