My jump off point was that I knew that I maybe, probably, most likely needed to do a bit less drinking. Maybe, probably, most likely due to waking up quite a few mornings a week for the past decade with the cloudy-headed, hollow-hearted feeling that meant I really wanted bacon on my toast or sugar in my latte to kickstart my day. Maybe, probably, most likely because I couldn’t quite get into 5th gear with work and house projects that I was genuinely interested in and curious about, and as soon as things felt a bit challenging, I felt tired and a bit over it, and I’d give myself ‘grace’ that as a working mum of two it was totally fine and actually good to give myself a break, even though I didn’t really want to break, I wanted to keep going with the Powerpoint design, or with painting the dining room chairs in the muted pastels I’d bought 6 months earlier.
Maybe, probably, most likely because by 6pm I was impatient and done in with the kids and the play fighting and music and yelling and neediness, but because somewhere in the back of my mind I was concerned that I was only feeling grumpy because I was maybe, probably, most likely a bit hungover and I didn’t want my drinking to impact negatively on them, I didn’t set quite enough boundaries with them and instead read 3 extra books, or let them have one more TV show, or tried to engage with them about the minutiae of their day to show that I was interested, when realistically I knew that they should have been asleep 45 minutes ago with a firm and loving ‘goodnight’.
So drained from the evening of giving, I would emerge from the eldest’s bedroom at 8:45pm, and fire straight over to the fridge, pour a large glass of wine, whether I’d had dinner or not, and crash out on the sofa, only returning to the kitchen to top up until half, three quarters or the bottle has disappeared. It felt earned, and a way to stop the noise in my head. But also - and I think it's important to say this - it felt joyous, it gave me some ‘me time’ without me having to make any decisions or lead the way, and the feeling of getting mildly, and then quite demonstrably buzzed is really really nice. Similarly, out with friends, family bbqs, birthdays, any celebration or commiseration, is always bookended with booze. Staying up until 2am cackling with your best friends about some old boyfriend, or whatever the topic of the night might be, is brilliant. When the next day is a Sunday and I can revel in the antics from the night before while nursing a fry up and letting the kids watch three Disney Movies before I manage to get myself together and we head to the park is not that big of a deal.
But I’m at the point now, where the regular morning cloudy feelings are outweighing the amount of laughs I’m getting out of drinking. Not least because, firstly during Covid and now with the craziness of everyone’s lives, I don’t see friends as much, so I mainly drink alone. I have found myself, on occasion, putting empty bottles straight into the recycling bin outside, rather than leaving them in the house, in case my husband makes a comment that inevitably elicits a defensive response or an outright denial. More and more I find that I'm thinking about trying to drink less, and that's not really the kind of topic I want to have 'living rent-free in my head', as the tweenagers would say.
My issue at this point however, is that whenever I Google about how to drink less alcohol (which is becoming a pretty regular search for me, and usually first thing on a weekend morning), I am met by hundreds of results from rehab clinics, addiction centres and testimonials from ex alcoholics or big drinkers who talk of blacking out, losing their marriages. ending up in police custody and worse, and how alcohol had been a curse on their lives that was now lifted with teetotal sobriety. This is not me. I am nowhere near rock bottom. I can’t relate to any of these people or what they are saying. I know that I drink more per week than is recommended by government websites, but I’ve never vomited, never blacked out, at worst I’ve forgotten the plot of the film I am watching while I polish off a bottle of white wine, but again, not that big of a deal.
And yet I know that I want to ‘up my game’ so to speak. To elevate how I am living. I’d become a new mum in 2014, and so I had young babies and children right through the fleshy midriff of the Instagram ‘Wine O’Clock’ ‘Slummy Mommy’ ‘Mum’s Grown Up Juice’ meme era. It was giddy to quench the loneliness of new parenting with permission from the three hundred thousand people ‘liking’ the picture of Betty Draper drinking a G&T while her children ate their 5pm supper. But my eldest child turns 10 next year and I turn 45 and I need to accept that I am not a new mom in crisis mode any more.
I need to find more energy and I want to stop feeling bloated in the morning. But I don’t want to be boring or pious, like the few non-drinkers I know are (they’re the worst). I just want to be able to go more than a few days without having to pour myself a drink, and to be able to have a couple of drinks and then be able to walk away. Which, if I’m honest, I can’t do at the moment. So that’s it really, that’s the state of play. Again, If I’m honest, it’s really warm today and I’m sitting with a G&T in a tin in my garden soaking up the last days of summer as I write this assignment, because I know that this post is just the warm up, and I’m starting ‘for real’ tomorrow….
Bad habits die hard. But kill them we must. So off I head on this maybe, probably, most likely not very fun, but ultimately better-for-my-life-and health journey of self development. Cheers to that.