Not drinking is the easy part. The hard part is dealing with people’s reactions to your alcohol-free lifestyle.
Wince. I know I'm going to regret writing this. It is going to be one of those shame-hangover columns where I wake up in the night with the remorse terrors, but too late to do anything about it. My freakiness will be right out there in public.
(I once wrote an explicit column about my new-found appreciation of sex and, mortified, managed to get it extracted from the publication at the last minute. Whew - although the world missed out on my hot tips.)
Anyway, I've been told by several illustrious people that under no uncertain terms should I write about recently stopping drinking. I'm not exactly sure why, but perhaps it is tempting fate, like jinxing your diet. Or maybe it's just because sobriety is a crashing bore.
Ernest Hemingway: "I drink to make other people more interesting."
F Scott Fitzgerald: "Here's to alcohol, the rose-coloured glasses of life."
"Drinking is fun! It makes me feel horrible and sexy!" said someone I've never heard of, may have been me.
Even the bad drinking bits are quotable.
Jeffrey Bernard: "To me not drinking is like being dead, almost."
Kingsley Amis: "When that ineffable compound of depression, sadness (these two are not the same), anxiety, self-hatred, sense of failure and fear for the future begins to steal over you, start telling yourself that what you have is [just] a hangover."
But I have found the experience of stopping drinking surprising. There is a challenge to stopping drinking, but it may not be the one you expect. I have found the specific act of not imbibing has been easy. What has been hard has been other people's reactions to it.
In our alcohol-drenched culture, where practically every event involves drinking, people want an explanation for why you have given up. But there are not many acceptable narratives one can proffer.
It's binary: you're either an alcoholic or you're on a paleo wheatgrass-type health kick. Confusingly, I am neither.
I have had some lovely messages from people inviting me to go to AA. Of course, it is impossible to say you don't believe you are an alcoholic without sounding like you are in deep denial.
Anyway, I'm not sure that my problem was the drinking anyway: it was my deep sadness and my use of alcohol in an attempt to numb the frankly annoying suffering.
Which, of course, it did briefly, but then profoundly failed to do by making everything worse.
I'm glad I've stopped for now. But I'm not glad to have to sign up to any club of other non-drinkers. I'm not good at joining groups.
Which brings me to the other problematic part: the logistics of it.
Part of the reason I drank was because I get anxious in groups. I have always found people rather terrifying; I overcompensate by blathering on.
I also do machine drinking. This involves lifting your arm, while holding a glass of liquor, rapidly back and forth to your mouth in an almost robotic manner that gives you an action to perform and is thus soothing to your anxiety.
However, I've discovered if I substitute with a soft drink I can get pretty much the same pacifying effect. I am even learning to be just as terrifyingly obnoxious - horrible and sexy - when sober as I was when drunk.
But at social events or restaurants it is very difficult to procure your chosen non-alcoholic drink in copious quantities.
Sitting at a restaurant table with friends, the wine drinkers will have their glasses constantly topped up by obliging waiters, but it is much harder to get a continuous non-alcoholic stream.
Don't start on the health risks of my choice of non-alcoholic beverage: I don't find water does the trick.
Admitting to this practically got me shunned on Facebook. I remarked that I popped out from my favourite restaurant, Cibo, which is too classy to stock V, to get a supply. (V is an energy drink that is the colour of an extremely buttery chardonnay.)
Well! Drinking sugary V: you'd have thought I was a war criminal.
It seems if you give up alcohol you are also expected to embark on an ascetic sugarless regime of self-denial. Sugar equals the heroin of our time.
By the way, alcohol has 7 calories per gram, compared to 4 calories per gram for protein and carbohydrates.
So go forth and be merry this Christmas, but if you see someone not drinking please don't ask them why - just kindly see if they'd like their unhealthy fizzy drink topped up. Salut!