Just over a year ago I went on a night out with some ex-colleagues. We drank wine on the Southbank, starting out so civilised and ending up a mess. The next morning I felt terrible, in my body and soul. I decided to take a break from drinking. And that break has turned from a pause to a stop, from a temporary hiatus to a different way of life.
I don’t miss alcohol at all. If I did, I’d drink. There’s no medical or other reason why I couldn’t and this isn’t something puritanical. But I choose not to.
I do miss being able to go out for the evening without other people commenting on my decision. It’s been fascinating but ultimately extremely tedious listening to other people’s views on me not drinking.
Sometimes I get asked if I’m boring because I don’t drink. I’m not, I never have been and it says more about the person asking the question.
I get asked what I do when (or if!!) I go to the pub. Chat to my friends, have a laugh, what everyone else does, what kind of a question is this?
I get asked if I’m judging other people for them drinking, and while I really don’t mind what other people choose to do, I have to say that not drinking has given me a different perspective on alcohol. It’s not for me to tell anyone else what to do but my personal opinion is that people drink too much. Of course, not drinking means you lose the right to comment on anyone else’s drinking, so I sip my blackcurrant and soda while another person asks me why I don’t drink and that they’d love to see me drunk, and I wonder why it’s such a big deal to other people and what that says about them.
The least hostility I faced was when I was training for the London Marathon. This was deemed an “acceptable” reason for not drinking.
The most hostility I faced was when, on a night out, someone put vodka in my drink. I lost a lot of respect for humankind through that, and even more so when other people didn’t think it was a big deal. For the record, that’s an affront and an assault. It’s shocking how little respect people can show for other people’s decisions, just because they’re different to theirs.
Luckily for me, I don’t care what other people think, or at least, I can pretend not to. Sometimes it’s lonely not drinking.
And luckily, not drinking is really awesome. I feel great, look good, have more free time (no hangovers!), don’t worry that I’ve been a dick the night before, have more money and feel infinitely happier.
I may decide at some point that I want to drink alcohol again. But I may not, and it would be lovely if my decision was respected, either way.