Friday Night

Friday night feels absolutely fine.  The fire is roaring, I am curled up under a blanket with a cup of tea and it’s fine… actually it’s bloody lovely.  Two months ago at this time of night on a friday I would be three glasses in now with at least another two or three to go before dragging myself up to bed.  I feel relaxed and thankful that tomorrow I will wake up with a clear head and ready for a full day.

I am still having moments of questioning why I am doing this and there’s still times when I think something vaguely along the lines of ‘it’s not fair that everyone else can have a glass of wine and I can’t’ but then I realise that of course I can have a glass of wine if I want to … but I don’t want to … I really don’t.  I am getting better at reminding myself of the reality instead of romanticising that glass of wine.  I am becoming accustomed to realigning thoughts pretty damn quickly.  Tonight we watched a film where they were sat around drinking a bottle of red, laughing and joking, talking and eating and it’s a wonderful evening for all involved and they crack open another bottle.  For a second I felt a pang of annoyance that I have committed to this damn sobriety thing when actually it’s so ‘normal’ to just sit around drinking. But whilst in a dry january type scenario I would have felt deprived I am now trying to push those thoughts further and assess why I feel that it’s the wine that’s the centre of this scenario when it isn’t.

Other people’s reactions to my decision to quit the booze have been interesting.  I have had people smile and shrug and say ‘that’s great, you have to do what makes you feel happy’ and I have also had someone say ‘no you bloody aren’t stopping drinking, I won’t let you’.  I felt a distinct sense of disappointment from my husband that I wasn’t going to be his weekend drinking buddy.  As it turns out he has barely touched a drop since I announced my decision.  He did however ask if I was going to at least drink on our summer holiday this year .. ‘we’ll see’ I said and inside I was thinking ‘I really hope not’.  One friend who is a big drinker said ‘that’s really great but I just couldn’t do it because I really, really like a drink although I wish I didn’t so much’.

My whole outlook on drinking has changed.  A parenting help book advised me on chapter one to ‘pour a stiff drink’ in order to prepare myself to write a list of behavioural issues my child has that may need addressing.  Thankfully he doesn’t have many and thankfully he no longer has a mother who needs to pour herself a drink in order to write a list just because some jackass advised it. I have avoided counting days so far because it didn’t seem right somehow but tonight I worked out that it is 32 days today.  I feel uncomfortable with putting a number on it, as if I am counting up towards something that will change whereas actually I just want things to stay as they are right now,  I feel confident of the future, relaxed, proud and relieved that I somehow ended up on this path rather than continuing as I was.

Friday Night

Open letter to my questioning self

Dear me,

This letter is for you to read in those moments when you are thinking something along the lines of ‘everyone else in the world is drinking a glass of chilled white wine right at this moment’.  ‘Other people drink more than I did and they still manage to lead full, happy lives’. ‘Other people are more interesting because they can loosen up and buddy up over a flute of prosecco’.

Screw what other people do or don’t do.  You don’t know how happy or unhappy they are and most of them could probably do with addressing their issues regarding alcohol but that’s none of your business anyway.

The only person you can help right now is you.  Don’t forget the you that woke up over the Christmas period, sick to death of drinking too much every night in the name of ‘entertaining guests’.  You woke up every morning hating that feeling, hating the drink and hating yourself.  You felt ill, weak, tired, unmotivated.  You had stomach cramps, head aches, dry skin, bags under your eyes and you looked like shit.

Just think of this.  You’ll never wake up again with a sick feeling of extreme anxiety as you try to piece together events from the previous night’s social event.  You will never have to explain yourself or pretend you don’t have a crashing hangover.  You will always remember to take your makeup off before you go to bed and you know what other people won’t even notice that you aren’t drinking because they are too busy occupying their own little worlds and dealing with their own issues and problems.

Do what is right for you and take these brave new steps.  Move forward and be proud of yourself.

Me xx

Open letter to my questioning self

In The Balance

I just feel like I need to write this.  Make note of my feelings, my journey.  Put something into words and maybe for someone out there to read and understand.

I am not counting the days but I know that about 4 or 5 mondays ago I decided enough was enough and that I just didn’t want to drink alcohol anymore.

After a heavy Christmas and New Year period I just felt tired… Sick and tired of feeling sick and tired.  In my particular social circle it isn’t unusual to be a big drinker.  It isn’t seen as shameful to brag about a heavy night or to make a bit of an arse of yourself at a social occasion.  I am certainly not the heaviest drinker I know, not by a long shot but I’m the only one living inside my head and maybe others can just handle it more but I can’t.  Something has to give.

So a few Sundays ago I had cracked open a chilled bottle of prosecco at about 6pm.  The kids were all ready for school the next day, there was a great programme on the tv and it was time to settle down with a glass.  Four glasses later, the kids were tucked up in bed I realised that a bottle was not going to be enough and so I decided to search around for a second.  Nothing was chilled so I just opened up another bottle (of not very nice stuff) and added some ice cubes and I was sorted.  It was when I poured myself the next glass that I had some sort of out of body experience and saw myself and what I was really doing as I put the second bottle away in a cupboard instead of leaving it out or putting it in the fridge.  I wasn’t hiding it from anyone except myself.  I was hiding it from myself.  That was the last thought before I went to bed and the first the next morning when I woke up with that old familiar fuzzy, dull headache.  I was so familiar with myself and my ability to overindulge on  wine that I actually wanted to fool myself the next day into thinking that things weren’t so bad.

Being a self-help book junkie (but rarely getting further than half-way though a half-decent self help book) I turned to Amazon reviews to help me out and that’s when I came across Jason Vale’s ‘Kick the drink…easily’.  I read it all over the next two days and by about 3/4 of the way though I knew this was the route I had to take.

I’m not a vodka-on-my-cornflakes kinda girl, nor am I a daytime drinker but there is no doubt that in my past I have made too many alcohol fuelled misjudgements to count.  I have woken up filled with self-loathing, shame, uncertainty, anxiety too many times.  I have wasted days being hungover and too tired to concentrate.  I have been damaging my mind as well as my body and made myself believe I am weak, that I am useless.

I am carrying around two stone in excess weight that I am certain is linked to wine consumption.  Wine affects my mood, my skin, my hair.  Wine makes me tired and nauseous.  When I am hungover I feel uncertain of myself, it turns me from a night before loud-mouth into a hungover, socially paranoid recluse.

For several months I have been on anti-depressants and wine doesn’t mix with them at all well.  Suddenly and dramatically it became crystal clear to me that there was one easy answer to all of these problems and that was removing alcohol from the equation altogether.

Weeks one and two were exceptionally easy for me.  I felt absolutely elated at the thought of being ‘free’.  Weeks 3 and 4 have been a bit of a roller coaster if I am honest, where I have fluctuated from feeling liberated to feeling repressed, depressed and out of touch with the real world and all the fabulous, beautiful people who are no doubt sipping endless glasses of fizz in their perfect little lives whilst I curl up with a cup of tea and wait for bed time.

The thing is that I know this is the only good way forward for me and so I am going to write here… even if no one reads my words…

aaand breathe….

In The Balance