This is somewhat predicable given the season. Yes – I gave up alcohol for Lent. The reason I’ve not drawn attention to this resolution previously is that until recently I thought I might not be able to stick to it until the end. To my surprise I did.
The background is that I enjoy good wine. I had slipped into the habit of enjoying a glass or two … or three, every evening. In fact I don’t think a day has gone by in the last 20 years when I have not taken wine. While I never got drunk and never got into any sort of trouble through drinking, I was regularly exceeding the weekly recommended maximum units of alcohol. Because of medication I have to take, I have blood tests to check my liver function every year. The fact that they have always been normal was no incentive to cutting back or giving up.
I wondered whether I was an alcoholic. But I don’t in fact fit in to the definition – certainly not that offered by Alcoholics Anonymous whose web site I checked. I didn’t crave alcohol during the day and was not much bothered by the wish to drink until 6 in the evening at the earliest. But I have become tolerant to the effects and my daily consumption very gradually increased as the months and years slipped by.
The decision to give up for Lent was fairly spur-of-the-moment. My wife let slip, almost casually, two days before Ash Wednesday, ‘Well, are you giving up drink for Lent?’ I thought a moment and then said, ‘Well, I think I will’. And I did.
Rather than sit with a glass of wine I took a glass of low calorie tonic water with ice and lemon. The bitterness of the tonic rather lessened the sensation of missing the wine.
I felt better from the start. But I have to say that I felt pretty well before. I missed my wine, but didn’t experience what might be called ‘withdrawal symptoms’. One positive thing – I stopped snoring and so my wife felt better. Then I started to lose weight. Not surprising when you consider the number of calories there are in a bottle of white wine. I tended to avoid telling too many people about it. A few seemed almost to resent what I’d done as though it might reflect upon them. Some looked at me questioningly, as if to say ‘did you have a problem with drink, then?’
I had my first drink on the evening of Easter Sunday. No undue effect. I hope now to avoid drinking wine every evening, or at least to keep myself to 20 units a week. We shall see.