May 02, 2019
Yesterday I celebrated having spent two whole years sober. The blurry memories of the past are even blurrier. I do not feel temptation. I am angelic. I am pure. I’m a liar. 

The tables have turned. Whereas the last time we spoke about this I was having to convince others that I wasn’t going to drink, now I have to convince them that I ever did. Not that they care, nowadays people just think I’m boring. When I tell people that I “don’t drink” it’s met with indifference. They’re just like “oh, what so you just don’t like it?” To which I shrug, overcoming the overwhelming and mildly narcissistic temptation to shout out “I have had a life you know!” Honestly, at times I feel like a vegan waiting for recognition. (a cheap shot, no offence to vegans)

In group discussions amongst my new acquaintances when certain cocktails or alcoholic beverages are mentioned and I venture to express an interest or preference in flavour they bat me away with a “hang on - I thought you didn’t drink.” It’s like well yes Sherlock, I like a drink - that’s exactly why I don’t drink. 

Something worth celebrating (pint anyone?)
Sometimes I find myself yearning for a crazy, messy night where I’m fun and funny and dance with a drink in my hand. To once more stand in the smoking area of a bar, chatting, where I’d light up cigarettes one right after the other because the conversation is too captivating. Alternating one from their brand, one from your own rattling packet until you realise you’ve been gone a lifetime and you ought to rejoin the rest of your gang. These days I pull my clothes over my mouth so as not to inhale the fumes. I know this blog post is about drinking, but for me smoking is synonymous. I had no choice but to vanquish my vices, my past perfect pairing - a beer and a fag. Now I get low-key pumped when I see a bar has Pepsi-Max on tap. I’m not ashamed. This is my life now. 

In the past I was craving for those I told to take my “I don’t drink” at face value and leave it, so why recently have I been craving some sort of recognition? Drinking is not a personality per se but it was a huge part of my identity for many years.

And with the stopping not only did I shed a lifestyle, but I also moved away from my self-made life in Munich. My world as I knew it changed. I left my friends, my apartment, my job and my beloved bicycle behind to return to the nest yet again. To clog up my parents’ spare bedroom with giant DHL-shipped boxes filled with all I had accumulated. I left a culture, a language, a currency. In some ways, I also left my freedom behind. 

But it’s not all bad. I came home to endless cups of tea. I got (for a short blissful period) paid to do what I love - write. I re-established bonds with my best friend having found ourselves on the same continent for the first time in 9 years. I spent the most glorious summer luxuriating in the garden, gaining a suntan whilst watching the World Cup and giggling uncontrollably with my sister. I fell in love with a man whom I adore, whose creativity and hard-working nature both inspires and leaves me awe-struck. I joined a running club, and although I’m the slowest at any meeting I enjoy it and will enjoy it once again when the sun comes back out. I am definitely a fair-weather runner.

My stubbornness did not dissipate along with the drinking. I still can’t be bothered to get out of bed. Some things never change.

At present, my idea of an exciting night is staying at home and watching Only Connect with my parents. Bonus points if there are two episodes on record, or maybe we would spin the wheel of chance and try our hand at the exceptionally difficult University Challenge which follows in programming. The best parties are with my extended family and playing scrabble with my Grandma. My favourite pub visits are those with an adjacent kebab shop to sneak off to as my love and I make our early escape.

Only Connect on BBC2 is my favourite programme because it is so strange
For anybody who is considering stopping drinking I say give it a whirl. You can always just try a test-period like a weekend, or a month if you’re feeling brave. When I stopped drinking I wasn’t intending to stay sober forever. I just knew that something had to give, and was saying no to alcohol for weeks before it turned into a conscious decision to stay sober. I know it sounds cliché but it was like a switch turned in me. I suddenly knew that I should keep saying no for my own good.

In short, the reason I don’t drink is because I find it too fun. It took me a while to come to that conclusion. I could easily continue drinking forever, whiling my life away waking up hungover, hurt and delirious but eventually, you just have to say enough is enough. Much like how you (okay, I) cannot play Sims for a mere hour; the likelihood of me having only one drink is pretty slim. I mean, I could, if I really wanted to. I can do anything I put my mind to. But as the master of my own destiny (something I repeated to myself many-a-time in early sobriety) I think it’s probably for the best. I like to be in a sort of semi-smug control at all times. Like when I stopped smoking I carried around a packet of cigarettes with me in my handbag for months and months. I was thinking I could if I felt the need, but I never did.

All jokes aside, it’s no small feat to spend two years sober. And don’t worry, it’s not the drinking occasionally I miss, but the Ellen I was when I drank. I would stay awake all night, boozing and bantering with friends. Whereas now I can’t even stay awake until 2am to watch Game of Thrones when I really, really want to. Although with even just 24 hours of distance on writing this I am thinking I couldn’t think of anything worse than holding up the bar whilst my bed and cosy pyjamas await. And it’s probably more so the fact I’m getting *yikes* old(er).

And for some reason, drunk people at parties always tell me what a great listener I am. It’s true, I will happily sit for an hour and listen to your drunken ramblings. I’m only judging you a little bit. Everybody thinks I’m such a lady. So poised. I’m not, I’m just afraid to let go in social situations. I think the real lesson is learning to lose your inhibitions without social lubricant. I never realised how awkward I was!

As I said last time I am still not certain if this sober thing is for ever and ever because that is an awfully long time to commit to. I will continue making this life adjustment as long as it feels right for me. I hope that if I were to ever decide to rescind my sobriety that I wouldn’t be ostracised by those around me. But at present, it still feels like the right decision. And let’s be honest, it’s hard enough to wake up in the morning without an eight-beer hangover crushing your very soul. 

As the days go on I feel even further away from the rambunctious and rabid party gal I once was. For now, I will be keeping those memories in a locked box, and will treasure their blurriness as something not to be repeated.

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