Invasion of the body snatchers…

bodysnatchers

So I was thinking the other day… you know how you can’t drink and drive?  Not being allowed to drink and drive is a totally necessary restriction in a civilised society because you will cause an accident and injure or kill people. I think we can all agree that this is a good thing and that no none will trust a drunk person behind the wheel of a car.

I was just wondering  how  I thought that I can live fullfilling purposeful life while under the influence in all of my spare time?
How did I think I can really navigate life, make good decisions and pursue goals while being fucked up in the head…so fucked up that I cannot be trusted to operate a machine of any description?

You are literally not present in your life so you are leaving a zombie in charge! This explains so many things to me. When I can seperate the zombie (the addict under the influence) from my self I can see I never stood a chance with the walking dead at the steering wheel of my life. My higher self did peek though every now and again and made some good decisions so thank god when I got sober wasnt the point where I lost everything.  I will hasten to add the caveat of YET here! I know recovery is a one day at a time reprieve.

I for one am fucking relieved to be back in my body and my head. It really does feel like I’ve woken up from a bad dream.

Burn the bridges

bridges

January is a bit of a shit month when you live in England. The softly twinkly Christmas lights and roaring fires have been replaced with cold dark days and broken resolutions.

We spent December in Africa with my family and we had an absolutely glorious time.

Flying with young children as opposed to toddlers/babies is just a dream. They had their own seats, they watched movies and loved the aeroplane food. Contrast this to a flight we were on a couple of years back where my son projectile vomited over me just as we took off. Yes I have another vomit story in my already full arsenal of vomit stories.

I could see he was going to throw up and I had no choice but to turn him towards me and ‘take one for the team’ as it were. I couldn’t very well let him vomit all over the passenger in front of us. Of course like a good perfectionist I took two changes of clothes for the kids but neglected to bring a change of clothes for myself so I spent the entire flight drenched in a sour vomit smell whilst trying to calm down a feverish/ vomity baby.

This time my son seemed to be totally obsessed with the safety instruction pamphlet. He re-read it several times and kept on practicing the brace position and checking for the oxygen masks. I’m not convinced that he completely understood what it all meant; I mean he wasn’t so much worried about a plane crash as much as he loves gadgets and things to play with.

When we arrived it felt like I never left and at the same time felt like I had been away forever. It’s seemed surreal, as South Africa is so remarkably different to England; it’s almost like another planet! I’d been away for two years which is simply too long for me.

My mum had a hard year and had several issues with her health so the reunion was bittersweet. The last trip to South Africa is when I realised that my body wasn’t cooperating anymore and I had terrible shakes every morning. This time I was sober so I feel so incredibly privileged to have been totally conscious and awake for each precious second I could spend with her.

My old friends from school came over one Sunday for a braai. A braai is not a just barbeque. A braai is an occasion, it’s a verb in its own right and it’s a way of life in South Africa. I was very anxious to see my friends, as these are the friends I used to drink with. My anxiety levels were through the roof and I didn’t really know what I was going to tell them.

They asked me why I got sober (again) as you may be aware I’ve done this many times before so should be a dab hand at it. I told them the story and they laughed. This is the kind of situation where only a very old friend can get away with laughing at your darkest story. After that was out of the way they said they always knew I had the alcoholic gene and we left it at that. I was happy to leave it there and didn’t feel the need to argue the ‘alcoholic gene’ point.

After the heavy stuff was out of the way we had so much fun! We reminisced, told stories, and laughed till we cried. I drank my non-alcoholic beer which really helped in that particular situation. I feel that there is a time and a place for the non-alcoholic beverage. At home I don’t need it but in the company of old drinking friends I did, it really helped me feel less conspicuous.

The rest of the holiday I spent my evenings knitting and drinking chai tea with my mum. Although I’m not attending AA meetings I have been working through the steps and the 9th step is making direct amend to the people you’ve harmed (except when to do so would injure them or others.) I made amend to my sister, brother and mum. I haven’t done it with my dad yet, I have some more issues to work through and don’t really know how to approach that.

