Updated: Jun 15, 2019
As I stare down the barrel of a night alone at home without my son (he's staying at his dad's. We are separated, and alcohol was a big contributing factor in that separation) I can't stop thinking about wine. Its still hard after all this time, and the temptation never goes away, but focusing on your 'why' and creating coping strategies will help you get through.
It's hard because Alcohol changes your brain-
Years and I mean YEARS of a continuous stream of Alcohol consumption from my formative years (maybe age 10? But definitely from 13 onwards) means it took me this long to get this way, it's going to take probably that and more to get rid of those deep valleys of stress coping mechanisms in my brain to adjust. A Uni of Oxford study found that the amount of alcohol you consume is directly related to the amount of shrinkage in your brain, specifically, the hippocampus, associated with memory and reasoning,
If you are kind of sick of the way alcohol has you in its clutches (like I was) read 'This Naked mind' - Annie Grace. I listened to it, and it was a game changer.
Stepping (read: dragging myself) out of the cycle of having a drink to de-stress/celebrate/<place reason here> when I had been drinking for as long as I can remember is remarkably hard, but it can be done. For me, it was wanting something else more than a drink, and that was a relationship with my son.
It's hard because everyone else is doing it so why can't I?
I identify with this one, especially as a mom. I was such a bad 'drinking' mom. From the outside looking in, I felt other moms were able to have those evening wine(s) and be ok the next day. I felt I was alone in being so unable to cope with a child hungover. All but one time in 2.5 years of drinking after my son was born, I had to get my partner to help me/pick up the slack/come home because I found being with him so stressful after even a couple of wines the night before.
Alcohol just does bad things to my body and brain and although it felt good at the time (because I didn't have any other coping mechanisms) it wasn't worth it when I couldn't be around my son, and then when I separated from his dad I didn't have a choice anymore. Staying in bed vomiting for the day or crying in the corner from being overwhelmed on a hangover just wasn't an option. I had to show up ( and I wanted to ) for my son, and in showing up for him, I have shown up for myself which has been unexpectedly life-changing.
Its hard because society labels non-drinkers-
No fun/boring/ fun police, you name it, I said it to people and have heard these 'labels' said to me. Of course, none of this is true. What's fun about, the morning after the night before, vomiting in the toilet bowl, while your 1 yo watches, while you beg his dad to come home from work because 'its an emergency' Nothing! Nothing is funny about that.
And I get it, its not always that extreme. For me, it was the subtle agitated, anxious, tired feeling that never went away. The feeling that I 'needed a break' constantly from my son, life, work you name it, but the break never came, because I needed a break from myself! And aint no getting away from yourself (at least not forever)
Drinking and the lack of sleep that comes with children was for me an absolute recipe for mental breakdowns on the regular. It can feel boring at the beginning when you are trying to avoid the booze and you just can't face loud, spitty drunk people.
I had to find other ways to treat myself, relax, let my hair down and cope with stress.
So if you are finding it tough to say no its normal, and if you have wondered what life would be like without the focus of alcohol but can't seem to stop you are not alone.
Over the next few weeks and months ill be writing about changing your beliefs around alcohol, finding your why(s), tools and strategies that helped me, the myths about alcohol, treating yourself and how to make changes that last. Sign up below for posts, events and THE CHALLENGE!