Being teetotal

I’ve mentioned being teetotal a few times over the years in passing, but realise I’ve never written a full post on it. For me, being teetotal is easy. Because I’ve never known any different.

Not drinking alcohol wasn’t initially a conscious decision. My friends all started going to the pub in 6th form, and I went with them. Some of them drank, some of them didn’t. We were only 16 or 17, but this was the early 90s and the pubs were less vigilant than they are now. The bar staff knew some of our friends personally and knew exactly how old they were, but they weren’t bothered.

Pubs became clubbing. I used to go clubbing every week, sometimes more than once a week, during my 6th form and university years. And still I didn’t drink.

I used to try stuff and I didn’t like the taste of it. People would say ‘vodka doesn’t taste of anything!’, but it does. It tastes of alcohol. Alcopops on the whole came a few years later, but I do remember one drink that I was ‘definitely’ supposed to like, because it ‘tastes like Lilt’. It didn’t taste like Lilt and I didn’t like it.

As a student, I didn’t have that much problem with other people drinking, although I became less tolerant as I got older. Of course, people thought I was weird, but strangely my best friend at university didn’t drink either, so we were in good company.

I used to love dancing and my dancing used to attract quite a lot of attention – in a good way (I think). People were amazed that I could dance like that when I didn’t drink. But here’s the thing – dancing was my escape mechanism. When people are talking utter crap because of alcohol, what’s the best way to both get away from the conversation and appear to be loads of fun?! Dancing, of course! Generally, nobody thought I was ‘boring’ for not drinking, because I danced.

But I did get a few questions asked and I always just said ‘I don’t like the taste’.

Then when I was about 25, I realised I would never like the taste. That’s when I took a conscious decision that I was never going to drink. And I’ve never regretted it.

Teetotal, Being teetotal, Wine, Glasses off wine

I’ve never known a hangover, never had the fear of wondering what I did or said the night before – who I argued with, who I kissed, who I said something embarrassing too. Have I missed out by not going through all of this crap?

Of course I haven’t.

I haven’t turned to wine to celebrate or to commiserate. I haven’t poured myself a gin because I’ve been feeling down.

How did I get through the tough days of early motherhood, not to mention parenting teenagers, without alcohol? I just did. I’m not saying that it wasn’t hard. But I didn’t need anything (other than chocolate) to make it better. I coped. My life hasn’t been a roller coaster of drinking and not drinking, of needing a drink, of having one too many, of regretting drinks, of thinking I could just have one more…

These days I hardly ever go out, so nobody questions me not drinking. Of course at my age, there are a few more of us who are teetotal than there was when I was in my 20s. And plenty who drink a lot less than they did in their 20s. But there are still plenty of people who like a few drinks – and sometimes more than a few.

I have very little time for the middle class mums’ ‘wine o’clock’/ ‘gin o’clock’ culture. I think it’s damaging to health. Actually, it is damaging to health. There’s medical evidence for that. And not only physical health, but mental health too. You feel like alcohol makes things better, but it actually makes them worse. It’s damaging to sleep, which in itself is essential for health. But that’s your choice.

Being teetotal does make parenting teenagers slightly tricky in the sense that I am quite afraid of them drinking. I know that teenagers drink, and that many of them do it very sensibly, but I would prefer that they didn’t drink at all. I have to rely on my husband to help me see sense on what is and isn’t acceptable. Luckily, so far, my boys have been sensible.

But I’ve made my choice for myself and I’m very happy that I have. You won’t ever see me with a drink in my hand. And know that if you ever see me dancing I am 100% sober.

Author: Sarah Mummy

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  1. I never knew you were teetotal Sarah but I think it’s wonderful. When I look back at my younger years I could be a bit of a party animal. The idea of never having having had a hangover or waking up worrying about what you said the night before is very appealing. Hindsight is a wonderful thing ‘ey?

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    • Thanks very much. Not that many people know I’m teetotal unless I actually tell them. I don’t go out enough for people to realise! If anyone asks me if I am, I will always admit it, even if they think I’m weird, because I am actually proud of it.