It felt good to own my side of the story and to apologise for my destructive behaviour. I held myself very gently through this because the only way to get through step 9 is to feel compassion for the person you were and to realise that that person was doing the best they could at that time. I have to approach all of these things with self-love because without that I fall back into self-hatred self-harm and addiction. When I talk about self-love I don’t mean ‘permissive’ – I mean …gently hold yourself accountable, understand why you were they way you were then ‘do better’ in Maya Angelou’s words.

It was exceptionally difficult to leave my family in Africa and come back. It’s always a very emotional farewell, I can’t actually put the feeling of loss into words it’s just too great. It feels immense, like an enormous vice is clamping my heart tightly and I can’t breathe. I have been numbing out my depression with sugar, tv, social media and have had several dinking thoughts come up. I found myself thinking I could just slip back into drinking for a while and drown my depression and anxiety with a bottle of red.

Then I realised that I don’t have that option anymore because most people who know me know I’m in recovery. My family, my children and all of my closest friends all know the deal.

This is why we have to tell our nearest and dearest to be accountable otherwise its way too easy to just disappear into a bottle of whiskey.

We have to burn the bridge between active addiction and our new life so that when the bad days come we look for a way through the pain not around it.

Yes I am sad to be away from my family but I am so grateful and privileged to have been able to be fully present and sober to enjoy every precious moment with them.

Sobriety does deliver on all of the promises alcohol ever made to me but sometimes when life really sucks I still just want to check out. I still feel that thirst for oblivion sometimes.

Stay vigilant I tell myself…the pull towards oblivion can get really strong but for today I’m sober and a happy to be so.

Snake oil

snakeoil

Dopamine is really interesting…its the promise of reward not the actual reward itself that keeps you drinking/drugging/spending/sexing…

A fellow blogger post this video over a year ago. I wanted to share this with you because we are approaching the festive season and everything around us is saying DRINK!

This little guy illustrates the drinking cycle perfectly. I feel so sad for him and I feel such empathy for everyone who is still stuck in this loop. Its just hell. The good news is that there is hope.

Please remember this video when you see the bottles and bottles of alcohol being shoved into your faces during the Christmas period. The stuff in the bottles is called ETHANOL not fucking wine!

Ethanol is used in toiletries, pharmaceuticals, and fuels, and it is used to sterilize hospital instruments.  It’s poison and its addictive. They can dress it up however they like its still the same rubbish.

The pomp and ceremony around the wine and champagne makes me laugh! Parading around the table with a £400 bottle of wine, pretending that its anything other that fermented fucking grapes that gets you drunk is just ludicrous.

At least I was never under the illusion that I drank for the taste, I knew I was drinking  for the effect.

DO NOT FALL FOR THE HYPE, SOBER PEEPS!!! Alcohol, like so many other ‘quick fixes’ is selling a lie. The dopamine lie to be more specific.

So when you are at the office party and a well meaning colleague tries to convince you how bloody marvellous her glass of Bolli tastes and “you simply MUST try one”… you just remember what’s in that glass…

Turn on your heels safe in the knowledge that you haven’t missed out on anything except a bullet.

xxx

The disappearing social calendar

photo
(photo credit: Bad moms movie)

Since I got sober my social calendar has slowly started to clear, almost as if a little calendar fairy waved her wand and just made all the parties that used to fill up my time disappear. At first it hurt my feelings, I returned to the school playground in my mind where I was the only one not invited to the most popular girl’s birthday party. You can’t help but feeling left out and excluded.

After the initial sting of rejection faded I started questioning if I really wanted to go to any of those events and the truth is I didn’t… but you know…I would still have liked to have been asked.

The fact is that these parties were ALL about the booze and I really didn’t have anything in common with this group of friends apart from the mutual love of getting completely trolleyed off our faces.

The connection between us was paper-thin as is the connection between all drug addicts. You are BEST MATES while you are getting wasted but don’t expect loyalty or love. This is a bond born and fused in addiction and it is false.

