I'm a 41 year old mother of two young boys. This year (2016) I started a successful business and ran a marathon. Last year I lost my Mum and it made me very sad.
I have always loved to drink. Everyone I know loves to drink. When I was 16 and 17 with my first wages from work I spent them in pubs and bars. As I got older I had a great group of drinking friends (many I am still great friends with) and we moved to pubs and then clubs.
In my early 20s, in University, the whole set up is around drinking. Freshers week. The pub crawls, Nights over each others digs was around alcohol. We are in Uni for christ sakes! I worked 3 nights a week all the way through college. In a city centre restaurant, serving cocktails and wine all night. At the end of the shift we always drank together, we would sit in the bar and unwind and then move onto after hours drinking places. Civil, socializing, nothing crazy, just downing quiet drink after quiet drink into the early hours. On nights off from work I was either with my original drinking buddies, my Uni drinking buddies or my work friends who were conveniently located after hours in a city centre with access to after hours drinking establishments......
Mid to late twenties. I met my future husband. Had a great circle of friends. I was now a young professional. Drinking was often partaken over dinner and then back to friends for more. From the age 26-32 it wasn't unusual to put a bottle of wine away a night and then get up for work, get through the day tanked up on coffee, come home for a power nap and then out to meet friends or cook dinner with husband with bottle of wine in hand. This was school night drinking, on the weekends I really went for it. Didn't everyone?
My weekends consisted of seeing my awesome friends, going to nice restaurants = drinking nice wine. Going camping to beautiful seaview fields in my campervan = with a van full of alcohol. I enjoyed the outdoors but most looked forward to the rewarding drink at the end, or ideally, stopping into a pub along the way for a 'livener'. I don't know if my favorite activities led me to maintain my drinking, or if I chose my activities as those were the ones that allowed plenty of drinking.
The first glimmer of a thought, like a puff of smoke out of the corner of your eye, that I may be developing a problem with my precious booze came when I was preparing dinner for me and husband, I'd say sometime in my early thirties, and I was looking forward to usual bottle of red, if not to numb the hangover of the night before, when I remember thinking the single bottle split between us wouldn't be enough (I would have to share) so I pulled a bottle of spirits out and did a few shots while chopping veggies. I then cleaned shot glass and replaced it back in cupboard so my husband wouldnt know I had done it. Plus, I was now ahead with my buzz. Result!! This became quite common.........sneaky shots in the kitchen stood in a certain part of the room so if anyone entered I could hide what I was doing. And if I had to share a bottle, I would have a sneaky slurp in the kitchen to get a mouthful or two more, as that didn't even count as I was stood up.
But there's no harm in that is there? I mean, I am a successful professional, all of my friends drink the same, we all have fun when we meet up, I dont say stupid shit when drunk, I don't vomit or embarrass myself. I am a wife to a wonderful man and apart from gaining weight and being tired all the time, it's not a problem is it?
My early 30s drifted along, drinking until I feel asleep on the sofa, never going to bed the same time as my husband. Nights out all about the booze. If we went to a concert or gig I would easily miss a few songs to make sure I had a drink in my hand. If we went to the theatre I wouldnt be able to concentrate towards the interval as I would be planning a route to the bar. But that's all part of a night out right? Booze adds to enjoyment everyone knows that. Yes sometimes I misjudged how much I was drinking and would forget gigs and shows but everyone is drinking so that's just an occupational hazard. Sometimes you miss the mark. Shit happens.
I don't know what happened - I think it was weight driven, but I became very strict at 34 as I wanted to be slim by 35. I stopped midweek drinking completely and took up running. I was quite good at it and the weight flew off, This just proved to me that I could never have had a problem with alcohol as I could now control it (forgetting the 20 years of alcohol abuse is quite easy seemingly!!) At my goal weight I became pregnant. Unexpectedly. In 3 years I had two lovely healthy sons. I breastfed so my alcohol consumption was truly scuppered between the ages of 35-38. By 39 I was back to my usual ways, Weekends totally around drinking. Due to the children drinking is mostly done in the house. Nothing is more boring that hearing someone say "Oh I don't drink in the house". Really? That's the best bit! No queing. Nice glass. Comfy seat. And of course I can drink as much as I want with no fall out......except for energy of course. More than once I have caught myself thinking "the boys are young, they don't know they are on a day out or in the house really" to justify not spending any energy so I have enough pizazz for a wine session on the sofa.
