Falling Out Of Love With Alcohol

Me and drink have had a long, mostly happy, relationship. I can’t remember when it first started – I suppose I was around 17 or 18, so I was late to the party in some respects, and it was far later than my early stumblings with boys.

I loved alcohol right from the start. Yes, there were a few nights where I drank too much and regretted it, but generally it was a party from the word go. I lived in London until the end of my twenties and drinking was almost a daily thing. Things did take a more sinister turn in my last years in the city – there were more than a few episodes of drinking to excess in a way I hadn’t done before. I partied harder, and felt worse in the mornings, but I managed to reign it back in (there’s only so many times you can go out and vomit horrendously before a) you get fed up of it and b) you start to feel ashamed of your behaviour).

Then in my 30s, drink became something I turned to at home. Going out all the time was getting old, and alcohol was about a thousand times cheaper to buy in a supermarket. Nothing could beat that glugging sound of a fresh bottle of nice wine being poured into a glass after a long day at work.

That carried on until after I was married and got pregnant. But even then, I still drank a little. A glass of shandy now and again was one of the few things that seemed to settle my morning sickness in the beginning, and then later in my first pregnancy as long as only had half a glass of wine I didn’t see the harm in it.

I had a long period of not drinking after my son was born, but I felt so utterly broken and crap and exhausted that I would not have noticed any difference.

Once he started sleeping better I was back to my nightly glass of wine.

This repeated with my second son, and then while I was trying for my daughter I found that not drinking was something I resented. I didn’t drink as regularly as I was afraid it was affecting my fertility, but I never completely stopped. I craved it all the time, and as soon as my period arrived it’d be a nice bottle of wine open and a sigh of relief that I could drink again.

I’m still on the border of getting my sleep back after the birth of my daughter over two years ago, as she is not a good sleeper, but the wine has gradually crept in regardless.

Last summer I reached a point where I knew it had a hold over me that I didn’t like any more. It was the first time that I’d admitted to myself that I needed that glass of wine at the end of the day to relax. I remember driving with the three kids in the back of the car on the way home from the school run and realising that there was no wine at home. Panic! I drove them all to the shops and took them all in, just so I could pick up a bottle – because the thought of not drinking that evening was terrifying. My life was miserable. I was tired, exhausted, unhappy in my marriage, and it was the one thing that blotted everything out. It made life fuzzier and less arduous.

That was the day when I knew it had to stop. I didn’t want my kids to grow up remembering me as the mum that always had to go and buy wine, and the mum that was always drinking wine in the evenings. It wasn’t the role model I wanted for my kids and it wasn’t making me happy either.

The next morning I tipped away all the alcohol that was in the house. It was the 6th June and I remember it well because I cried. I actually cried in the morning. I never drank to excess at home – it was a glass or on some nights two. Never more. But I couldn’t manage without it – the thought of not having it made me realise that it was probably only time before one glass regularly became two. And three. And then what?

The first two weeks were awful. I had a constant headache and I couldn’t sleep. I was surprised at how much of an effect on me stopping drinking actually had. And the cravings – my god I wanted it so bad between the hours of 5pm and 8pm – the time when I would usually pour my first glass.

And then came anger. I hated alcohol. And I hated the fact that I wanted it still.

And then, slowly, it got easier.

I lasted 28 days before going back to it. At first it was in moderation – not every night. But then my uncle passed away and left a mess of stuff and emotions. And then my mum ended in hospital with psychosis again because she couldn’t cope with the grief. And I drank every night again, as I had done for the best part of 20 years, to make it all easier to bear.

On the 10th September I stopped again. I wasn’t enjoying it like I did when I was younger. It used to be associated with fun, going out, flirting, dancing and generally having a ball. Now it was false comfort for a middle-aged woman who should know better.

I lasted 69 days, and I felt great. The cravings were less, I didn’t get the headaches and the insomnia this time around. But I still missed it.

It was a pub lunch that broke my streak. I had a large glass of white wine and boy was it great. A few days later I bought a bottle for home. And that was it. Christmas was coming and you know what it’s like. I bought Bailey’s, port, wine, beer, the lot. I drank every day and at Christmas I started on the sherry in the morning.

Hurrah for alcohol!

But it made me feel like crap. The mornings were awful and my skin broke out horribly. I decided to do dry January, and got really drunk on New Year’s Eve. Things at home had been difficult and I had partly been drinking to forget about it all. To ignore the big decisions about separation and how badly our marriage had deteriorated. I lasted 6 days and then my husband moved out. So I started drinking again, but it was suddenly different.

After the initial shock of the change in the status quo, I realised that now I was on my own I could really focus on what I was doing and I didn’t really enjoy anything more than the first couple of sips. Everything else just made me feel crappy. I got a mild headache if I had more than a glass, and I slept terribly whenever I drank anything at all.

