When we lived in Egypt, every time (and I mean every time) we had a glass of wine, my husband would comment, “I’d be surprised if this wine has ever seen a grape.”
He’s not wrong. Most Egyptian alcohol is barely a step up from turpentine. Not only that, but living in a Muslim country meant that there was a real stigma attached to drinking alcohol. We drank behind closed doors or at certain select restaurants. Even though we were not Muslim ourselves, it felt disrespectful to drink, even in private.
So, you might wonder why we waited until we moved to Scotland to quit drinking.
We came to the United Kingdom in June and we went a bit crazy. The wine was cheap and made from grapes, and there were entire supermarket aisles full of every type of liquor imaginable. We had local craft beers, limoncello, two kinds of whisky, three kinds of gin, a selection of red and white wines, cherry cordial… the list goes on. It really became noticeable when we were informed that the recycling pick-up does not accept glass. My husband was making a walk of shame to the tip with a crate or two of glass bottles twice a week. Slowly, it became obvious that we might have been going overboard. So we decided to take a month off.
Here’s what happened:
Day 1 - It’s a weekday, but I’m stressed about getting my visa and craving a beer. I stare at the shiny green bottles of Stella in the fridge, but I manage to resist.
Day 5 - TGIF! My husband comes home but instead of having a gin and tonic together to celebrate the weekend, he plays video games, and I watch the tele and try not to think about limoncello.
Day 6 - Not drinking is much less sociable. I’m bored of the tele. Instead of alcohol, I eat chocolate. Lots of chocolate.
Day 7 - My husband makes his Sunday roast, but it’s missing something… what is it… oh yes, a glass of WINE. Who came up with this idiotic idea anyway?
Day 8 - First weekend complete, I pat myself on the back. Or at least I would, but I appear to have gained a bit of weight. Maybe it’s all the chocolate.
Day 12 - The week passed without any cravings, but it’s Friday again. We pick up some ginger beer at the store. I drink it over ice and pretend it’s a real drink.
Day 13 - Between the ginger beer, chocolate, cheesecake, potato chips and cheese, I’m confident that I’ve been replacing alcohol with food.
Day 14 - Urgh
Day 15 - Are there really two more weekends after this?!?!?
Day 16 - Weekday drink cravings have officially ended. Hooray. Stay can’t pat myself on the back though.
Day 17 - Getting up in the morning is easier.
Day 19 - It’s Friday, but it’s cool. We’re developing as people. We make an effort to spend time together sans booze. I think we find each other just less than half as interesting when we’re sober. We’ve learned put some chocolates on a plate instead of bringing out the whole tin.
Day 20 - When I ask my husband if he wants a drink, he knows I mean ginger beer.
Day 21 - Sunday roast without wine isn’t so bad. Feeling very self-righteous - wait, we have another whole week to go! What?
Day 23 - Do I have more energy? Yeah, I think I do. My brain is sharper too. Super productive day.
Day 24 - I have my first Scottish head cold. It’s the lack of whiskey, isn’t it? The bacteria are celebrating my lovely, non-toxic cells.
Day 25 - It’s been 25 days since my husband has had an embarrassing trip to the tip with a bin of bottles.
Day 26 - Weekday chocolate again, uh oh. We might need a month off of sugar next.
Day 28 - Friday! Last weekend without alcohol. That wasn’t so hard. I am resplendent in my self-righteousness.
Day 29 - Still can’t drink? That doesn’t seem right.
Day 30 - We’ve officially done our month, but we’re still not week-day drinking so…
Day 33 - Wow, I can watch someone drinking wine and not instantly crave a glass. Progress.
Day 34 - The big day is almost here. I can almost taste the red wine sliding down my throat.
Day 35 - It’s over. We can drink. Wait, what’s that Richard? You have tonsillitis? But I can still drink, right? No? What do you mean no?
Going without alcohol for a month has made me notice how I drink to console myself after a bad experience, feel like it’s the weekend or just automatically, without thought. In truth, alcohol is not really necessary for any of these. We went shopping today and picked up one bottle of wine. Just. One. Bottle. Of Wine. Yesterday was Friday and I had one whole beer, immediately followed by a whopper of a headache. My body might be trying to tell me something. Make no mistake, we will drink again, but I hope the days of mindless drinking in front of the tele are over.
This month - no sugar!