How’d your Dry January go? Yeah, me too. I had the best intentions (yet again) but that glass of wine was just far too tempting and then obviously I had to tidy up the rest of the bottle.
The school holidays were dragging, 5 o’clock arrived (ok it was 4) and I just felt like I ‘deserved’ it. I spent about a week of January not drinking. 7 whole days. Not in a row mind you. So, Dry January ended up being not so dry. Drenched January perhaps?
It turns out I’m very, very good at drinking. I’m beginning to realise I’m actually a pretty accomplished drinker. Well, I’ve been practicing for a good 20 years so I bloody well should be right!?
Let’s be honest – I probably need to be, as anyone who knows me will be reading this and going “yes, you’re a good drinker – and the rest lady!”
I’m actually a booze hound. I will drink you under the table – and your husband. I will be the first to order shots and the first to suggest a lunchtime session. I will always be the first to suggest we head to the pub after school pickup so the kids can play – but mostly so I can have a glass of wine or three. I can not just have one glass of something. I will have those three glasses and pick up a bottle on the way home so the party doesn’t have to stop. I’ve even picked friends based on who is going to join me in a glass of Prosecco at a kid’s party.
Well done me right!? I sound like fun don’t I? Do I sound like you? Or do I sound like your worst nightmare?
You see I could alway justify it. I could always find someone to go along with it. Someone to tell me it was OK to drink every day. Everyone else seemed t be doing it. So I just reassured myself with that. I persuaded myself I was ‘normal’.
Then, around a year ago I was watching Australian Story “The Big Dry”. Newsreader Talitha Cummins opened up about her problems with alcohol. She described herself as the modern face of a recovering alcoholic: young, professional, educated and high-functioning. I identified completely. Every experience she talked about rang true with me. The foggy mornings. Being able to perform at work despite being out all night drinking. I had done just what she had done during my time as a Newsreader in London. I too had hidden it in plain sight. I hid it from myself as much as anyone else. We all drank. We all went out. I wasn’t keeping spirits in a flask or putting whisky in my coffee for God’s sake.
When I became a Mum the drinking continued – with two little ones close together and at home on my own the reasons to drink were still there. Before they had been to socialise. Now it was to block out the mundanity of day after day with babies on my own. All my fellow mums were doing it. We’d text each other pics of our G&Ts at 5pm, have large glasses of Sav Blanc with our salads when we met up for lunch and then continue drinking with our husbands when they rolled home.
After watching Australian Story I logged into an app the show talked about called Daybreak. I answered all the questions about my drinking and it told me it was at a worrying level. That I was showing signs of alcohol dependence. That I needed to address my relationship with alcohol. Yeah, I know. I knew it. But I didn’t really want to hear it.
It was a wake up call, so I started using the app. There, loads of people just like me were talking about their drinking habits and how they were trying to change them. Some people were trying to give up completely, some just aiming for a couple of AF (alcohol free) days.
I posted about watching the show and feeling inspired to change my relationship with alcohol and was inundated with support. So I ditched the wine. Chucked all the booze out of the house and set out at the start of 2017 determined to find a healthier, happier me.
That lasted about a month.
My ex was over from London and joined me not drinking but when he left I was a wreck. We’d been split two years already but I realised I wasn’t strong enough to deal with all the emotions I’d been bottling up (literally) and pushing down with alcohol. Without the glass in my hand they were right there on the surface and I couldn’t hold it together.
Instead of getting some help I propped myself back up with my old friend and carried on the rest of the year the same as the one before. Drinking. A lot.
I drank my way through summer on the beach in Torquay. Headed to Europe and drank my way through summer in London, Spain and Italy. I even started smoking again. Without the kids (who were with their dad in London) I headed off with my girlfriends and drank bottles of bubbles at lunch in Barcelona and Aperol Spritz in Sardinia. Most mornings I felt awful but after a Berocca or full fat Coke I was back on it again.
Back in Oz I tried to slow it down but I’d start dating and loved the decadence of dinner and drinks. Heading out for champagne and seafood. Bottles of red by campfires on the beach. I knew I was still drinking too much but I wanted to socialise and be relaxed around new people. Drinking was obviously the answer.
I drank through our move from our home in Torquay up to Brisbane – where we’d come to be closer to my family. Only when they started commenting on how much I was drinking did I think about it again. My mum’s face when the whole bottle of gin was suddenly empty. My sister asking how I could function in the morning after a whole bottle of wine. It wasn’t quite an intervention but seeing how little they drank was what I needed to start having another look at just how big a role I was letting alcohol play in my life.
So here we are. End of January. The not dry at all January. But I’m not letting it run like last year. Luckily for me Feb Fast is a thing so I’m jumping on board. I’ve got Hello Sunday Morning to prop me up again. I’m reading A Happier Hour by Rebecca Weller and I’ve joined Soberistas. There is so much help and support out there now it’s obviously not just me who’s ready for a life without booze. I’m clearly not the only one who doesn’t think drinking is sexy anymore. Is this a bit like yoga or going vegan? Is sober the new sexy…? Let’s just hope so – for my liver’s sake at least.