I was never a big drinker but I liked a drink. I wouldn’t say I had a problem with alcohol but I never wanted to have one either.
I was a social drinker at university which is where I really learned how to drink! I started in the first year on pints of cider and matured into vodka until I fell out with that and never touched it again! I became a budwieser girl until, in my 20’s, married with a home, I progressed onto wine. By this point I was in the police which was pretty full on and drinking was part of the culture. Whether you met in the police bar after work or went out clubbing at the weekend, drinking was central to socialising. Then drinking became what you did to relax, to wind down after a tough day. Until, most nights, I was drinking a bottle of wine. So was everyone else.
I left the police in 2014 and the drinking continued. I didn’t like it. I had always wrestled with it. A couple of Lent abstentions had been alcohol specific. But I had always gone back to it. Family gatherings revolved around wine. Holidays revolved around wine. One particularly famous one in our household revolved around Bacardi. There were some hallucinations and hangovers during that three weeks! But some great photos!
Then I was 40 all of a sudden and the handovers were debilitating. It was like a game of Russian Roulette. Some days it would feel like I hadn’t had a drink (I kidded myself), some days I just barely got through on regular doses of nurofen until I could get back to bed. Those nights I didn’t drink. Go me!
I never drank more than a bottle of wine. I hate being out of control and a bottle was a comfortable limit for me.
And I hated myself. I hated waking up in the morning feeling disappointed with myself. I hated the argument in my head – to drink or not to drink. I hated giving in although it was easier to give in and buy the wine. I hated the hangover and I hated the vicious circle. I hated wasting time, laying in bed, feeling rotten.
One morning that same self-loathing monologue was playing over in my head as I drove my husband to the railway station. By the time I got home I had decided I needed to do something and stop wearing myself out with the hatred. I googled – what I don’t know – and Hello Sunday Morning popped into the search results. I signed up. I text hubby and told him. He signed up. And that was that. April 2014. We haven’t had an alcoholic drink since.
Hello Sunday Morning, or HSM ,isn’t magic. It isn’t a quick fix or a gimmick. It didn’t cost any money. It was just a motivator for us, a support network. Every Sunday I would get a notification asking me to sign in. Every Sunday I did. A time bar would notify me how many weeks I had completed. Obviously the premise of it being about Sunday Morning is that you get to celebrate the morning that would generally be lost to a hangover. And I did! In my vintage job I get to go to boot fairs every Sunday morning, bright and early. Every Sunday morning I would shout “Hello Sunday Morning” to the sun rise. Obviously anonymously in my car as I drove along with the windows closed. Hubby did the same on his early morning long bike ride in the hills around where we live.
And the weeks just flew by. Well after the first month. That was tough. I’m glad we had the site and each other. But after that it was easy. We just never thought about it.
Sometimes I would post a blog on the site updating where I was up to. I often read about other people’s progress. People’s success is a great motivator as can people’s failures be. But the site is encouraging and motivating. If people fall off the wagon and they admit it they are helped back up, if they want to be. It is a choice.
During that 12 months the site was incredibly important to both of us. As the 12 months drew to an end people started asking what we would be drinking first? Were we excited about finally getting a glass of wine? Could they be with us? How funny it would be to see us drunk again…
We started wrestling again. Did we want to drink? Weren’t we happy like this? What would be a positive about drinking? Do we need to drink?
And the happy conclusion was that we are now 4 months into our second HSM.
Ten Good Things About Not Drinking
- I don’t feel embarrassed or ashamed when I speak to people wondering if I have wine breath!
- No hangovers. Ever. If I have a headache it’s because I am dehydrated so I just drink some water and it goes. I never feel sick unless I am actually ill. I haven’t been ill since I gave up drinking.
- No stress about who will drive!
- No waking up thinking oh my goodness what did I say / do / lose???
- Having a nice drink with a meal out rather than a glass of wine that you endure which tastes horrid.
- My skin has improved tremendously. As have my wrinkles!
- My energy levels are much improved and I don’t long for my bed all day.
- Another negative voice / self-loathing monologue out of my head.
- Obviously there are positive health implications.
- The incredible amount of money we have saved. Drinking costs more than just the bottle of wine (and my bottle cost £12 by the end as I desperately tried to buy a hang over free day). There are the snacks and then the crap you eat the next day to try to stave off the hangover.
In those 16 months both of us have changed careers. I am now a full time vintage dealer, a lot less money than I ever earned in the police. Hubby is now training to be an accountant. I have no idea how we would have afforded to carry on drinking now. But I’m glad that we haven’t afforded to carry on drinking. I’m glad that for the choice we have made, to stop pouring our money down the drain, that we get to go on holiday still, we get to have days out and we get to spend happy hours together. Without me snapping at the poor bloke because I am tired and hung-over.