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Michelle Stonehill

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Does Being Teetotal Make Me a Self-Righteous Bore?

Posted: 27/11/2012 00:00

I gave up drinking alcohol about four years ago when I was in my mid/ late thirties. I don't know the exact date, but I remember saying to myself after finishing another bottle of wine after the children had gone to bed, "That's it for me".

It was as simple as that. I never drank another drop again. I just decided I didn't want to do it anymore.

Before that time I used to drink like everyone else I suppose. Alcohol did play quite a large part in my life. It was there for celebrations, it was there for nights out with friends, it was there after a stressful day's work to help me unwind, it was there because it was Friday night or Saturday night.

It played a large part in all my memories of fun times, but it was also responsible for some pretty miserable and embarrassing times too.

So, here I was, now married with two young children, working in my own business with my husband and I decided that I no longer needed the things alcohol gave me. The positives it gave me were outweighed by the negatives.

As I hit my late thirties drinking alcohol made me feel awful the next day. It didn't matter if it was one glass, two or a whole bottle. I knew it stopped me sleeping properly so I felt tired, sluggish and sick afterwards, which often made me bad tempered. I think it actually made me depressed.

I was slowly putting on weight and I knew alcohol was a huge number of calories that I could do without.

Honestly, the worst arguments I had with my husband were when we'd been drinking together.

So I decided to stop. I knew that I had to stop completely or it might start creeping back into a regular routine.

The social backlash is immense, though. The amount of peer pressure to drink and having to justify my decision. I understand it, but it's annoying. It's easier being a vegetarian that's for sure.

No one puts pressure on a recovering alcoholic for their abstinence. But I can't say I don't drink because I'm a recovering alcoholic.

All I can say is that I don't drink because I have decided I just don't want to anymore.

There's the whole thing about not trusting someone who's teetotal. Everyone knows that alcohol lowers social inhibitions and can make say and do things you would think twice about normally. So if you're out with someone who's not drinking you might feel uncomfortable that they're judging you.

People think that alcohol in your system makes you speak from the heart and allows your true feelings to come out. I don't think so. When I was drunk I said things to people I didn't mean. They weren't my true feelings at all. On some occasions I've insulted people I really love or I've told complete strangers they were my new best friend and we should definitely stay in contact forever.

Let's get one thing straight. I don't judge anyone...paralytically drunk, sober, or somewhere in between. I can still have really great nights out with my friends when they are all drinking. They can relax and know that the next day I'm not going to ring them and say, "Do you remember last night?? You were mental!" (Well, no more than I would have done anyway..)

Am I boring to go out with now? Well, I suppose you have to ask my friends. When I was drunk I would be the one in the middle of the dance floor strutting my outlandish moves. But then again, I still do that without booze (alcohol or not, I still foolishly rate myself as an ultimate dancing queen.)

We've had a few Christmas work parties since I became teetotal and it's not been easy. Not because I've felt tempted but just because there's the constant pressure of everyone saying, "Go on...just one. It won't hurt." They've even bought me drinks I've had to give away.

I can understand why they need me to drink. They'd rather I was drunk rather than a sober observer. They think I'm making a mental note of everything that's said or done. It's not like that though. I accept everyone's choice and I really like my friends and work colleagues whether they've been drinking or not.

Will being teetotal ever be accepted without question? Probably not.

Will people always assume I'm a self righteous bore just because I'm teetotal? Probably.

One thing's for sure... I'm everyone's best friend when they want a lift home.

 

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