It's not big, and it's not clever!
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Throughout Alcohol Awareness week we've invited guest bloggers to contribute their thoughts and experiences on this subject.
In this post, Bromford colleague, Clare Parslow writes about the ups and downs in her relationship with alcohol and explains the benefits she found when abstaining.
What is wrong in my life if I must get drunk every night…
Big exaggeration to start off with – I don’t drink every night but since successfully staying off the grog in October (for charity) I have been reflecting on my relationship with alcohol. I had an epiphany when I realized on Mr P’s birthday that that was probably the first time that he had had a drink and I had not. A sad fact that got me thinking…
Like most teenagers I experimented with drink at an early age, setting up a ‘lager’ fund with my BFF Rachel. There are many ‘drunken’ stories that although hilarious at the time, looking back are quite scary. We know alcohol loosens inhibitions which can put people in dangerous situations. Thankfully I had friends who looked after me and got me home safely.
Whilst at Uni I failed to find the stop button – I would drink until I was sick or passed out and earned the nickname Clare Von Smirnoff. Looking back I don’t know why I did this, maybe I thought I enjoyed it? But then I thought that about smoking and I broke that bad habit 11 years ago.
The first job after Uni came with a complimentary packed social diary and of course some new mates. One of whom, like me, liked a tot or two. Alcohol and I then entered a new phase, where we would only be together when out socializing with friends. This would have been OK but we were out after work every night from Wednesday to Sunday.
Then I met Mr P, who I’ve never seen drunk, unfortunately he has seen me in a state on several occasions. It’s not big, clever or a pretty sight so why do I do it? The last 11 years has seen my drink of choice change to wine – not sure if this is because I can justify a tot and reassure myself with the health benefits (I doubt voddy or lager have any?).
I decided to have a month of abstinence for several reasons. Firstly to raise money for a charity close to my heart. Secondly as a personal challenge to see if I could do it, as TBH the thought was daunting. Pre-October I drank a bottle of red wine all to myself on a Saturday night – guaranteed – opened and poured it before I’ve thought about it.
Finally, because my friend who likes a drink is now an alcoholic with severe health issues. Home detox has failed, and has multiple hospital admissions. She has lost jobs; friends and nearly lost her home. Her love of ‘a drink’ is killing her and that’s not big, clever or a pretty sight.
So many people said to me during the month that they couldn’t do it. I wasn’t sure that I could, but I was determined. It helped that my two best mates, Rachel and Gav both decided to jump on board and we supported each other along the way. Knowing that others were experiencing what I was made it easier to stay focused on the goal.
The main questions my sober month raised for me were:
• Why is alcohol the first thing I think of when wanting to celebrate achievements? Champagne anyone?
• Why do I think of having a drink to cheer myself up or reward myself? Surely there are better and healthier ways of doing this?
• Why do I ‘have’ to drink on a Saturday night, and pressure myself to finish the bottle because I ‘can’t drink in on a school night?
• Why if it takes 21 days to break a habit whilst at the salon on the 26th I was offered a Bucks Fizz said yes. Without thinking. It wasn’t until the hairdresser said “knew wouldn’t have to ask twice if alcohol in it” that I said “Noooooooooo!”.
The benefits I have found are:
• Having more money to spend on other treats
• Literally having a clearer head – Sunday mornings are even better now!
• Skin nicer (so people tell me)
• Really enjoyed mocktails with mate and holding real conversations that I can remember the next day.
• Staying awake to watch films with Mr P – this never happens, sitting on the on the sofa with a glass of red. I can write you a review of the first third of every major blockbuster going.
Abstaining from alcohol for a month was long enough for me to evaluate my relationship with it. I now feel that I have more choice and control, I actually stop and think before saying yes to a top up. We’ve been through our ups and downs over the years, but above all if I continue the relationship I want it to be a healthy one.
This is one a series of blogs being posted during Alcohol Awareness Week. Please click on the titles below to read the others:
The occasional drink
(Images courtesy of tangi_bertin & Tax Credits)