Episode 1 of my Alcohol analysis series
Have you ever experienced a friendship that was a little one sided? Well this is what happened with me and alcohol and so for both our sakes we decided to part company....
Party and sober can co-exist!
As I stand on a table at a famous après ski bar in the French alps swaying to the DJ (surprisingly easier in ski boots) and sipping my frozen 1664 0% (alcohol does have its uses in freezing temperatures) I can say with confidence and a huge smile "I don't drink".
‘One day you will tell your story of how you overcame what you went though and it will be someone else’s survival guide.’ – Brene Brown
Where it all began
As a child of two alcoholic parents I had a very bleak and clear vision of what a worst case outcome looked like with alcohol. So from a young age I created a warning signal in my head. I would never get to "that" stage. Confident that I had the inside track on this "no go zone" I then leapt into the 90s alco-pop era feet first!
From 15 to 30 drinking was always a part of my social life. Through teenage years, university, 20s in London in different jobs, different house shares, a stint at travelling round the world. I moved around and a social life with alcohol moved with me. I never questioned it. I never thought about trying life without it. My drinking consumption wasn't unusually high.
I was still "progressing" in life so where was the problem? I guess that was the problem. There wasn't one.
Society had created an environment where drinking was expected, not the anomaly
Unless you disturbed the happy vibe: that illusion of eutopia that society had created around alcohol then you were safe to crack on. If you did start to stray into unpleasant territory then you were asked to do it quietly so as to not upset the illusion.
In control or alcohol dependent
So there we have it. This vision of a happy alcohol consuming culture left only two sides of the fence. No middle ground. You were either happily in control or you had a problem.
Mummy loves wine
I am not exactly sure when the concept mummy with wine slotted so comfortably into society. Wherever it came from I was certainly a valid candidate - career mum ✔️, multiple children ✔️✔️, child with additional needs ✔️✔️✔️Yep, I met the criteria so off I went enjoying a decade of "well deserved" mummy wine.
Still sitting on the fence. Can I get off now?
So after a 30 year stint of embracing alcohol I started to question "is this the way it is going to be now?" There began to emerge in society a middle ground to this story- the "middle lane drinker"/"grey area drinker". I am still not sure exactly who that is but he/she seems to sit on the fence between happy consumer and alcohol dependence. It is an attempt at acknowledgement of a large proportion of people that drink above the recommended levels but wouldn't consider themselves risky. For me this grey label has just confused things more and doesn't really offer any solutions. But it did make me realise I didn't want to be on the fence any more. I didn't want to be the mummy that loved wine. So I pressed the stop button.
What signalled the change
I started to question how I actually felt. Yes I could drink wine in an evening and function fine at "life" the next day but was it really actually enhancing it? I couldn't put my finger on it but it just started to feel wrong. I realised I felt tired and uneasy on too many occasions. I realised my mind was perceiving alcohol as the only source of my enjoyment, my unwinding, my escape.
The 28 day challenge
Facebook read my thoughts (literally) and up popped an advert for a 28 day challenge to give up alcohol. I joined a local community of alcohol free adventurers. I immersed myself in quit lit, podcasts, learning. I embraced a new existence that didn't revolve around alcohol. My mornings gradually became joyous. My evenings became freer as thoughts were no longer dominated by which tipple I would enjoy. And I used my incredible amounts of free time to learn about all things wellbeing and to become a coach!
So I would ask anyone that is curious not to try to label themselves but just to ask themselves one question:
Could you do with having more energy in your life?
If the answer is yes, maybe now is the perfect time to grab that energy.
This is how it genuinely feels. Questioning alcohol lifts the blinkers. When you don't follow the dominant path and start to ask questions then your brain becomes flexible in other ways. It lets life in and the benefits just keep growing. My top 3 are reduced anxiety, hugely improved outlook on life and endless hours of extra time!
Everyone's sunshine looks different
It might be trying a complete break or cutting back to some degree. Stepping into this adventure might lead you down a number of different paths. Some will work and some will
lead you to push further. But if it is something you think might benefit you and your mental health then be brave and try it.
And to anyone reading this who is struggling and is afraid of the future I read you this quote.
Sometimes when in a dark place you think you’ve been buried, when actually you’ve been planted.’ – Christine Caine
Interested in exploring your relationship with alcohol? Try my
Other Blog posts
Blogposts in the energy series
Blog posts in the alcohol series