I do not drink alcohol and in the past I found it a little challenging when people asked me “Why don’t you drink?”. Recently I went to a ball, a 40th, fundraiser lunch, hen’s party, night out with a friend and I felt so comfortable not drinking that it just felt ‘normal’. I guess it is all about being confident in your own decision and standing by it. When I do this I don’t get any feelings of uncomfortableness.
I accept that I am a minority but facing the firing squad can sometimes still feel daunting. I once read that the worst part about not drinking alcohol is having to tell people you don’t drink.
I find the best thing to do when asked is to confidently give a succinct yet well-formed answer. Then I think of the quote – “Don’t explain. Your friends do not need it, and your enemies will not believe you” – Paulo Coelho. I no longer have the need to justify myself but have found writing helps me articulate exactly what I want to say. So I decided to compile a list of reasons why I choose not to drink alcohol anymore, just for me:
1) Not using alcohol as a crutch. When my husband passed away I was determined not to use anything as a crutch to help me cope. I still have a strong belief that grief needs to be felt fully. I was and still am determined not to dull any feelings I have. We can’t numb one emotion without numbing everything.
2) Not fun on your own. Sharing a bottle of wine with my husband was something that we enjoyed together and it just didn’t entice me without him.
3) Health reasons. When I was first diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis I began injecting myself with Interferon and it was recommended that I sustain from alcohol. I am no longer on any medication, yet continue to sustain by choice. Making this decision on my own has given me a great boost of empowerment.
4) I like being in control and no longer enjoy the escapism that alcohol brings. I am discovering that I can be a confident social person without the need for liquid courage.
5) Feeling clear headed. I am a morning person and have to say that I have become very fond of waking up with a clear head and bouncing out of bed each morning.
Sometimes I wonder “am I fun without alcohol?” I still dance if I hear great music, I laugh at funny jokes, I can hold a conversation, I still have those hilarious conversations that only girlfriends can have. When you have wonderful friends you discover that they are prepared to have honest open, humorous conversations sober or not.
The other question is “can I relax without alcohol? There is nothing wrong with looking forward to a glass of wine at the end of the day but I guess I have discovered some alternatives that suit me better – reading, watching a movie, listening to music, going to the gym, catching up with friends and of course yoga and meditation. I totally understand if these don’t rock your boat but I guess that is my point – these options suit me and don’t have to suit everyone. I can accept that not enjoying alcohol may not make sense to you but a seriously cold class of San Pellegrino or Voss mineral water with a slice of lemon or even iced tea really hits the spot for me.
I also think it tastes better in a gorgeous glass. A word of advice – just because a person does not drink alcohol does not mean they don’t appreciate it served in an enticing glass.
I have often thought that in time I would return to enjoying wine and champagne but as the time passes I seem to be becoming less and less interested in it. I do not need alcohol to ‘take the edge off’ or give me confidence. I now show up as just me.