Wednesday, 9 December 2015

It's not nothing

I've been googling 'stopping drinking' a lot lately. And mostly, there's some great stuff out there. I love this article by Virginia Ironside and also this one by Giles Coran. Both made me feel that it was definitely do-able, and that I will gain more than I lose (except in terms of weight, that works the other way around apparently.) The stuff I can't get along with are the posts and articles that try and persuade me that I never really liked drinking anyway. They are wrong. I did. I liked it very much. Very much indeed.

As Virginia so aptly puts it, 'I like drinking. I also want to stop drinking.' Two contradictory statements that are both true. And I think, at the grand age of 40, I am coming to the stage where the wanting to stop is, over all, more important to me than the liking it. And as is the way with endings, there is a loss as well as a gain. If I am really going to put a stop to the booze, there's grieving to be done. So what are the things I will miss?

I will miss the moment when, after I've been with clients all day running a workshop, fuelled by caffeine and adrenaline, I drink white wine, quite fast, as an instant way to calm down, switch-off and relax. It's a reward and marks the shift from 'on' to 'off'.

I will miss the 7pm moment when the kids have been running amok and I have been behaving a lot more patient than I actually feel, and I follow saying 'good night' by walking downstairs and pouring a stiff drink. It's a reward for getting through it, and it marks the beginning of a couple of hours of grown-up time.

I will miss quick g&t that I occasionally knock back as a gear changer. In a matter of minutes I transition from being moody, shy, exhausted or impatient to being friendly, cheerful and sociable.

And I will miss the way booze signals that fun is about to start:The cold beer in a small Spanish square, the opening a bottle of cava with my husband on a Friday night, the large glass of sauvignon in a London bar with a friend, the pint with the boys back home, and the champagne in hotel rooms on birthdays and Christmas. These particular combinations of drink/place/person mark a special moment, one of life's sweet-spots and I don't want to go my whole life without them. I really don't. But I think I'm going to choose to. Because I have finally got to the stage where I think I am losing more from booze than I am gaining.

Those moments I've described are all the first drink or two. But I have to accept that if I have those first drinks, I will also have the next three or five drinks, because that's just what I do. And it is those drinks that come after that make me a tired, grumpy, puffy skinned, under-creative insomniac who could do with losing a stone. I want to be a healthy, fit, creative, contented woman, and it is clear that I can't have one thing without giving up another.

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