What is a time of joy for many women was my darkest hour.
Ahoy there sailors! For some reason right now I’m picturing myself on a desert Island, surrounded by a sea of boozed-up piss-heads, glugging Barcardi Breezers and Reefs like they're going out of fashion (I’ve chosen vaguely tropical alcopops for this particular fantasy).
I’m a week into Dry January, and as anyone in recipient of one of my far-too-perky January emails will know, not drinking for six days has left me feeling great. But more on that later.
In preparation for this piece, I wrote down every alcoholic drink I consumed in the week before my self-imposed booze ban. I nearly didn’t publish it, because it sounds a bit like I should be dead. Or on the front page of the Daily Mail. But anyhoo, here it is (n.b. I didn’t start Dry January until 3rd January because I was still away with some friends and… look I never said I actually had any self control, ok?):
Thursday 27th DecemberOk, this is a bad example. I went to see my BFF in Leeds for a few days after Christmas at home and may have got a bit…de-mob happy. I didn’t help matters by eating nothing but some mango slices and about 76 quail’s eggs all day. Suffice to say my liver, my friend’s parents, and the massive bruise I acquired on my elbow were all unimpressed:
- 4 large glasses of red wine
- 1 Baileys (what? When?)
- Approx. ½ bottle of ginTo be fair, the gin’s a bit of a mystery. There was definitely a full bottle on 26th December, and by the 28th it was all gone. Ok, it’s not exactly one for Quincy (RIP), is it?
Friday 28th DecemberFeeling like I wanted to rip my own head off. Also had a very sore elbow. Shamefacedly went to the pub with my friend's parents, hence:
- Three halves of shandy
Saturday 29th December - A third of a bottle of white wine at lunch time
- Half a bottle of red with dinner
- One gin and tonic
- One amaretto and coke Not a great combo if I’m being honest. Especially on top of a curry. Bleugh.
Sunday 30th DecemberNothing! Nada! Zilch! This was mainly because I was getting the train back to London and couldn’t stop vomiting after the unfortunate curry/amaretto combo.
Monday 31st DecemberLook, give me a break, it was New Year’s Eve, ok?
- Quarter of a bottle of wine over lunch
- Quarter of a bottle of prosecco
- One gin and tonic
- Quarter of a bottle of red wine, quarter of a bottle of white wine, both with dinner (according to my friend, this is what the French do. Or the Italians. I’m not sure, things were getting a bit fuzzy at this point).
- Quarter of a bottle of red wine
- Another quarter of a bottle of red wine
- Quarter of a bottle of prosecco at midnight.
- A rum and coke. Possibly? Maybe.Terrifyingly, we would have gone on, except we were unexpectedly thrown out at 12.30 (everyone, not just us, we weren’t that bad).
Even more terrifyingly, despite not feeling particularly smashed at the time, I don’t remember anything after we got home (although I vividly remember everything up until this point).
It doesn’t really matter in this instance, because I was with three really good friends, and evidently I just put my pyjamas on, watched a DVD with everyone else, ate some food and went to bed. But I think we can all agree that blackouts are an unsavoury addition to anyone’s drinking retinue, along with violence, falling over and Buying The House A Round Of Drinks (this is why I have no money ever. I hate myself). Anyway, moving on…
Tuesday 1 January 2013Nothing – a shiny new year and I drank nothing! I was pretty hungover, but still managed to drag myself out for a six-mile walk. Normally I’d have rewarded myself with a delicious glass of wine. Not this time, suckers.
Instead I had half a chicken Kiev, some oven chips and baked beans, then a large cheeseburger with extra onions and burger sauce. Oh, wait…
Wednesday 2 January 2013I knew this was the last day I could possibly justify drinking before kicking off my period of abstinence. I nearly didn’t bother, but it seemed rude not to have a pint of cider at lunch after another long walk along the beach. And so it begins:
- Three pints of cider
- Half a bottle of red wine
- A quarter of a bottle of prosecco
And that was it! There was no booze left in the cottage! So we stopped!
And since then, I’ve been the worst kind of no-drinking zealot. I’ve been really enjoying the in-built smugness that comes from not drinking, and that's not all.
In just a week the following things have happened:
- My skin is sooo much better (this might be because I’m obsessively drinking at least 2 litres of water a day)
- I’m going to the gym slightly obsessively. In fact I’ve put my back out slightly. Shit.
- I’m sleeping really well, better than I have for years – I’ve always put my insomnia down to my neurotic nature and propensity for anxiety, but it’s possible that… my neurotic nature and propensity for anxiety were a side effect of drinking. Gulp.
- I’ve used the word obsessively twice here already, do you see a pattern emerging? I’ve cleared out all the cupboards in my flat, filed my bank statements and phone bills in date order (obsessively) and reorganised my wardrobe.
Essentially I’ve become someone I hate, but I’m quite enjoying being a total knobber, thank you very much. I’ve found myself replacing booze with food, and spent all of last weekend conjuring up a variety of ill-advised gastronomic experiments. I’m also eating a lot more oily fish, because I don’t have a constant hangover, and so a constant desire to eat fried things with cheese on them.
So far, so good, right?
Well, I’ve only ventured into the pub once so far, and to be fair a) it was a Tuesday night, and b) I’d made such a song and dance about not drinking to this particular group of friends that I had to stick to it. I also coerced my flatmate into not drinking with me.
But tonight, tonight dear readers, I have a date. It’s a first date as well. I don’t think I’ve got the mad charismatic social skillz to get through a whole first date entirely sober. I'm just not that cool a customer.
SO, I’m going to go in with the intention of not drinking. If I totally flounder, then I’m allowed two small glasses of wine maximum, and then I’m going to not beat myself up about it, move on and go back to not drinking for the rest of January. Ok? Deal? Cop-out?
What I’ve learned so far: That I’ve really underestimated how much of an impact drinking has on my sleeping patterns/mood/general state of mind. That said, I’m still buoyant on the success of my first week – the best test will be to see how I feel in three weeks time.
I’ve also been amazed at how much spare time I’ve had and how much more productive I’ve been with the time I've had. I can’t work out how much of this is down to me trying to fit everything into January and how much is down to not drinking.
Still, it’s pretty clear that I was fitting a LOT of my life around drinking/the possibility or probability of having a hangover, and that’s definitely a pattern I need to break. I also need to stop drinking for the sake of it – having an alcoholic drink in the pub even when I don’t fancy one.
Any tips to keep me sober and honest? Any first date tips for a dirty scoundrel like me? Also, should I replace alcohol with food, Emmerdale or crack?
Rebecca is a bit bored at the moment, so she'll be live tweeting Every. Minute. Of. Her. Mundane. Life @rebecca_hol.