Life with and without alcohol: then and now

THEN

God, I love daytime drinking.

I’m with a mate at a boozy shindig. She knows loads of people and is networking hard but I don’t, and feel a little insecure and tongue-tied. It’s a grand old time – the sun is shining, wine is flowing and the vibe is good. People are so much more unbuttoned after a bit alcoholic loosening, I think to myself. Especially me. I knock back the vino.

With each sip I feel myself getting bolder, more cheeky. I’m so much fun! Look at their reaction to that risqué joke I made! I’m commanding the room so raise my voice to attract more attention. My laugh gets louder.

LATER

I’m absolutely smashed and order a bottle of red wine from the bar. I take a swig and manage to miss my mouth. Liquid trickles down my chin and splashes onto my top. Oops! haha, we’ve all done it.

I’m stood talking to a guy. I think we met earlier and enjoyed some banter but I can’t remember. What’s his name again? Oh god, my mind is blank. Is it Chris? Or have I made that up? I can’t remember so I ask him. He laughs and tells me I’ve already asked him. Twice.

I go to the loo and peer at myself in the mirror. Suddenly I feel a bit nauseous. The ceiling is tipping sideways. Is the floor moving? I close one eye. Yeah, it’s moving. A little voice inside my head tells me to go, that this feeling isn’t good and is unhealthy for me. I leave. I don’t tell anyone.

EVEN LATER

I wake up in an empty train carriage. I’ve missed my stop. It’s gone 1am on the last train and it’ll cost the best part of £50 in taxi fares to get home. My phone has missed calls and messages from my mate: ‘where are you? Have you gone home? Please phone or text so I know you’re OK.’ Suddenly, I feel vulnerable and stupid. I call a friend who drives 15 miles to fetch me and provides a free lecture all the way home.

THE DAY AFTER

I wake up in my own bed blanketed in terror. My right leg is bruised – that’s right, I fell down some concrete steps as I ran to catch the train. My phone pings with messages from friends, both the one I drank with and the other who took me home. You were, they say, really drunk (who knew!) and how’s your head today? I tell them I’m fine, just a little groggy. Truth is I’m not OK. I feel like I’ve poisoned myself. My energy levels are shot and I hate myself. I am never drinking again. (FYI: I did drink again, of course).

I spend the remainder of the day eating crap and riding out the hangover-related fear.

NOW

My alarm goes off: I get up and glug some water. It’s still dark outside as I pull on my running kit. I’m excited because there’s a new parkrun to try and it’s right next to the sea. It’s surprisingly tough with a couple steep climbs including up a sand dune. But when I’m done I feel exhilarated and ready for the day ahead. First stop: cake, coffee and some seaside selfies.

The feeling of waking up sans hangover never gets old. In my drinking days I suffered debilitating stomach cramps when I ran, but since quitting they’ve disappeared and I can run without fear of discomfort or pain. Plus, I don’t call people to rescue me at ridiculous times of the night (although no guarantees I won’t drag them out in the early hours of the morning for a social run).

God, I love alcohol-free living.

(P.S. This photo was taken at the parkrun I mentioned above. I debated about whether to put it on here because I think my hair looks ridiculous but then I had a strong word with myself, saying a prevailing south-westerly doesn’t give two hoots about selfie vanity and neither should I).

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