First up, good luck and best wishes to anyone taking on Dry July. It’s a great cause and raising money for charity is fantastic. But I learnt last year it’s not for me.
Now don’t get me wrong, I’ve done abstaining from alcohol before. In fact I try and do it for a few weeks every year. Normally, I do this between NYE and my birthday on the 21st of January, I like to take time out to detox and avoid booze. By my birthday my detox is done, I’ve forgotten all those Christmas party and New year hangovers and I fancy a drink again.
So, I thought I could do Dry July no problems and that I would actually enjoy it. The first thing I’m going to say is that I didn’t make the month. In fact I got to the third weekend and I was done. I was spending my days wishing the time away. I felt like I was trapped in a cage and wanted to break free. All very dramatic of me.
One thing I hated was that I realised I’m not good at being told I can’t have something. It makes me think about it all the time. I found myself walking pass the eight pubs (yes I counted them) on my walk home from work looking in and thinking I’m not allowed to drink. This was something I’d never do. I felt obsessed with what I couldn’t have. For instance, I’d very rarely, if ever drink Monday through to Thursday but even those nights I was thinking about it. It made me feel like an alcoholic.
I also hated how it took spontaneous plans out of my life. I didn’t mind being stone cold sober for work dinners, drinks out with friends or Friday night after a long week but I hated the idea that I’d imposed a rule over myself. It felt like I had no real reason for doing it, no pregnancy, no health issue or fear of alcohol being a crutch. I was doing it because it seemed like a good challenge to give myself.
I thought I’d be upset with myself that I didn’t make the month because I hate quitting things. However, I actually just felt relieved that I’d realised I was putting too much pressure on myself to do something I didn’t want to do.
If I’m honest it’s because I love a drink. It’s my vice. I can say no to sweets, pass up cheese and be that person that never misses a workout but letting a glass of champagne go to waste is something I’m not ok with. For me an approach to being better with alcohol would actually be moderation month. Where we learn not to get carried away with drinking and know our limits. Knowing the difference between enjoyment and getting wasted. Now, this is something I’m keen to work on. So, this year I’ve done two things.
1) I went a month where I only consumed vodka when I had an alcoholic drink. Sounds funny and quite silly but it meant no wines with dinner and only vodka, lime and soda when out. I keep a better tab on how much I was my drinking and it’s a slimmer choice.
2) I went a few weeks where I said for every glass of alcohol I consumed I had to have a water or a lemonade too. This slowed down my drinking and the water (not the lemonade) meant a slimmer choice.
I’m honest enough to admit I’m still learning. Last week I did the Friday night drinks on no dinner and after four wines had to race home as I felt too drunk (this is the second time this has happened to me this year).
So, maybe this month instead of being dry I might just try to be more sensible…
PS. I really do tip my hat to anyone doing Dry July. May your month be fun filled and you raise some money for a wonderful cause.