Lessons from My Booze Sabbatical

30 July 2019
Lonely Wine Glass Stock Photo

Words Georgia Marchesi

For people who’ve participated in this year’s Dry July, the month is almost up and alcohol will soon be making a comeback this Thursday 1 August. For those who might not know, Dry July is a month-long initiative held each year to raise money for adults with cancer. Beginning back in 2008, Dry July has since raised nearly 30 million dollars with around 125,000 participants getting involved. Like Movember, Dry July is for a worthy cause that admittedly, I only learnt about towards the end of my own period of abstinence. You see, I decided to participate in this year’s challenge under the impression that it was about reevaluating the role that alcohol plays in people’s lives rather than raising money for charity.

The catalyst that cemented my decision to do Dry July was the evening of 29 June. After recently starting a new job, I went out for a night of bonding with some of my new colleagues. Like so many poor souls before me, my famous last words before heading out were: ‘I’m not having a big night’. Well, a few shots of Chambord and a bottle of wine later, it would seem that I was indeed destined for a ‘big night’. Skip to the next morning and all booze considered, I woke up suspicious at how not terrible I was feeling. It was later in the day as I was about to go on a date (yes, as a result of courting the Millennial way, through an online app) that I realised I couldn’t bear the thought of having hair of the dog – even if it was for taking the edge off meeting a stranger from the internet.

The date went well and afterwards I realised it was the first one I’d ever been on that didn’t involve alcohol. This thought alone had me starting to question the role that alcohol played in my life. Did I rely too heavily on it as a lubricant for unfamiliar social situations? Was it a salve to help soothe me at the end of a particularly shitty day? Or perhaps was it just that I genuinely loved the taste regardless of how it made me feel? The best way I could truly determine my relationship with alcohol I thought was by abstaining from it for a whole month. Coincidentally, I came to this conclusion on the eve of 1 July.

At the start of the new month it felt good taking a break from the plonk though after the honeymoon phase, I started to miss my usual palette cleaners (beer and wine) that I enjoyed pairing with curries and roast dinners. There were a handful of social occasions as well that reminded me of how not fun it is to play ‘sober sister’ or ‘designated driver’. One such evening, I remember sadly sipping on a mocktail watching longingly as my siblings downed jug after jug of margaritas. The booze train can be loads of fun, though not so much if you’re the one being left behind at the sober station – this I understand is a matter of opinion, however that is how I felt at the time.

Fast forward to about three quarters of the way through the month where I began to forget about alcohol altogether. No longer was I itching to have it with every nice home-cooked meal or felt the need to use it as a social buffer as I went on yet another date. Another unintentional benefit I found from taking a booze sabbatical was that the few stubborn kilos I became acquainted with back in 2016 were finally getting the hint that they’d outstayed their welcome, cramping the style of my midsection. No one has yet outwardly made this observation to my face, however I will say that my clothes do fit better and I’m feeling decidedly less like a garden slug.

At the time of writing this, I have a little over a day left before I can think about welcoming alcohol back into my everyday life. Throughout this month there have been times when 31 July couldn’t have come soon enough although now that it’s nearly here, I’m not so sure I’m ready to break this newfound habit I’ve only just formed. In all honesty, I don’t think that my life is as much under the influence of alcohol as I initially thought (see what I did there?), though that’s not an excuse to simply ignore the greater social, legal and health-related implications that can come about from it. Moving forward, I reckon I’ll still enjoy alcohol here and there throughout the week, but rather than it being a predetermined part of my routine, I’m going to make sure I’m having it because I truly want it and not because I need it. Now that’s what I call booze for thought.

Georgia Marchesi is a young Millennial trying to find her way in the world as she hopes to break into the communications field. She’s been a long-time social media writer for Triple R. Her parents have been subscribers since before she was born.