I hate these blurred lines…
Looking back, I should probably have stopped drinking a long time before I actually managed to crack it, but, like most people, I drank because it’s what people do.
It’s so ingrained in our culture we accept it as part of our lives and don’t really question whether our relationship with it is healthy; we don’t ask ourselves how drinking is making our lives better.
When a friendship or relationship goes off-piste, we know it’s gone wonky because we feel miserable. Sometimes we ignore it for a while, hoping it will mend itself, but at some point we slam on the brakes and address it or we choose to walk away. With alcohol, it’s easy to ignore the fact we’re drinking for all the wrong reasons and refuse to acknowledge it’s not fun anymore. We don’t slam on the brakes, and we’re too scared to quit for fear of judgment. Society’s obsession with booze makes it difficult to make our own choice. Truth is, there is absolutely no reason any of us can’t call time on wine, break up with booze and simply say ‘It’s just not for me anymore’. The more you say it, the easier it will become. I did it, and now I love getting messages on Facebook from people asking for tips.
I, like most of us, started drinking in my late teens, and it cruised along – unchallenged – as part of my life. If I was happy, I had a drink. If I was sad, I had a drink. And as the years passed, I just had a drink without questioning why.
Alcohol is in our cupboards, fridges, pubs, clubs, restaurants and concert venues. All of those places fall into two categories: inside or outside – and it’s really important to look at your relationship with alcohol in both settings.
I drank to give myself confidence in social situations before I came to terms with the fact I’m actually an introvert who is genuinely happier at home than in a crowded bar making small talk with people who irritate me. But I also always had wine in my fridge. When I got home after a stressful day, I’d take off my shoes, tie my hair up and pour myself a drink. It became an unchallenged habit.
What I didn’t realize is that different people had different boundaries around their drinking – I just didn’t see them and they weren’t discussed. Some friends I drank with socially never drank at home. Others only drank on weekends and never during the week. Whatever their boundaries were, they had them, and they could effortlessly flick the switch on and off; they were in control. Being so focused on my job was an easy off switch, but away from that I had no clear boundaries. That’s not healthy in any relationship.
If you’re leaning on any substance to escape, it doesn’t matter what it is, there is a reason to step back and take a good hard look at why. Some people use alcohol to mask their emotions, others, drugs or food. The key is admitting you are reaching for an emotional crutch to help you get by.
I didn’t want to lean on anything anymore. I wanted to stand alone with a clear head and be happy and proud of who I really was. I didn’t want a job to define me, and I had to work hard at finding myself away from the media circus. I had to step out of the claustrophobic fog that had become my normality and actually get to grips with who I was.
There is no way I would pick up a drink again. Life without it just keeps getting better and better. There is nothing I want to run from, I am happy with what is. My reality has become beautiful and clear, and I intend to keep it that way.
Images via favim.com and tumblr.com.
Comment: What have you found is the hardest part of giving up booze?