About a month ago, I decided to take a break from booze entirely.
No, I’m not pregnant. No, I’m not suddenly self righteous. I just wanted to see how I’d feel.
The seed started in my brain New Year’s Day. New Year’s Eve I went out with friends and had two drinks the entire evening (8 pm until 1 am). I left home sober and arrived home the same way. But most of the next day was spent violently ill.
“It’s like over the last year I’ve suddenly turned allergic to alcohol.” I mused to Derrick while slumped on the couch. And since then I’ve wondered if healthwise, alcohol was a good idea for me.
Sometimes abstaining from something for a period of time can give you some perspective. Just about every religion has a period where people abstain from something (food from sun up to sun down, some vice for 40 days, etc.). Sure, there are some ‘I quit forever’ scenarios but few people are ready for that.
So this month, I quit booze. And it was kind of interesting.
Our culture is pretty ingrained with alcohol use.
While listening to a Freakonomics podcast this month (the title: What’s More Dangerous, Marijuana or Alcohol?), it was interesting to find that generally, alcohol is more dangerous but when the hosts were discussing which one they preferred their kids do, one of them said alcohol since it was so ingrained in American culture and much more accepted. (That link is to the podcast if you want to listen, interesting stuff.)
I’m sure people in AA have figured this out long before me but it’s been interesting to be a bit outside of all this.
We don’t put much thought into non-alcoholic drinks.
I once downloaded an ebook called ‘How To Drink’. Sure, parts of it were about booze but she had whole chapters on coffee, tea, picking the correct glass for the correct liquid, and more. Most impressive: a whole chapter about ice. (If you want to know how to stock a bar in a tiny space or are looking for a host gift, this book is great.)
The whole premise of the book: we’ll spend hours cooking a delicious meal, shopping at markets for the best ingredients, etc. but we give almost 0% thought into what we’re drinking except occasionally for a bottle of wine.
So this month I’ve been perfecting sweet tea and bringing fixings for Italian sodas to my book club (the actually pregnant member in the book club is excited I think). I am trying to put some thought into what I’m drinking: how do I make it fun, what is a complementary drink to an activity or meal. It’s kind of made me more thoughtful.
I have been avoiding certain situations.
The one downfall I’ve seen with my plan is I’ve been decidedly less social. I haven’t put myself in situations where I have to say ‘no’ to booze because, honestly, I have a hard time saying no when other people around me are doing something. Also as a woman, everyone assumes if I’m not drinking, I’m pregnant which is another annoying thing to have to explain. (“No really, I’m not.”)
This whole month has made me wonder: am I a 100% or nothing at all kind of person? I’ve been told by a few people that if I give up gluten entirely for 3 months, some of my health issues will go away. But it’s a tough row to hoe: saying no at the kid’s birthday party when cake the grandmother made is passed around. Saying no when your friends want to split a pitcher of margaritas at happy hour. It makes you feel kind of lame. Like is quitting alcohol for 30ish days significant? Does it help to do this on occasion? Or would I be just as healthy if I had continued my normal 1-2 glasses of wine/week?
I clearly have more questions than answers but I am choosing to think giving up something for a period of time is valid. You learn about yourself, your body, other people, and your relationship to the thing you gave up.
I learned that drinking booze less for me is probably a good idea… but even more important is being thoughtful whenever I put something in my body.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to Google some ‘mocktails’ now…