Discovering that not drinking is an option – always
Back in my late teens and early twenties, I would say to my best friend “all of my life’s problems would go away if I stopped drinking”. This declaration came after particularly heavy sessions where I’d made an arse out of myself yet again. We would laugh because it was true, but ridiculous. Not drinking was for alcoholics, not young adventurers like ourselves. I didn’t understand that not drinking was an option So, I carried on drinking. But the belief that life would be better without booze never left me.
The Aussie Lifestyle
At the keen age of twenty-one, I packed up my hopes and dreams to jet off to the sunny shores of Australia. I was ready to experience the real world. How did I do that exactly? I drank. Every. Single Night. The combination of newfound freedom and a job that paid well meant that my party lifestyle could be stepped up: I was rarely to be found without a glass of booze in my hand. I remember people saying, “at least we know Paige will be out tonight, Paige is always out” and I laughed. I revelled in being the go-to-party-girl with a smile on her face and a twinkle in her eye, up for anything and everything. Young, wild and free. That Paige was expected to drink; not drinking wasn’t an option. (Red my post about the time I woke up in Australia with no identity here)
If you looked at my life through the lens of Facebook at that time, I wouldn’t have blamed you for being a tad jealous. Endless images of sunsets, beaches, parties, new places, new friends – it appeared magical. In many ways it was, but in many ways, I was living in purgatory. I cried a lot, I rarely remembered the evenings, I hated my job, I felt choked with anxiety unless I could slip into tipsiness. I chose to drink over saving which meant I barely explored that beautiful country. But I carried on drinking. Everyone I knew drank. Not drinking? Not an option.
Back to Reality
When I finally came home from my adventure, I was forced back to reality. The sun was no longer constantly shining, the jobs didn’t pay as well, I was living back with my Mum, (although, my Mum is pretty amazing) and away from my boyfriend. How did I deal with that? I drank! When I reunited with various family members and friends, we drank to celebrate me coming home. When I looked for jobs online, I drank. When the weekend came, I went out and drank. I’m English, not-drinking was not an option.
Realising the truth
It took me three years after coming home to realise that NOT DRINKING IS AN OPTION! It had always been an option and always would be an option. I put myself through a lot of mental torture before realising that truth. I felt a huge relief when I finally did. Younger me was right: my problems went away when my drinking did. I didn’t get drunk and pick an argument, I didn’t wake up full of dread and regret, I didn’t spend all my money and have to borrow for rent, I didn’t stay out for entire weekends. I was happy.
If you’re reading this and, like me, you’re worried that not drinking isn’t an option, I promise you that it is. What’s more, it’s a wonderful option that when chosen can light up your life in so many unexpected ways.
Not drinking IS an option – always.