WOMAN ON THE VERGE: Why I’ve ditched the red wine for the green tea

May 16th, 2023 3:30 PM

By Emma Connolly

Quitting the wine was an exercise in self-discipline, and I’m thrilled to say I’ve risen to the challenge. Instead of treating myself to a glass of vino in the evening, I’m treating myself to an episode of Catastrophe. (Photos: Shutterstock)

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• WHATEVER way I go about things this week I’m going to come out of it looking less than good … so that would be potentially bad I suppose, but there’s nothing like facing down the barrel of a blank computer screen and a rapidly approaching deadline to remove any inhibitions you might have about sharing ‘stuff,’ so here goes: I’ve embarked on a ‘sober curious’ journey. Yes, that’s just a fancy Gen Z way of saying I’m on the wagon, and if everything has continued to plan, at the time of going to print, I’ll have just passed my one month milestone. Woo hoo – crack open the soda water (hold the gin). Here’s the back story ….

• Now the last thing I want to do is to make light of what is a serious addiction for some, so I’ll clarify that my motivation for quitting the booze was purely to prove to myself that I wasn’t the middle-aged cliché that all signs were pointing towards (and also because my clothes were getting a big snug). Until I hit my 40s I never drank at home and could not understand why you’d bother. I mean why risk a headache or waste the calories? I think I might just have been buying the wrong wine though. So while it would be unfair (broadly speaking) to say my husband drove me to drink, he’s a bit of a connoisseur, and he is the one who introduced me to very hard-to-resist grapes (he’s to blame right?). Then as my little wine habit was developing, the first lockdown hit, and another one (and there was another one after that again, wasn’t there?), and before I knew it having a glass of an evening was the norm, rather than the exception. A nice glass of wine was called for if I was happy/sad/tired/emotional/angry/bored/stressed/anxious, or the lethal combination of being stressed and anxious (a most modern affliction).

• But where was the harm in that, you might be thinking? I was thinking that myself! I could be doing worse! Don’t we work hard enough? Isn’t there enough suffering in the world? We might be hit by a bus tomorrow (although probably not in rural West Cork)! That’s all true, but it was the top-ups that were my downfall. My husband can have one medium glass and leave it at that. I’ll have a glass and then I’ll turn into a half-crazed Mrs Doyle, trying to tempt him into a second (go on, go on, you will, you will etc). He’s never for budging, but as my relationship with moderation is a bit touch and go, I’ll usually pour myself a second that could be described as ‘generous.’ Again, nothing too awful here … unless scouring the pantry looking for something salty, or thinking it’s a good idea to stay up late and binge watch an entire Netflix series on a Tuesday night counts. Basically if my lifestyle was being graded it would say: ‘room to improve.’

• So the long and short of it is, unless I learn to drink more like a French person ie just with dinner (not before, during and after), slowly and from a dainty glass (not the enormous vessels we have that could almost double up as a fruit bowl) I’m on the wagon. I’m moving into month two and I’m only thrilled with myself. Turns out the experts were right – you can break and build new habits in 28 days. My mother has stepped into a support role, ringing me every morning to ask if I had a ‘dry night’ (which sounds like the kind of thing you might ask of a toilet training toddler!) ‘I did’, I triumphantly report to her. I might be a fully-fledged adult who doesn’t like to please their mama?

• I’m still waiting for the benefits to hit – probably because wine brought me nothing but joy. Someone did say my skin was looking better (my sister) and another person said I wasn’t looking so puffy (eh, that was my mother. Who else would risk such brutal honesty?). But I have to say the feeling of control and discipline tastes better than any Rioja. My husband hasn’t joined me in solidarity so on the evenings he’s indulging I’m either giving him daggers for not supporting me on my journey (‘why are you being so cruel and torturing me like this?); or lecturing him on the dangers of alcohol (did you know you’ve just consumed the equivalent of five spoons of sugar?). He’s started going to bed early and leaving me and my sparkling water to it. Poor man. 

• I haven’t had to negotiate any major social events yet on my sober curious journey besides my fabulous nephew’s communion. I find there’s something so lovely about communions – all that innocence and hope would do you the world of good, way better than any alcohol-generated dopamine. Besides I was having way too much fun on his new trampoline to give the sparkling rosé a second thought (and my ankle held up a treat). Next up is a girls’ night out which could be trickier, but so long as there’s something inflatable for me to bounce on, I should be grand. 

• Finally, my random act of kindness this week is that I watched The Nurse on Netflix … so you don’t have to. It’s basically like Holby City, just in Danish. Everything sounds more interesting in Danish so I’m not being too hard on myself for falling for it. I gave the new series of Working Moms two episodes but found the characters so excruciatingly annoying that I had to bail on it. Instead I’m enjoying Catastrophe which is new to Netflix and which I missed when it was first released. Sharon Horgan is an absolute hoot. I was delighted to see she got an Ifta for her role in Bad Sisters, with confirmation filming is to start on season two this September. That’s something worth toasting – with a herbal tea of course!

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