Why I’m Giving Up Alcohol For a While – and I Mean it This Time (No, Really)

I’ve been in a pretty serious relationship now for about 10 years. Despite our ups and downs – and believe me, we’ve had some major fallings out in the past – it’s been fairly reliable and consistent, and I always assumed they would be a part of my life.

My “significant other” has met the parents (at 2am in the morning on their doorstep, loudly, more than once) and most of my friends – hell, even some of my work colleagues. Sometimes he goes down a storm, and the pair of us are the life and soul of the party. Other times we’re less of a hit together and I wake up in the morning feeling full of embarrassment, regret, and still wearing all my clothes.

In case you haven’t guessed by my cryptic description, I’m talking about my oldest partner in crime: alcohol.

I’m not dependent on the stuff. I’ve never felt like I couldn’t live a day without it (for the most part we only really hung out on the weekend). And although I’ve sworn it off before, or at least threatened to, this time I mean business.

Because this Saturday, I had the granddaddy of all hangovers. One that took me in its bare hands, shook the life (and dry toast I had tried and failed to keep down) out of me, and made me re-evaluate my very existence.woman, hangover, hungover woman, alcohol

Dramatic? Perhaps. But when your hangover lasts long into the evening and has you screaming bloody murder into the toilet bowl until 6pm, you have a lot of time to get existential about things.

To put it in perspective, I woke at 8:30am with plans to eat brunch, go shopping, and spend the day with my soon to be in-laws. It was not until after sunset that I began to feel capable of doing anything more than ejecting bile from my body and crying into my duvet. In essence, I did more than a 9-5 day’s hard graft for booze. My job description? Executive Hungover.

Like you, I work hard all week. And for what? So I can lay in bed all Saturday long, damp cloth across my forehead, groaning into my pillow, asking for the sweet release of death as if I’m in a BBC Victorian melodrama? When I started to think back at all the mornings, days and weekends I’ve lost to booze, I was shocked. And as I began to grieve my lost Saturday, I slowly went through all five stages.

At first I kidded myself that I could still salvage something from the day, even as the hours passed before me – trying to convince myself I could have some semblance of a day at one, three and five in the afternoon. I raged at what a waste of time this hangover was, furious with myself at all the poor life decisions I had made the night before. Then came the bargaining; I turned suddenly (and unashamedly) religious. “Please, God, I know I only ask you for help in times of trouble (read: hangover). But I promise I will never drink again. No, really, why are you laughing so hard?”

Eventually this turned to sadness as I realized what a d*ck I’d been, placing beer, good times and karaoke (Torn by Natalie Imbruglia – yes, I nailed it, but no, that’s not the point) above loved ones, family and pre-established weekend plans. And lastly, acceptance – alcohol is stupid. Yeah, let’s not do that any more, brain.

I’m not so naïve as to think it will be easy, or that I can cut it out completely. But understanding that I am almost 30 and cannot have my cake (or in this case beer, vodka and Jagerbombs) and eat it too is a breakthrough of sorts. I won’t be binge-drinking for a long time to come. Because weekends are too sacred, and livers are pretty hard to come by. Or so I’m told.

Sure, you didn’t have that much to drink. You’ve drank way more and been fine in the past. Maybe you just didn’t eat enough, or you were tired. It had been a long week.

But any time you drink, it’s a crapshoot. A roll of the dice. A gamble into the unknown. Maybe you’ll be fine, and you’ll spend a pleasant day with your partner’s family without them ever knowing how many shots you did the night before.

Then again, you could be praying to the porcelain gods for 12 long hours, your weekend a mess of nausea and broken plans. My advice to you and I? If it isn’t worth the risk (and really, how often is it?), have a cup of tea and save the karaoke for another time.

Everyone – you and the bar full of people included – will thank you for it.