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The tremendous experience of giving up alcohol for ten months

Updated on October 27, 2010

One is never enough, sadly.

Ahhh, that's better.

This hub is not a lecture, or an attempt to convert anyone to teetotalism. It is purely anecdotal and autobiographical in its nature, an observation about my choices.

Almost twelve months ago I had a terrible hangover. I did not have hangovers very often, but I was noticing that it seemed to be impossible for me to go out for an evening with friends without inflicting a severe headache upon myself the next day. Quite frankly I was starting to be disgusted with my lack of will power, my inability to resist those last two or three drinks, or to get home before 2am. Before children, it didn't really matter if I chose to spend the odd Sunday in bed with paracetomol and a bottle of coke. But with children, who have waited through a whole week at school for those two precious days with me and their dad, waited to do something fun, it's not fair.

Let me just clarify, justify, explain myself a little. We are talking here about going out less often than once a month, no drinking at home whatsoever; we are not talking about a serious problem with alcohol, just an annoying one that I wanted to deal with for my own peace of mind. The guilt associated with drinking is something that I do not enjoy living with, even though I do not think that have ever actually done anything to feel guilty about whilst drunk, but the feelings still persist. I once read AA's criteria for self diagnosis of alcoholism (I had a friend who was an alcoholic; she has it well under control now, happily) - the leaflet seemed to suggest that everyone who enjoys a few drinks, ever, is an alcoholic, which I find a little draconian. I don't consider myself to be in any way an alcoholic. But perhaps the guilt I feel when I drink is actual a physiological response to the physical damage, albeit minimal, that I do to my body through the consumption of something that is poisonous to it. It's a theory: probably a nonsense. Let's move on.

For some people, one or two drinks are not enough. There really is only one option worth considering - no alcohol at all.

I made the decision to give up alcohol in November of 2009. Some people would say that this was a silly time to choose, what with Christmas coming up, the festive season. I guess those people are not ready to make the commitment to give up the booze themselves then! I saw this particular time of year as the perfect opportunity to test myself. I only had to wait a couple of weeks for the first night out, my partner's office Christmas party. I volunteered to drive to make sure I wouldn't be able to weaken. If we had taken a taxi to the venue it's difficult to tell whether or not I would have given in and ordered a pint of beer as soon as we got to the bar. But I can say, without any attempt to deceive, that I enjoyed myself thoroughly. I was very pleasantly surprised that I felt no compulsion to order a glass of wine at all. I enjoyed having a clear head for the full evening, and particularly the following morning.

Every evening out after that proved to be no challenge at all. Sometimes I took the car, sometimes we walked or took a bus. The joy I felt every time, when I woke up the next day to the knowledge that I did not have a hangover was electric, and that is no exaggeration. I would bounce out of bed - sometimes to discover that I had sore feet, because my teetotalism did not diminish my love of dancing - and embrace the day. I think that particular kind of relief can only be experienced by someone who has endured crushing hangovers.

My dry spell lasted ten months. I had agreed with myself that I would take booze breaks for my brother's Stag Weekend, and for his Barbados wedding. The booze break seems to have run on for an extra couple of weeks, and I am once again feeling alcohol's grip tightening. So it is time to put the self-imposed ban back in place. I am looking forward to it, very much. I suppose I could challenge myself to only drink two drinks whenever I go out, but I don't think I trust my will power that much. Besides, I'm interested to see if I can beat my ten month record.

I can tell you this though: alcohol is far easier to give up than chocolate. I only lasted forty days and forty nights with that one. Ugh, horrible.

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    • Lady Wordsmith profile image
      Author

      Linda Rawlinson 5 years ago from Lancaster, UK

      Thanks for the share Gj! It's been a long while since I had a drink again, since before Christmas I think, though I'm not counting. My next drink, I think, will be the annual beer festival in March. I always have a few drinks at that one, and sample some gorgeous beers. I enjoy sampling beer for the taste of it now, rather than just to get drunk - much better.

      Thanks for reading, and sharing.

      Linda.

    • gjfalcone profile image

      gjfalcone 5 years ago from Gilbert, Arizona

      Excellent Hub. I concur, after a long break, that first drink is refreshing. I voted ^ & useful.

      Thanks for SHARING Lady Wordsmith.

    • Lady Wordsmith profile image
      Author

      Linda Rawlinson 6 years ago from Lancaster, UK

      My goodness, to have headaches from eating just a little bit of chocolate - I shudder to think. I eat lots of chocolate, daily. It probably wouldn't do me any harm to give it up for a little while, but I would hate to do it. Vices can be good, and I too hope that you can retain a few. I have many - hmm, I feel another hub coming on!

      I like green tea too, it's so refreshing. I like mine with a hint of grapefruit.

      I'm doing well with my abstinence, but that's really just because I haven't been out in a long time. I haven't REALLY tested myself yet. But everything in my body screams at me that alcohol doesn't agree with me at all, so I'm determined to succeed in this.

      Thanks for commenting :)

      Linda.

    • gracenotes profile image

      gracenotes 6 years ago from North Texas

      Lady W, I thought I'd come by to comment! Nice hub. Funny you should mention chocolate, which I have had to GIVE UP very recently. Eating chocolates never bothered me before, but things have changed, because now I get a headache when I eat just one chocolate truffle, and the headache goes on for two days. Thankfully, I can still consume flavored coffees with a splash or a hint of mocha. I think I have a mild form of the migraine syndrome, and consequently, I would probably be bothered by red wine -- that is, if I liked wine, which I don't.

