I’ve always been rather ambivalent when it comes to Dry January and its related sponsorship –
“Well done, you managed to give-up your daily habit of Baileys before bed for a month. You have given your liver a rest and oh here’s a tenner for being sensible”.
I mean it’s hardly an endurance test, is it? Let’s save that sponsorship for the lunatics that decide to walk a marathon or around a whole island in a day ;-). I’m actually being flippant when I dismiss Dry January. A month of sobriety is a great way of raising awareness and money. That’s why I have done Dry January before, and I have somehow stumbled into it again.
My History With Booze
The reason I struggle with Dry January is because I love wine, a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc to be precise. In my youth I probably loved wine a little too much. I also wasn’t fussy, I would happily drink any white wine, beer and sometimes spirits. Alcohol has always been a steady companion. It has been there since I turned 18, and perhaps a little bit before (sorry mum). At 15 years-old I remember my friends telling me that we were going to Grants that night. I, trying to be oh so cool, had nonchalantly replied, “Oh right, yeah, Grant is cool”. I realised the reason for their weird looks later that night when I found myself in Grants Off Licence eyeing up the Smirnoff Ice. Grant wasn’t a person, he was a shop. We had all bought our one bottle of Smirnoff Ice and headed to the local park where we necked our drink and convinced ourselves that we were drunk, “Woah, this is crazy, I am like wasted. I am going to fly to the moon on this swing”. We weren’t drunk: we were just idiots.
The Dark Side Of Drink
Then by the age of 16 I was in my first long-term relationship and I saw the dangerous side of alcohol. My then boyfriend always used to bunk off his PE lessons. While we were outside running 5 miles through muddy woods, my boyfriend claimed that he was having a civilised glass of red wine in the warmth of his home as he listened to his album collection. However, his midday drinking escalated and by the time we had left secondary school and were in college, he was drinking more than the odd glass of red wine. Looking back, I realise now that he had a problem. Caught up in the midst of it I just thought that it was what all people our age did. However, with the heavy drinking came bouts of violence and I realised that if I didn’t go to university then I would never escape the relationship.
University was my escape plan and I was excited to start a new life. However, I now found myself crippled by insecurities and shyness. I soon realised that I hadn’t fully escaped the relationship, it had left its invisible mark on me. Everyone drank at university and you were encouraged to drink. Drinking gave me confidence, made me funny (I probably wasn’t but I felt it) and happy, I loved it. However, sometimes I drank too much and put myself in stupid situations. There was the time I fell into a glass display, there was the time I had forgotten my keys and tried to squeeze myself through my bedroom window only for the police to arrive and more scarily there was the time my drink was spiked. Yet, despite this, drinking remained a constant companion.
In my twenties my drinking was mostly saved for the weekend when we would go out and party . It was work hard, party hard. This continued after our marriage, but it was less frequent. Then we had children and you suddenly can’t afford to go out anymore. You also can’t spend the whole day in bed on a Sunday, sleeping off your hangover when you have children. So the partying is replaced with the odd bottle of wine on a weekend, and sometimes if you are feeling crazy, you might live on the edge and have a beer as well. Basically, you don’t have time for booze anymore. You have grown up and as such the Wine Witch has flown.
That’s why I’ve never been a fan of Dry January because surely Dry January is just for those people who are still binge drinking? I then worry that Dry January just makes these people think that they can bore us with how virtuous they were for a month, before they go back to their merry binge drinking ways. I worry that Dry January sends out the wrong message. However, I have recently re-evaluated my thinking on this. In December we found ourselves under an unbearable amount of stress. We had gazundering and many other things hitting the fan. We turned to booze. No, we didn’t become a pair of Jack Sparrows and start hitting the rum day and night, we didn’t start drinking heavily at all, but our weekend wine slowly developed into a glass a wine almost every night.
Drinking Out Of Habit
We found ourselves stressed and the glass of wine was the only thing that unwound us, it would help us relax, and with a glass of wine we were able to talk to each other. The worrying faded away and the conversations were no longer stifled. However, January came round and something happened. I decided that I didn’t want anymore wine. My husband might have stared at me agape, his jaw hanging open, but I convinced him to do the same too. However, I am not doing this because I feel I need to. I am mainly doing it because I just can’t be arsed with wine for now. I realised that in December that almost daily glass of wine was more out of habit.
Was it really unwinding us? Not really. The problem was still there. The stressful situations were still happening. I am not saying that I will never drink again. If we actually end up moving house then I will toast the house. I am also not saying that I will not give up my wine for ever. I know it’s wrong but the opening of the wine on a Friday night marks the start of the weekend for me. Pouring that cold, crisp glass of wine is something just for me. What I need to make sure is that I actually want that wine, I need to check that I am not having it out of habit. Dry January can be good for making us re-evaluate our drinking habits. Drinking can be insidious and Dry January can help us keep it in check.
January has seen us under more pressure but we haven’t felt the need for any booze. Instead we have been getting early nights, catching up on work, packing and lots of reading. However, no one can be that virtuous for too long. If we do move house then I will be raising a glass or two, mark my word. Alcohol has its place, we just need to make sure we keep it in its place.
If you are struggling with Dry January then you can read my post on VoucherCodes where I share my top tips for completing and enjoying Dry January.
Before I go – If I am quiet for a while then it will be because we have finally moved house and I will be back, I just might be quiet for a couple of weeks as I unpack and wait for the internet to be connected.