I can’t quite remember the first time I got drunk.
Maybe it was when my cousins and I stole sips of wine from our mother’s glasses at one of the numerous family parties.
I remember feeling especially giddy and spent the rest of the night in a fit of giggles. Maybe it was when I lost a bet in high school and I had to sip gross beer from the opaque bottle of I guy I liked but who didn't like me.
Got to love teenage angst.
I’ve had my phases too.
I had a wine phase where I boldly proclaimed that red wine was all I drank. “More Merlot darling”!
I had a beer phase when I was trying to be one of the boys and could name all the football players in the English Premier League.
Of course I had my gin and tonic phase which was a combination of incredibly fun nights and nights spent drunk dialing an ex to tell him I still loved him.
You’d think I had a drinking problem.
At some point I thought I did, but when everyone else around you is drinking, excess seems the norm. Fast forward a few years later and the hangovers that took a greasy breakfast and an aspirin to fix have now become debilitating monsters that wreak havoc on your entire weekend.
What used to be a mad jol has now turned to a drip to the doctors at 4pm on a Sunday and an embarrassing diagnosis of alcohol poisoning.
Don’t laugh, this happened to me last year. You should have seen the look the doctor gave me. He was totally judging me. He was right to do so.
Why? Well, at some point I realized I was just too old to still be drinking alcohol.
Look I’m not a dinosaur from the Triassic era but I am what my aunt calls ‘of age’. This is usually followed by a lecture about why women need to be married by a certain age.
But it’s not that I drank a lot.
I binge drank, which was worse. After calculating all the regrettable choices I had made whilst drunk as well as the short and long terms damage to my overall health (and skin!) I decided to stop drinking.
Vanity had won over Friday’s post work gin and tonics.
I know what that sounds like. A bold, audacious and useless proclamation. Like a New Year’s resolution made to be broken and forgotten by mid Feb. Like that Tinder date you knew would be horrible but went on anyway. It seems like the outcome was inevitably bound to disappoint.
Not this time.
Let me explain.
As though to kick this decision solidly into the new year, I woke up one day with a horrible skin rash.
Now to be fair, I’ve suffered from a lifetime of allergies and dermatitis but in my adulthood I had found a way to deal with it. But after the numerous gin and tonics and cocktails in a particularly brutal September birthday and wedding month, the decision to stop drinking had been made for me by my body.
Every time I drank I broke out in a rash and looked like patient zero in a Michael Crichton novel.
The doctor said late onset adult allergies were common. I whinged and bitched but knew my time was up. I took it for the sign it was and threw in the towel.
Since September I’ve been sober for six months. I didn’t like saying this out loud at first. Mostly because everyone assumed I was in AA and just got my 6 month chip.
Then I realised it doesn't matter what people think.
People who go to AA are such brave people. But my sobriety is not linked to bravery at all. Its linked simply to the realisation that drinking just isn’t for everyone.
It’s especially not for me, for my body or my skin.
So if you see someone ordering a ginger ale or virgin cocktail at a bar full of people drinking alcohol…brazenly choosing to stand out and be uncool, that’s probably me.
Enjoy getting your drank on but I've decided that I’ll be the sober one driving everyone home.