I have a drinking problem. Not a rock-bottom, completely dependent on alcohol to function kind of problem, but a comforting glass or two every night, plus social drinking on the weekends kind of problem. Boredom, excitement, celebrations, bereavement: all opportunities to drink. I can’t remember the last time I went for a week without having a drink. It’s my go to plan whenever I have a rough day, or a great day, to have a glass of wine with dinner, and then one after. And maybe a little bit to top off the glass. Waking up in the mornings now I am fuzzy headed more often than not, and the lines around my face have really started to show. I am 32 years old.
It wasn’t until university that I truly started to drink. It was a point of pride to be able to keep pace with the boys beer for beer, or to be able to wake up with no hangover after chugging a bottle of vodka. Living in Scotland did not help, particularly since my husband was a rugby player in a well-established drinking culture. Moving back to Canada and needing to make new friends was tough, but I had an ace in my sleeve: I would invite people to go to the breweries with me. Now every social situation I am in I find myself wanting a drink. There are no longer any boundaries for drinking days (ie: never on a school night has become just one or two on a school night). It’s become embedded in the perception I have of myself, and is a hilarious quirk that my colleagues love to joke with me about. Taking a step back I realize it’s not funny, it’s scary and disturbing.
The moment where it truly hit me was this past week. In order to be socially responsible and limiting my time in stores, I had decided to buy a box of wine instead of a bottle. It would last me longer, I thought, and would save me money in the long run. The box was 4 litres, or just over five bottles. I finished it in a week. Five bottles in one week. I found myself drinking a glass before my husband got home, and then brushing my teeth so he wouldn’t know, before then making a big production of having my “one glass today!” at dinner. It seemed never-ending, this flow of wine, so I kept drinking it. I didn’t have empty bottles staring me in the face, and my husband had no idea how much I’d had because of the cardboard case. I was sitting on the couch working one day when at 9:00am the thought of wine came to me. That’s when I knew I needed to make a serious change.
This past year has actually been the healthiest of my life. I’ve started weight training fairly seriously, and have been eating mostly incredibly healthy. I’ve dropped nearly 40 pounds and have never felt more confident in my skin. That is, however, apart from the beer gut that has been a constant companion for the past decade. It sits there, just under my belly button like a spare tire, and nothing I do seems to budge it. Not that I ever associated it with alcohol – now, though, I can see that it is probably a huge factor in keeping that stubborn bit there. How can I be at my healthiest when very few days go by that I don’t have a drink in my hand?
Self-isolation has been incredibly hard, but it may also be a gift in disguise. The bars and breweries are shut, and I am banning myself from the liquor store (aided by the fact that I only go out for groceries now). This may be a good opportunity to build some walls, and to try and break this hold that booze has over me. Right now I am keeping it my little secret, but down the line I sure hope that I can find some supports to keep me feeling like this was the right choice.
I hope my next post can write about some of my victories.