      The hardest thing would be for me to give up black tea or green tea, which I consume in small quantities. I really like the lift from a little caffeine. Hopefully I can retain just a few vices in my life.

      Best of luck as you continue on with a curtailment of alcohol. I haven't seen anything in my medical research that tells me it's good for women, and I have a friend who probably consumes 2 glasses of wine per day. I keep my mouth shut on that issue, though.

    • Lady Wordsmith profile image
      Author

      Linda Rawlinson 6 years ago from Lancaster, UK

      Aww, bless you :D My computer is broken, and I don't like using my partner's Mac Mini with its horrible teeny keyboard that only a T-Rex can use. So I'm just maintaining reluctant t'internet silence for a few weeks. Social networking sites I can manage without, but the absence of HubPages in my life is not so nice :( My computer came back today, but it's still not right, so I'm sending it right back. *Sigh* hope it doesn't take too long to fix, as I miss you all too :)

      I might manage to post one Hub tonight, if I'm speedy. We'll see. In any case, I hope to be back in the Hubasphere very soon.

      Linda.

    • Twilight Lawns profile image

      Twilight Lawns 6 years ago from Norbury-sur-Mer, Surrey, England. U.K.

      Where have you been? I missed you.

    • Lady Wordsmith profile image
      Author

      Linda Rawlinson 6 years ago from Lancaster, UK

      Slippped off it the other night - though I've never actually seen the wagon, and I'm not sure it exists, so I don't think it really has anything to do with me. Horrible hangover the next day, reminded me why I didn't want to drink anymore. So, back on the ... err, wagon, again.

      Damn that bloody stupid wagon, who does it think it is?! I'm actually going to just walk.

    • Twilight Lawns profile image

      Twilight Lawns 6 years ago from Norbury-sur-Mer, Surrey, England. U.K.

      Hi Linda. I was one of those "Wake up the morning and feel shame because of the things I had done and things I had said..." persons. Then, thirteen years ago I decided that enough was enough. I seldom had hangovers, but when I did. Wow. I have not had a drink since.

      Great hub, well written as usual and such sense. An inspiration for someone going on the wagon (Whatever that means)

    • Lady Wordsmith profile image
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      Linda Rawlinson 6 years ago from Lancaster, UK

      Thanks Michael. I like your adapted profile picture :)

      Hope you have a good Christmas too. I'm going to enjoy a dry one this year :) Well, mostly dry - I'll be drinking tea!

      Linda.

    • michael ely profile image

      michael ely 6 years ago from Scotland

      Hi Linda, Great Hub. I can relate to some of this. Like yourself, i wouldn't say i drank to serious levels, but sometimes i would be tempted to an extra drink or two at the end of a night which i would really feel the next day. But as you get older it seems that the level of hangovers gets more severe. So, well done on your 10 months.

      Hope you have a good, happy Christmas. All the best. Michael.

    • Lady Wordsmith profile image
      Author

      Linda Rawlinson 6 years ago from Lancaster, UK

      That's so true gulnazahmad. We have to take responsibility for ourselves, and teach our kids to do the same, I think :)

      Thanks for the comment.

      Linda.

    • gulnazahmad profile image

      gulnazahmad 6 years ago from Pakistan

      A real thought provoking hub and we all should look deep in our lives what we are doing wrong and WE can only change our habits and nobody else can.

      Rated up:-)keep writing!

    • Lady Wordsmith profile image
      Author

      Linda Rawlinson 6 years ago from Lancaster, UK

      I'm just blushing with all these compliments epigramman! I have had the tiniest thought about writing a column a few times, but have dismissed the idea very quickly as I just assumed that no-one would want to read my rambling style. A couple of people have suggested the idea since I became a hubber, but I wouldn't know where to start. I will look into it - I have no idea where to start, but it is something I would certainly be interested in.

      Thank you for suggesting this to me. Let's see what happens.

      Linda.

    • epigramman profile image

      epigramman 6 years ago

      ....what used to make me laugh about shows like Cornation Street - the social hub/the centre of the universe was the pub - so I guess it's a big part of their social fabric and also the sense of belonging - and as humans we do everything out of habit .....

      ...well your spontaneous writing style is fast becoming a bit of a habit for me - you would be a fabulous columnist - writing in a magazine or a daily newspaper - have you ever thought of that avenue??? It seems that you could almost write about anything - if you put that fine mind of yours into a certain frame of mind ......

    • Lady Wordsmith profile image
      Author

      Linda Rawlinson 6 years ago from Lancaster, UK

      Oh, I still go out and enjoy myself - not drinking doesn't stop me from doing that at all :) I just get to enjoy the day after too - big bonus!

    • MonicaRobinson profile image

      MonicaRobinson 6 years ago

      As a big drinker in my youth, and being sober for many years, I have so much more fun living life sober! I understand the guilt and children, bu do go out and have fun, enjoy yourself. As long as it does not interfere with your family life or work, there is no need for guilt!

    • Lady Wordsmith profile image
      Author

      Linda Rawlinson 6 years ago from Lancaster, UK

      Thank you :) I never thought about it like that - you're right! Ah, I feel released since reading your comment - 'the only person we have control over is ourselves' - perfect.

    • INFJay profile image

      Jay Manriquez 6 years ago from Santa Rosa, California

      Seems there is always something to challenge us. If not for alcohol, chocolate, or some other of life's pleasure, how else would we learn that the only person we have control over is ourselves? Excellent read! Thanks.