I love a glass of wine. 6pm is wine o’clock. It’s how I turn off from the day. There’s nothing I love more than a glass of red while I’m making dinner. Except, it’s never one glass, rarely two. More like three, sometimes four. If I am out socially, it’s more like seven. Who knows – I often lose count. I am a good time girl. I’m the life of the party. I’m outrageous, and funny and rude. I love to talk. A lot. And repeat myself. And dance. And laugh. Not so big on listening though. They should put that in the adverts ‘Warning: alcohol affects your ability to listen’.
For me drinking is social. It’s hanging out with the girls. It’s dinner. It’s on the balcony enjoying the dusk with my husband. It’s Christmas Day. It’s Boxing Day. It’s Friday night. I’m not an alcoholic… yet – although I reckon if alcoholic was midnight; I’d be quarter to 12.
Like most people I know alcoholism is in my genes. My father was an alcoholic. He drove drunk into another car, killed himself and an innocent man. He was 30. I’m 53. I’ve not drunk for long periods of time. I’ve never woken up hanging out for a hair of the dog. I’m not a day drinker. I don’t sneak booze. I’m socially acceptable, so I must be okay. Mustn’t I?
Alcohol dependence can sneak up on you. It’s part of every occasion. It’s part of Australian culture. It’s part of our daily routines. You’re not judged for having a glass of wine. It’s classy. It’s what ladies do.
It’s easy to fall into bad patterns with your social drinking. Particularly when you’re busy. It’s an easy way to slow down and relax when you’re running at pace. It’s a boozy weekend away for your brain. A delicious inebriated fuzz.
Except, you pay. You pay with your energy levels. You pay with your poor sleep and your 3am wake ups where you conduct a shame audit on what you said to who, who you repeated a story to ten times, and who you fell asleep on.
I stopped once for a few years. I had gone through a long period of unhappiness and had got into a habit of having a bottle of wine when the kids went to bed and ringing friends for a chat. Drink dialling. The iPhone could do with a blood alcohol app so that it locks out after .05. If you can’t drive, you also shouldn’t phone. After one night I rang my friend sheepishly and confessed: ‘I don’t remember hanging up’. She said ‘That’s because you talked for about an hour and when I said something you fell asleep.’
So I’ve stopped. It’s not hard actually. I’m not struggling. It’s been two weeks and I already feel clearer. I am sleeping better. I feel more relaxed. I’m getting up for a sunrise walk most mornings. I’m more efficient in my workday. I haven’t felt a single twinge. I have tripled my water intake. I’m enjoying being sober. I approached it as something I was going to do that was positive for my health, and I don’t feel like I’m missing out.
The only thing I would like is another word for sober. It means serious, solemn. And I don’t like ‘straight’ either. I might as well say I’m boring. And I actually feel a lot less boring.
When I go out now I shut up and I listen to people. Of course, most of the people I am listening to are drunk.
But I can’t complain. I feel, in some strange way, that it’s my karma.