I’ve heard it said so many times, that moderation is the key to being able to enjoy drinking responsibly. The thing is, that for many of us, the moment we have to consider moderating, we’re already in too far. ‘Normal’ drinkers don’t think about moderating, they don’t need to question how much or how often, it probably doesn’t even occur to them to think about when they might have another drink and they are even more than likely able to walk away and leave a glass without having the compulsion to finish it.
It didn’t start out like that for me of course, there was once a time when I could drink normally I’m sure, but it didn’t last. I think in my younger years I drank to fit in, to relax, to soothe my busy mind. With the reassurance that drinking in that way is normal in our society, I never questioned it, or worried too much about it, not until it crept up on me to a point that I realised that the idea of wine was always in the back of my mind. It doesn’t happen over night, but I know I struggled to do anything if it affected the amount I drank. Holidays meant packing the car up, in case there wasn’t a shop nearby, Sundays meant going to the supermarket early to avoid them closing, evenings out had to be over quickly, because quite frankly, I preferred to be home with a drink. I hate thinking back to those times because I realise just how much I missed out on. I glorified wine, like many of us do. I put wine on a pedestal, it was so powerful in my life and believed that the substance was what made something good, or it’s absence turning it bad. I failed to see the truth, that I was fast forwarding through my life, regardless of what I was doing, the culmination of the day had to be with alcohol.
To have a limit seemed ridiculous to me, I just couldn’t understand it. I couldn’t enjoy one or two glasses, and it actually irritated me when I realised other people could. I felt ashamed that I was unable to have ‘just the one’. For me, one was never enough, but it was always enough to get me thinking about where the next one was coming from and when. I had to control things, and to a certain extent I still do. Having come to rely on a substance meant that I wasn’t in control, and trying to moderate just highlighted that fact to me. It made me incredibly grumpy as the gap widened between me and the ‘normal’ drinkers. I felt like I’d let myself down and that just made everything worse. For someone who hides their problems with a drink, feeling bad about yourself only makes you want to drink more, just to be able to forget, but then, once you’ve had that drink, or several as it was for me, you end up feeling so much worse. Not only do you have whatever it was that originally made you feel bad, but you also have the fact you’ve had a drink. The spiral of regret starts there and it does nothing but make you feel even worse.
Moderating didn’t work for me. By the time I tried, I was too reliant, and like I said, it just made me realise how dependent I was, and how much I needed that drink. It probably reinforced the way I idolised alcohol, because I just wanted to grasp the feeling that I remembered wine giving me. Once I was in as far as I was though, that feeling was always out of my grasp. I wanted that wine, but when I got it, that feeling I was looking for wasn’t there, probably because I was so preoccupied with where the next drink would come from and if I was even able to have another one. If I slipped and had more than I should have done, then it all ended up going wrong, normally with me blacking out, unable to remember what I’d said or did, but always feeling so much worse than I did before I’d had the first drink.
Eventually it hit home that I couldn’t moderate. One was never enough so I had to admit that none was better for me. It was a challenge, and one that for a long time I didn’t want to undertake, but when I finally got there, I realised that it took the argument out of the equation, it stopped the little voice in my head and left me feeling a little bit less conflicted. I’m not saying it was easier, but knowing I wasn’t going to drink was far less exhausting than worrying about and planning for being able to drink. I didn’t have to question it, and I didn’t have to think about it, having a firm plan just helped, and I found myself a lot less grumpy.
Deciding not to drink can be scary, but it doesn’t have to be. By making a decision and sticking to it, you know where you’re at, and so does everyone else too. It doesn’t have to be a battle, so take the choice out of it, and see where you go from there. I’ve found life after alcohol is pretty cool to be honest.