I haven't had a drop of alcohol for 31 days and, although I'm not a big drinker, I realised that's the longest I've gone without alcohol since I was 18.
Tomorrow, on the 1st Feb, I'm going to an awards ceremony where there will be free booze. I'll be drinking all the champagne and congratulating myself for completing my first ever dry January. And I'm going to bloody enjoy it.
But unlike the negative reports about this alcohol-free month, I'm not going to "undo" all the good work I've done in January by drinking myself silly in February. In fact, it's quite the opposite. Dry Jan has taught me a pretty valuable lesson about my relationship with alcohol. So to combat the tuts and "you're boring" comments I've had for the past four weeks, I'm going to explain.
I realised pretty early on that no one is rooting for you when you go sober for a month, especially in January. In fact, most will try and make you break it by encouraging you to have a drink with them because it's "no fun not to drink in January". They won't be interested about why you're doing it and they'll tut when you say yep you will be going out but you won't be drinking cos #dryjan.
Although none of my friends were going sober for the first month of 2017, luckily my boyfriend and my sister were so there were two people I could count on to not give two craps if I ordered a tea at a pub with my roast instead of a red wine.
I did dry Jan for several reasons: I always thought I could do it easily but have never actually tried; it's a good way to save money; I drunk way too much alcohol in December (as everyone else does) and the health benefits of not drinking were an added bonus.
Did I drink a lot anyway? I didn't used to. But in the past two years living in London, that changed. Going out for mid-week dinners always included wine and heading out for drinks with friends was never a sober event. Even if I went out and wasn't feeling alcohol, I'd just order it anyway because I didn't like the judgement of being asked why I wasn't drinking. A busy and stressful week was always softened by my flatmate offering me an alcoholic beverage and that alcoholic beverage was also consumed on a Sunday night to combat that going-back-to-work feeling. Drinking alcohol became the answer to a bad day or a bad week. It became a way to relax. Sometimes it helped. Sometimes it didn't.
In the past month, I'd say there's been three times I've really wanted a drink and they were social occasions (including visiting a friend from uni and my mum's birthday) that are so usually characterised with alcohol. It didn't ruin the occasions (luckily at both events I had someone else there not drinking) but yeah, I would have preferred to drink 100%.
But all the other times where I so often drink booze, I haven't missed it. I've been out for dinner with no alcohol, had a bad day and not resorted to having a gin and enjoyed a relaxing evening without a glass of wine with no problems. I didn't need alcohol. I worked my ass off at the gym after a busy day instead of resorting to booze and I relaxed on a Sunday night with a herbal tea instead of polishing off half a bottle of red for no reason.
Dry January taught me alcohol solves very little. It taught me there are occasions where I really, really want a drink - and those are the times I should have it. It taught me to stop drinking just because I feel like I should, because everyone else is.
Oh, and I learned how booze really affects our body which was pretty enlightening.
Yes, I do have events lined up in February and March where I'm buzzing that I'll be drinking with my friends. But I also know there will be a lot more Sunday nights with herbal tea and Tuesday nights that don't end with a glass of red before bed.
Dry January, by no means have you stopped me drinking forever but you have taught me to give less of a shit about ordering a lime and soda when everyone else is drinking wine. THANKS.