Ten things not to say to women who have stopped drinking.

Four months. From Michelin Man to Starry Eyed Surprise.
In light of reaching an extraordinary four months alcohol free, here is a list of ACTUAL things people have said to me about my journey. Please, I am begging you; do not say these things to people (especially women) who have made the incredible decision to stop drinking alcohol. This experience has been difficult enough at times without you adding to it with your insensitivity around a topic you clearly don’t understand.

It astonishes me that alcohol is so ingrained in our society that people assume there is a medical reason for not drinking. And yes, I know I’m verging on sanctimonious twat but some of these comments are so horrifically hurtful and the damage from them lasts long after an interaction. Think before you judge, you have no idea what battles someone is fighting and how close they are to falling over the edge. Be nice. You don’t have to understand, just don’t be a dick.

1. “Are you pregnant?”

This of course doesn’t just apply to women who have stopped drinking, this applies to women in general. Unless a woman has told you that she is pregnant (in which case you don’t need to repeatedly ask her), NEVER DO THIS. It’s rude and quite frankly, it’s fucking offensive. You have no idea the battles people go through in trying to get pregnant, in infertility, or in historic abuses. My uterus is not your public property and you have absolutely no right to know what is going on inside it.

2. “Wouldn’t it be funny if I put vodka in your drink?”

Well, no actually. It’s a basic question of consent. Would it be funny if I said no and you continued to try and fuck me? Drink spiking is a criminal offence that carries a sentence of up to 10 years imprisonment, more if you rob or sexually assault the victim. If you have to make jokes about crimes predominantly committed against women to women, it says a lot about your character. A lot.

3. “So now you’ve stopped drinking, you judge anybody who does?”

I have spent the past four months making sure I don’t turn into a sanctimonious prick and have so far managed to avoid it. I have never judged anybody for drinking because other people’s behaviour is not my circus. Not my circus, not my monkeys. I stopped drinking for my happiness, my mental health, my future and four months in, it was the best decision I have ever made. If my not drinking offends you so much and instantly brings you to a defensive standpoint, then that is an honest conversation you need to have with yourself. Not with me.

4. “I only have a couple of bottles of wine a week. That’s OK isn’t it?”

If I have told you I don’t drink, it is likely because you’ve made a comment about me celebrating an achievement with alcohol. I’m not saying that I don’t drink so that you can justify to me how much you do drink, I’m explaining to you that drinking is not how I celebrate achievements anymore. Back to point 3, I am not judging you and this immediate jumping from me saying I don’t drink to you telling me how “little” you drink is unnecessary. It is not my role to counsel you in your alcohol consumption. If you’re interested in cutting down or stopping drinking, I can point you in the direction of some amazing resources. Please don’t ask me to justify your drinking.

5. “How long is this going to go on for?”

Why? Does it make you feel uncomfortable? Did you underestimate my resolve at the start and expect me to fail? As Hubs regularly tells people who bring this question up to both of us; when I put my mind to something, nothing will stop me. Nothing. What started off as an experiment, after years of cyclical abstaining and binge drinking, has utterly changed my life. This isn’t a fad, it’s my future. Damn, it’s my fucking present! It’s the future of my health, my happiness, my family, my career. It’s four months now, how long should I expect this question to be thrown at me for? Will you stop asking after six months? A year? Five years? How about you just let me live my life without judgement?

6. “You’ll have a glass of champagne at Christmas.”

No I won’t. I’ll crack open a bottle of my AF bubbles and I will share it with the kids in pink Unicorn champagne glasses and we’ll have the best time ever. I won’t have to eat Rennies on the hour, I won’t embarrass myself, I won’t start arguments on the best day of the year and I won’t be shitfaced by lunch time. I will enjoy every second of my favourite season, I will remember every moment and I will be calm, happy and confident. I can not do any of those things with alcohol. So no, I won’t have a glass of Champagne at Christmas because one is too many and a hundred is not enough.

7. “So come on, you can tell me. Are you guys having a baby?!”

Just. Fuck. Off. I’ve lost over a stone not drinking. So fuck off.

8. “Oh. So you’re an alcoholic?”

Probably not in the way you’re imagining me passed out on a park bench with a half bottle of Tesco own brand Whiskey in a brown paper bag. More in the way of I’m a fucking liability. I’ll happily direct you to my blog but I’m fucked if I’m going to talk about my deepest vulnerabilities with a stranger at the bar. Label it however you need to in order to process or understand it but please don’t throw those labels at me.

9. “Blimey, Hubs will leave you if this continues.”

Fucking hell mate, not only are you underestimating me, you’re brutally underestimating Hubs. In making this enormous, life changing decision to stop drinking, one of my biggest fears was that I would lose the people I loved the most. In fact, it has been the complete opposite. Not only have my relationships deepened to another level of connection; I have developed new, deeper relationships with extraordinary people. If anything, Hubs watching and supporting me through this monumental decision has only increased his love for everything awesome about me. Which is everything. I mean, there is just so much. Removing alcohol from my life has made me a better wife, a better friend, a better colleague and you can try to feed into my insecurities if you insist, but it won’t work. I’m clearly stronger than you think I am. As are my relationships.

10. “But seriously, are you guys pregnant?”

Again. Fuck. Off. 

Please think before you speak. That one throwaway comment could be the undoing of days of work for somebody who has battled to leave the house. Celebrate people’s achievements, make every interaction a good one, don’t be a dick. Life is too short to hurt people. Think before you speak.


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