Project H: Going alcohol-free (for the weekend)

Firstly, this may be a laughable title to many people reading this. Perhaps you frequently have an alcohol-free weekend, or maybe you go for months without even thinking about the cool, crisp relief of a glass of wine. But maybe, like me, you look forward to your G&T at the end of a busy week and can’t imagine anything different on a Friday night. Or, maybe the idea of only drinking at the weekend is weird and you think I’m incredibly middle class and privileged over here, sipping my cucumber-infused gin and tonic only after a ‘stressful’ week in the office (I am). Maybe you’re thinking, fine, analyse your relationship with alcohol, but please don’t write a blog post about it for all the world to see. I apologise if you don’t understand this post, but I’m a writer (am I??) and this is just what I do, so bear with me.

Secondly, I am not talking about the actual addiction that is alcoholism. I am in no way attempting to clamber up onto my high-horse and tell someone who is seriously struggling to just ‘have an alcohol-free weekend’. Clearly, it is not as simple as that. No, I’m just talking about myself and anyone else who feels as though they may have just slightly too much reliance on that wonderful, hazy feeling that comes after (just the right amount of) alcohol.

So yes, I have decided to have an alcohol free weekend (!). Big deal? Not at all in the grand scheme of things, but I’m a stickler for routine, so I imagine I’ll find it pretty strange on Friday evening when 6pm comes around and I’m not slicing up the lemon and banging ice cubes out of the tray. I want to know how this will make me feel, whether I’ll still be able to enjoy my evening and relax fully, even if I am only sitting in front of the TV with Mum and the cat. It’s not that I’d usually get properly drunk for a night in, as that would be a little bizarre, but I do often feel slightly tipsy (I’m a lightweight).

On Saturday night, I’m going out for dinner for a friend’s birthday. Usually this would be the perfect occasion to enjoy a couple of glasses of wine. Plus, there will be people I don’t know at this meal, so I’d prefer to have a drink to take the edge off the social awkwardness and stress of having to make conversation with strangers (I’m sure they’re all lovely, I just massively overthink this kind of thing). So instead, I’m going to have to muster up all my courage, order a (delicious, I’m sure) soft drink and make sober small-talk, like an adult human being. Surely I can manage that?

Another reason I’m thinking about this is because, as I explained in this post, I am a Christian, so I shouldn’t really be getting drunk anyway. The last thing I want to be is someone who just picks and chooses the parts of the Bible that are most convenient and discards all the stuff that isn’t quite compatible with their lifestyle. Of course, no one is perfect and I am not a saint, but I should be making a concerted effort to live in accordance to my values. And as I said in that post, it’s not a case of not getting drunk in order to doggedly adhere to the list of rules written in the Bible. It’s about not doing something that’s going to make me act in a way that doesn’t quite match up with who I am. It’s about being in control of what I say and what I do. Not to be a boring control-freak, but just to live in the moment and not to always be trying to escape something.

This all came to a head in my, well, head, when I was out for drinks for a friend’s birthday. There I was, chatting freely to one of her colleagues about my faith in a way that I rarely feel able to do. The only thing was, I was sitting there with a bottle of prosecco (shared, I might add), only confident enough to talk about it because I’d had a glass (or three). This didn’t sit right with me when I woke up the next morning (hardly hungover, I might also add), so I decided I needed to have a re-think.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with enjoying a drink. I’m not necessarily planning on going completely tee-total. I’m just doing a little experiment, and this is my methodology, if you like. My hypothesis is that I’ll realise I can take it or leave it, I can have a good time regardless of whether I’ve had a drink or not. Maybe I can even feel confident and comfortable in my own skin. A girl can dream, right?



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