I’d always seen alcohol as a reward - you know the sort of thing, where you get home from work and chill out with a nice cold glass of wine. All the adverts and TV programmes show it like that. A welcome relief to a hard day. I do, and always did work hard you know - I’ve got four kids and a job, a house to keep running and all kinds of other things going on. The problem for me is that one glass was never, ever enough.
I had a conversation with one of my younger sons recently and he told me that he never intended to have a ‘problem’ with drinking or drugs or anything like that, he and his friends just wanted to enjoy but not get carried away. I laughed. His innocence surprised me and I told him so. Once I’d stopped laughing, I even asked him, “Who on earth would choose to have a drinking problem?” I certainly didn’t go looking for one. It wasn’t like something I decided so went shopping to fulfil my need. It crept up slowly and infiltrated every area of my life before I even knew it was there. There was no choosing and no real awareness. Once I was a ‘normal’ drinker, and then I wasn’t. It could happen to anyone.
My husband describes my drinking as not having a cap. I think it’s quite a good way of describing it. I loved the idea of having a drink, whether it was in the evening at home or on a night out. I looked forward to it, almost idolising it. It’s just I couldn’t stop once I got started. One glass was never enough. Well, it might have been in the very early years, before I worked my tolerance up. After that it took a few glasses to even begin to feel something. So I had to drink more, although I will admit, that once I had poured that first glass, and could see it on the side in the kitchen, I relaxed, just a little bit. It wasn’t as good as drinking it, but it was good knowing it was there.
The problem with having no cap is that it ruins things. You don’t realise, or at least, I didn’t realise how drunk I was until it was too late. There were times I prided myself on being able to carry on regardless, especially when we were out. I always found a way to keep going and I have far more stories than I’d like about the many occasions I drank too much. There’s probably far more stories about the times I don’t remember.
I thought I hid it so well. I didn’t. It’s embarrassing now to think of how many people probably knew of my problem, or at least knew I drank too much, before I did. I thought drinking made me the life and soul of the party, I was fun, I was uninhibited. I talked and chatted to people I couldn’t have done before I had a drink, and yet, it wasn’t really me was it? If it was I would have been able to do it without the drink. I came to rely on it to get by in social situations, only in the evening mind you, but of course, the more I drank, the more I needed to drink and the situation got worse. At a Christmas works party, years ago now, I thought I was entertaining, I thought I was doing a great job talking to the guests and making them feel welcome. It wasn’t until I’d spilled a glass of red wine down my (thankfully black) dress, that I cottoned on to the fact people weren’t laughing with me so much as at me.
More often that I would like, perfectly good nights out (or in) were ruined by my inability to know when I had had too much to drink. I never knew it was coming until it was too late, and I would probably have told you that you were wrong if you tried to warn me. I always knew best, and I did like my wine. Most people learn from their experiences, I struggled to do that. Often after a heavy night out, waking up with a sore head would have been reason enough to take a break for a day or two at least, but not me. I saw slowing down as a weakness, as a reason to admit I was drinking too much. So I didn’t. I got up, brushed myself down and carried on where I had left off. It wasn’t so much ‘hair of the dog’ as I didn’t drink in the day, except for Sunday lunchtimes occasionally when we were out for lunch, but taking a day off was not something I did.
As you may know, stopping for me didn’t happen quickly. I didn’t wake up one day and realise. I woke up on a lot of days and realised, and then I had a lot more days after that where a I needed to convince myself. But I did get there eventually. I stopped relying on something that I never thought I could live without. I still have fun, I still relax and do nice things, only now, I am less likely to make a fool of myself, and more likely to remember. Ah, who am I kidding? I do still make a fool of myself sometimes, but the difference is, I’m never drunk when I do it anymore!
I can safely say it is a huge relief to me right now not to need or want a drink. I’d be finding lock down so much harder if I had the wine witch on my shoulder too. It’s a funny old time, so taking the stress out of it where we can is good.
But enough about me, how are you all coping at the moment?
Take care, and thanks for reading.