It’s foolish to underestimate the power of the tribal mentality we have around booze and drinking to excess. We share stories of how pissed we got and then share stories of how terribly hung over we all feel the next day, a couple of us would proclaim we are never drinking again…until the next time. There is safety in numbers and there is a feeling of being normal when addicts hang out together. We cant be alcoholics, we all drink like fishes! Some are a tiiiiny bit worse than others and secretly everyone is comparing…

I’ve realised that you can party sober and you can have a marvellous time but for that to happen you need to 1) be with people you really like and have things in common with 2) be in a setting that you are comfortable with

I am also making peace with a quieter life, a steady content way of life that is filled with so much richness, love and deep fulfilment.

Drinking promised me all of the things that sobriety delivers. Sure there are fewer social things but that makes time for other pursuits that really interest me, pastimes that feed my soul. I’m making art again; I’m knitting, cooking and doing yoga.

It takes a while to find your sober feet, so to whoever is on this sober path, don’t despair if it feels like your social life is waning…sobriety is making time and space for you to find true joy and happiness.

 

 

 

 

Alcohol thoughts…

monstersImage credit: Calvin and Hobbes –  Monsters under the bed.

The last couple of weeks I’ve been having random thoughts about alcohol. The first one popped up during our weekly Sunday lunch. I went into the kitchen to get some water for the table and the thought popped up out of nowhere…RED WINE! It freaked me out so much I ran back to the table like something was chasing me. Mr Hurrah and the kids just did their usual ‘mommy is being weird’ faces to each other and we continued eating as if nothing happened.

The next random thought was after a long day, mr Hurrah was getting some soft drinks out of the fridge at the back and the thought popped up …BEER! I shook my head as if to shake the thought loose from my skull and went about the rest of the evening but there was a niggling worry at the back of mind the whole time. Why now…am I heading for trouble?

The following weekend, I was on facebook and saw my old ‘drinking mommy’ group on a night out. I found myself thinking wistfully about glamorous cocktails and of the wild abandon of a night out. I’m not friends with that group anymore partly because we had very little in common except the mutual love of gin and also because they stopped inviting me to things. Now before you say anything…I know, facebook sucks and I do have better things to do with my time but I use it for work and also to stay in touch as working from home can be terribly isolating.

Because alcohol thoughts happen so infrequently these days the regularity and intensity of them freaked me right out. My first instinct is to run or walk very fast like I used to when I was a little girl. I always thought monsters were chasing me on the way back from the bathroom in the middle of night. The second thing I want to do is hit the thought on the head with a crucifix screaming ‘DEVIL CHILD, DEVIL CHILD!’ in an effort to exorcise the demon. Remnant tendencies from all the time I spent in my Grandmother’s church no doubt.

As much as hate alcohol, somehow I don’t think fighting with the thought is the answer. I’ve done that before and when you engage in any way, you start negotiating with your addict voice. Mine is called Jack and he can sell atheism to a doorstep Jehovah. As soon as I give Jack any attention, even negative attention he will start convincing me why I miss it and how over dramatic I’ve been about the whole drinking thing. So I sit with the thoughts, without judgement and let them pass.

On reflection the thoughts weren’t so random after all. The first one was just an ‘association craving’. We used to always have red wine with Sunday lunch and my brain just pulled that memory out.

The beer thought was after a long day and I was tired. I used to think alcohol relaxed me so that was an ‘make me feel better – craving’

The cocktail craving is me needing to go out dancing. Mr Hurrah and I haven’t been out dancing since we went to see Guns and Roses and I feel it’s high time. I’ve booked a Halloween party, bought a blue wig and plan on wearing my fake fur leopard print coat and heels. Comfortable heels that I can dance in mind you, I may be wild and free but I’m practical too.

My addiction stole so much from me I’ll be damned if it steals my love of music and dancing just by association. Dancing sober was a massive step for me I never thought I could do it but once I  did I remembered  that dancing one of the greatest pleasures in life. I never needed alcohol to give me confidence, it was all an illusion!

We have to make sure we nurture all aspects of ourselves in sobriety is this is to be a lasting change. Sleep when you are tired and go out dancing till dawn if that is what floats your boat. We have so much to celebrate, being sober is bloody amazing and we should make time to still do the things we love. Sometimes cravings or thoughts about booze can tell us where we need to work harder on nurturing our whole selves.

Surrender – or why does it take what it takes?

rumi

I’ve been ruminating on why some of us relapse and others don’t.

