My Dryathlon: Day 21
"A tea, please."
It just slipped out naturally, with no pause or deliberation.
I'd just ordered a warm beverage with my pasta. I don't think this has ever happened before.
I mean, I have been drinking more tea recently, partly due to the cold weather, but never with my evening meal.
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The waitress gave me a suspicious look as if to say 'tea with your main course?' and also 'you're already a difficult customer, it's far easier to pour a glass of wine/ lemonade/ water.'
But she returned with a nice piping hot brew along with a starter which my boyfriend had ordered, minus her previous annoyance. And a nice cup of tea it was.
I've not had any alcohol for three weeks as part of my Dryathlon in aid of Cancer Research. And I don't miss it at all now.
As I said previously, the first week or so was frustrating and strange because drinking was a regular part of my social life.
Not in the excess, I hasten to add, but still a permanent fixture.
But having gone without wine for three weeks, this routine has worn off. In the past, ordering a cup of tea with an evening meal would have been a bizarre decision to me - perhaps a soft drink if I was feeling under the weather, but not a tea.
Cradling my drink, I looked around the restaurant at other couples sharing a bottle of wine, at young women sipping colourful cocktails and men with pints, and for the first time since I banned the booze I didn't envy them.
In fact, I think I have started to see alcohol in a totally different light.
Whereas before I would savour a cold glass of white wine after work or look forward to a warming red on a chilly evening, now I get in and put the kettle on. I'm not saying drinking is wrong.
Not at all. Nor am I judging people who have a glass of wine everyday just because I have stopped drinking for a month.
But I am saying that perhaps a lot of us drink because we think it 'relaxes' us, 'calms' us or generally makes us feel better after a hard day - but does it really help?
Most people know the next day feeling of a semi-hangover, regretting that extra glass while stumbling around the bathroom at 7am trying to put mascara on bleary eyes.
Alcohol is at the centre of many a myth and now also at the centre of a nationwide dilemma. Many young people today go out to get drunk. Going on the 'lash' used to mean a few pints at the local pub. Now it means countless shots in nightclubs, more and more commonly ending in A and E or worse.
Not drinking for a month has taught me that alcohol can easily become a regular part of your life without you really realising it.
Cutting it out is a good exercise and yes, does make you feel healthier, but first and foremost it makes you see booze in a very different way.
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