Kicking The Habit: Alcohol free
Generation now is a combination of taking care of yourself to a high standard via diet and gym combined with a lifestyle which consists of excessive drinking. One person has dramatically changed their life, if you will.
Explain to me in detail what your typical night involved when associated yourself with alcohol?
Well everything was very alcohol oriented for me, to the extreme I’d say. Nights out would involve pre-drinks, drinks, post-drinks, post-post drinks then waiting for the off-licence to open to start drinking again the next day. This would happen Friday through to Sunday on a lot of occasions. I remember nights where I hadn’t organised any drink for after the club/gig etc. and there being a feeling of absolute panic and deflation when realising I was faced with a night back at an after party without any booze and no off-licence open for hours. I don’t think it’s a healthy relationship with drink if it’s determining your enjoyment of an evening.
Why now? Why decide to become sober?
Well that really, realising how reliant I was on it to enjoy myself and also realising after being out of the country for quite some time, how Irish drinking culture dominates the social scene here; how much drink exclusively equates to a good time and vice versa when it doesn’t necessarily have to be like that. There are some personal reasons too; which I won’t go into as they are only relevant for me on a personal level whereas the other things I speak about I think a lot of people of a certain age in Dublin will be able to relate to.
I got bored with it, the wantaway lost weekends of drink and drug induced hedonistic abandon definitely started out as a new sensation long ago; but had now morphed into the mundane through constant repetition so I decided to take a prolonged break from drinking in the hope it could lead to a personal renaissance.
I also realised that this would be a totally new experience as the routine for the past 10 years had been the Human Traffic mentality of work the job through the week to strive for the weekend and engage in the drink/drug culture. I felt it was stemming my creativity in that I wouldn’t be able to write/work until the Wednesday/Thursday after a weekend before the whole cycle would start again on Friday so it definitely limited me in that way too. In stopping drinking I hoped I would force myself out of my comfort zone to new experiences and broader horizons.
Was it somewhat difficult at first to realise that this had to happen in order for your life to change?
No it wasn’t difficult for me it was a positive revelation. The difficulty for me came with considering the social acceptance (or lack of) that came with my decision. I felt anxiety about how people would receive my decision, would friends want to know me or spend time with me on nights out? What would I do with myself now? As alcohol was the driver in 99.9% of any social events for me how would I cope without it? Would I be perceived as boring? Self-doubt bubbled up to the surface quite quickly once the safety net of alcohol was removed. The reality has been overwhelmingly positive I have been out at gigs / wedding receptions / clubbing and haven’t noticed any of my fears being realised – yet (crossing my fingers).
You are a creative person. Has your creativity cultivated since becoming sober?
Thanks – I think so, definitely. Ideas are more forthcoming and obviously with no hangovers to contend with I can be fresh on a weekend morning and work on some music / writing with a clear head. This is one of the major positives out of the experience; clarity. It’s like a double whammy for me; I worried what would I do without drink? And I wanted to focus more on song writing so these two things go hand in hand for me right now.
Are you more proactive?
Yes, Saturday morning cycles along the quays just for the exercise and to wake me up and kick-start the day are testament to that; along with planning projects and actually starting them – the long finger had become diabolically congested (does that sound dirty? Sorry if it does, filth!)
Do you have a sense of empowerment when you think of your journey thus far?
Absolutely, no question about it – I feel like all the women after WWII. (laughing)
Is it a frequent occurrence for you to fight away the drink demons tempting you on a night out on the town?
I haven’t felt that at all yet; I feel strong with it and all the reasons behind my decision are rationalised and solid in my head so I don’t see the point really. I have had a couple of times where I’ve been offered drinks out but I didn’t feel weak in those instances either, I surprised myself actually because I thought that would be tough. I’m happy out with an alcohol-free drink, and actually remembering the acts playing at the end of a night out is a definite plus!
How have the relationships around you changed and most importantly, the relationship with yourself?
Well everything is always changing / evolving / moving forward anyway. You can’t change the arrow of time!
So you must be absolutely minted now? What are you doing with all those dolla’s?
None of your business! Ah no, right now planning some holidays and just planning investing in things for projects I’ve worked on half-arsedly over the years and want to grab by the scruff now.
Any advice for those who know they must make the transition but are simply too fearful of the truth?
Whatever you do, do 🙂
Lastly, I congratulate you on your bravery and I wish you a lifetime of no hangovers. Amen!
Words: Seana Henry
Illustration: Sarah Cunningham