Taking the power back

WE-CAN-DO-IT

Drinking has always been a big part of my feminist identity. (Yes I’m a feminist AND I still cook my husband’s dinner, these things can coexist) I am a modern a woman after all and we are allowed to drink now.  Thank god! I used to say. We’re not restricted to the side entrances of ‘ladies’ bars anymore. We can go into any establishment and get just as shitfaced as men, we’ve earned the right Goddamnit!

We work, we raise families we balance the budget and whilst doing all of this we are flagellating ourselves for not looking like a 16 year old model on the cover of Vogue who eats one piece of celery per year and then sticks her fingers down her throat afterwards.

I used to think my drunken exploits were a big middle finger to the patriarchal establishment. “Take that!: —As I’m downing garish neon coloured shots. “I’ll show you!”—As I’m getting sick round the side of the club.

However misplaced this notion was, I wasn’t alone in this thinking. I was part of the ‘ladette’ culture and not surprisingly this coincided with alcohol marketing massively pushing towards the female market.

Recent years have seen profound changes in women’s drinking habits. Part of being a modern woman is ‘doing it all’, and part of ‘doing it all’ means WINE. This idea that alcohol is somehow an inevitable part of being an empowered woman is keeping a lot of women stuck in the no mans land of problem drinking.

When I relate this to my own life I can see so clearly that alcohol has been nothing but disempowering. To a painfully awkward and slightly depressed teenager, alcohol was a quick fix to numb out all the anxiety I felt about myself, my body and about life. It helped drown out the critical voices. It helped me be more outgoing.

Of course if you start binge drinking at aged 13 the chances of you experiencing violence and or assault is increased dramatically.

The Centre of Addiction states: “Although drinking does not cause sexual assault, there is evidence that alcohol use creates an environment in which sexual assaults are more likely to occur. Studies show that 50% to 75% of all sexual assaults on college campuses involve alcohol.”

https://www.centeronaddiction.org/the-buzz-blog/addressing-sexual-assault-and-ignoring-binge-drinking

When I became a mother the disempowerment was compounded by the fact that I gave up full time work to look after the children. At the time I didn’t realise how much that choice would influence my sense of self worth. I went from freelancing in London and earning the same amount as my husband to staying/working from home earning a fraction of what I used to.

The drinking escalated at home, being a stay at home mom is NOT for the faint of heart. Nothing can prepare you for the isolation, monotony and relentlessness of it all. The sea of nappies, bottles, tantrums. The PND with both children made it gruelling instead of joyful. I felt guilty for not being the glowy mom you see in the Johnson and Johnson’s ads and so I self medicated with wine. This was a lethal combination. Trying to soothe the guilt you feel over being a shitty mom with alcohol is like pouring a massive can of petrol on a raging fire.

The disempowerment that goes hand and hand with alcohol abuse is far reaching and undoubtedly affected all the areas of my life. Drinking led to a myriad of bad choices, flaky goals and generally just coasting around looking for my next fix.

The most insidious way alcohol disempowers us is that a life fuelled by addiction will most likely lead to many unfulfilled goals and dreams. Passions are put on the back burner in favour drinking. The more the drinking escalates the more you are just playing catch up. You are functioning with a handicap, dealing with drinking time and hangover time. This really doesn’t leave much time for anything else.

Clarissa Pinkola Estes writes about addiction in her book – Women who run with the wolves:

“The instinctual nature tells us when enough is enough. It is prudent and life preserving. A woman cannot make up for a lifetime of betrayal and wounding through the excesses of pleasure, rage or denial.

Sometimes is it difficult for us for us to realise that we are losing our instincts, for it is often an insidious process that does not occur all in one day, but rather over a long period of time. Too, the loss or deadening of instinct is often entirely supported by the surrounding culture, and sometimes even by other women who endure the loss of instinct as a way of achieving belonging in a culture that keeps no nourishing habitat for the natural woman.”

At age 39 I feel like I’m in the driver’s seat for the first time in my life. I am now actively pursuing goals that have been gathering dust for years. Yes, it is scary and sure, I may fail but you know what, I’m doing it anyway.

Taking the power back baby!

