As I shared earlier, my drinking began in high school. I was part of the “party crowd”. We would get alcohol from “buyers”, heck in my small town in the 80s, a lot of the time one of us could go right into a little liquor store and buy alcohol. I remember saving my lunch money so I could afford my alcohol on the weekend. There were a few occasions where my friends and I got drunk during the day and attended our classes! My best friend was voted the BIGGEST PARTIER in our senior class, and, of course, I was right beside her, partying all the way.
When I reached my 20s, I drank often and regularly. I don’t recall if I was drinking much wine back then, but I would drink beer and hard alcohol. I never had any biological children and when some of my girlfriends got married and started having babies, I recall thinking to myself, “if I’d get pregnant, that’d give me at least 9 months off from drinking”. So, even then, I had the niggling thought that my drinking might be a problem.
Fast forward 30+ years, my drinking increased exponentially. My drink of choice was red wine, the biggest, boldest reds on the market. I did like occasional whites, like Pinot Grigio. I enjoyed mixed drinks also, Moscow Mules, Jim Beam and coke, Manhattan’s, straight whiskey, scotch. At the most, I was drinking a minimum of a bottle of red wine a night. During the week, I would include mixed drinks. The biggest danger happened when I started buying box of wine!! You have NO idea how much you’re drinking and it’s easy to lose track! I learned from years of drinking experience that the saying “beer before liquor never sicker, liquor before beer never fear” rang very true with me. So I got smart about mixing wine with hard alcohol. I would pay the price severely if I was drinking wine then finished off the evening with hard alcohol. I would have days of hangovers. I puked a lot..and I HATE to puke!
All these years, of daily drinking, I still had these thoughts in my head, “am I drinking too much? What’s the ‘normal’ drinking amount? What if I tried to cut back?” And there were probably hundreds of times I’d try. I’d make deals with myself: drinking only on the weekend, my last glass of wine by 9pm, only 3 glasses per night, only when we went out, only when we were on vacation or camping..the list goes on and on. I now know, that each time you try to cut back, you will often go back to what you were drinking and more times than that, you will drink more.
I work in a hospital and I was doing a chart review on a patient and the MD had put in a statistic of “normal/recommended” alcohol intake. It shocked me nearly straight!! It stated 7 drinks/week for females, 14 drinks/week for males. I was stunned!! Does that really read only 1 drink a day for females??? WTF? I was drinking double, no triple, no….I’m drinking WAY to much!! But, again, this still was not enough to get me to cut back or stop.
In restaurants, if I was at an establishment that served alcohol, I would see people ordering non-alcoholic beverages and I’d feel sorry for them! Like, dang, you guys are so boring!! My personal rule of thumb if I was drinking at a restaurant, was that if the waiter/waitress came up and asked me if I’d like another round, I’d say yes, no matter what. My thoughts around alcohol were all consuming. In December of last year, I met a friend for dinner. We had to change the location at the last minute and the restaurant had just opened and didn’t have their liquor license yet. I kid you not, I about started crying! I remember thinking to myself, “of course, this only happens to me”. Like a spoiled kid, throwing a tantrum. What had happened to me? Why had alcohol taken up so much of my world? Things had to change.
I watched a podcast recently of a woman following This Naked Mind. She said she woke up one day with yet another hangover and would always go to the bathroom and assess the damage. If she didn’t look too harried, she’d say to herself, okay, I’ve got this. It started me thinking about my thoughts in the morning when I’d wake up with a hangover. Sometimes I’d wake up and be feeling pretty shitty, and I’d think to myself “I don’t know why, I didn’t drink THAT much”. Then I’d spend the rest of the morning trying to count how many drinks I had. I’d think, well I only had 4 glasses of wine, why am I so hungover? If that was the case, I only drank 4, then I could get over this hangover easily. It finally dawned on me recently, I think my body was trying to reject the alcohol. Yes, I’d only had 4 glasses, and, yes, last week I had 6 glasses and didn’t feel this bad…maybe my body just couldn’t keep up anymore.
There have been so many things I’ve discovered about my drinking these past 5 months. Being honest with myself, journaling, now this blog, I find it so helpful to keep me on track. Alcohol was slowly killing me. I WAS drinking way too much. I have never felt better in my entire life, and I owe it all to finally putting the drink down.
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