So on 28th January I stopped again. After 24 days I bought some wine experimentally. It wasn’t that I really wanted it, it was more curiosity. I had a glass for two nights, but it made me feel horrible, so I left it in the fridge. I finished the rest a week later. I decided I was done. And then a client gave me a bottle as a thank you, so I drank that over three nights just because it was nice wine and I am not the kind of person that can keep wine in the house and not drink it. I was glad when I finished it. That last bottle was like a message. It told me that I have finally fallen out of love with alcohol.

Will I drink again? I probably will.

Will I go back to drinking every night? I hope not.

I find my quiet peaceful evenings on my own (when the kids aren’t waking up), to be restorative in a way that alcohol has never been. I’ve had to find alternative ways to relax and reading is something I have started doing at the end of the day. It’s nicer than drinking.

I am surprised to have finally gotten here. What started in June as a desperate attempt to release the hold that it seemed to have over me has taken nine months to get a handle on. And I’m sure there will be more bumps in the road ahead. But for now, I can say that I am really glad to not want to be drinking any more. It was always the longing for it that worried me, not the amount I consumed. It was fun while it lasted, but in the end it wasn’t fun any more.

I sleep better, and feel better, without it.

Sugar and Alcohol

sugar

I confess – things have been quite hard over the last week or so. I always seem to waver in my commitment around ovulation time. I’m not sure if it’s the psychological acspect of the impending significant event, or a hormonal thing that makes me crave bad things.

I’ve had more alcohol in the last two weeks than I have had all year. And I’ve gotten a taste for white chocolate and eaten miles too much of it.

The alcohol amounts to a glass of red wine on five separate occasions in the last fortnight. I guess it’s not really that much, but I feel like I’m slipping into old habits. I used to drink every day. Day in, day out.

So I need to hold my head up and remember why I stopped.

Because

  • It affects my sleep
  • It affects my skin
  • It makes me miserable and prone to tearfulness
  • IT AFFECTS MY FERTILITY!!

Deep breath.

But sugar.

Man, this is the hardest, hardest thing out of everything to quit.

I’ve stopped caffeine, cut out gluten, increased raw food, cut right back on all processed foods, cut down alcohol (except for recently, ahem), but can I stay away from sugar??

No I can’t

It is so difficult.

How can I break this habit?

How can I kick this addiction?

I know excess sugar is bad for you all round – glucose is turned to fat by the liver, it destabilises your blood sugar levels leading to cravings for more and it affects your hormones and messes with your fertility.

I need to find the key to getting sugar out of my diet.

The smallest amount of it just makes me want more and more.

How can I break out of wanting it all the time?

I’m sabotaging my own efforts and it’s got to stop.

A Christmas Story

Oh I know – I disappeared without explanation and you’ve all given up and found nicer websites to hang out at.

I’m sorry. It’s this moving lark – it eats up all your free time and suddenly weeks have passed.

Well. Time for a good old gossipy catch-up I guess. You put the kettle on and I’ll start talking.

As you know we arrived home on 19th December just in time for the last throes of Christmas shopping – here’s my run-down of the holiday season this year:

On the 23rd Steve and I went to my Dads for Christmas dinner with my Little Bro, his girlfriend and her two little girls (aged approx 18 months and 5), where we experienced three solid hours of NOISE. The kids are noisy – and you kind of expect that at Christmas, but Little Bro’s girlfriend also talked absolutely non-stop from the minute she came through the door to the minute she walked out again 3 hours later. She is one of those people (and everyone knows at least one) who will talk endlessly, about whatever enters her head, regardless of what you are saying or doing. She just talks. And keeps talking. And then she talks some more. In the end, I kind of switched off, and vaguely wondered if I was being rude, but since Miss Gob was still talking happily away (no one was really sure who to), I’m guessing it didn’t matter in the slightest.

As usual, I hardly got two words out of my brother before she talked over whatever he was trying to say (and believe me, this is an impressive feat in itself, since he’s no shrinking violet). Dinner was great though – Dad made 9 dinners and then realised there were only 7 of us, so I said I’d bring a few more people next year – and I ate so many After Eights my heartbeat was going like the clappers when I finally went to bed.

Steve disappeared back off to Somerset later that evening and I stayed at Dads and did the last of my Christmas shopping the next morning.

On Christmas day, mum and I drove over to Miss Gob’s flat for another ear-bashing (oh, and Christmas dinner). To be fair she was quite relaxed when we first arrived, and it all looked like it was going to be a lovely day. We did the same last year, and apart from being woken at 7.30am on Boxing Day by a chatty (no surprises there) 4 year old, with a minor hangover (me, not the 4 year old), I had a great time.

