Wednesday, 10 January 2018

Can you celebrate without alcohol?

Yesterday I had some fantastic news. After a six week wait, I finally received my DipTESOL exam results and I got 77%! Rather disappointingly this was 3% short of a distinction but at times I never thought I would even manage 50% for the written exam, so I’m really not complaining. Here’s my exam paper if you are interested in taking a look to see what all the fuss was about. This result combined with the results of my assessed teaching, my research projects and my phonology exam mean that I have achieved a distinction overall for my DipTESOL which I am ecstatic about. This is the culmination of a year’s worth of seriously hard graft and I’m really proud of my achievement.

However, the excitement of getting the result I’ve been dreaming of over the past year fell a little flat now that I am ‘on the wagon’. Normally, I would use an event like this as an excuse to go out for a some exotic cocktails and/or a glass bottle of bubbles. Instead, to keep me away from the enticing embrace of alcohol, I checked into my yin yoga class and meditated rather than self-medicated! Although the eight hours of blissfully deep sleep that resulted from the yoga was a welcome reward, it didn’t really recompense the 12 months of hard slog I put into getting my DipTESOL. So now that I am alcohol-free, I am going to have to learn some alternative ways to celebrate that don’t involve cracking open a bottle.

Therefore, on Friday night, the husband and I are trying an experiment. We are going out for a booze-free dinner together to see if we can celebrate in style without a bottle of wine or two. My concern is that although we will feel fabulous on Saturday morning waking up without hangovers, there will be a wine shaped void at the dinner table, resulting in us potentially feeling deprived and subdued. It is the flavours of the red wine accompanying the food that I will miss, even more so than the initial ‘and relax...’ feeling I get from my first sip of wine. Somehow, a bottle of San Pellegrino doesn’t have quite the same appeal as an Argentinian Malbec or a full bodied Cabernet Sauvignon. If I was in England I would try experimenting with dealcoholized red wine but although I’ve searched high and low for it here in Hong Kong, I can only find alcohol free beer and I’d never choose to drink beer with a meal. Perhaps we will push the boat out and try a fancier restaurant than we would usually go to and start off with some exotic mocktails to rev up our first alcohol-free celebration.

The reality is that over the years I have used alcohol as a reward, a confidence booster, an emotion suppressor, a special event marker, a comforter... and so on. As a result it is going to take time to erase these ingrained habits, to learn new behaviour patterns and make them become second nature. Learning how to celebrate without using alcohol is no doubt the first of many hurdles to overcome in the coming months.

I’ll let you know how my booze free celebration goes!

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  1. Justin is mostly teetotal which sees me quietly sipping on 1 glass of wine at dinners and not actually even enjoying it some of the time - i was so interested in one of your friend's comments the other day - that she has a teetotal husband and after an adjustment period, it is the new normal... I know this is different because of the celebration element but I never thought it possible to go for dinner and not wash it down with bucket loads - now... depending on the company - its quite possible without even trying. Some of the things I would treat myself to in HK is going for a "footie" after dinner, a facial on a saturday afternoon, go to lots of gigs if I was back in London - maybe those are all distractions until - like your friend said - it becomes the new normal and dinner itself is the treat

  2. I do hope your night out went ok. I have kicked the wine witch into touch again on 1st jan after about three attempts of varying lengths (most successful was about 4 months). It is very difficult in the first month to find a new normal. Drinking Pellegrino in a fancy restaurant is tough, I’ve been there. However I went out with hubbie recently to the theatre to see warhorse. It was a great evening - we had a tonic water each prior to the performance and I kidded myself it contained alcohol! I enjoyed the performance more than I have ever done and I’m sure that was because I didn’t have to worry about getting my next fix. I would normally be looking at my watch watching the time tick away until I could run up to the bar to claim the (pre booked of course)drinks. I loved not worrying about it and loved waking up the next morning feeling great and remembering all of the night before. I wish you well on your journey. Hang in in there and go see a film / go bowling / go to a show - break your normal routine. Please post again - let us know how you did. All the very best J x

    1. Thank you so much for your support and great ideas. Our night out ended up being brilliant. We went to an amazing Japanese restaurant and ate the most delicious food and drank green tea! I love your ideas - particularly bowling. I might find I'm actually quite good at it without a load of alcohol inside me. Best of luck to you too. We can do this!


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