Going Off the Sauce

By Jillian Owens

When I read my fellow BIC contributor Marques Moore’s article, “Don’t Drink!  Don’t Smoke!  What DO You Do…?“, it made me think a bit.

I love booze.  Booze is amazing and wonderful and has an uncanny way of making most things better.  Boring date?  Try booze!  Awkward situation?  Just add booze!  Have an afternoon to kill?  Why not meet up with friends and consume some booze?

I like small kylixes and I can not lie.
I like small kylixes and I can not lie.

I drink just about every day.  A glass of wine after work here, a cocktail there, and in significantly greater quantities over the weekend.  I’ll sip a glass of pinot while I sew.  If I’m stuck and can’t come up with a story idea, I’ll drink a tasty cider to loosen up my creativity.

Saturdays begin with a ritualistic mimosa at Wine Down on Main after checking out Soda City Market, followed by the Giant Wine Sale & Tasting at Cellar on Greene.

On one such Saturday, I turned to my friend and asked, “Do we have a problem?”

“No.  No!”  My friend was taken aback.” Yes…we like to drink.  But it doesn’t affect our lives in any negative way.  We go to work, we do things, and you’re one of the most productive people I know.  I don’t know how you’d function without alcohol.  And why would you want to?”

Booze makes moments better!
Booze makes moments better!

I love booze.  I love how fantastic things have happened whilst consuming said booze.

I don’t love how on occasion booze can lead me to some fantastically bad decisions, like angry texting, attempting to dance, making out with some weird stranger, or singing show tunes at karaoke.

Only booze understands me.
Erin looks on disapprovingly…

I also don’t love the idea of needing a substance to function.  I don’t like seeing a suspicious link to my creativity and my alcohol consumption.  When does a pleasant ritual become something more insidious?

“I’m giving up drinking for a couple of weeks,” I told my friend

“Why?  Are you pregnant?!?” was her fair response (this is the only reason our female friends have gone off the sauce, so we’re quite suspicious now).

“No.  Gross!  God no.  I just want to see what it’s like.  I want to test myself.”

I want to see what will happen.  I want to see if clever fun Jillian can still be clever and fun without a cocktail in her.  I want to see if this change makes me more productive.  I want to see what a totally non-hungover Sunday feels like.

I talked to Marques about this, and will probably continue to do so throughout this two week trial.

“This is going to suck.  I’m going to hate this,” I moaned.

Marques just shrugged, “I think you’re going to be surprised by how not a big deal it is.  You can still go out and do stuff.  You’re still going to hang out with your friends and have a social life.  You don’t have to do this, you know.”

We'll see...
We’ll see…

But I feel like I do.

It all starts Monday.

Will I make it through the next two weeks?  I really don’t know.

I’ll keep you posted.




20 thoughts on “Going Off the Sauce”

  1. My life is full, creative, entertaining and wonderful…without alcohol. I like a nice moscato every now and then. I think you will find this true for yourself.

  2. Be warned the drinkers will think this is silly and will be uncomfortable and try to lure you in. It can be very enlightening to be the only sober person in the room. Looking forward to your experience of this.

  3. Seriously. Keep the end in sight and write down all the GOOD things that happen during this time so you can stay motivated. I’ll bet you’ll drop a few pounds from all the sugar and calories you’re not consuming! (not that you need to drop a few…)

    this. is. good.

  4. Hi Jillian, long time follower, first time poster:
    I’m super, super allergic to alcohol 😦 Like, my boyfriend made bananas foster once, made sure to “burn off” all the alcohol, gave me the smallest amount (with lots of ice cream), and my throat *still* started to close. It really sucks. Not because I particularly miss booze, but because it seems like a lot of people just *can’t* be social without drinking. It’s really opened my eyes to that…how much people (including myself when I was able to drink) use it as a crutch. Since I can’t have any alcohol whatsoever (I can’t even use mouthwash), I’ve had to come up with ways to not let the awkwardness of social interactions get to me. It’s been interesting! Because I like to beat myself after hanging out with people (“I can’t believe I said that!” or “I really should have said something like xyz.”), I’ve had to employ a lot of “lovingkindness” techniques to help me cope! It’s been an interesting journey… I wish you the best of luck during your experiment! I’m sure you’ll learn a lot about yourself. Take care!

