I decided to give up alcohol for 100 days after my husband declared he wanted to give up drinking. I too was wallowing in a sea of self loathing and hangxiety and figured this was not the best life I could be living. So why not join him and give something different a try.
Characteristically to my way of tackling things, I dived in head first. I bought and read all of the (female centric) books, swore an oath to myself that I would complete the 100 days and never looked back.
Dad Muddling Through, despite being the instigator, did not take the challenge quite as literally as me. He allowed himself v low alcohol beers ( I tried them but they honestly made me feel drunk) and succumbed to some red wine on a business trip after it was insisted upon by his senior managers.
At the end of 100 days sober, when I knew that for me this was an all or nothing scenario, he confidently opted to step forward with a mindful approach to moderating his drinking. We supported each other wholeheartedly and moved on into the next phase of our life.
Fair play to him, he has kept to his word. But, I have watched on and wondered, whether it’s harder for men to stay sober in a world full of male bravado and propping up the bar supping on pints.
Come to think of it, every tee-totaller I have ever met is female, and the bloke variety is seriously underrepresented in our social circles.
Whilst I can swerve the alcohol options with a sparkly mixer and a nice glass, in the absence of an alcohol free beer (he was an ale man) his options are often limited to drinks that a waiter could easily mistake being for our seven year old daughter.
Sure there are some great low alcohol beer options out there and more prevalent in some chain bar and restaurants, but let’s face it they are far from readily available at your every local pub, function hall or restaurant.
It’s also been apparent that in a mans world it’s all about ordering rounds of beer, which makes it a little uncomfortable to bowl in with a less than manly option of a lemonade, when you aren’t even driving. All the while I’m socially flitting around wearing an armour of lipstick and sequins and at ease chit chatting with my girl friends and dancing the night away.
I’ve felt for him. A fish out of water, this is a situation that’s hard to assert in social situations, resulting in uncomfortable conversations, being the butt of banter and struggling to work out how to navigate the murky waters of living a life without the excessive drinking that he is, or should that say was, somewhat known for.
Yet the ones who struggle to accept his not drinking are the first ones to pull him up when he messed up being drunk, and remind him of his mistakes forever more. Ironic.
There is also an elephant in the room we are both acutely aware of, which is that given I have cut out booze completely, and he is dabbling in moderating his intake, there is a false illusion that he is being carried along with me, perhaps against his will, because I’ve made it clear where I stand. That however could not be more wrong, and if anything, the opposite is true.
It’s been trial and error, and his ability to make a decision that is right for him (not me) has evolved. It’s made him realise that the grey area of moderating is possibly harder to achieve than a clear decision to drink or abstain. It’s sending mixed messages to those heading to the bar to buy him a drink, and even more so when he feels it would be rude not to drink it.
The learning curve continues and I notice nowadays he is more likely to have one glass of decent red wine over a nice meal than a pint at the bar because he doesn’t know what else to have. Or one craft beer when he really fancies it, sharing with his Dad or if enjoying company with good friends. There are no rules, only an ever increasing ability to know what he wants and doesn’t want.
I’ve watched him pour that one beer he fancied down the drain when he realised he didn’t actually want it after all, and we have together banished the weekend ritual of boozing away the weeks strains and strife, in favour for a more positive practice of ordering a takeaway instead.
The reasons he started our journey back in 2018 stand firm. Killer hangovers, good times going bad and an unhealthy dependency on booze to relax, unwind and enjoy life. It’s because of him I made the first steps, and for that, and his endless support I am forever grateful.
I respect his decision as much as he respects mine, and ultimately I wonder if I could have achieved what he has given the social stereotype associated with blokes and their beer. Lads lads lads and all that.
There is no doubt in my mind that it takes a real man to take control of his own life and make it what he wants it to be. I could not be prouder.