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  2. I didn’t realise you were tee total. I don’t drink much at all. I’ll have 1 spritzer if we’re eating out, and I do like a bucks fizz at Christmas and Pimms at summer bbqs but they’re pretty rare, so mostly I don’t drink. I did used to drink a reasonable amount at uni and would drink when I went out with friends on work socials before I got married- I’ve had 1 occasion feeling ill (red wine), 1 after dissertations were handed in where I don’t remember which way I walked back across campus to my block, and a first social for a birthday do at a new workplace where I felt very rough and talked a lot until we left to go home when I felt fine.

    But now I just prefer the taste of soft drinks. After only a spritzer with food, I can feel I’ve had alcohol the next day. So it’s not worth it. I am always surprised by friends trying to encourage me to have a drink when I don’t fancy it, but I do have the excuse that I’m on warfarin and you can’t drink a lot with that.

    I did have a bit of a disagreement on facebook or twitter with someone asking whether people could give up alcohol, and she didn’t believe people could. But I so rarely drink, I’d find it quite easy. I don’t yearn for a drink, don’t drink out of habit, don’t turn to drink if I’m tired and am quite happy saying no if I don’t want one.

    I’m not yet my nan though. She was always tee total but quite preachy with it. Can’t abide that. Apart from maybe with kids! I’m dreading N getting to mid teens. Nephew no. 3 can handle a lot of drink, and his dad let him go to the pub and get drunk. His mum didn’t like it but had no way of stopping him. She’s pleased he now drives because he doesn’t want to risk his licence so doesn’t drink when he’s out. I’m hoping N and the younger cousin stick with their wish to not drink like their dads. Neither of whom can handle more than 3 pints, but are friends with 2 guys who can drink a lot no problem. At the age of 50ish, both are terrible at saying no, they’ll end up drinking beer, spririts and god knows what else, then being ill all the next day, miserable and unable to work. Drives me nuts.

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    • That sounds like very sensible drinking! I very rarely discuss it with people, but obviously from my point of view it’s very easy not to drink! Because my friends know I’m teetotal, they would never encourage me to have an alcoholic drink. I don’t preach about it either, people are fret make their own choices. My parents don’t drink (they used to have the occasional one when I was younger) and they have never preached about it.
      It’s good that N and his cousin have that attitude to drinking. I would be annoyed if my husband behaved like yours too! He used to drink a lot in his younger years, but doesn’t have much these days. He certainly never gets ill with it and is always able to work the next day.

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  3. Another dose of straight up honesty here Sarah and I love that you’ve never tried to hide this aspect of yourself or made yourself drink just to fit in. It’s so important in this culture to have people who don’t drink and still know how to enjoy themselves. It must be such a bore watching other people making an idiot out of themselves! I like that your husband doesn’t feel the need to conform to your non-drinking ways and you don’t mind him drinking either. Sets a good example to your kids – they can choose which suits them 🙂

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    • Thanks very much! I’ve never really felt the need to fit in. Why would I? I wish more people could be brave like me (although I don’t consider it brave) as I know there are other people who don’t like alcohol, yet still feel they ‘should’ drink it.
      It is irritating watching people who are drunk. I’m fine while they are just having a laugh – that can be good fun – but then it tips over the edge and I go home! Not that I go out very often these days.

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  4. My main feeling about this post Sarah was ‘at last’! I’ve been feeling so uneasy about the whole ‘wine and motherhood’ culture for several years but thought that I was the only one. Drinks like Prosecco and gin, in particular, seem to be marketed towards young mothers. So many parent bloggers mention alcohol in their bios. I drink myself but don’t feel that I need to glorify it and it’s not a big part of my life. We need to remember that alcohol is both a poison and addictive and I’m worried that we’re storing up a public health problem for the future.

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    • Thank you! Glad someone else agrees with me on the mums and alcohol thing. So many mums do glorify it and it’s not a good thing. I’m actually pleased that none of these women have called me out for mentioning it, but they probably don’t read my blog!

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