What is it that makes us go back to drinking time and time again even after we swore that this time is the last time? Why do some of us go back to it even after we know we are addicted? Why does it take some of us a million day one’s before we really get it?

I open my eyes, I can’t swallow… my throat is raw. I’m still in last night’s clothes and my one boot is still on. I get a text message through… I’m trying to focus with my one eye but I’m still drunk. “Are you ok lovely?” “You had a couple of fall’s by the school gate”

I’m terrified. I can’t remember anything, last night’s events is a black hole…again. I hobble to the bathroom to assess the damage. There is blood in my hair and my head feels swollen on one side. I have deep bruises on my legs and arms. I try to swallow but I still can’t manage it. I start to cry, gin soaked tears are rolling down my cheeks and the sound I’m making doesn’t sound human. I fall to my knees and start to howl, I am shaking uncontrollably. I can’t fucking do this anymore! I can’t fucking do this anymore! There is nothing left of me. I don’t recognise myself in the mirror, the woman staring back at me has been in a fight, she has been in this fight for years. My face is sweaty red and swollen and my eyes are dead. The woman staring back at me wants to die. I want this fucking pain to end. The kids! …They’ll be better off without you; you’re a fucking disaster. What kind of mother are you? You are a waste of space, a disgusting fucking drunk!

That was the moment.

While I was looking at my reflection and those hateful words were shouting in a furious thunderous voice, somewhere else inside of me there was another voice whispering quietly “This isn’t you…you are SO MUCH MORE THAN THIS”

That was grace.

I’ve had many of those types of moments throughout my drinking career but this one was different. I was finished. I had been fighting with alcohol for decades and I was battle weary, tired to the bone. My soul was screaming out to me…SURRENDER. You don’t have to fight anymore. You don’t have to pretend anymore. Accept! Accept! Accept defeat! Accept that you cannot drink like a normal person.

My story is not a straightforward one, there wasn’t just one singular rock bottom resulting in a trip to recovery land with me riding off into the sunset on my sober horse. I got sober for the first time after I was arrested for public drunkenness, I was 19 . I was a student and I drank the same way my friends did but a bit more greedily. There was neediness to my drinking that my friends didn’t seem to have. I attended one AA meeting at the behest of my mother but there weren’t any young people in there, they were all at the NA meeting next door. The meeting was full of 50 years old men who all looked at me as if I were crazy. They kept on talking about being a ‘true alcoholic’ and they made me feel as if I was too young to be one and as if my antics were expected behaviour from a student. I didn’t go back.

I stayed sober for 5 years, white knuckling it as best as I could. I developed an eating disorder & the bulimia took the place of booze.

I met a man and moved to England where no one knew me and there I started drinking again. I had hoped that I ‘outgrew’ the binge drinking issues and that being older would magically help me to drink moderately. It went ok for a while but the drinking soon got out of hand again.

We started a family, I was sober for the pregnancies but as soon as the stress of motherhood hit, I used it to self medicate. The last 7 years I have been on lengthy sober stretches then relapses. 6 months sober 3 months drinking, 9 months sober…6 months drinking an on and on and on…. until last year when I had my moment of grace.

The reason some of us take longer to get there or go back out there is very simple. It’s a combination of lack of self-love and poor coping skills.

Who in their right mind would allow someone to beat them up over and over? Alcohol is like an abusive partner and the only reason we stay is because we think we are worth nothing. People who respect and honor themselves won’t allow someone to abuse them.

For this first time in my life I am really learning to love myself. Not just the ‘self love’ meme type of thing you see on Instagram (selfie time:)… I mean REALLY love myself. To be able to sit and look at myself with compassion and understanding is the only way I can stay sober.

The link between self-loathing and active addiction is obvious I suppose but I never understood it fully. Its only now with the clarity that sobriety brings that I can truly see that love is the only way.

To love and honor yourself every day. You are a divine being worthy of love. We are all divine beings worthy of love no matter how low this addiction takes us. The light inside of you cannot be touched by anything you ever did under the influence. That light…that is the real you and that is pure love!

 

 

A rainbow scarf & my quest for zen

knitting

I thought I would write a little update on quitting smoking and binge eating sugar at the same time.

