Some thoughts on drinking...

Wednesday 20 April 2016

I used to be a pretty big drinker. Not in an every night kind of way but in the 'look at all the youth on the news and their binge drinking' kind of way. A night out on a Friday was sure to be accompanied by a hangover on a Saturday, and a sudden cring on a Sunday as I remembered something I'd done or said. Esepcially at Uni, although admittedly back then the hangovers were never that bad.

If I was going out for drinks, I was drinking to get drunk, I didn't see the point of alcohol otherwise. I never liked the taste of wine, and never really appreciated the relief one glass could give you. I was all in. I liked getting drunk. I like the comaradery, the silliness, and the sudden release from rules that being sober imposed. Part of me even enjoyed the cringeworthy moments. The moments I still cringe and laugh about now.

In my final term at University, the cringe moments came in the form of tears. Loads of tears all of suuden without warning or reason. I put it down to the fact that I had a lot of emotions about coming to the end of my degree that I didn't really know how to deal with, but then I left uni, and 9 times out of 10 if I drank, I would cry. And I began to realise that it was very specific drinks that did that to me. Tequilla or Sambucca are ore effective at making me cry than Grey's Anatomy, and that is saying something.

For a while this wasn't really a problem. The tears never lasted that long, and ten minutes later I'd be laughing and dancing again, but gradually these tears became more of an issue. They'd ruin other people's nights out and I didn't want to be that girl stuck in the toilets while her friends worked out which one had to deal with it this time.

So I stopped doing shots because of tears, I'd ruled out vodka, because it began to taste like a headache to me and rose was off the cards shortly after uni because yuck. I came to realise I could no longer drink with out it having consequences. I knew that I was guaranteed a hangover the next day, and I knew that certain drinks affected me more than others, but that didn't stop me from drinking or getting drunk.

In fact up until the end of January last night, getting drunk was still pretty high up on my list of social activities. But at the beginning of 2015 I did a dryathlon like many do, I also went vegan for the month, and in that time lost about a stone (which was more down to the lack of dairy than the lack of alcohol). Come the end of the month I was looking forward to a night out. And by night out I meant getting drunk.

And one of those things definitely happened.

I got drunk, well and truly, embarrassingly, if I walked past me I'd have judged me look. I was ill, and a mess, and fell out of the taxi and didn't want to get back up. By 11pm I was back at my friends flat after having being root marched across town and put in bed. I didn't get up the next day until gone four. I was battered and bruised and still felt hungover 3 days later.

I hadn't drunk anymore than I would have previously done, which made me think, how often was I putting my body through this. Sure other times drinkg hadn't had such quick or such a dramatic effect on me, but it was becoming the case that going out was nearly always ending in me being sick or too ill the next day to do anything. Luckily by this point going out was barely even a monthly event but still getting drunk no longer seemed appealing.

So much so I almost became afraid to get drunk. I didn't want to drink at all because I didn't want to loose control or 'get in a state' and every night out was tainted with a dread that tomorrow I'd be hungover.

That might not sound like too bad a thing. Lots of people don't drink and that is 100% there decision. The problem was I wasn't comfortable with my own decision not to drink because I wasn't comfortable in an environment where others were. Not because of other peoples behaviour, and not because other people particularly harassed me to drink, but because I didn't know how to go up to a bar and order a soft drink without feeling the need to explain myself.

I felt peer pressured, but not from my peers, from myself.

I thought it mattered to other people whether or not I was drinking, when in truth most people saw my lemonade and would have presumed there was a gin in it. It took a long time for me to become comfortable with my new relationship to alcohol.

I still drink now. I love going for cocktails with the young man, and sharing a bottle of wine with friends. I love going out and being the last one on the dance floor, and I love retelling the antics of the night before. The difference is now I know when to stop, when for a while I didn't. I also know when it is ok to start drinking, when for a while I didn't.

As you grow up your body, hormones and emotions change. You stop liking really sugary sweets, suddenly bread bloats you, and for some reason a certain amount of alcohol makes you self conscious, teary and terribly hungover the next day. It can take a while to realise these things, and when you do, you're not always happy to have found that conclusion.

You don't want to give up all sweets, or bread or drink, and part of you will mourn when you could binge on any of those things, because they once made you happy.

But getting drunk no longer makes me happy. Getting tipsy is great, I love that, and after many many years I now know the difference one drink can make between tipsy and tpping over.

Sure on nights out, sometimes some one asks me why I'm not drinking. Ove or twice people have acted like I'm being a kill joy, but at the end of the night I'm the last one on the dance floor.

What we eat and drink is an entirely personal decision. Other people don't need to be comfortable with your decision, but you do. And i'm not saying everyone should give up getting drunk, or that everyone should e tee total, I'm saying you should find your sweet spot.

Of course getting drunk isn't good for your body, but sometimes it can be what you need after a really bad week and sometiumes it happens by accident, and you shouldn't beat yourself up about it. Just like you shouldn't avoid places or friends just becase tonight you fancy an orange juice instead of a vodka.

This post maybe isn't as structured as I meant it to be, but my main reason for writing is this: when it comes to drinking I think everyone could benefit by being a bit more honest with themselves and eachother about how they feel about it. I know that actually a lot of my friends since I mentioned that I only have one or two drinks have admitted they do the same, and I know there's probably a lot of younger people out there drinking because they think that's what other people want them to do. Similarly there have been times when all I really wanted was a glass of wine, but didn't feel I could order one because nobody else was.

Alcohol is a lot like food, it's about finding a balance and what works for you, and once your comfortable with that decision, chances are everyone else around you will be too.

Whats your drink of choice? And perhap more interestingly, which drink do you avoid like the plague? x

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