Monday, 10 December 2012

Reflections on sobriety



We’re now 37 days into the Give It Up For One25 campaign, with another 88 to go. So we’re well over a quarter of the way there. 

I chose to give up alcohol this year to help raise money for One25 – you can see my initial blog about that here. But in short, the campaign runs from November 4 2012 until March 8 2013 (International Women’s Day), and involves people giving something up for either 125 hours or 125 days. I’ve given up alcohol for 125 days… a period that covers Christmas, New Year and my birthday. Phew!

So far, I’ve survived the first 37 days without succumbing to temptation… something I’m sure my generous sponsors will be pleased about! That’s not to say it’s always been easy: the hardest time was going out to dinner with two good friends, who (reasonably, why should they stop drinking just because I have?) worked their way through a bottle of wine. That was a tough evening…

But of course, my idea of a tough evening without a glass of wine is pathetic when compared to the tough mornings, afternoons and evenings endured by the hundreds of women who One25 will be helping with the sponsorship proceeds from the 150+ people (to date) who are giving up all manner of things for this excellent cause.

After 37 days without alcohol, I thought I’d reflect on what the last five sober weeks have been like. I honestly can’t say that I miss alcohol as much as I expected to, which is a really nice realisation.

Admittedly, it’s not like I drank so much that I feel physically any different. But it’s made me realise how many opportunities there are for drinking alcohol in an average week, which I’d never properly noticed before. For instance, last week I was offered free drinks at a theatre preview, on two occasions when people were getting a round in, and when someone brought a bottle of wine round to our house as a ‘thank you’ present. And that’s without listing times I might have reached for a glass of something while at home, or catching up with a friend in a bar. Which collectively makes me realise how much we rely on alcohol as a crutch for social occasions and as a conversational lubricant.

This has also made me realise how much of a social pariah you are when you don’t drink. Some people who don’t know I’ve given up alcohol for sponsorship have even asked me if I’m pregnant when I’ve turned a drink down! Because it seems we’ve been conditioned so much as a society to look up to alcohol, to aspire to obtaining it, to see ourselves as somehow rebellious for drinking so much of it that we’re proud when bar staff refuse to serve us anymore… yet so many people don’t respect it. For years, I’ve been astonished and saddened by the number of people I’ve met who talk about alcohol as if it’s the greatest thing in the world, or in some way gives them a personality. It isn’t and it doesn’t.

However, I realise this makes me sound boringly sanctimonious, which isn’t my intention. I simply want to say that taking a step back from alcohol has made me take a look at how I drank, and to notice how those around me drink. Like anything, alcohol in moderation is generally fine and I certainly don’t intend to never drink again. But I will definitely think before I drink in future. And I suspect my attitude to buying drinks will echo my attitude to buying clothes: which I don’t buy very often, but when I do I buy good quality ones that will last.

Thank you to everyone who has sponsored me so far and helped me raise £365 (£452.50 with Gift Aid) so far for One25. My goal is to raise at least £500 (before Gift Aid), so if you can spare a few pounds to sponsor me I would be hugely grateful. Here’s the link.

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