Alas, along with Christmas revellers the length and breadth of the country, the stress of it all started to show after a few hours. The baby was irritable and grisly in the afternoon, so Little Bro and Miss Gob went out for a walk to try and get her to fall asleep. After about an hour, only Miss Gob and the mini gobs returned.

She tells us they had called in at Dad’s, who was enjoying a peaceful dinner with his other half, and Little Bro had got to breaking point with the constant chatter. Five minutes later, just as I am about to start the search for him, he returns and says everything is fine. I ask if he wants to go for a walk and a chat, but he doesn’t, so we all carry on eating and watching the telly, and Miss Gob gets steadily drunker and drunker, in a deliberate, I-will-do-whatever-the-hell-I-like, kind of way.

After about half an hour, the neighbour from upstairs comes down to say hello (why was she on her own? I would have invited her round for dinner). She’s a quiet lady who sits herself carefully on the floor, but Miss Gob fails to offer her food, drink or anything… in fact she just has some more gin and then turns the stereo up, which seems to be stuck on rave.fm, and starts waving her fists in the air and making monkey noises along to the music.

Meanwhile, Mum is watching the telly, I’m playing a game with the 5 year old and my brother is looking resigned to how he knows it’s all going to end. Miss Gob is now cheering at no one in particular, telling them to dance and sing along (to what? this music doesn’t have any words), and I think she’s actually convinced herself she is in a nightclub. So to remove myself from the situation I get up and ask if anyone wants a tea or coffee, to which I get no response.

From anyone.

I stand there looking at this room full of people and suddenly wonder if I’m actually dead and imagining the whole thing.

Little Bro is smoking and looking at the table (reminds me of my uncle Eric), baby gob is eating some plastic, mum is still transfixed by the telly (with that racket?), neighbour-lady is just staring strangely into space and Miss Gob is swinging her hips and shouting “Yeah, come on! Woo! Everybody ready!!” (I kid you not).

I go to the kitchen anyway, and realise one person has heard me – the chatty 5 year old seems as disturbed by all this as I am, bless her, so as a reason to stay out of the crazy room, we decide to wash up the dishes. I have trouble locating the washing up liquid (definitely saw it earlier, so I know it’s around somewhere), and am hunting around for it when the neighbour-lady comes in. When I explain why I am rummaging through someone else’s cupboards she looks sympathetic and understanding.

“I just thought I’d wash up,” I say, to which she replies “‘Well, I’ve got some upstairs if you want me to go and get it.”

I blink at her and realise I am going to have to leave right now.

“You want me to do your washing up?!” I ask her in a high pitched voice, horror on my face. What kind of world are these people living in?

She looks slightly offended and says “No, I meant washing up liquid.”

With relief, reality seeps back into the atmosphere, and 20 seconds later, the neighbour-lady finds the bottle of Fairy… in the bathroom. Of course.

Just as we finish up, Miss Gob comes into the kitchen to try and open some wine for neighbour-lady. She waves around the bottle opener and starts talking to me and I realise she is beyond drunk – she’s at that stage (shame on me that I recognise it from painful experience), where most things do not seem to make sense anymore. For example, the correct end of the bottle opener to use to open the bottle. She can only do one thing at a time (and can’t even do that properly), because she has had so much gin, and since talking is her first priority, the wine never gets opened. After 15 minutes or so of rambling, neighbour-lady comes in to tell us she is leaving (surely not!) and we say goodbye in sober sisterhood.

I then have the privilege of listening to Miss Gob for almost an hour, while she cries on my shoulder, laughs, tells me about her emotional problems, her terrible life story, her weird mother, talks in riddles, massively contradicts herself on several occasions (e.g. “I’m not a violent person” and “I could kill, I know I could”), and to my face insults me, insults my family and insults my brother without shame.

At which point, I get upset.

I get upset because it’s my safety valve. I know that the alternative to crying is that I get angry, and I don’t want to do that because a) I have my mum’s and my brother’s respect for me to consider, b) there are children in the house, and c) I am an awful, cold-hearted, emotionless nightmare when I’m truly angry and she’s not really worth the energy required.

My brother and I are, and always have been, extremely close, so my brother gets upset because I’m upset, which upsets me even more. I say to mum that I think we should leave (since I know I can no longer stay in that flat and be polite to the banshee in the kitchen), so we kiss goodbye, bundle ourselves into the car in the dark and quiet night and drive home, leaving my brother to pick up the pieces and put the kids to bed.

But not before catching a glimpse of my brother’s girlfriend sitting on the kitchen counter, her legs on the draining board, her head against a cabinet, fast asleep, mouth wide open and bottle opener in her lap.

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