I’m off the fags, so that’s a big win. My lungs are starting to clear up and I’m feeling much better. This is week 3…It was hard for the first 5 days and then in the second week cravings seemed to come when stress hit but other than that I felt ok. Cravings are really weird. When you really sit with a craving and let it be there without acting on it or fighting with it, it dissipates in a matter of minutes. When the craving hits and you are busy doing other things and you don’t have time to sit and work through it is where the real challenge lies. You have to learn to remain present in the midst of acitivity and turmoil.

I also haven’t been drowning myself in vats of ice cream to substitute, yay for me. I wish I could say I’ve managed to do this because I have become enlightened and now only need fresh air, kale and water to survive. Alas this is not the case, the way I’ve managed to accomplish this seemingly impossible feat is by knitting. A suggestion given to me by the lovely SoberIsland. Proper knitting, with yarn and needles and everything !

Oh yes, I knit now. Honestly, if you told me two years ago that my future self would be a happily sober, herbal tea drinking, yoga doing, scarf knitting individual I would have laughed in your face and then probably would have slapped you for suggesting such an outrageous thing.

Knitting is the perfect hobby for this obsessive compulsive addict. I love the repetitiveness of it, it makes me feel safe and happy. I knew I was hooked when Friday rolled around and I felt proper panic because I didn’t have enough yarn for the weekend. You know what they say…once an addict… I suppose, strictly speaking I haven’t truly managed to deal with cross addictions because I’ve substituted smoking and eating sugar for knitting. Progress not perfection hey? As far as addictions go I think knitting is pretty innocuous. Never had a knitting hangover, can’t black out from it and I’ve never regretted what I knit the night before.

I finished my first scarf a couple of nights ago. I used rainbow yarn, (the closest I could get to unicorn yarn). I absolutely love it and I felt a great sense of accomplishment when it was finished. The only flaw (if this could be considered a flaw) is that it’s the longest scarf I’ve ever seen. It turns out didn’t know when to stop,  every night I kept telling myself just 3 more rows and before I knew it I had knit 6.

 

Sober camping

camping

We’ve just retuned from our annual camping holiday and I’m pleased to report that I managed to do it sober this time around and I actually enjoyed it. I am not a camper as such, Mr Hurrah is the outdoorsy type, I’m much more a self catering cottage kinda gal. On our previous camping trips booze played a really big part. As soon as we put the tent up the beers came out and we would spend our days on a slow alcohol drip between various camping activities.

This year the car was packed so full that the backseat looked like a Tetris puzzle with soft toys, blankets, pillows, 2 grumpy children and a guitar between them. We packed fairy lights, sheepskins, drums and even packed in the bunting so I was convinced that this time camping was going to be marvellous, I am sober after all, what could go wrong?

My daughter was ill the night before and I had high hopes that she just ate something bad and wasn’t actually getting a sick bug. As soon as we pulled onto the highway my hopes were dashed to smithereens when she projectile vomited all over the pillows, the seats and my arm.

FML…I stayed quite calm, as calm as to be expected in such a predicament and as soon as we could do so safely, we pulled over at the services. After we cleaned up, I told Mr Hurrah that I wanted to go home, as I really didn’t fancy spending seven days with children vomiting in their sleeping bags. Hubs, ever the eternal optimist, insisted we stay the course and see what happens.

The drinking me would have had a fit and caused a fight but the sober me considered that it could be 24-hour bug and just maybe if the gods were smiling on us and we were lucky, my son wouldn’t get it.

Onwards we went, car smelling of stale vomit with hope in our hearts.

We unpacked while my poor daughter was draped over the picnic blanket, white as a sheet. She perked up after a while, it turned out to be a 24-hour bug, which was a massive relief. After the gargantuan task of pitching the tent, unfolding and unpacking everything was complete I cracked open a coke zero, didn’t miss the beer at all.

We made a fire and had an amazing barbeque and did the obligatory marshmallows on sticks. My son insisted on doing his own and kept dropping them into the fire.

I loved going to bed in my light blue and pink fluffy unicorn onesie sober. Yes, I have a unicorn onesie and yes, it is every bit as awesome as it sounds. This time, I didn’t have to get up at 4 (still tipsy) and fumble around the bushes with a torch to find the bathroom because I wasn’t drinking wine till the ungodly hours.

