Well, for the past 27 days. And for the next 3. I’m not going to be a teetotaller forever. But it was a catchier heading than I’ve been dry for 27 days.
I’ve been doing some guided thinking, courtesy of the library book I borrowed, The 30 Day Sobriety Solution; reflecting on my consumption of alcohol and the role it has in our society.
I don’t have some deep dark secret, some self-loathing, some trauma that drives me to drink. I don’t have to forgive myself for anything. And I quite like myself. (The book has many chapters on theses themes – finding the trauma that made you start drinking, with stories of people remembering when they were three and hearing their parents talk of not being able to afford the kids or a sibling saying happiness is in the bottle. Variations on child abuse or wanting to find happiness or love or belonging. I’m not saying it may not be so for some, and looking to release something from the past may work, it’s just not me.)
I have, since my early twenties, had episodes of binge drinking, always at social gatherings. I remember the first time I drank to excess and had a blank out of the night. I’ve also had too numerous to count episodes of vomiting as a result of drinking too much.
Basically when I’m having fun and have had two or four, I don’t stop. And then, opps, too much. Too much varies on the night. Alcohol is a funny drug. You can have four and feel fine, or two and be as tipsy as. Some nights you sit on a glass and sip it slowly; others a glass goes down before you’ve had time to put the glass back on the table.
So that’s the binge drinking in me.
Then there’s the “too frequent” drinking. It came around from the confluence of several factors.
Taking on a promotion that came with lots of stressors and needing to relax and chill of an evening.
My children no longer needing me to drive them around of an evening as we moved to a place they could get everywhere by foot, bike and public transport and they were old enough to do so.
Boredom and habit. Being at a loose end of an afternoon, a drink before dinner, especially on sunny days, became a nice way to fill the time. And one glass became two. Two became three, and “then I’ll serve dinner.”
So I broke my own previous “rule” of never drinking alone. And drinking became more frequent. It became a habit, not an addiction. Habits are hard to break but not impossible.
I used to have a habit of having several bikkies every time I had a cup of tea. The association was so strong that every time I had a cuppa, I had to have bikkies or I didn’t feel right, I had an automatic physical response. It took repeated perseverance but I broke the nexus and now happily have tea without sweet bikkies to dunk in my cup.
I read that drinking among 50-something women is increasing exactly for the reasons my drinking increased. Time, being at aloose end and grown children.
I’ve had many comments about picking a strange time to quit – what with all the Christmas celebrations. Except for me a challenge is not a challenge if it isn’t challenging. I need to know I can do it when all around me are drinking.
Anyway, starting wasn’t thought out. I didn’t plan to stop drinking. I saw the book and knew that it was right. And turns out it was.
It’s been interesting seeing and hearing the responses. Rolled eyes. What the? I couldn’t stop. I wouldn’t, I mean why would you. But it’s Christmas!
I don’t lecture. I’m not a reformed smoker. I just say, I was drinking too much, too quickly, too often.
Alcohol has such a strangle hold on our society. Is it the advertising that promotes it as a way to freedom, happiness, social acceptance, fun? Is it the role its had in Australian history? (Right from the start it was used to get the convicts to work and as a way to forget they were in a god-forsaken hell hole. God, who wouldn’t drink!?!) Binge drinking seems an issue in all English-speaking countries. So maybe the historical reasons go back further?
Alcohol is so central to our concept of fun and celebration!?! The book raised an interesting question: could you think of a tropical holiday as being fun without alcohol? Whoa! Now that’s challenging! A cruise, a resort, a tropical island holiday. They all feature alcohol. Cocktails. Bubbles. Beer. Wine. Pretty much integral part of them. Would it be fun without the alcoholic beverages? Would I resent it by challenging myself to not drink if I went on one of these holidays? Would I come home and ask what the fuck was I thinking denying myself cocktails. Is it adult to just have a couple every night on a holiday? Or is it a sign we are all so addicted that are perspective is warped?
All the memes that surface on FB (some of which I have used here) try to make light of excessive consumption of alcohol. If you’re in the right mood, they’re funny. But at other times they just seem sad and point to people hiding their inability to stop drinking to excess.
I don’t know what my self-imposed rules will be. I will drink alcohol. I quite like the loose feeling from a couple of drink. And red wine really helps when my muscles are tight. On a sunny day a beer or a glass of bubbles goes down a treat. I don’t want to set rules that I will break and then feel a guilty failure.
Maybe I will have no rules. But randomise my consumption so I don’t get into any habit?
Maybe I’ll start exercising again to fill the time?
A very mindful post. I admire that you have stuck to your goal (says me who is sitting down with a cup of tea and creamy cake because I do so like a sweet treat with my cuppa).
A view from the other side of the fence: many an occasion I have been at an event where I’ve felt uncomfortable as nearly everyone around me has been drunk. It is not much fun being the only sober person when all around you are insisting that you must drink or you’re a killjoy. And while some people are genuinely wittier after a few, there are also too many that have a nasty streak that comes out.
Here’s to good habits. I may take up the “no chocolate or icecream” for a month challenge. Soon.
I don’t know if I’m wittier. Definitely louder. As you know I dance to beat of my own drum and if people try to bully me, I tell them to fuck off. But then I’m loud and funny anyway so people might think I was drinking when I wasn’t?
A nice fresh start and I look forward to hearing how you go with it.
PS Happy Christmas, L!
And merry Christmas to you too, Dar. It’s a beautiful summer’s morning here. Glorious day ahead.
That is a huge accomplishment, especially in Australia where drinking and even binge-drinking can go hand-in-hand with Christmas.
I think Australian culture generally has a big issue with not just normalising alcohol consumption but elevating it into some kind of social glue. The French homes I’ve visited do it really differently (though I hear from our kids that teen parties here, like anywhere, can involve lots of binge-drinking.) Amazing effort to hold out over Christmas!
Ah drinking… I think, at 31, I have a very ‘mature’ relationship with it. I mean, I very regularly say no when offered (like at my or with my parents). But I do notice recently, dating, that some people really neck them and I’m a drink behind. And I’m actually OK with that. I’m also thankful for dates who let me take the time of their two drinks (being men and all, they don’t seem to feel the affects as fast).
My parents were somewhat annoyed at no grog on Christmas Eve lunch – I didn’t notice! I had one glass of red on Christmas Day, and a glass at home alone on either Xmas or Boxing day night. But one and done – red’s pretty heavy for summer.
I have had one hangover in my life, and it was early days with the (ex) BF. He was impressed by it. That was perplexing to me – it just seemed so… base. So horrible to be vomitting. Anyhow, I like to have a few at times to be loose and loving, but I hate a hangover or a headache…
I think we have such a complex relationship with alcohol. Like your parents, I’d probably be annoyed if invited to a meal and there was no alcohol. But like you, I can’t stand how young people treat hangovers – almost as a badge of honour. I hate vomiting, yet I do like the mellow feel from a couple of glasses.
Red is too heavy for Sydney summers. I just can’t stomach it. A light Italian sparkling red is OK but a Shiraz I save for cooler days.
Hope things are going well with you. Will you be updating your blog?
Re blog. I still have no internet in my new home and now that work doesn’t allow access (can you imagine!) I’m slow on blogging. I also couldn’t blog in the doldrums of breaking up – as in, I felt him reading any reflections would be hurtful. I’m more than ok, happy even. So… One day, the blogging shall return