Tag Archive | Alcohol

The Sober Revolution: Women Calling Time on Wine O’clock

Enjoy about sleep for a bit, though I did turn off electronic devices and the TB at 9.30 and was asleep by 10.30! Had a great night’s sleep and woke at 5.30, rested and alert without an alarm. Perfect!

So back to Calling Time on Wine O’clock. Catchy title! The book by Sarah Turner and Lucy Rocca called to me from the library shelf as that’s what  doing. 

But it wasn’t really for me. The stories were all of really extreme cases – DV, getting caught DUI, almost losing job. Not me at all. Thank heavens. 

Aimed at middle age women (me) it’s central premise is that you must not consume any alcohol. No trying to cut back. No moderate drinking.

Also the authors kept using the comparison of alcohol as the bad lover you are attracted to. Just didn’t work for me. I am not attracted to the bad boy type. Never have been. And never really being in the in and out of relationships and the single scene, the comparison doesn’t work for me.

The book does constantly refers to a site you can join for support. Except it costs. And I already am on one. The forum I am on is for living simply and saving money. On the site there’s a thread with others who are cutting back on alcohol. So the authors are right, support networks help. I just don’t need theirs. 

So I skimmed this book. My takeaway idea: if you continue to see no alcohol as denying yourself you will falter. You will be unhappy and a “dry drunk”. But if you look at it as a chance to let your true self shine through with time and energy and thought to do the things you love, you see being alcohol free as a positive.

However, they push a totally acohol free state. Not a drink in moderation. I am going down the latter path. I am never saying never. I want it to be like gambling for me. I can walk in a casino or past pokies and have no calling to gamble but then I might buy a scratchie after grocery shopping and enjoy scratching it. 

The authors said  time getting on the wagon is usually continually spent counting down the days until your next drink. Whereas totally alcohol free is not spent in that way. 

My 30 days started like that and then I lost count. And now I can only “count” the days by counting back to when we did things on our hols. “When we did the big walk I didn’t have a drink but I think I did the next day when the storm hit.” kind of thing. Though last night I had a piccolo of sparkling wine. 

As always for me the real test will be when I return to work. How will I deal with the stress? How will I make the mark between work and home? How will I take some time for me to stop and break and breathe without “doing” something?

Lessons in going dry

I gave up alcohol for over 30 days, including Christmas parties and Christmas Day. Since finishing my 30 Day Sobriety, I have cut back. 

It really wasn’t a challenge to stay alcohol free. Given that towards the end of the school year, the pressure and stress ramped up, add in the multiple Christmas celebrations, and I think that makes it more impressive. 

Of course, there were times I felt like a drink. When that automatic physical reaction kicked in, say on a perfect afternoon with clear skies, when I could actually feel a nice cold glass in my hand and feel the joy of having a drink with Mr S in the peace after a busy day. 

And the last day of the school year! I always celebrate with a drink! It’s like a big sigh, letting go of the year. 

So why was it not hard? Here’s some thoughts/strategies/reasons in no particular order. 

  • Firstly, I committed to it 100%. I thought of drinking as I do of shoplifting. I would no more take a little thing without paying than I would steal something of value. So, one little drink was out. This meant I wasn’t tempted by the alcohol in the house. I just wasn’t going to drink. Will power can be strong but on its own it won’t work. Not for long anyway. 
  • I reminded myself of the intense physical pain I get from drinking white wine. Since suffering from this, I am never tempted to even sip white white lest I suffer again. There is no way the joy of drinking white wine is ever worth the pain. If I can stop drinking white wine, surely I can relate the same principle to all alcohol. 
  • I thought, and wrote, down my long term goals. Goals that I would achieve by not drinking – healthy living and saving money for travel.  Reminding myself regularly of these goals helped me on track. The balance is between short term reward (ie drinking and the mellow feeling) and long term goals (health and financial). I put more on the long term goals. 
  • I ate more chocolate and drink sweet drinks for the first couple of weeks. I didn’t beat myself up over this. My body was craving the sugar in alcohol. If I cracked down on the sweets, I may have faltered altogether. 
  • I mediated and did guided visualisations on what I wanted to achieve. 
  • I reminded myself of the embarrassing things I have done while drunk. This was harsh: I put myself in the place of my colleagues. How would they see me? I don’t want to be that person. And I know how harshly I judge people!
  • I made another analogy. I related drinking to something I have no desire to do: gambling. I can walk through a casino and not feel any desire to gamble. So why can’t I go to a pub and not need to have a drink?
  • I journalled daily for much of the month. By handwriting in a journal I made my goals and progress concrete. Journalling also kept me busy in the afternoon when I normally would be bored and restless and thus reach for a drink. 
  • I contributed to an online forum with other women who were trying to cut back. Encouraging others helps as much as their words to me. 
  • I challenged the place of alcohol in our society’s view (and mine) of celebrations and holidays and fun and socialising. I don’t want to be a wowser. Nothing worse! But really, we can have fun without it. I can holiday without it. I am holidaying without it. And having great fun!!!

