Whatever Works

For me, a huge part of the difficulty in getting my head around the concept of giving up alcohol for good was an idea I had that being teetotal wasn’t very cool. Call me shallow for worrying about such a thing, but understanding who we are in and amongst a sea of different personalities and working out what makes each of us as individuals tick, is the key (in my opinion) to forever sobriety. It is about discovering whatever works, for YOU.

I always defined myself by my hedonism prior to giving up alcohol. Many of my heroes in music and film as I was growing up were drug addicts and alcoholics, struggling with this addiction or that. The music I listened to (and still do) was/is peppered with references to heroin addiction or booze, withdrawals and lyrics which generally denote vast inner turmoil.

My friends were always heavy drinkers and/or drug users, and a massive part of how I perceived myself was this big hedonistic streak which, for all intents and purposes, pretty much defined me for twenty years of my life, good or bad.

When I decided to give up booze, I was filled with dread that I would become… (Wait for it, the dreaded word!) BORING! How would I be able to maintain the persona I had spent so much of my life creating, minus the several-times-a-week alcohol binges?

Well the answer is, I couldn’t, which is no bad thing because if you were to ask many of the people who’ve known me both as a drinker and since I stopped, they would most likely tell you that I was an almighty pain in the arse with the wine in me, and that since knocking it on the head I am not boring, just normal and a lot nicer. There are also, of course, the people who I used to be acquainted with who don’t know me as a non-drinker, their patience running out years ago as a result of my perpetual car-crash lifestyle, inability to know what or who I wanted which more often than not led me to hurting those who were trying to be my friend, and simply because they grew tired of being with someone so caught up with wine that she forgot to think about anything or anyone else.

Unfortunately you can’t go back, and that damage has been done.

With regards to the ‘cool’ element of boozy living and whether being a non-drinker can ever bring about that trait, here’s what I think about it all now; there is nothing cool about being a selfish drunk who walks all over people and only cares where the next glass is coming from. It is a struggle and a battle and damn hard work giving up booze and staying sober, and reaching that place is a million times cooler than giving into an addiction. And finally, I borrowed a tip from my teenage handbook, and found some ‘cool’ people who don’t drink or do drugs or both, and I use them as my role models. My most favourite of these is Anthony Kiedis of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, and if you don’t know their music, try listening to Under the Bridge for a bit of motivation and cool inspiration.

Singer Anthony Kiedis ca. 2002

It works for me every time I feel a sense of ‘I’m just a boring bugger who doesn’t drink,’ coming on, and even if it’s imaginary, I’m going through it all with Anthony Kiedis, which makes it totally cool in my book.

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11 thoughts on “Whatever Works

  1. anniehickox says:

    Great post. Also David Walliams and his wife, the model Lara Stone, are alcohol free, having had problems with alcohol in the past.

    • Thanks, yes David Walliams and his wife are great role models, and there are loads of others who provide that element of cool, if that’s what people are worried they may lose….It’s just a case of being selective with your influences! Thanks for your comment, and for reading my blog. Lucy

  2. Yup – A huge part of it is all about the marketing, something we fall for as teenagers (who are desperate to both define themselves as interesting individuals and fit in). Once you’ve fallen for the marketing and the alcohol=cool / sobriety =boring lie, you are probably already addicted – then you’ve got to reprogram yourself in order to get out of the trap.

    Drunk people are boring – they say the same (meaningless) thing over and over again, don’t move from the same spot all evening and have no wit or energy. I think a lot of the people who thing non-drinkers are boring are probably quite jealous that we are just free to enjoy ourselves however we want without being a slave to booze.

    Great post as usual – I’m sure the fear of social stigma – being thought of as dull is a massive impediment to many people stopping the booze.

    • Really well put – I wish I had seen what was happening when I was younger but teenagers are so easily influenced at that age and just fall for it hook, line and sinker! Totally agree with you that the only people who think drunks are interesting are those who are so drunk they don’t know any different. Social stigma was a big obstacle for me, but very glad that I have finally got over that one (you too!). Thanks, Lucy x

  3. Jen says:

    I do the same thing with “cool” role models. My favorite is Chris Cornell (most famously of Soundgarden). I think the rock star lifestyle is a good parallel of the alcoholic’s journey, just sped way up. It goes to show that that kind of lifestyle is just not sustainable in the long term. It has helped me to not feel envious of people who can drink normally because I know I already used all my “partying” up and burned out. And thank goodness I did because now I can really start living ;).

    • Good for you, I think it’s really important to not envy people who drink and to remember constantly that not drinking is a choice, that nobody is forcing you to make. You can’t really feel cross about something that you have chosen to do – which is why the state of mind is so important to get right when you give up the booze, otherwise you enter into a lifetime of envy and longing and feeling as though you are missing out, which must be awful. Thanks for reading, and for commenting – always good to hear from you x

  4. carrie says:

    Bradley Cooper’s mine…if you know what I mean. He is so cool and very sober. The ironic star of the Hangover movies!
    Of course being sober is cool, it’s a bit lonely sometimes but there’s more of us every day
    Love your work C x

    • Yes, I love Bradley Cooper too – did you see him sitting with Gerard Butler watching Andy Murray in the Wimbledon final? A little bit of heaven 🙂
      Lucy x

  5. Oh yeah, what Carrie said – there’s more of us every day. We are the lamp lighters!! For me it was after I read McKenzie Phillips biography and she wrote about her final stint in rehab when she finally got clean “‘..maybe what I’d also gotten wrong was that I realised I couldn’t throw away who I was to be clean. It sounds corny, but what I realised was that I could still be my quirky left-of-centre self without doing drugs.” It was only after reading that that I started thinking that I could hold on to my ‘naughty, fun’ personality without the booze.. and then I started going to parties and (if I was in the right frame of mind) hanging with the boozers and talking loose. i.e. not feeling like sober had to mean ‘uptight’. Ok, sometimes you just do feel sober and uptight and that’s fine too.. but not always. Great post xxxx

    • I totally know where you are coming from – I think the fear of having to be frumpy and boring, just because I no longer wanted to drink, stopped me from giving up for a long time. And it so doesn’t have to be like that – it’s a state of mind, and the more time that passes and the more things you experience sober, the more you realise that you can be whatever you want to be, and without all the hellish consequences of alcohol! Thanks for this, it’s great to hear from you. Lucy xx

  6. Annie says:

    Yes, my view of myself has been a problem. I cannot use the excuse of being a teenager. I got to 40 before there was any problem. Maybe because I got to 40 without ever having much spare cash to time.
    But we are a social family. Dinner parties, Friday and Sunday lunches etc etc I like to think of myself as one of the local in crowd. I remember the first time my daughter suggested I was drinking too much, she hastened to add that I should cut down, not stop as teetotallers were always viewed as weird. If she remembers saying that now, she wishes she didn’t say it. I wish she hadn’t. Now we would both wish I was able to stop.

    Annie

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