How I tried to become a social drinker and failed
At 40 y.o. I called it quits and stopped drinking alcohol. Gradually over the last five years I stopped finding excuses for my outrageous sober behaviour (no, I'm not on medication, and no, God, I'm not pregnant at 45 y.o.!). If people dare or bother to ask why I don’t drink, I'm upfront about it. One thing I learnt from my ‘drinking experience’ is that if I genuinely don’t enjoy drinking, I’d better own it.
Before I go any further, I want to make it very clear that I never had alcohol addiction. In fact, I spent years trying hard to become a so called ‘social drinker’; not because I thought that was a great personal goal, but due to social pressure.
Think about it: Friday drinks after a hard week in the office, best friend’s birthday party, girls’ get together, family reunion, team building gathering, a date. Have you ever tried to lead a social life (in the Western society anyway) and continuously explain to people around you why you aren’t drinking? People either stare at you in disbelief, or, worse, passionately talk about the 100+ reasons why moderate drinking is good for you. Some of these reasons are quite common and I heard them many times over the years.
Myth #1 Alcohol tastes good
No, it doesn’t. Water from New Zealand's Tongariro springs tastes good. Black tea with no sugar accompanied by tiramisu taste good. Fresh juice made of gigantic sweetest ever oranges at the sunshine lit coast of the Mediterranean Sea – that tasted good. Alcohol doesn’t. And I tried probably most of it and mixed all that could be mixed.
Of course, it’s a matter of developing a habit. At the end of the day I trained myself to genuinely enjoy green tea and avocados. So, anything can be done. The question is – why would I?
Myth #2 Alcohol relieves stress
That just never worked for me, alas. No matter how angry, annoyed, worried, anxious or tired I was, I never ever felt better after having a glass or two or even three glasses of something. Instead I felt more tired and worn out. Perhaps it was a problem of not having enough alcohol to numb the stress. But then again, we’re talking about social drinking which is supposed to be moderate, right?
The best way to relieve stress turned out to be revisiting my own mindset. Funny that, working on my mind requires a clear sober mind. The bonus is that it doesn’t cause a hangover.
Read my post 10 steps to overcome limiting beliefs
Myth #3 Alcohol helps connect with people
After all, we attend Friday drinks, team building sessions, friends’ parties and family reunions to socialise, network and connect. Indeed, alcohol takes down barriers between people, but often the wrong ones, and Friday drinks lead to Monday embarrassments.
If I can tolerate co-workers and friends only if I’m under alcohol influence, I should perhaps reconsider who I’m interacting with and why. Or do we drink at parties just because everyone else does?
Read my post Keen to change others? Think again
Myth #4 Moderate drinking doesn’t harm our health
Well, I’m not a medical expert and I don’t want to debate whether one glass of red wine a day is good for my health. I have no idea. What I do know is that alcohol, even in moderate amounts, affected the way I felt and how I looked.
Evening drinks didn’t help with sticking to my early morning routine, yoga, good mood and ‘look good with no make-up’ regime. Do I need to say that it was hard to drink and not eat? Eating late in the evening? A crime really. Not to mention morning drinks, let’s not even go there. Unfortunately, all this gets even worse as we age. Alcohol leaves visible marks on our face and no amount of make-up can hide them.
Myth #5 There’s nothing wrong with enjoying an occasional drink
I don’t understand what occasional drinking is. It just doesn’t make sense to drink once a month or once a quarter. If I loved alcohol, I’d be a regular drinker - a couple of glasses of wine every evening, or at least once or twice a week; better yet whiskey, at least I wouldn't fall asleep like I did from wine. That would make sense. Drinking once a month only because others do so, doesn’t make sense.
A couple of weeks ago I attended corporate drinks. As I was proudly enjoying my glass of water, two young co-workers approached me and hesitantly asked why I wasn’t drinking alcohol. Then they quietly confessed that they didn’t drink either, but were reluctant to be very vocal about it. We stood there speaking in low voices and looking around – it all seemed very much like we were sharing a shameful secret.