By the time I hit my teens, alcohol and rebellion were inextricably linked in my mind. Without a shadow of a doubt, I held fast to the notion that there was no better way to express my desire to shirk convention and rebuff authority than to drink excessive amounts as frequently as possible. This mental link between booze and my rebellious nature was to stay with me right up until my mid-thirties when, despite being a mother and living in a nice, respectable part of town where I quaffed expensive bottles of wine, I still regarded myself as possessing an insubordinate streak.
And when I decided to stop drinking altogether, a major quandary that arose was how I would manage to cling onto my wayward, headstrong personality minus the very obvious method of evidencing it that was drinking too much. It occurred to me that much of the way I expressed myself had always come in the shape of a bottle or glass, and I stalled for a while in knowing how I should act without such props.
Gradually, I began to really take on board how many people drink alcohol to excess; what a massive element of almost everyone’s life booze is, to some degree or another. Maybe they weren’t all getting hammered to the point of blacking out as I once was, but most were certainly unable to conceive of experiencing birthdays, Christmases, weddings, Friday nights, Saturday nights and holidays without the booze flowing fairly freely. As a non-drinker, I saw this excessive consumption with a heightened awareness and developed a growing understanding of the manipulative strength of the alcohol industry – an industry that spends millions trying to coax us all to drink yet more booze each year.
As time has gone on, I have rediscovered my ‘inner rebel’ as I now recognise that by not drinking, I am acting in an unconventional manner with far greater magnitude than I did previously. As a drinker, I was merely yet another person who regularly numbed her senses with alcohol. Now I stand out, I am different.
In a few days, the onslaught of Christmas parties will begin. For a whole month, people all over the Western world will drink huge amounts of booze in the name of ‘fun’ and will embarrass themselves, spend more money than they had hoped to, and wake up on January 1st a few pounds heavier and looking somewhat the worse for wear.
But there will be a small but significant minority who won’t engage in such behaviour.
Those who don’t drink will focus on things other than booze during the Christmas period; family, good food, enjoying a rest from work, a little extra time to indulge in some of the things they love doing. They won’t be struggling to cope with debilitating hangovers at 5 am on Christmas Day whilst trying to stay upbeat for the kids. They won’t be desperately trying to recall the horrors they may have been involved in at a party, one that they have no memory of due to a blackout striking mid-evening. And when January rolls around, they won’t be committing to a restrictive detox diet in a bid to shed the extra weight they have gained through drinking too much wine over the festive period.
I take a lot of comfort from the knowledge that I am, in my mind at least, a little unconventional. It helped me enormously during the earlier days of my not drinking, providing me with an extra dose of motivation whenever a craving hit. And now when I see people loading their excessive booze purchases onto the supermarket conveyer belts, I ponder over what better things they could be spending their hard-earned money on than lining the pockets of the fat cats of the alcohol industry – the corporate giants who are simply rubbing their hands with glee, especially at this time of year.
If you would like to challenge the norm this year, why not commit to Soberistas31 (see the details here) and opt to NOT drink alcohol for the month of December? Donate the money you would have spent on booze to the very deserving charity Rainbow Trust on January 1st via our JustGiving page (details will be provided on Soberistas towards the end of December) and know that this year you will have spent your money wisely, looked after yourself, and given Christmas 2014 your all.