Anyone that knows me, knows my life revolves around animals, cheese and wine. I mean let’s be serious, what more do you need in life? However in recent times, wine seemed to be taking over quite a bit. In fact one year pretty much all my birthday cards had an alcoholic drink on them (I got the hint everyone, thanks). A theme started to appear. I was the girl who loved a drink. I would like to point out, there is nothing wrong with loving a glass of wine or two, however this was more five or six. So come early lockdown, a fear started to creep over me… now that I didn’t have to work, there was no start or end time to my drinking. Nor did I enjoy drinking at home (I was mainly in it for the social aspect you see) so I decided to cut it out of my life. Also, hangovers destroy me and make my anxiety a billion times worst. All in all it seemed like a good idea… so I thought I would give it a go.
Week 1 felt like the worst, I was bored and drinking killed boredom. I had to find things I actually enjoyed doing other than socialising. I had actually forgotten what I liked to do in my spare time. Day by day, the Netflix programmes were watched, naps were had and I grew increasingly anxious. I was irritable and I didn’t know why. It seemed like I had lost a big part of me. I persevered through, even though my anxiety was at an all-time high. All the emotions I was using alcohol to numb were making their debut appearance in the show titled “my life” and I was not loving it at all. Did I want to cave in? TOTALLY. Was I going to? Absolutely not.
A couple weeks later and I arranged counselling again to help deal with my anxiety as I simply couldn’t manage it myself. I needed help and I have no shame in admitting that. The general non-drinking however took an interesting turn. I no longer wanted one. The lack of hangovers was magical, and I was grasping a sense of clarity within the cloud of anxiety, somehow. I was the most productive and creative I had ever been. Also, as someone who lives in London, I was saving a fortune as the cost of alcohol in this town is ASTRONOMICAL. Legitimately I am scared to calculate how much money I’ve spent on cigarettes and alcohol. Speaking of cigarettes, I also haven’t had a puff of cancer smoke for about 4 months now #proud.
Three months later, room and balcony redecorated and literally everything ticked off my to-do list, the pubs started to re-open. This is where I found my real hurdles. I checked the pub menus prior to booking and none of them offered lists of any non-alcoholic options. I scrolled through wine menus and beer lists, no mention of any offerings of non-alcoholic ciders, beers or spirits. I actually enjoy the taste of most alcoholic beverages so I found this disheartening. I couldn’t make an informed decision because this information isn’t something offered up, as if it’s something to be ashamed of.
Many times in the past, when I had been in bars with friends and one of them had ordered a soft drink, someone would always say “what’s the point of going to the pub if you aren’t drinking?” as if there was no point in the person actually being there. I’ve noticed this more and more now I’m on the other side of the fence. Though I have a group of very supportive friends who back me whatever decision I make, the attitude I got when calling around at bars to ask them was horrendous. But I’ve accepted that I live in a country that revolves around a strong drinking culture. If I choose to not be a part of it then that’s on me. If everyone else wants to drink themselves into oblivion that’s fine, I’ll just sip on my cranberry juice with a dash of lemonade ☺
I also made myself another little deal, if I wasn’t going to drink, I was going to eat. The realm of the gastro-pub menus have been opened and I am beyond excited. Of course, if my friend decides to have their birthday at Wetherspoon’s I probably won’t be venturing into their cuisine (mind you, i would be surprised if any of my friends decided to do this based on their treatment of staff during lockdown). Luckily though, over the last few years there has been an influx of great cuisine loitering amongst our drinking establishments. Some even offering up attached oyster bars etc. What a time to be alive.
I’m only four months in now, and life is slowly returning to normality. This adjustment being allowed to make its place permanent in the “new normal” we find ourselves. Instead of going to bars with friends I’m now attempting to book in pottery afternoons, yoga classes and market pottering. All things I’ve been wanting to do but found the allure of a pub much more attractive. The biggest thing I’ve gained out of this experience thus far, however, is time. Now I’m not hungover about 48 hours in a week I’ve gained two days of doing things I wouldn’t usually have. My friends all think I’m more reliable and more efficient (I never believed I could be more efficient but there we have it). I’m quite proud of my feat and have every intention of this continuing. For both myself and my bank account. Hopefully the alcohol industry will continue pumping money into 0% alcohol beverages and we can all be in it and enjoy ourselves ☺