What it’s like to be a non drinker

I get asked this all the time. I think it’s because people are intrigued by other people who manage to get through life without drinking.

Maybe not strangely enough, the person who asks me usually has a drink in their hand. The subject will come up when I decline a drink and they’ll ask me why I’m drinking water.

Giving up alcohol was something I had to do but I still chose to do it. I haven’t made an abundance of good choices in my life but this one definitely sits up at the top of the pile.

When you’re a non drinker you notice how much people really do drink, or more importantly how much people think they need to drink. I used to be one of them.

I could count on one hand the number of people I know who have made a permanent life choice not to drink without a reason. I know lots of people who don’t drink but they either can’t drink for health reasons or they are alcoholic.

My life changed enormously when I stopped drinking. So many other parts of my life changed too all as a consequence of sobriety. The way my day panned out altered because there was no focus on doing anything that involved alcohol. When you take it away you really see how much of our society in general focuses around social drinking.

For example you generally wouldn’t catch up with someone you hadn’t seen in a while over breakfast would you? Breakfast is reserved for old school friends, colleagues or people who’ve known you forever. Most people generally think you need alcohol so you can ‘be yourself’.

I know a lot of mothers and I have a lot of exposure to social media, so I know a bit about what goes on. You just have to scroll through your Instagram feed at about 6.30pm each night to see how much evening time revolves around alcohol. Particularly friday nights. But I guess, other people’s wine glasses are my running photos so whatevs. I’m definitely not one to judge.

Not drinking is empowering for me. It’s something I control and it’s something that involves self control. LOTS of self control. But I do it and it has been so long since I’ve been a drinker that it doesn’t involve too much desperate willpower anymore. But for a long time there was a significant amount of ‘white knuckling’ to get me through the day.

Before I go on I need to point out that I am not trying to be smug about this. I was a drinker for a very long time and made all the mistakes and did all the stupid things that people do when they drink too much. This is just my viewpoint on what it’s like for me as a non drinker.

I know there is a large percentage of the adult population who drink sensibly and treat it with respect, but for all those people there are an equal number who don’t drink sensibly. Probably more in my opinion. It is the latter of these two the rest of this blog post is in relation to.

Before I stopped drinking my biggest concern about quitting was how I would deal with the boredom. How would I possibly socialise without it? How would I cope having to go out for dinner with people and not drink?

How much more boring could Rob’s work functions get when I stopped because even drinking they were still boring. What would I do on Christmas Day? Christmas Eve? New Years Eve? My birthday? EVERY DAY?

But my main concern, I’m embarrassed to admit, was how on earth I’d cope with the stress of children without alcohol.

Well I ‘ll tell you. Because I’ve done several years now without it.

Christmas still comes and goes. New Years Eve does too. Even birthdays! Time still turns.

It has never been as bad as what I thought it would be. I don’t get bored at dinners. However towards the end of the night if people start to go overboard I usually leave. Sunday lunches with friends are still enjoyable, I certainly don’t have a shit time because I’m not drinking! You really do not need to drink to have a great time somewhere and after enough time it doesn’t even cross your mind.

Plus, my kids? I am a way way way WAY better parent without it. I am more patient, more aware, less likely to lose my temper and it has had the opposite effect to what I thought it would. I thought drinking was ‘relaxing’ me and taking away the stress when all it does is make it worse.

I won’t lie, I occassionally do have moments for instance if Rob and I are out for dinner together and I’ll think ‘having a glass of wine now would have been nice’ .. but then I remember that the enjoyable part is very, very short-lived. It always passes and I move on.

Life without alcohol is better than life with it. Way better. Personally alcohol and I do not mix, so had we actually got along better I wouldn’t have stopped – so I wouldn’t be able to make a statement like the above. But I am so glad I can tell you that life really, really is better.

I never have to worry about hangovers, about feeling tired, about worrying who will drive, about making an idiot of myself drinking (yes I am talking about you, everyone makes an idiot of themselves when they have even one too many. Lots of people look silly just after one).

I am an available parent. I don’t hurry through evening reading homework to get back to my chardonnay. I don’t clock watch from 6pm waiting for my kids to get into bed so I can pour myself another G&T.

Through my blog I regularly receive emails from strangers asking me why I don’t drink. They want to know how I stopped and they are always honest and open about their own drinking. I never lie when people ask me questions in these emails and I always offer them my best advice.

So from where I’m sitting there are many people out there who want to stop but are afraid or don’t know how. Pretty much every email I receive raises about their concerns about how they’d cope socially if they couldn’t drink.

So many things have changed in my life since I gave up booze. So many gifts have arrived in my life … the number one being running. I never would have taken up running had I not quit drinking and I would rather be able to run a marathon than being able to drink.

My fitness and health is so important to me now and I wouldn’t trade how I feel for a glass of wine ever. I am a better mother, wife, friend and all round human being without alcohol in my life.

Fitness tastes way better than any pinot ever could and I wouldn’t swap a weekend morning spent with my kids for a hangover in a zillion years.




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