Over the last 2 years my hubby has started drinking less. Probably over the last 5 years. I barely noticed as the kitchen and sofa drinking is something I don't need him for. Drinking has made me selfish.
I ran a marathon and started a business this year, put my body under an enormous amount of stress and still I punctuate my days with alcohol. I have been known to tell my husband I am exhausted on a saturday so I can lie down for a few hours. I am exhausted, but the reason I want to nap is because I want to be tip top on the sofa for my night infront of the tv with my bottle of red (and a few vodka and cokes while I am cooking. Coke for the caffiene as my body is exahausted and I want to drink damn it!! I deserve it!! I have worked hard all week, What joy to the weekend is there if I cannot feel familiar swirling in my head from my wonderful big glass of booze?)
So I am ashamed to say. This year (2016) the sofa has had the most of my attention. I am eschewing time with my lovely children to sleep. I know I have not had the energy for them that I should, but I just kid myself that I am under an enormous amount of stress. No body in my life has challenged me with "But you still make sure you have energy for drinking though?"
I have been unwell for most of December (a mystery fatigue illness that's been progressively worse since my second pregnancy). GP thinks it is post viral fatigue syndrom. I was honest about my drinking but apparently as it is not every night I still come under 'normal drinking' although my wonderful GP did qualify that statement with "for Welsh Women" (He is Kiwi). I knew something was going to give when I counted in the bottles on my Xmas tesco delivery, not excited, but dreading drinking them. DREADING DRINKING??! All I knew is just that I am tired. My bones are tired. I get a tiny bit of energy on weekends, after driving and working all over the UK during the week, and instead of being a decent wife and mother I plan for the evenings drinking. I sacrifice sunday with my family and duties for 3 hours on a saturday night. I have done this for 25 years and I don't know how to stop.
Approx 4 years ago, A good friend of mine had told me about a book she read that changed the way she felt about alcohol. She said there was no way back for her the second she picked it up. I thought 'f@ck that, I dont want something to pollute my relationship with wine. What would I do without it?' But on Xmas day, with a raging hangover that stripped me of any joy watching my young boys opening their lovingly, carefully chosen presents, counting the minutes until I could ask my husband if I could go back to bed, (I went back to bed 8am-11:30am. Seriously, on Xmas Day??!! that's not even a functioning alcoholic) I downloaded Jason Vales book and knew by chapter 2 I was onto something.
I still had some niggles during the intro, Was I really an alcohol addict? (He says there is no such word as alcoholic, it is the drink not the person) After all:
- I hold down a (very stressful, successful) job
- I have a happy marriage (when he fits in with my drinking)
- I can afford to drink - no second mortgages for my rioja needed!
- My children are well looked after, and do more than most, less than some.
- Majority of my circle of friends drink the same, I can think of a few that drink far, far more and they are not having a crisis?
- If it wasn't for this viral fatigue, would I even be questioning my drinking? Are hangovers a good enough reason to quit drinking? I thought rock bottom was losing house, spouse, custody of kids. Everything else is just dandy isnt it?
- Drinking is stopping me living the life I want. I want to have more energy for my kids, I want to exercise more and I want to stop being a shitty, sneaky wife. Conning my husband into doing far more than his fair share as I have a sneaky drinking habit.
- Vanity. I am a bloated, tired mess. Broken capillaries in your face are just not this seasons look I am after. I have gained 2 stone in the last 8 months of 2016 but I am too hungover to eat the right foods or go and find where my daps are.
- Yes to my burning question. Hangovers ARE a good enough reason to quit. They prevent you from doing the above.
Xmas Eve 2016 was my last drink. I am 8 days in (writing this New Years Day 2017!!!) so I have seen a sober Xmas and NY. Felt great. I've had a holiday in a kid focused holiday park over the Xmas season. i would never have dreamed one could actually enjoy stuff like that sober??! I am excited for my future. I am excited to being better at everything.
And as the book says, if some things do not get better noticeably, it certainly won't be because I am alcohol free. Sometimes things are just.............a little vanilla. Get over it you hedonist. Stop smashing every feeling down with a glass of wine. Adding alcohol helps nothing. It adds nothing. Oh, and that dip in the sofa where your arse sits with a full glass looks stupid.