7 July 2011
my sobriety season
Anna Hood gleefully accomplishes a welcome period of self-imposed alcohol free exile.
As some of our friends across the Tasman embark on a one month spell of sobriety for Dry July I am nearing the end of my three month self-imposed exile into a world without alcohol. I still find it confusing myself that this is even something out of the ordinary, something odd enough to write about. The fact that I decided to go sober for three months without being pregnant or suffering from liver disease is far from ordinary in our society that revolves around meeting friends for a ‘drink’ and winding down from a long week with a bottle of wine” – or two.
We’ve all talked about doing it but there’s always a reason not to go through with it. People ask me with fascination how it feels? Tell me I am their inspiration and that they want to join the sober club too, however the lure of social comradery pulls them back in and always did me too.. ..till this time.
What made the difference? I don’t know. It was just, time.
I haven’t stopped going out but I go out differently. I prefer to catch up with just a friend or two rather than a group gathering not only because the party atmosphere is just hard work sober but to avoid the question –you’re not drinking? Why?
But to give you some sort of answer, apart from wanting to wake up before 6am on a Monday morning without feeling like I was being pulled from the womb and wanting to feel fit and healthy, I was bored of doing the same ol’ and wanted more time to figure out how I wanted to spend my time, what I wanted from life and how I was going to go about getting it – instead of just repeating my weekly cycle of socialising for the next 10 years. Don’t get me wrong it’s not all I do, I am an adventurous type, love getting outdoors, I ran a marathon last year, spent my summer holiday on the Milford Track and I work hard but my default activity, when unsure, has been drinks with friends.
What I’ve found:
My body loves me – hello energy, sound mind, great skin, loss of a few pounds and jumping out of bed at 5:15am.
I have more money in my pocket – well more money to spend elsewhere.
My favourite little local, Gypsy Tea Rooms does in fact sell tea – novel I know.
A glass of soda water at a bar is extortionate.
People want to corrupt you. They want you to drink. It makes them uncomfortable that you’re not.
My home is a lot tidier – is it wrong to admit I have enjoyed going home on a Friday night and doing all my Sunday admin on a Friday so I can enjoy the weekend guilt free?
Parties can be boring. After a few hours your friends stories aren’t quite as compelling as they think they are.
For someone with a severe case of F.O.M.O. (fear of missing out), I feel I have coped pretty well – but looking at Facebook photos of the shenanigans I have missed out on has been a cruel torture at times.
My best tricks:
Avoid questions about being sober.
Let someone pour you a drink and just find yourself so engrossed in conversation it never needs topping up.
If you’re at a bar, always buy your own ‘drink’.
So, as I wind down to the last couple of weeks a small sense of achievement is creeping in and some fear for what is ahead. At the moment I have done what I set out to do, I have new plans. I have enrolled in a couple of university papers, I have new goals for work. I am going to Bali for 10 days to learn to surf and actually relax – ie not come back feeling like I need a holiday from my holiday and I have signed up to a few half marathons. So the only thing holding me back from having a drink is the sheer stubbornness to make it to three months. But then what? I am very much looking forward to my first wine. I can almost tell you when and where it will be but I am also scared about leaving behind the calm I have become accustomed to. Maybe I will be able to find that ‘balance’ we all talk about.
Would I do it again – sure – why not? In fact I’ll be inviting more people to join me next year and hopefully bring Dry July over to NZ, I think we’re ready for it.