I had a funny moment today when a sudden, out-of-the-blue thought sprang up and disrupted my quiet, plodding along morning brain. I don’t know what prompted it but landing squarely and suddenly at the forefront of my mind were these words; ‘I don’t drink, I am a non-drinker, I have become somebody who does not ever touch alcohol…as if I have certain religious beliefs that forbid me from drinking alcohol I just never, ever drink.’
This internal confirmation of my teetotal commitment tumbled rudely into my chain of thoughts and made me catch my breath. If you had known me before I stopped drinking you would know why. I never, ever imagined that I would be a person who did not drink booze. I used to be, very simply, a drinker – it’s what I was known for.
I recall going for dinner at a boyfriend’s parents’ house in my late teens, his father being a wine connoisseur who enjoyed indulging in his love of fine wines in the company of guests. Upon settling into the sumptuous settee before we ate I was handed a glass of something red and fantastically expensive. As he passed me the elegant wine glass, the father bore his eyes into mine and said sternly ‘This is a VERY good wine – please do not guzzle it.’ He totally had my number.
When I look back over photographs stretching back twenty years I see alcohol featuring in almost all of them; holiday snaps, Christmases, birthdays, nights out, nights in – life was one very long and raucous party and I was usually to be found slap bang in the middle of it, shining in the spotlight, always drinking.
I have worked very hard on being sober and happy over the last couple of years; it didn’t come easy and I have expended a lot of time and energy in my acceptance of this radical departure from old destructive habits. I think I’ve been so busy with ensuring I am ok about not drinking that the end result has almost arrived unnoticed – that is to say the transition from colossal pisshead to totally straight person has happened amidst such a sea of change that this morning’s sudden and stark thought surprised me.
Me? Teetotal? Now there’s something I thought I would never say. I am now so definitively a non-drinker whereas once I was defined by my enormous affection for wine and enthusiasm for losing myself in the maddening, mind-altering, crazed mayhem that it initiated in me. Five years ago I would have bet large amounts of money on me drinking my way through life until the alcoholic sun eventually sank on my world and plunged everything in it into complete blackness.
Today I am better – very different, but very much better. Which is kind of surprising.