Tuesday, 6 December 2011

On drinking and not drinking and drinking again

So, oh faithful blog readers, the more attentive of you (and I shall reward you in heaven, believe me) may have remembered that I haven't been drinking this year.

Of course, that's a bold faced lie if ever there was one. I've drunk plenty... but an awful lot less than in the previous 10 years of my life. I've probably drunk alcohol once a month this year, which compared to three nights every weekend and a couple of weeknights too for the previous few years is quite the difference.

I made this change for one reason and one reason alone - the same reason I've given my life the massive overhaul it's had in the past almost two years, in total now - insomnia. I was so sick of not sleeping and of the knock-on effect that was having on my ability to not cry every time I looked at a squirrel who I thought might have been being bullied by other squirrels, never mind deal with any serious shit like my library books being overdue that I was ready to try pretty much anything to sleep better.

I would say that the most helpful things I've done in my quest to sleep like the dead (ah, that's the dream) are: only using my bed for sleeping (rather than using my bed also as a cinema or dining table, you understand, I don't mean I used to sleep on the bathroom rug); getting black-out curtains; getting rid of the TV in my room and - undoubtedly - quitting the booze. On the rare occasion I have drunk in 2011, I've been awake from 3am onwards hating myself, hating the world, hating the inside of mouth that feels like I've slept with a sheet of Bounty in there (not a Bounty bar, that would be much better) and remembering why I Don't Do This Any More.

Not that I've been cross with myself on those occasions. I've got one rule with alcohol, and that's that when I want a drink, I'll have a drink. I'm not an alcoholic. I don't think I've got a problem with the demon drink - but then again, who does - so it's not like I need to never drink again. It's the lack of sleep that turns me into a mental, not the delicious gin. So I've drunk at weddings, on holiday, whilst trying to pluck up the courage to kiss boys (always a good plan when you don't drink much any more and the smallest drop turns you into a puking wreck... mmmm, yeah, I know what the boys like) and so on. I've also NOT drunk at weddings, at birthday parties and meals out this year, so I'm quite proud of myself for doing that.

The advantages to not drinking, as well as the oh-so-plush sleep, are numerous. No hangovers, of course. No hideous, sinking drinkers' remorse, where you are just so sure that you mortally offended someone or disgraced yourself in some way, and yet no-one will tell you how because the incident was so shameful that everyone you know - no, everyone in the world - has taken a solemn oath to never speak of it again. No throwing up in your friends' garden so that the puppy has to eat it (this is a True Fact From My Life - how you like me now?). Being able to drive everywhere! This is a great bonus of not drinking, especially when it's teamed with my lovely sat nav which means I no longer get lost and panic and start screaming and bashing the steering wheel like an escaped lunatic wherever I go. Yeah - driving is a good one. Cars are, in case you're wondering, definitely better than the night bus. Oh, and you save money.

And you know what? It's not actually been that hard. I think knowing that I won't sleep and I will be a quivering wreck if I do drink helps immensely because now that I am sleeping properly, I can see how very very fragile I was when I wasn't, and I'm pretty keen not to go back there. Plus, as wanky as this sounds, when you're around a bunch of drunk people anyway, you do start to feel sort of... well, giddy and silly and giggly just from being around them and their intoxication anyway. Ok, I tried to dress that sentence up, but if you're thinking I just said 'hey man, I don't need alcohol cos I'm high on life,' you would be correct and you must feel free to line me up in the crosshairs of your shotgun right away.

But it's true. I've found myself at numerous times thinking I must have been dead drunk on such and such an occasion and then looking back a bit more carefully in my memory and remembering I'd had nothing stronger than sugar-free squash all night. There was one evening when, on the actual night in question, not remembering it later, I wished I had a trashy magazine to read on the tube home as I felt sure I'd be far too drunk to concentrate on the dull PhD book I had with me - but then realised that was tosh and I'd been sipping So-de-lime-ful (yes, I'm THAT cool!) all night long. I think I still let myself off the boring reading. ;-)

However - having said all that - it's December now, which is the month of festivities. And in the spirit of 'I'll have a drink when I want one,' it turns out I want to drink this whole month long. I've had a drink every day since deciding this last Wednesday, and damn it's good. As surprisingly easy as it's been to (pretty much) stop, it's surprisingly even easier to slip back into it, isn't it? My sleep's been a bit messed up in the past few weeks before this anyway, so I've sort of used that as an excuse to get up to all kinds of silly japes, but I'm getting away with it so far. We'll see what becomes of me in a few weeks, if I'm sober enough to type an update. Meanwhile - cheers!

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