First of all this is not a preachy blog. Not in any way.
But can I just say, I have not had an alcoholic drink for over two weeks now and I feel fantastic.
I am sleeping better. I am better tempered. I don’t wake up feeling guilty. That’s just for starters.
I have been having therapy on and off, for years. Mainly to cope with feelings from my childhood. I didn’t have a horrific childhood. In fact I know I was loved, but some things happened that I carried into adulthood. I didn’t deal with them, and when I hit 21 these feelings – rather than going away – manifested themselves in certain destructive behaviours. These included disordered eating, obsessive behaviours, anger, low self esteem, the list goes on.
But throughout it all I carved a career for myself. My feelings in some ways helped me – made me try that little bit harder.
I started therapy when I was 32 and the first bunch finished when I got together with my now husband. I had worked on myself but there were some things I still needed to try myself.
Then – fast forward 10 years later, two children, happy marriage, supportive family. I notice that my anxiety is increasing. In fact it got much worse after daughter no 2 was born. I would imagine all sorts of catastrophes.
I managed it by ploughing my energy into my work, into trying to be the best mum I could, and of course I kept my infamous exercise regime, which did (and still does) include yoga and pilates. I even started therapy again in the summer of 2016. Therapy which eventually led me to ditch my boring but physically exhausting and stressful (long story and I’m done telling it) job.
So with some of the techniques I learned from my earlier therapy, combined with being careful about what I ate and my activity levels, I got by.
Most nights I wouldn’t drink, but on the days my anxiety got bad, I would. I would have a glass of wine around 6pm sometimes earlier sometimes later. Most times it would be two glasses and that would be it.
But when I was out – in social situations – it was a lot more.
For years (since I was 18) I have always drunk when I’ve gone out. I am by nature fairly shy. But at college and later at university I found that being drunk made me one of the gang.
However I did rely on it. But I knew it wasn’t good for me. So rather than go out and not drink I simply didn’t go out. I cancelled on friends many times for no reason. I even cancelled holidays and bailed on events which I had paid good money to go to. Often because I knew I wouldn’t be able to not drink and I didn’t want to drink.
Now back to the recent past. A mummy’s night out, one I had intended to go to and have just one glass. I ended up getting very drunk and crying on another mum’s shoulder.
The next morning I felt such shame. This wasn’t the first time I had done this, but it was the first time I realised that I needed to address some feelings. Feelings I had hidden by drinking.
My drinking meant I wasn’t developing social skills and I wasn’t confronting the real reason I felt so scared and angry all the time.
So I stopped. I’ve been out since and had non alcoholic beer. The only time I have missed it so far, was after a day spent rushing round after the children.
I resisted and I’m determined to see this out. I haven’t felt so bad, so far. Although I have realised I may be trying to do too many things.
It might be I stay off the booze. It might be I confront my anxiety and social phobias enough to know I can take it or leave it.
But because I need it, I need to see what happens without it.
It must be difficult for those with a physical addiction to alcohol. I have known family members and friends who are teetotal now because they know they can’t drink.
Alcohol is the last acceptable drug.
One national newspaper even runs a ‘knackered mums wine club’. Wine will wake you up, for sure, but not perhaps in the way you really want it to – at 2am in the morning with a pounding head and dry mouth.
I have realised I was having a second glass to ‘relax’ me and stop me feel guilty about having the first.
However I know have a way to go, I was going to give myself three months. Three months in which I could let in the effects the therapy and the other healthy lifestyle choices I have made.
Wish me luck.