  5. I really like this. I rarely drink myself but have considered just giving it all up completely. Most of the people I hang out with drink the same as you described above but I do not. I seem to only tolerate those people after a drink or two and do not like that fact. This has given me inspiration for attempting this feat, although with as little as I drink it may fair a little easier than most. This is my first visit to this blog for I have spent many more hours on the refashonista blog tailoring and reinventing my thrift store finds 🙂 You are a great gift of inspiration all around. Good luck and the ones trying to mess up this experiment are not nice friends girl!

  6. I rarely drink. It can be very uncomfortable to be the person that isn’t drinking, because many of those who do drink will feel like you’re judging them, even if you (and they know) you aren’t. I ended up alienating myself from many friends in the later years of college because I simply didn’t think it was fun to watch everyone get drunk. It isn’t the issue of drinking, but more so the issue of NEEDING alcohol to have a good time, socialize, or enjoy an activity.

    Studies have shown that alcohol does make you more creative. I think it’s because the little voice in your head that whispers “You suck” is quieted a bit. But I also approve of you deciding to find out if your creativity is only linked to consumption. I’m not sure if two weeks is enough, because if you’ve relied on alcohol to give you a boost for so long (even subconsciously), you may have to re-train your brain to be creative without it. Will your worries that you won’t have any creativity effectively dash any creativity you might have had? It’s a perplexing situation. The human mind is quite odd.

    In short, I believe that part of the human condition is to seek out substances (alcohol, french fries, drugs for some) to help cope with the realities of daily lives. They bring us closer to a sense of peace and otherness than we can usually do on our own. Don’t beat yourself up for drinking, but don’t let drinking become something you need to survive. Thrive with it, don’t let it rule you.

  7. I have one friend that I love dearly but can only handle in small doses. One time I consumed a large bottle of Bailey’s (which I LOVE) over a long evening of spending time with her. It was a girl’s night in- staying at a friends house- I was “trapped”. Needless to say- I had my first hangover…. yeah it’s not all headaches and light and sound sensitivities. :/ oy… I couldn’t drink Bailey’s for well over a year. Luckily it’s been nearly a decade since that fateful night and I’m in a better state, literally too- I moved to the west coast. lol I’m never been much of a drinker myself-aside from the occasional bottle of wine… although my husband is a micro-brew snob and has really turned me on to beer. The beautiful PNW has some awesome breweries.
    Sadly- one beer or girly cocktail will put me over the top to indicate my intolerance. But I do enjoy it and savor it for the fine beverage it is when I do decide to partake.
    Anyhow- I hope this trial period works out for you and you become aware of how it affects you, the good, the bad, the oogly. ;).

  8. I’ve been a follower for a loooong time and have noticed that in most of your posts there is usually a picture of you with a drink in hand. I get it, I wasn’t always a wife and mom, I use to enjoy chilling with friends and getting buzzed (ahem, trashed). I quit drinking when I got pregnant with my oldest almost 4 years ago and hardly ever drink now. Once you break the cycle you realize how much money you save by drinking water instead of an $8 cocktail or class of wine every night.
    Some people will try to set you up for failure without even realizing they are doing it. They won’t understand what the big deal is for you but, if it’s important for you to be on this journey, you should stick with it!
    Good luck dear, I hope it’s a good experience for you!

  9. Last year, after a ferocious hangover, I swore off booze for probably 4-5 months. I missed tasting new beers with my husband sometimes, but was surprised at how little I missed it otherwise (and I lost a few pounds!). Now I drink again in moderation. Sometimes I think about swearing it off forever, but I do love beer and wine. I try to just avoid hard alcohol now.

    Good luck! I am interested to see your take on it.

  10. You will be fine. You will probably go back to your normal routine after the two weeks, but I think that you will be ok and realize that you aren’t dependent, that glass of wine just makes you a lot more relaxed.

  11. I’ve done this, well partially. I completely quit drinking beer for a few months. It wasn’t horrible. I drank a little bit of wine on the weekends, but for the most part I just didn’t drink. If I had been working out, I probably would have lost weight even. Not that you need to! You are very fit, seriously.

    Good luck with your 2 weeks. Can’t wait to hear your insights.

