If only quitting drinking was received in the same way as quitting smoking. I’d post on Facebook and get loads of comments saying “well done!”, “go you!”, “good riddance!”. But instead I am encouraged by loved ones (well meaning, always) to keep the not drinking under my hat, to not mention it. For God’s sake don’t make another bloody video or a blog post about it, because “when you fail” (words actually said by someone I really like and who is lovely but just missed the target a bit with that gem!!) it puts added pressure onto you.
How about this, everyone? How about we start seeing quitting drinking as the same as quitting smoking? How about we accept that it may take a few attempts, but the most important thing is not to give up giving up?
It should be bloody celebrated; giving up a dependence on a poison that is WAY higher than any other drug on the ‘harm index’, a list compiled according to the World Health Organisation.
The other day I had one the moments that seem to pop up every now and then when you stop drinking. I sat at a restaurant table with two friends. Moment came to order wine. “You still not drinking??” (said with a not ill meaning grin, as in, we expect you to fail, as in you will not do this, as in come on be serious it’s just a matter of time before you fail). “No” I answered, calmly. The other friend, again someone I love dearly, made a joke about failing just so I could write about quitting again – because, you know, painful addictions make GREAT content – to which I replied, “well, most people who quit something have a few cracks before they get it right”. Awkward moment ensued.
Oh, come on! REALLY? I never have awkward moments. EVER. I am not capable of them. I can talk about anything! WORMS IN YOUR BUM? Had them. Let’s talk. I’m like the authority at school on this subject. But quitting booze apparently makes people on edge.
Jesus. Just ask me anything you like about it, really! I like talking about it! It takes away the stigma, just like talking about mental health does.
Because there is SUCH a stigmas about drinking problems still. You better believe it. You are either an alcoholic or you are fine. There is no in between the world would have you believe. Well, that’s bullshit. There is a massive in between. And I, and millions of other people (most of whom aren’t ready or brave enough or don’t think they are strong enough to quit) are in that in between. I am lucky that I discovered another way – thanks largely to OYNB – I now know that life is just BETTER without booze. I am 24 (I think) days in. And yes, life is immeasurably better. Don’t get me wrong, the 25 years’ worth of conditioning is hard work to undo. Yes I crave a drink sometimes (when I say crave, I mean in the way you crave a Cadbury’s Boost when you are due on your period – I’m not crawling on the floor weeping or anything). And some social occasions are going to be tough without the crutch to dampen my anxiety (which is I believe the main reason I over drank in the first place – that’s for another post though).
But yeah, I feel good, I look better, I am calmer, more kind, more resilient, less paranoid, sleeping better. God, I could go on but it’s boring so I won’t. (OK, just allow me one more: I started writing my book again! Something my self-doubt fueled mind wouldn’t allow me to do when I was hungover twice a week).
Back to the start though. I just wish people would be open-minded, supportive and honest. Even if they say things like “Won’t you be bored?” or “How will you cope at parties?” I really don’t mind. Say anything you want! Just don’t, please, be awkward. Because I’m fine.
No, I’m more than fine; I’m happy! It’d be awesome if you could happy for me too.