The early mornings were wonderful. I got up before the kids, they went to bed later than usual and I went to bed earlier than usual, so most mornings I had an hour to myself. I sat in my unicorn onesie on my camping chair drinking my coffee listening to the birds. It was bliss. No hangover, no wondering what the hell I did the night before, totally well rested.

The next day it rained and just as it started bucketing down I realised that I forgot to pack everyone’s Wellies. No matter, the sober me was cool calm and collected, nothing a debit card cant fix. Wellies bought, we were off to the movies to watch Captain Underpants. I didn’t think it was possible for my children to learn any new ideas on toilet humour however Captain Underpants introduced a whole new level to their already potty-centred vocabulary..

There was massive storm raging when we emerged from the cinema and I suggested we pop back to the campsite to double check that our tent hadn’t blown away. When we got there we were pleased and a little surprised that the tent was still standing. Our poor unfortunate neighbour’s weren’t so lucky, their event shelter had totally collapsed and the stuff underneath was soaked.

We opted for a nice hot meal at the pub as a barbeque was clearly out of the question. There was a point when Mr Hurrah’s red wine arrived that I had a twinge and thought that a glass of red might be nice but then quickly reminded myself what that would lead to. It wouldn’t be just the one glass, it never is. I don’t know if those thoughts ever go away but they are becoming less frequent.

The rest of the holiday we were blessed with good weather so it went off without a hitch. We saw glow worms, snakes, frogs, bunnies and loads of butterflies and birds. We spent lovely family time together, no ipads, no phones.

I felt like a kid this camping holiday, I felt clean and serene. There was stress but I could handle it SO much better sober! So despite the projectile vomiting and the storms, this was by far the best camping trip ever.

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The greatest pleasure in life…

cognitivedissonance

I was listening to an interview Belle did with BBC Three counties radio, you can listen to it here: http://www.tiredofthinkingaboutdrinking.com/2017/07/15/sp195/

The interview was supposed to be about young people and how there is a trend where they seem to be disenchanted with alcohol. The presenter was a drinker (very much in love with alcohol) and was totally gobsmacked by Belle suggestion that alcohol wasn’t required to have a good time!

How very dare she suggest such an outrageous thing! We need booze to feel good in this culture. We need booze when we feel good and we need booze when we feel bad, which pretty much means that we need booze all the time!

The part of the interview that really got me was when he said: “Surely there is no greater pleasure in life than a gorgeous glass of wine on a sunny afternoon!” Isn’t that a tragic statement?

This was my reality for many years. Alcohol was the easy sparkling route to nirvana. What could be easier than opening a bottle of wine and drinking it to change how you feel? It never in a million years dawned on me that was I was actually enjoying was sitting down at the end of a long day and just chilling out. It didn’t occur to me that this ‘liquid magic’ I was drinking was slowly destroying me and would turn out to be my greatest source of pain.

The term cognitive dissonance is used to describe the feelings of discomfort that result from holding two conflicting beliefs. One of the core beliefs I held was that alcohol was necessary to have a good time. The conflicting evidence that I experienced in my life like horrendous hangovers, drunken fights, blackouts, falling over was pushed to the back to the far recesses of my mind so that I could hold on to my first belief.

We will do anything and everything to protect the precious substance and let ourselves hang out to dry! These days I can have a great time without alcohol in fact I have a better time because I can remember everything. I am free and clear and I truly connect with people when I’m out. I’ve learned to let go and dance sober, which was a massive step for me.

I went to my first sober concert to watch one of my favourite bands Guns and Roses, I had a blast, I sang and danced like a maniac, all sober! Yes sometimes I will leave a party early but the only reason is that when people start repeating themselves it can get quite tedious. I don’t leave early because I am boring now that I am sober. I’m much more outgoing now that I have found my sober feet. Towards the end of my drinking I was the most boring drunk, I would just sit in corner and go all-quiet. Lordy! Do you call that having a good time?

There is no greater pleasure in life than being able to find pleasure and contentment from within and not to be dependant on an outside source/substance.

 

 

 

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!