 

 

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29 thoughts on “Taking the power back

  1. I’m glad you’re back in the driver’s seat and this post shows you’re certainly on the right road. I love this : “You are constantly operating on a handicap, dealing with drinking time and hangover time. This really doesn’t leave much time for anything else.” — Isn’t that the truth! I never thought of it as a handicap, but it is. So many evenings and weekend days wasted sitting around drinking. All of that time could be better used for hobbies, building a business, working on relationships, enjoying a walk with your dog or best friend…. etc etc. When drinking is involved, those things take the back-burner.

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  2. When my drinking escalated, I only focused on work and drinking.
    I didn’t pursue any hobbies.
    Just work and drink.
    I suffered greatly because of this, especially when I retired and had nothing purposeful to do.
    So I drank.
    I am so happy you are getting sober at such a young age!
    Life will shine for you!
    xo
    Wendy

    Liked by 6 people

  3. Fantastic post! And so true. Being a mother was the single biggest contributor to leaning on alcohol to make me less lonely and able to tolerate the monotonous hours of parenthood. Consequently, all goals went by the wayside and I went into survival mode. And surviving the day was a monumental task. Life without dreams is downright depressing. Combine that with alcohol, and it’s exactly like you said: Petrol on a raging fire. But like you, I now have goals! I can actually decide what to do, for once. I can do things I set out to do. It’s amazing!

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    • I know I am totally powerless against alcohol. I have no doubt in mind that I when I drink I am not in control at all! I’m also not saying with this post that I think I’m in control of everything. I know that life will happen and things beyond my control may affect my life. The idea I was trying to get across is that I am in control until I take that first drink. And also how alcohol robbed me of my personal power to make good choices in my life. I hope that came through. I also think it’s important to reclaim your personal power after having been at the behest of a drug for so long. When I use the phrase personal power it’s not in an arrogant way. Having been brought to my knees by this and having been so low for so long makes a person powerless. It doesn’t serve me or god to be self deprecating or play small. If I am a child of god that means I have the infinite in me. That means I can love myself and take my god given power back. I am not religious in a traditional sense. I am very sure that I was shown mercy and grace more than once in the process of trying to get sober and I had to relinquish any sense of ‘ego’ to truly Start walking this road. Being in control in my view is more like being ‘conscious’ having presence of mind body and soul in your life which is what all religions aspire to. Don’t know if any of this made sense. Xxx

      Liked by 3 people

  4. Yes! This is spot on and so true. Now I’m sober I have the power to stay focussed and work towards goals and dreams. When I was drinking too much that power just dribbled away into pointless, empty hours of doing not much at all really. I’m glad you’re feeling good and making things happen 🙂 x

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  5. My drinking habit has spiralled in the last couple of years. I was drinking about 4-6 bottles of wine a week. I realise this may not seem a lot to some people. But it has affected life for me in many ways. This post really rings true for me. Especially as a stay at home parent. I think when you take away the element of mood swings, constant self-doubt, irritability, lethargy etc your mind is in a better place to deal with things as they come. I have felt utterly hopeless at times and have felt many aspirations and dreams slip through my fingers as a result. It is good to know that I’m not alone. Thank you Hurrah! 🙂 xxx

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, drinking really takes up so much mental space. The amount you drink is really not all that important. Everyone’s tolerance is different. If it’s affecting your life negatively then you know its time to do something about it. You are not alone!!! There are so many many people struggling with this. Thank you for commenting:) xxx

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  6. “Too, the loss or deadening of instinct is often entirely supported by the surrounding culture, and sometimes even by other women who endure the loss of instinct as a way of achieving belonging in a culture that keeps no nourishing habitat for the natural woman.”

    I read and reread, and read this comment again. I love it. It explains exactly a huge chunk of how my drinking escalated. Thank you for sharing this. That’s one of those books I’ve seen around for years and never read. Now I will.

    Penelope

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s such an incredible and empowering book! She uses folk tales to illustrate so many points about how we have lost our natural wild women instincts and deep knowing. How the modern culture is totally complicit and instrumental in severing any connection women have to their true nature. I am so happy someone else resonates with this. xxx

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I’m cheering for the strength I hear in you in this post! Love Women Who Run with the Wolves, such a helpful book. I read it till it fell apart. Equally helpful, regarding what you state about alcohol marketing: Killing Us Softly, by Jean Kilbourne. I wrote both my graduate and under grad research on media images of women. Everything we do to destroy ourselves is glorified through marketing. Taking back power is radical self-love. Hurrah!

    Liked by 1 person

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