I’m a bit sick of the world glamourising alcohol and drinking. I know that probably seems like a harsh thing to say, but it really is everywhere we look from adverts to shop shelves, even when I watch home improvement shows, everyone seems to ‘need’ a drink to relax.
I find it hard, because I know what it was like to want and to feel like I’d deserved a drink. I know what it’s like to long for something and to look for any reinforcements I could see to justify getting what I wanted. It was always reassuring to see others drinking on the TV, if nothing else, because it made me feel I was okay.
The thing is, I wasn’t okay. It’s not normal, or necessary for anyone to drink as much as I did every single night. I told myself it was okay because I kept the house tidy, the kids were happy and I worked hard, but in reality, I wasn’t. Nothing was right, and when I realised it, not only did I have to admit it to myself and then to my family, but I also had to swim against the tide of the perception we have of what is ‘normal’.
I couldn’t drink tea in the evening for a long time, because I had conditioned myself that anything other than wine was boring. I wanted to break the habit, but it was difficult, and I’ve found that when something has been so ingrained in your life, and your culture, it’s even harder to step away from it.
We recently went away for my husband’s birthday. We never do things on our own like that so it was really special to have a couple of days away in a hotel together. It was something we’d planned long before Covid, but to be honest, in the end I got fairly nervous about going, mainly down to the ‘not knowing’ and the lack of spontaneity with so many restrictions in place. Lee wasn’t even sure if he could leave work for a couple of days, but in the end we pushed ourselves and went.
A few months or a year ago, I wouldn’t have been able to go. The idea of a hotel, restaurants, a weekend away, it would all have been tangled up in my thoughts about drinking. I wouldn’t have been able to relax without knowing that I could guarantee a few drinks. In fact, I most likely would have taken a bottle with me. It would have been more stress than anything else, and it would have been easier not to go. But that’s the way things were, and when I look back, it makes me feel sad at how much time I wasted because I’d prioritised having a drink over other things. Isn’t it funny how a ‘reward’ can actually take so much from you.
In the hotel itself, it was strange to see most of the walls decorated with pictures and paintings that were all alcohol influenced. Even the pictures over the bed were of wine. A while ago it would have upset me. Now it saddens me. It takes a lot to get free of an addiction, to shake it off and learn to live without a substance. Unfortunately, it’s harder for a lot of us because of the values our society puts on drinking. It can make us feel that we are wrong for going against the grain, but we’re not.
I feel stronger now than I have in a very long time. Don’t get me wrong, it’s taken longer than I thought it would, but I was drinking for a long time, so it’s inevitable that it will take a while to unlearn my habits.
What I’m saying is, life is good without alcohol, so even when it’s hard, don’t give up.