Saying goodbye to booze wasn’t easy, but I realised you don’t need to drink to relax or have fun.
Alcohol and I go way back. It was a shy meeting at first, but sometime during those hazy university days, our relationship went into overdrive. For a while, it ran fast and furious, like any new love affair. We’ve all been there. Club-hopping on ladies’ night to chug as many watered-down drinks as humanly possible. Throwing back shots and guzzling potent concoctions to relish that ‘high’ (Zouk’s Long Island Iced Tea was the kindle for many a blurry night). Revelling in the feeling that nothing in the world matters in the moment except you, that beat drop, and all your newfound besties on the dance floor.
We were on fire for those peak partying years, back when the cheapest bottle at any convenience store would do the trick. That was before I discovered the finer things in life. Like good wine, smooth sake and thoughtfully crafted cocktails. With my newfound affection, liquor became something to sip, not swig. Killer shots at nondescript hole-in-the-wall bars turned into ace cocktails at hip hangouts. A constant chase after that feel-good buzz became an appreciation for the drink.
But alcohol and I eventually drifted apart. Adulting will do that to you. We just ran in different circles. Our common interests petered out. Except for the occasional glass of wine with a good meal or a cocktail at a hot new bar, we were mostly ‘hi, bye’ acquaintances. Until the chaos of Covid-19.
Hello, my old friend
When the pandemic hit, it brought down a stress storm. Yes, I had plenty to be grateful for (proper shelter and food, virtual times with loved ones, a job that allowed me to WFH easily). But months of worry and anxiety over circumstances out of your control will take a toll on anyone’s mental wellbeing. So I turned to what came easiest: a reunion with booze.
The connection was instant. We picked up where we left off and it was like no time had passed. Wine was at my side to celebrate anything and everything – even something as trivial as welcoming the weekend. Regular cocktail-powered evenings were a heady mix of carefree bliss. A tough week ended in empty bottles of booze. Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing bad about winding down the day with a glass of red. I’m not a binge-drinker (two drinks and I’m done), but dependence on alcohol wasn’t something I wanted.
So, after an overdose of booze-fuelled euphoria at festive gatherings over the year-end period, I cut off the whirlwind romance before it blew up. I decided to ditch drinking for two months. Some people do Dry January; I quit alcohol cold turkey and did it twice over because 30 days just didn’t seem long enough.
Going our separate ways
Surprisingly (to me), the first two weeks weren’t easy. Apparently, this is when your body is in detox mode. Come sunset, my cravings kicked in. I looked longingly at my wine fridge. Every TV show or movie I watched mocked me with scenes of people clinking glasses in a bar or drowning their sorrows with friends at home (somehow, red wine is always the drink of choice).
Social get-togethers gave me FOMO. Friends wondered whether I had a baby on the way because I declined a tipple (why is pregnancy the only valid reason?), then cajoled me to indulge a little. There were long days when I wanted nothing more than to end the evening on the sofa with wine. I had alcohol on speed-dial but thankfully, I never cracked.
The third week was easier. Yeah, we had some good times together but it was time to move on, I thought. I finally joined the fitness movement with kickboxing and realised exercise endorphins could work magic to put you in good spirits. Better late than never! Oh, and I discovered the beauty of non-alcoholic drinks. We’ve come a long way from boring mocktails, y’all.
Life’s better without it
Instead of being a bummer, abstaining from alcohol made me feel happier and healthier. You know what? You don’t need to drink to have fun. I sleep soundly, I wake up rested without that foggy feeling, I remember everything, I’m less bloated and more energetic, I find new ways to experience life, and I just feel better. I thought alcohol was an enjoyable way to destress, an escape from real life or a reward for surviving the day. But it’s a depressant. Its feel-good effects don’t last long and can actually lead to anxiety or stress, ironically.
So if you’re ‘sober curious’, I’d say go ahead and explore what that means to you. A quick search online will tell you all about the health benefits of quitting alcohol – that includes weight loss, clearer skin and a lower risk of diseases like cancer. Everyone’s journey is different – I didn’t experience any terrible withdrawal symptoms apart from some headaches – so take it one day at a time, draw up a plan or get help if you think you can’t resist temptation.
Thanks for the memories
After breaking up with alcohol for two months, I’m over it. I don’t even remember why I liked it. (I know, I’m shocked too.) Some experts claim drinking in moderation is fine, others argue there’s nothing good about it. I say: I don’t miss it, but I’m not against a sip someday. It’s not goodbye forever – maybe we’ll catch up once in a while and reminisce.
Now, alcohol and I are like any other friendship in your 30s. You know what you like and what you don’t. You appreciate the good times you had. You don’t meet that often but when you do, it’s a blast. Someone once said: there’s gotta be more to life than chasing down every temporary high to satisfy me. And if you’ve never heard of Stacie Orrico, well, now you’re just making me feel old.