We had 25 mostly good years together, the booze and I. But it was time to say goodbye. For now, but maybe forever. These blog posts will follow my attempt at a year of alcohol-free living. Welcome!
Background and inspiration for this journey
A whole year without booze? Are you nuts? Good God, why?
These are the obvious question to ask, right? And maybe, ‘why now’?
But with many of the big things in life, is there ever a precise moment? Think about it: that moment you knew we were in love or when you decided you wanted to be a [insert career choice here], that moment when you decided to go blonde. (The obvious exception to this being may be discovering you’re pregnant. That’s pretty defining. You can’t ever be a little bit pregnant.)
For me and alcohol, there was (fortunately) no catastrophic crisis, no huge wake up call, no slice to the jugular. My drinking had not (yet) reached the point of having a rock-bottom moment such as (but definitely not limited to): a night in jail, a car accident, an intervention, too many obvious sick days from work, the loss of my licence from a random breath test, waking up cotton-mouthed beside the dog on the couch. But I do come from a heartily-tainted Irish gene pool (addicts on both sides!), coupled with a deep and abiding looooove of drinking. Champagne is my Achilles’ heel of booze.
Having no real low point also formed part of the reason why I didn’t feel comfortable with the idea of Alcoholics Anonymous – aside from the fact that I live in a small country town where there is absolutely no anonymity. (Ironic, really, given the moniker.) But I just couldn’t imagine myself sitting in a musty hall drinking instant coffee, surrounded by a palpable sense of regret and shame peppered with a cautious hope, saying, ‘My name is Kelly, and I’m an alcoholic. My rock-bottom moment was the night I drank far too many glasses of sav blanc at the school fundraiser and started a congo line.’ I mean, I know AA all about acceptance, but really? I think this would generate some well-deserved eye rolls for people with far bigger battle scars.
There has been no slice to the jugular, but it has instead been a death by a thousand cuts: too many nights of having ‘just a splash’ more wine, followed by mornings with a dusty head, after experiencing the dreaded punishment of the 3am hanxiety attacks. Too many foggy memories of half-recalled conversations from the night before coupled with…you know that Whole 30 diet? Well, eating the exact opposite of that the next day. While I also seemed to spending far too much time worrying about all of this (‘Are you an alcoholic? Take this quick quiz to find out!’), I can’t really define or explain or pinpoint that precise moment when I decided I was done. It, like my growing drinking behaviour, was gradual.
But three things I do know. The first is that I was uncomfortable with my relationship with alcohol. Call it alcoholism, alcohol use disorder, an addiction. Minimize it by calling it just a bad habit. But does the label really matter? Over the previous 12 months, the second thing I began to realise – perhaps make peace with, as I’ve known this for much longer – was that something had to change. And the third is that I need support in this journey, and AA didn’t seem like the right fit for me, personally. So why not start writing a nice cathartic blog? Cheapest form of therapy there is!
I did debate whether to do this publicly. Not because of any shame or stigma that’s attached. If anything, I think we need more discussion around this issue, something to counteract all that ‘mummy’s little helper’ bullshit that has seemed to saturate everything in the last decade, from magnets to memes to tee-shirts. First, this is no doubt self-indulgent. Ugh. So that little hurdle had to be jumped.
For me, doing this publicly was more about risking failure. Do I want to do that privately, or on a grander scale? In the end (here I am!), I decided that this might be a good way to help me stay accountable. (But that’s assuming anyone other than my mum will be reading this.)
I also debated as to whether or not the internet really needed another ‘Mummy drinks too much wine’ blog. But if it’s one thing I have learned from my foray into quit-lit (which I will talk more about in my posts), it’s that everyone’s journey is different. And I truly believe that everyone’s journey into the sobersphere can help someone else, even in some small way, even if it’s only one person.
So here it goes.