Once upon a time I began to wonder whether I drank too much. I convinced myself I didn’t because I didn’t fit the traditional stereotype of someone with a drinking problem. Like that stereotype is real! Many times I tried to do something about it, but most attempts were only half hearted as I was so scared to address the problem I didn’t ask for help or tell anyone else about it.
Shame plays a huge part of any addiction and it certainly did with me. I felt that if I didn’t tell anyone, no one would notice. Of course, I had my head in the sand. I hoped that I would be able to slow my drinking down, to stop or get it under control, and I wouldn’t have to admit it to anyone. I mistakenly thought I would be able to ‘moderate’ but I have proved several times that isn’t an option for me. Stopping needs more than just willpower though, especially when your family (including your kids) are so used to you having a glass of wine that they offer you one without even thinking, without questioning it, and it is more normal to drink wine in the evening than it is to have anything else. It’s more noticeable in fact to say no thank you to a glass of wine, than it is to accept one, and that makes people question why you’re not drinking as much.
Instead of tackling the problem head on like I should have done, with a clear head, which I didn’t have, I tried to put things in the way, to make drinking harder for myself. If that isn’t an indication of a problem, I don’t know what is! I knew I wanted to slow down, wine wasn’t fun for me anymore, it was hard to control and I suppose had instead begun to control me.
For a long time, I’d begun to find excuses not to go out in the evening, it stressed me out. To be honest, even staying at work later than normal stressed me out. I found it difficult when it got to that witching hour around 5.30-6pm. A lot of people know it as ‘wine o’clock’, I just knew after work or at the end of the day I felt like I deserved a glass of wine, I’d got some misguided idea that it was a reward. Now, in hindsight, I know that there are a lot of other things that would be a far better reward, but back then I was locked in this ridiculous cycle with no easy way out. Deciding that I needed a distraction I tried many things, including getting a new job that I had to travel further to, thinking I would end up drinking less if I had to drive more. It didn’t work. I also tried all sorts of hobbies, thinking if I could occupy myself, I would drink less.
For a while I got really into mountain biking. It occupied me, and gave me a rush of adrenalin. We’re lucky to have a lot of mountain bike trails near where we live and my eldest son was quite into it too, so in the evenings we’d load up the car and go off for a few hours. Don’t get me wrong, it was great, but it didn’t have the effect I had hoped. Instead, I felt even more like I’d earned a drink when I got home. It felt like I’d done more and waited longer, and so it was okay.
Recovery doesn’t happen if you’re half hearted. Nothing really got in the way of my drinking until I was properly ready to let it. It’s all or nothing, it takes a lot of effort and it is hard, but believe me, it is also so worth it. I am present now in whatever I do. I’m not rushing through life so I can get home to pour my wine. I actually am able to just be. I’m not always completely calm, but I’m working on that. It’s going to take some time for my anxiety to settle properly, but time and medication helps. So does not drinking. It’s nice to know that I am me, with a level head, unaffected by alcohol. It’s nice to think that I haven’t made a rash comment or judgement based on a misperception because of a glass of wine or two. I still worry that I’ve said the wrong thing at times, but I also know what I’ve said, and usually, there’s a pretty good reason behind it. I guess, although my mind is a bit chaotic, and probably always will be, that it’s more moderated now and that can only really be a good thing.