Let me start this post by clarifying my relationship with alcohol.
For a long time, it has been a way of life. When I was younger it was drinks after work, when I progressed to parenting, it became drinks at friends, a glass of wine after a long day, a soother, a comfort blanket, a way to take the edge off. In more recent years, it has become a means to block out emotions.
I had five years of my kids coming down with bizarre conditions, chronic conditions, needing surgeries left, right, and center. And it was bloody hard work – there were many times when I didn’t want to cope, but yet found no other option – and a glass of wine would help. It was my prize for managing the crap at my door.
Yet, in reflection….
What did the wine achieve?
I think, with the glorious power of hindsight, having a crutch meant I delayed every emotion inside me until one day I broke a little. That day came after my marriage ended, the kids were still pogo-ing in and out of hospital as if attached by bungee. I went to bed for a week and only got up to take the kids to school and bring them home.
The doctor prescribed pills, and told me not to drink. I washed them down with a nice glass of Pinot.
Eventually, I stopped the pills, started to exercise, took long walks and felt better – I still had my crutch.
How much did I drink?
Honestly – not that much. I think I am a pretty ‘normal’ mum drinker. I rarely go out; I loved fizz friday, holidays start with a glass at the airport. Many of my peers would drink with me, but I could always be counted on to say yes to a glass.
I drank alone, happily in the house, mornings could be marked with a slow, fuzzy headache. I find it hard to go out with the kids and not order a glass of wine.
The wine witch called to me from the fridge most nights.
I have an addictive personality.
If I run – I run a marathon, If I train, I do it daily, if I diet – I lose a lot of weight, if I eat – I can do it to the extremes.
My off button is faulty.
Hence – why I am attempting a 365 alcohol challenge.
Because I am not entirely sure ‘what I am giving up’.
In ‘This Naked Mind‘ by Annie Grace, she discusses how
almost everything in our society tells you, both consciously and unconsciously, that alcohol is the ‘elixir of life’, and without it in your life you would be missing a key ingredient.
When the kids were ill: I deserved that wine.
When my marriage ended – damn right I should go out on the razz.
I can take the hangovers – because they are part and parcel.
Or perhaps, just perhaps;
I can just enjoy life without an artifical stimulant.
(Or as my best friend says – perhaps I should stop overthinking so much…)
Dry January is coming to an end. I don’t miss the booze, nor has it been hard to give up. I have moments where I think I could moderate – then I remember who I am.
What has been hard, has been the emotions. Feeling everything, in colour.
My son spent his birthday with his Dad, I felt like I had lost an arm.
My nutrition plan has been hard to get back into after Christmas, work is mental.
I feel physically tired most of the time.
The house looks like we have burgled 90% of the time, the kids need me more than I can give.
Single parenting and working numerous contracts can at times be bloody hard work.
But I feel it.
I am not blocking it, and yes, it would be easy to take the edge off and pour a glass of wine.
But come the morning, the stress would still be there, with an added headache. The work would still need doing, but working through a fuzzy head makes things harder. The gym would still provide a much-needed respite – but it is hard to chuck weights around when you are using the wrong fuel.
So as dry January comes to an end. I see no reason to turn to my crutch, as each day passes I am starting to understand that I am not stopping anything, not giving anything up. Instead I am living, every second, be it easy or hard.
All I have given up this month is a few mornings lost to a hangover, a few texts that I didn’t send because I thought better with a sober mind, I have given up spending on Prosecco and paying for some personal training instead.
I have a gained a complete memory (well as much as can be expected for my age), a healthier bank balance, a stronger tolerance for calm with the kids, energy levels that surprise me – even when I feel overwhelmed, a waistline that isn’t thickening.
As dry January ends, my journey continues.