As I write this, the 30th of January is drawing to a close. I’m in a hurry as I want to make it to the gym tonight, but I’m not too worried about tying up all the loose ends I need to get finished, as I’m fairly confident I’ll make it into the office early tomorrow.
Who is this strange creature? She looks a bit like Lady Rebecca of Holman (actually, I look just as bedraggled and knackered as I do when I’m drinking), but where’s the hangover?
Where’s the 5pm panic when she realises that she’s only done 30% of the things on her most urgent list and she said she’ll go out again tonight, even though she just wants to go to bed to she can panic from there instead, and everything’s terrible, and why is life so difficult?
Instead I am calm, collected and Zen-like. Phoebe thinks I’ve turned into a dickhead. Because I’m being really Zen, I assume she means this affectionately. She assures me she doesn’t.
Apart from my two date-based free passes, I haven’t touched a drop of alcohol since the 2nd January. And on the second of my two dates, I even managed to drink a relatively sensible amount of booze (which meant that in the morning, all I wanted to consume was fried stuff with cheese and cans of coke, but I felt absolutely no desire to be sick in a bin. Yay!).
I really didn’t expect to see the month through. I imagined I’d fall spectacularly off the wagon around the 14th of the month, and then give up entirely. I didn’t expect that the emotional, physical and financial benefits of not drinking to be so great, that I had absolutely no incentive to quit quitting.
Nor did I expect to have so much fun – I’ve found myself properly, absolutely crying with laughter when completely sober at least twice a week (also: It turns out that tonic water makes me giddy).
I suspected I might sleep better. I didn’t expect to have a good to excellent night’s sleep almost every night in January.
I’ve suffered from insomnia in some form or another for since the age of six. Until this month, I could remember each specific occasion in my adult night where I’ve slept well on a Sunday evening before work on a Monday, as they were so few and far between. This month I’ve slept through the night four Sundays in a row.
My makeup still slides off and my face still takes on that weird drawn look I can’t do anything about at some point between 2.30 and 5pm every day (does anyone else get this?), but my skin is a million times better, I’ve lost weight (although this wasn’t really my goal) and the whites of my eyes are whiter (I’m starting to sound like a dog food advert now).
One thing I didn’t expect was the added focus. I’m writing more, faster and better than usual, I’m more efficient and productive, and I’m actually finishing stuff (I’m not one of life’s natural completers).
I’m probably exaggerating how much better everything actually is – but that’s because my perception of thingsis that much rosier, which is worth its weight in gold. I’m happier, calmer and feel more in control of my life than I have done in years.
Of course, this is fantastic, but is it enough to make me quit drinking for good? Erm no, this Saturday I’ll be back on the sauce for my 30th birthday.
Quitting drink for a month has made me feel great, but it’s no huge achievement – it’s just showcased my ability to stay away from anywhere where will be drinking, in the month where no-one has any money and everyone has a lingering hangover.
As I’ve said before, I can’t picture myself as one of life’s ‘effortless light drinkers,’ I envy anyone who has no emotional attachment whatsoever to alcohol, because it would make my life a helluva lot easier.
But I’m going to have to learn, at some point, how to stop drinking when I’ve had enough, move onto the tap water and continue to enjoy myself. If I don’t, then I’ll reach a stage where I’ll have to stop drinking completely – I know this.
Rationally, I know that all the best nights I’ve ever had have been the ones where I’ve been having too much fun to get really drunk, where I’m still standing (and dancing), and completely lucid at 4am.
Those are the nights I should be holding out for. All the crappy nights, where it feels like the only way to get through them is to have another drink, and the people are boring, and the atmosphere is rubbish – they’re just not worth the hangover.
Anyone else out there try Dry January? How did it go? Tell me your tales of falling off the wagon to make me feel better about my impending birthday-related doom. ALSO, shall I get Phoebe to live tweet my alcohol consumption on my birthday from the @xojaneuk?
Rebecca will probably be live-Tweeting her next hangover @rebecca_hol.