A few weeks ago I decided to give up alcohol.
I’ve often set myself the challenge but have never gone through with it.
A month without a drink has always seemed too cruel on my social life.
But this time I opted for just two measly weeks.
We drink a lot in Britain. Every occasion is an excuse for a beverage.
A long day at work is reason enough.
A short day at work is too. Well you may as well celebrate getting out early.
I wanted to see how I would feel without it.
I anticipated more energy and a clearer head.
The cravings began almost immediately.
On day 3 I had a dinner party to go to and I couldn’t consolidate the idea of bringing a bottle of wine and not drinking any of it.
I felt grumpy on the tube.
It was embarrassing how my mind was obsessed with the idea.
Why are you giving up anyway? The voice whined. Just forget about it. One glass won’t hurt.
I survived the dinner party without a drop.
In fact I didn’t survive it, I had a good time.
But the hard bit wasn’t over. The weekend was yet to come and the more I craved a drink, the more I realised I had to complete the challenge.
I didn’t drink on the weekend. I slurped (non alcoholic) ginger beer and considered taking up smoking instead.
Did I feel more energetic? Nope.
Was I getting up any earlier? Nope.
It wasn’t until the second week that I began to feel the benefits.
After a day of intensive writing I would finish with my mind still buzzing.
Instead of reaching for a glass of wine to numb the mad feeling that comes with being immersed in fiction all day, I felt driven to look for new writing opportunities.
There suddenly seemed to be so many exciting options out there; short story competitions, job openings and callings for magazine submissions.
On Valentine’s Day, the Fiancé took me to an Ethiopian restaurant.
I scanned the wine list hopefully then asked for a Guava juice.
The first sip of that exotic juice transported me straight back to a moment in Cuba three years ago.
It made me feel so happy.
I wouldn't have experienced that if I’d automatically ordered wine.
That’s what this challenge has been about: making drinking more enjoyable and less automatic.
Unfortunately, on the 14th day, sick of ginger beer and the rain, I succumbed to a beer.
In one sense I failed the challenge.
On the other hand I feel suddenly protective about my mental energy.
I can do so much more than I thought and until the first draft of my novel is written, I’m determined to be in control.