For aaaaagges (like, til I was in my 40s) I thought there were only TWO types of drinkers.
1) “Normal” drinkers, and
Alcoholics were obviously the ones rolling in the gutter and pouring vodka on their cornflakes.
They were to be viewed with compassion because they had A Bad Disease.
They were to be pitied because they had to stop drinking forever and their lives would be endlessly boring and they would never actually be better, just live in a sort of limbo land where they had to count every day of their new boring lives and look back with sadness at their past of fun and laughter.
Yeah, thanks for that, Hollywood.
So when I realised I was drinking a bit too much I decided I needed to cut back on my nightly Chablis habit. And found that I couldn’t.
So I tried again. I found I *really* couldn’t.
And then I got sweaty palms.
Because I knew what that meant.
I was clearly...
I wanted to stop drinking because I seemed to have lost the ability to moderate. And spending most of your time hung over is no way to live your life.
I thought not-drinking would be just that, my life the same but without booze. And possibly more dull, because – well, the clue is in the word, surely? Sober.
What I didn’t expect was my life would suddenly open up into full colour. Drinking regularly had sneakily shrunk my life into a dull colourless box, bit by bit, when I wasn’t looking.
That was awesome. As was the relief of having my energy back again, my joi de vivre, my skin improving, being there for my family, not spending a small fortune at Dan Murphy's, not worrying about having enough wine in the house, mornings without a headache and a furry mouth and not drinking a million excess calories every night.
But what I didn’t expect were the little things, which are actually quite big...
Have you tried to cut back on your drinking and found it hard?
Do you look at others and wonder how they do it?
I did too. I’d see other people decide they weren’t going to drink during the week, or were only going to drink with others, and think to myself, How are they doing that?
Now I know.
It’s because I kept repeating Day 1. I didn’t realise that I simply had to get some distance between me and the last drink.
When we’re Grey Area Drinkers, it’s hard to admit that drinking has become a habit. When it’s a habit, we’re regularly drinking an addictive substance. Regularly drinking an addictive substance will mean we’re somewhere on the spectrum of addiction. Maybe only lightly on the spectrum, but if drinking is part of our lives, we’re constantly in withdrawal.
So the first few days of not drinking...
I get asked this quite a lot.
When I was drinking too much, I spent ages dithering between "I think I need to do something about my drinking" and "I’m over-reacting, everyone drinks, I'm fine".
Our culture tells us that drinking is a normal part of life (it’s not), it’s harmless (it’s not) and that there’s a specific line that you cross from “normal drinker” into “alcoholic” (not true).
Only you know if your drinking is ok or not.
For me, it was when I found myself hiding my empties from Matt – I just didn’t want to put them in the recycling! It looked too bad! I thought maybe I’d take them next time I went out and put them in a bin somewhere else … and I caught myself thinking that, and thought WHAT?