Clearing away the empties after a big night, I’ve sometimes considered scribbling out the ABV % and instead pencilling in the measure of my shame, on a scale of 1 to 10.
Let’s just say, a ‘1’ was never in the running.
A whole bottle of wine + five gins = one deeply private overshare, gallons of tears and at least 24 hours of deepest depression.
Little mental calculations flying everywhere. Like ‘yes it was bad, but next time I’ll drink more water’, or ‘if I’d stopped at the wine everything would have been fine…’
Fundamentally though, those sums are all underpinned by the belief that giving up alcohol would be a socially or personally unsurvivable loss.
Remarkable, isn’t it?
Alcohol is actually thought to affect around 50 different neural mechanisms, most significantly:
Oh the luxury of knowing that silly season is behind us for another year.
Gleefully we dump the mince pies, donate the weird gifts and vacuum up every last vestige of tinsel. It feels a touch Scrooge-like to be so relieved to see the back of such a ‘special’ time.
Except it’s not. It’s only bloody reasonable.
Most of the joy was sucked from Christmas when we became adults…. FEMALE adults.
Because here we are, somehow almost entirely responsible for delivering the full Christmas experience – with giving our children all the sparkle and delight, with juggling family and in-law relationships, usually with cooking and (99 times out of 100) shopping resting entirely on our plates.
And then we wonder why we’re miseries; why it takes a gallon of alcohol to make us *joyful* and to lubricate our way through the season.
We’re miseries because there is nothing merry and bright about being the Christmas workhorse…
Ok I didn’t actually kill anyone, but if deathly thoughts counted for anything he’d be pushing up daisies right about now….
And it was only partly his fault.
The other part was mine. My self-care routine was knocked out of whack so, instead of re-defining it, I let it slide. So, there I was, with all of life’s usual pressures and dramas, and without my outlet – my safe space and time to unwind and process.
It was not pretty. But I learned from it.
From now on, I will kill FOR my self-care time, not because of the lack of it.
Jokes aside, what I did learn is that, since creating that time for myself, I am so much more able to navigate the peaks and troughs of work and relationships, and without it I’m a little bit at sea. That time is, in the scheme of things, just a few moments, but it works wonders for my wellbeing.
Because I don’t want to be a reactive, dramatic person – most of us have no desire to...
Deciding to ditch alcohol can feel like a HUGE statement.
‘Oh God, everyone will think I’m a raging alcoholic’, or maybe ‘if I say I don’t drink, but then I start again, I’ll have failed’.
Those thoughts can be crippling.
But sometimes we set our goals too specifically, and in doing so we talk ourselves out of them before we’ve even got off the starting blocks.
What if the goal wasn’t to ditch the booze, but to find better ways to self-care, to self-soothe, to show yourself a whole heap of self-love?
Because, ultimately, it’s kinda the same thing.
Changing your relationship with alcohol doesn’t mean you have to tip everything down the sink in a blaze of ‘new me’ defiance (although you can if you want). It can just mean thinking, observing, nurturing, and then plotting a new path as all that understanding unfolds.
Big old lines in the sand can give us a tremendous kick when they work, but...
Want to work on your wellbeing? Start by ditching the self-flagellation, my friend.
We women are experts in telling ourselves to ‘do better’. We constantly beat ourselves up for never being ‘enough’, for never getting things quite ‘right’. We’re utterly unforgiving.
I get it – I was expert level in it too!
And that’s why I drank. Because I was drowning under the unrelenting pressure of modern womanhood and I’d learned, from a very young age, that alcohol was my band-aid of choice.
If you don’t already know, I was born in the UK but grew up in Africa. My parents didn’t drink any more than any of their friends, BUT my grandparents started each day with a Gin and Cinzano. And, at the ripe old age of 13, I was allowed to start drinking too.
I don’t blame any of them. The received wisdom back then was that, ‘if we let them drink with us then they'll be used to alcohol and better able to...