  12. I gave up drinking last May after 20 straight years of hard, heavy drinking under the social guise of creativity!! It would never have happened until it happened … I’d tried before and copped a lot of flack, but this time I truly meant it and everyone has been amazing. It’s a real eye-opener to see that others want them drinking with you not to socialise, but to justify their own drinking habits. Their pleas of you not having fun don’t sit right, because (and I thought this was a miracle!) you are having fun – with no hangover and no regrettable actions! I’ve also started getting my locals to stock interesting non-alcholic drinks – the conversation goes along these lines… ‘so, got anything non-alcoholic that’s actually interesting??’ The best has been basil, strawberry and balsamic soda pop (with natural sugar!). Good luck and enjoy the ride!!

    1. Thanks! 🙂 Yep. I hopped over to World Market and stocked up on tasty sodas and carbonated things. 🙂 I’m also planning on doing an article on mocktails that’ll still have that special “going out” feel to them without the booze. 🙂

      1. Hey Jillian, i think this is a very good idea. I am not a drinker since it gives me some heavy burn in my stomach…but i drink a cocktail or a Panache (not sure if it’s called like that in english) very rarly.
        It is also quite expensiv…i went out yesterday with my girls. They drink a lot. We were 4 girls and the three of them drank like 10 Mojitos…it was about 150 swiss franks (arount 167 USDollars)…
        I had a friend once and she allways complained about me not drinking. For her it was only a good night, when she got totally hammered…i am not seeing her anymore.
        I don’t feel weird not drinking among others who do. Just be yourself and if you have good friends (witch i think you have), they love just the way you are 🙂
        I wish you very good luck with this expirience and maybe you see the point, that it doesn’t always need so much alcool…just a bit and all is good or none and still all is good 🙂

        Sorry for the long text 🙂 it was just important for me telling you this 🙂


  13. I applaud anyone courageous enough to go on a self discovery mission. How exciting! My only vice & muse is the internet and no, I’m not taking 2 weeks off lol
    Terence McKenna, my favorite philosopher and wordsmith (though he was no fan of the effects & use of alcohol) was one of the world’s biggest advocates of life assistants. His go-to assistant was the plant, marijuana. He chose to abstain from it at different points in his life; one being the same reason you parted ways temporarily with your beloved booze.
    Tasked with writing a paper that had a short deadline during that period, he found the resulting paper to be the most difficult and boring piece of work he’d ever written. He scrapped the entire thing at the last minute and smoked a joint. Creativity flowed freely and he found his groove once again.
    Is it the substance unlocking what wouldn’t become unlocked otherwise, or are we using them as permission slips to do what we could do all along? I suppose you’re about to find out ; )
    Terence McKenna on inspiration through substances – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j9FEJqi4IkM

  14. I gave up drinking alcohol for nearly 3 years. Something rose up in me when abstinence was discussed, an ‘Argh! I can’t do without my red wine and chocolate!’ I was surprised and concerned at that feeling and decided I needed a break – we didn’t even drink a lot! It was hard sharing with friends; as others above had said, people justify their drinking to you; my non-church friends were the most supportive! We moved towns last year and met our landlord at Christmas, who arrived with a lovely big box of wine and beer and eatery treats. It was very generous, and we didn’t feel we could tell him we didn’t partake. We decided to just relax about it, and enjoyed it, without chewing through it! I’ve learned since that I don’t feel very good about myself if I’m drinking to soften disappointments, sadness or a rough day. We’ll have a couple of drinks to celebrate now – a birthday, wedding anniversary, a meal with family/friends. There is still something within me that would love to hole away with a bottle of beautiful red, so I’m careful not to feed it!

  15. I gave up drinking because I got prego with my first and it was wonderful, even with morning sickness, I loved how productive weekends became when I was dragging ass in the hurt locker all damn day. I still drink, but man, not like I used to. And when the booze do get away from me and morning comes too early, I remember, oh THIS is why I don’t drink like that anymore….I can’t wait to see how it goes. But I’m with you, is there anything better than drinking on a patio at 3 in the afternoon?? Or my 1,2…3 glasses of wine whilst cooking dinner after work???

  16. I think it’s great of you to share this openly with those of us who admire you and your creativity. I think that it’s a good thing that you’re listening to your inner voice about this. Alcoholism isn’t usually what it looks like in the movies; it can be an insidious and easy to ignore. Petite women can be more susceptible, too. I hope it’s nothing, but do listen to your gut. 🙂

  17. Jillian, good for you. I follow your blog, it inspired me to learn how to sew at the age of 50. And I was concerned because in almost every post there was a photo of your drinking. You will see that you don’t need alcohol to be creative, social, fun and have a good time. Good luck!

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