It’s quite interesting what people think an alcoholic is. The age old description is someone who drinks in the morning or someone who ‘has the shakes’. Or someone who drinks out of a brown paper bag to hide their habit. I mean really? Even that would cost you an extra 5p these days!
Everyone has a ‘vision’ of what an alcoholic is but it is unlikely to look like themselves. My personal definition is anyone who cannot control their intake of alcohol or drinks to excess, with negative consequences. I think your personal definition is dependant on your own alcohol intake. If you have a couple of glasses on a special occasion, then you’d consider me to be a raging alcoholic, however I didn’t drink in the morning, or out of a paper bag, so maybe I wasn’t after all?
I know that writing about my ‘habit’ has created some discussion about ‘my problem’. Some people have said ‘they didn’t know it was that bad’. But that’s dependant on your definition of bad isn’t it? I didn’t fit in with the stereotype but once I got started, there was no stopping me. And for me, that was a problem. Throwing up all the next day, that was a problem. Losing my free time at the weekend, eating rubbish, getting fat. That was a problem. But did I escape being an alcoholic because I didn’t sip out of a brown paper bag on a park bench at 8am? It’s questionable.
It is also interesting that people feel there must be something sooooo wrong if you don’t want to drink alcohol. Why has it become so normalised to partake in ingesting poison? If you politely decline heroin, that doesn’t make you weird or boring? That makes you an intelligent human being so why is alcohol so different?! So acceptable??!
I prefer to categorise myself as the ultimate binge drinker. And eater. And smoker. Nothing could satisfy the beast. And the more I drank, the higher my tolerance became. I do think it is a problem to drink for 12 – 15 hours at a time, to drink a bottle of wine before leaving the house for a night out, to forget doing the things the night before. On a programme I saw, it described drunken black outs as your brain being physically unable to make memories. How sad is that? That I actually chose to do that to myself? It makes me shudder and I intend to never do that harm to myself again. #day91 🙋🏻🐟
‘They’ say that you can’t truly love somebody until you truly love yourself. I’m not sure that is exactly true. I have been in love and still hated myself inside. Sometimes I think it is far easier to love someone else and deflect attention away from yourself.
This week, I’ve been thinking about to my history with men. It’s a colourful story. Most have or have had issues with alcohol. And of course, that was part of the problem. Did I naturally attract someone with the same problem as me or did we fuel each other? Did I deliberately look for someone that enjoyed drinking as much as me? And visa versa? Or did I just get myself into such scenarios because I was generally pissed?
My first serious boyfriend was an alcoholic. I was 18, he was 30. I didn’t even know what an alcoholic was but soon found out. He was drunk most of the time, smoked like a chimney and was bleak. Being so young, I didn’t really understand what a problem he had but definitely remember thinking it was my fault when he’d had one too many. I began to count the number of drinks he consumed, to gauge what kind of night I could expect and took that counting habit forward into my next relationship, paranoid it would be the same. Years later, after no contact, I received a call from him to say he was clean and that AA had suggested he apologise to people he’d upset in the past. Nice sentiment AA but sadly, the damage had already been done.
My last relationship was pretty dire. It mostly centred around alcohol and arguing. Totally damaging and unfulfilling. At this point, I can safely say that there was little love for myself. I was more than happy to hide my unhappiness in a massive G&T and crack on. Inside, my self esteem was dying and I was feeding it with anything in sight, gaining weight and sadness. I have questioned whether he did the damage to me or whether I damaged myself. The answer is probably a bit of both. Things came to a head in November when drunk, I completely lost my mind, and decided that I couldn’t feel this way about him or me anymore and put a stop to it. And alcohol.
My aim going forward is to meet someone lovely. Who already loves themselves. And likes Elderflower and early nights. I can no longer tolerate the drama that alcohol attracts and need someone that feeds my self esteem nice things, like lettuce. I’m starting to love myself again slowly. The weight is coming off and I feel happier. Just got gotta get my head around sober, beer-goggle free dating and I’m anybodies 🙋🏻🐟 #day84
Mine went something like this.
Feel fat. This makes me unhappy and be less confident. Have a drink. Loaded with calories. Smoke.
Have too many drinks. Loaded with calories. Smoke. Believe I’m more confident. Drunk text. Sleep badly. Wake up. Feel bad and less confident and smell of smoke. Worry about what I said/did/didn’t do. Eat. More calories.
Feel fat. This makes me unhappy and feel less confident. Have a drink.
You get my drift. It’s a vicious circle full of badness. There is nothing remotely positive in any of the habits mentioned. And the end result is misery.
Last year, various factors including a toxic relationshit, a change of job and health issues have made me seriously assess my own vicious circle. The loop was literally sending me loopy and something drastic needed to happen before something serious did.
I took a long hard look at what the root cause of all my unhappiness was and found the common component was my good old pal alcohol.
Without alcohol, the urge to smoke was immediately gone. The two have always gone hand in hand for me. This was an absolute revelation, as I have tried to (unsuccessfully) give up many times before.
Take alcohol out of the loop and the overwhelming desire for carbs rapidly diminished too. This meant that my habit of massively overeating, not just the next day but most of the week after, has disappeared. Instead, I’m eating sensibly and losing the weight that was zapping my confidence.
The weight was also hindering my efforts to exercise and making me sluggish and lazy. Weekends were becoming increasingly inactive and hangovers were spilling over from one day to two. This was adding to the self loathing and so I’d have another Sauvignon to cheer myself up.
I’ve never been a good sleeper after a night on the lash. I’m also miserable without a good nights kip and so the following day after a binge would be tense and anxious, while stuffing my face.
Alcohol basically gives false hope that you will feel better, be a happier, shinier version of you. This is an absolute lie. Alcohol is a fun sponge. It steals all the good bits and replaces them with bad. We all believe alcohol is a reward but what other drug do we think it’s acceptable to reward ourselves with? Why do we choose to reward ourselves with a poison? I challenge you to name anything else that makes us feel so bloody awful, that we choose to take time and time again under the guise that we will have a great time?
For me, the positives of not partaking are far outweighing the numerous negatives of something that I incorrectly believed was making me having the best time ever. Now I am actually becoming that happier, shiner version of myself and the bonus is it’s not costing me my health or my wealth.
I’ve done it! I’ve actually survived what I consider to be one of the biggest boozing weekends of the year, totally and utterly stone cold sober! What a great reason to celebrate with .. a large Elderflower Presse!
And how do I feel? I feel happy, clear headed, well rested and ready for the week ahead, with money in my pocket rather than behind the bar at a boozer! Oh, and a teeny weeny bit smug. Just a teeny tiny bit obviously …
Soberdom is certainly making me evaluate my old drinking habits and realise how much unnecessary booze I was putting away . This exact weekend last year, I sank (probably) most of a bottle of Hendricks, several bottles of wine, enough Expresso Martinis to literally put me off them for life, plus a variety of shots and other delights that I’ve completely erased from my conscious brain. This year, I’m fizzing full of Elderflower, Ginger and vitamin C.
Soberdom has also made me evaluate how much time drinking takes up. Not only the lost hours from the first sip to the last glug, but the sluggishness the morning after, the inability to do simple tasks, the sketchy, interrupted, pointless sleep that cures nothing. Hangovers are no longer an early morning affair. They last for days, robbing time and energy, leaving nothing but anxiousness in their wake.
Now, my chores are done, I’m sleeping well and for many uninterrupted hours. I feel energised and organised and of course, have found the time to write and share my experience.
Finally, before I reunite with my pillow, a massive thank you to all those who are taking the time to encourage me and support me through this journey. You all rock 💋