At the end of last year I quit drinking because I wanted to quit smoking. I knew that if I kept having the odd glass of wine at night, eventually I would have a cigarette too. I knew from experience that I would need to not drink for at least three months for the smoking not be a temptation. Those things tend to go hand in hand. So I had it in my head that I would stop drinking for three months and see where I was after that.
I saw a lot of people doing Dry July last month who were really looking forward to that glass of wine when they got to August, but you know that never happened to me. It was odd at first. I felt like I was at a loose end. I had to find alternate ways to relax, decompress and take time out. But after the first couple of weeks I didn’t miss it and I haven’t since. It has also made long runs on a Saturday a bit easier – not sweating out a hangover.
Those are all part of the reasons why I just kept going. But they aren’t the reason I never have a drink anymore. I wouldn’t have a drink at a special occasion or to be social or any of those things. And the reason for that is very different to the motivating factors for me quitting in the first place.
Which is a couple of things really.
One is that last year I was diagnosed with severe clinical depression. I have been able to come off the medication now and for the most part I feel healed and better, if somewhat battered by the experience, raw around the edges and more sensitive for it. But some days I still sit on the precipice of it. Sometimes it stares back at me. Sometimes it brushes my cheek as I move from one room to another as a sort of remembrance.
It’s probably not a good idea that I be consuming a depressant on a regular basis. Or at all.
And the other reason is that I have an addictive personality, well demonstrated by smoking for as many years as I did. Just because it is legal, doesn’t make me any less of an addict. And I could see drinking going down a path that was not good. I could see where a habit was starting to form the beginning of a compulsion. And I knew exactly where that lead and it wasn’t somewhere I wanted to go.
So this is my new normal. And my new normal is someone who doesn’t drink.