Well, it’s been a little over 6 months since I last had an alcoholic drink, half a year of learning, observation, enlightenment and reflection. I’ve started to look at life from a different angle: a bit like running down a familiar street, but observing it from the middle of the road. Everything is the same, but at the same time, subtly different. The environment is recognisable, but my perspective wider and within it these are some of the things I’ve noticed.
People change, quickly. I have a friend who is super organised. Polite, perfectly turned out and punctual to a tee. Give her a gin and tonic or two, however, and all of a sudden her hair is wild, a bra-strap slips down one arm, the lipstick is smudged and f-bombs are landing like The Blitz. The transformation is remarkable. Others’ transformations are more or less dramatic, and most are less fun.
Other people don’t really notice. The not-drinking that is. They did at first, as they would if I shaved my beard or dyed my hair blue. I briefly became a the unicorn in a field of horses. But sure enough, after the initial probing, the conversation moved on to more interesting things, such as the boss, or that girls’ wardrobe shocker. I hadn’t fundamentally changed, so we just carried on as usual. After a few pints, no-one cared.
There are loads of sober people out there. As a drinker I never noticed… There I was, feeling all self-conscious about sobriety, without spotting that many of my peers were also either ‘taking it easy’ or abstaining completely. The key difference for them, it seems, is that it wasn’t a thing… and good for them. It makes me wonder what else I never noticed, or cared less to pay attention to?
Sobriety is dead easy. There is just one decision to make and you only have to make it once: to drink or not to drink. Once your mind is made up, that’s it! No more questions about how to get to the club, can I afford it, what happened to so-and-so, where is my phone, how did I get home, why were we shouting, can I drive safely? I remember everything, there are no gaps… drunk people can be a burden, but sobriety itself is a breeze.
Everyone knows’ that alcohol is bad for them, just as they do smoking, refined sugar and heroin. We know it makes us say and do stupid things, makes us physically ill, destroys our quality of life and irreparably harms those around us… Its’ just that these things are rarely gathered together into a single narrative and offered as a solid case for abstinence. We view these things in isolation as they’re easier to ignore. It’s the elephant in the corner of every bar, restaurant and living room across the land.
There is a lot of misinformation out there, and this is deliberate. As Jason Vale puts it, it’s the greatest confidence trick in the history of mankind. I see it now, the hoodwinking, and it’s everywhere. Almost everyone I have spoken to about my decision has either confessed that they would love to moderate “but can’t” or has bent over backwards to justify their drinking. Either way, they’re trapped, as I was.
Most of us dream of a better life, and there is one simple, effective and totally free way of realising this dream… Alas, times are hard for dreamers. You just have to have the courage to see them through.