The Dry Spell
So I've started writing this on 31st December 2018. I might finish it
by the end of January knowing my life, but I knew I needed to get some
of this out before the end of this year.*
Exactly one year ago, I attended a fantastic New Year (Hogmanay) party.
It was in Australia, but it was an entirely Scottish contingent, due to friends and family of friends all being here at the time, and it was a really great night.
I don't often enjoy New Year - it's the classic over-rated event of the year for me, as it always seems like a great idea to go somewhere there will be hundreds of people, and then about a week out, I'm praying for storms and hailstones and lightning, so I can choose to stay home instead - why do we do this to ourselves, my fellow Energator?
(aside - I am not actually a fan of the word Introvert - I am currently testing out alternatives to see which one I think describes us better...
We 'grow' energy, to either use ourselves, or to distribute to Extroverts who love to enjoy the rays of our glowing energy - I mean this in the nicest way - I'm still working on my descriptions! I am happy to grow energy to distribute to those I love to spend time with - therefore Energy + Creator = Energator!)
So - returning to that awesome party that I genuinely loved being at. Being an Energator (stick with me, it might 'grow' on you..), I often have a few glasses of wine (and yes, I also often have too many, I know you were already assuming that, INFJ's....😉) to make the small talk a little bit easier, make the noise seem a little less overwhelming, and to generally feel 'normal' - even kick up a little bit of an Energy storm for myself and play 'Extrovert' for a while!
No surprises then, I woke up on 1st January - the first day of an exciting new year - feeling like The Grim Reaper had been my first foot...
Over the next day or so, I said the usual never drinking again, followed by seriously, why do we choose to put these chemicals in our bodies when we know we will feel like this the next three days - and believe me, as you get older, the hangover lasts longer.. We start with
- I think I'm actually going to die this time on day 1, then
- Maybe I've done some permanent damage, or did someone spike my drink?!, on day 2 followed by
- I'm a bad, bad human being - now where is that downward spiral I need to climb onto? on day 3.
- Hopefully by day 4, you've started climbing back up that spiral staircase ready to regenerate some self-respect, and realised that this time is no different to the last time, or the time before that...
So the point of this story is - I heard all these people talking about having 'Dry January' , and decided (anyone who knows me, knows I'm a teensy bit competitive...) to take it to another level...
And I decided I would not have any alcohol for 365 days - yup, a whole year..**
The first thing that was staggeringly (see what I did there!) surprising was people's reactions.
Now to be clear, I have had my moments, and my party years, but generally, I am definitely NOT what you would call a heavy drinker. Nor am I the classic cliche of end-of-a-hard-week-at-work-drinker. I'm not even a what delectable red or white wine will I have to accompany the fine food my adorable husband has cooked for me this evening (my husband is an awesome cook, and I will do everything to keep encouraging him to be the Chief Cook around here!) But you'd think I'd walked in and announced I'd decided to eat nothing but lettuce for a year!
- Sheer looks of horror😲,
- with a side of WHY?!!😶,
- followed by sympathetic faces😬, and
- usually something along the lines of a slightly patronising (unintended, I'm sure 🤣) Oh, well done you! (but still with a confused look on their faces😕).
As the year progressed, lots of amusing tales occurred, including meeting a good friend for the first time since I made my decision and after the shocked face, she said OMG - You've not had a drink since New Years Day???!!!, after which I reminded her it was only 8th January..
I discovered it was a great excuse not to go to big nights out when previously I would have had massive FOMO and gone along, even if I was already exhausted. Without the crutch of a few glasses of wine to distribute my energy unwisely, I sometimes chose to stay home. Or I went, had a few soft drinks (total soda and fresh lime connoisseur now - I know how long ago that lime was first chopped - don't try and fool me with yesterdays trash!) and was home by 11pm - much to my husbands horror - the concept of having his own personal taxi for a whole year was smashed, when I started giving him ten minute warnings of when we were going to leave, just like we do with our kids when thy are having too much fun!
On to the overall purpose of today's blogpost - how has that year gone?
Well, the results have been really surprising. However I feel I must first say -
please don't assume this is what will happen for you - this is MY personal experience, based on my previous relationship with alcohol, my level of introversion, and my overall lifestyle.. The first thing I noticed (which I briefly mentioned earlier) was the fact that it was easier to say no to some social engagements. People possibly thought I couldn't face the idea of being out with everyone while they were having a few drinks and I couldn't have any...
The reality was that going to less social engagements meant I got to save up some energy. Saving up some energy meant I wasn't quite as exhausted during my normal week as I would be if I'd had a late night and a few drinks at the weekend.
Therefore, my work became more of a focus.
Now this wasn't necessarily a good thing. Before I got married, I was a real workaholic (why do we overdo everything until we become an aholic?? Alcohol, Work, Shopping, Chocolate, Netflix....). It was ok back then, because I had massive downtime to recharge at the weekends, even after a Friday night social evening.
But these days....?
I have two energetic boys who are my pride and joy. I am utterly devoted to helping them become loving, kind human beings who understand how to truly be happy.
I also have a wonderful, gorgeous husband who is an unbridled Extrovert, who - come Friday night, is like a little bouncy energetic puppy/toddler (love you really Mr Extrovert 😉) asking What we doing tomorrow, and then what about after that, and then what about the next day? Can we go on a day trip? Can we, can we?....
Trying to become more focused on my work was like adding every hangover I'd had in the whole of 2017 all together and just gradually dishing it out over the year in little acidic droplets into my copious (not going to deny it, BORING 😬) glasses of soda and lime..
I desperately wanted to do it, I had the drive and the passion, so I thought I should be able to.. But I was exhausted because then I discovered that alcohol was never the real problem...
Energy was the problem. The missing link.
Energy was the thing I needed more of, not purely less/no alcohol. That's not to say that it wasn't a good idea, as it gave me clarity on how to better control my happiness and my life, by controlling my energy better. I'd just have kept on surviving by the skin of my teeth until I collapsed into a hole in the ground, or run screaming to a doctor (I've been close to both over the years I can assure you). Plus I know I felt healthier, and felt good about not drinking alcohol.
So the plan for 2019 is to right the balance, to regain control (have I ever really had it? I'm not actually sure) of my energy, and be my best self - as much as I hate phrases like that - I really do want to know what it feels like to have my full energy quota (or all my lives back, for my fellow gamers!), on a regular basis, and get to see what I'm really capable of.
Good luck me!
* Finished this in January 2020.... explanatory (more like excusatory!) post will follow soon 🤣
**Aside - My extroverted husband also said he would join me - I didn't ask him to! - and he lasted a total of 5 days!