The book, 30 Day Sobriety Solution, helped enormously. It kept me on track; helped me reflect on my drinking; kept me busy. Many of the ideas I have have written in this post, came from the book. I recommend getting a hold of it. 

    You know, I didn’t drink on New Year’s Eve! 

    Do you know that thing where you have “just a couple” and by the third lose the switch to stop? Lest you think I’m too smug, I still have that part of me saying “just one more”. Now, I remind myself that more won’t keep the nice feeling. More will make me feel sick. So I stop, even though the desire to keep the fun going is there. 

    I appreciate that for some, giving up is not as easy as it was for me. 

    For me it was more about breaking the habit of wine o’clock. Putting things in place to do of an evening; dealing with work stress on different ways. 

    Some or none of the steps I took may help you. Maybe you don’t need to cut back. But clearly many do. Look at the amount of alcohol that is seen as healthy by doctors! Hardly enough to wet the whistle. 

    My test will come when the pressure of work returns. I will face that challenge then. 

    I’m a teetotaller

    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?

    An alcohol free week

    I have been alcohol free for the past week. 

    Why, you ask?

    Well, I have got into a habit of drinking. Like any habit, it became something I did without much thought. And repetition made it more frequent and increased the number of drinks. The glass or two of bubbles would go down very quickly. 

    So although my blood pressure and blood tests are all good, I thought it might be good to give my body a rest. Not to mention saving money by not buying any sparkling wine. 

    So why now? I mean who stops drinking on Sunday 26 November? The first of the month is a more normal date. And to go dry over Christmas and summer holidays, are you sane?

    Indeed, when I told Mr S I was going 30 days of not drinking, his first comment was, “but what about Christmas Day?” My response: I’ve had plenty of Christmas Days with alcohol, I can have one without. 

    But that doesn’t explain why I started last Sunday. 

    I visited my local library and on the new books shelf was this book:

    So I thought what the heck, let’s do it Lucinda. I do love a book that plots out your actions and tells you what to do each day. 

    It hasn’t been hard at all. Although I bought several boxes of bubbles the week before, I just decided I wouldn’t drink. And although work is stressful, I just decided I wouldn’t drink. And although I’ve been out to dinner and to a comedy show (Bill Bailey, he of Black Books), I just didn’t drink. 

    Now giving up tea. That’d be hard, if not impossible. 

    Tomorrow, lessons from my first week. 

    Do you think you’re drinking a bit too much?

    Short answer. Yes.

    It has crept up gradually. A few drinks on a Friday night and weekend.

    Then it moved to “school nights”. Just a glass while cooking dinner. Or just a glass before dinner. Or just a couple with Mr S on the back verandah.

    Before I knew it, every night was a glass or two or three.

    And alcohol and cooking dinner went together like a cuppa and a bikkie. I’ve broken the tea and something sweet nexus, have to break the habit of pouring a glass when cooking. Wednesday night I really noticed that habitual feeling. I was cooking and didn’t feel like a drink at all. But I felt that twinge. You know the one you get when you haven’t done something that is a habitual part of your routine, like leaving the house in the morning when you haven’t brushed your teeth? Or driving off and feeling something is wrong and realise you haven’t buckled up your seat belt? Or the twinge you get when you are not giving into some bad habit, like biting fingernails?

    It is not a yearning or desire for alcohol. It is a habit that wants attending.

    Just thought of a novel solution! If my family took over cooking, I wouldn’t have that connection. Yeah, not going to happen!

    So as part of my continually evolving journey to gorgeousness and healthy living I am cutting alcohol Monday to Thursday unless it is a special occasion or holidays.

    Success so far? Last week. Tick. And that included a dinner out. And this week. Tick.

    What about you? Drink too much? Developed other unhealthy eating habits that stem from habit rather than conscience thought and decision?

    20140727-094841.jpgOur wine rack. Made from horse shoes!