I wrote this about 5 years ago when I first decided to quit drinking. I thought I would share it with you today, for you may be steps behind me on this same frustrating journey: You know the path – deep down, there is something you must change, but if you admit that, your entire future looms in front of you, filled with overwhelming uncertainty:
“Well, it’s getting late, on a Sunday night. The weekend is coming to a quiet close, and the Monday morning to-do lists are piled up on the kitchen counter. My husband and kids drifted off to bed, and since I’m a self-proclaimed “night owl”, I am stuck in my own company, berating myself for my senseless behavior over the weekend.
My weekend went something like this: The weekend was HERE and I went to my favorite grocery store, meandered down the wine aisle, and found a couple of bottles “on special”. I picked up stuff for dinner and happily went home. I cracked open two beers- one for my husband too – and we clinked our bottles to celebrate the start of the weekend. It is MILLER TIME! Happy Hour at the House!
Fast forward a couple of hours later- dinner is over, and the kids have left to do their Friday night fun things. That leaves just me and my honey…. and his friend, Captain Morgan, along with my friend, a jumping kangaroo named Yellow Tail. We get along fabulously- never fighting- we talk about the week, make plans for Saturday and Sunday, and laugh. Maybe we have a campfire, or we play cards, or we watch a mindless TV DIY show. Life is great. The night goes long- my husband hits the sack, the Yellow Tail has disappeared and since I don’t want to open the second bottle, I switch to the Captain and have a “nightcap”.
SATURDAY MORNING rudely awakens me. My husband is an early bird and I can hear him downstairs, starting a remodel project and doing chores…. by the time I get up, he’s on the second pot of coffee. I exist as if “nothing is wrong”, but the truth is my head hurts. I have vague memories of the night before- I try to remember what time my kids got home (did they?) …. were there any angry words? (I don’t think so) …. Did I say something stupid that I don’t remember that may have altered my husband’s mood? (Based on his mood, I don’t think so!)… But I pretend, I have coffee, and I go through the motions. I join the family routine.
Until about 3 pm, when I hear the sweet sound of my husband cracking open two beers. (It IS Saturday afternoon, and he has worked hard all day: Why not? And you can’t drink alone, right?) The thought of saying “no thanks” never crosses my mind; I eagerly take my first drink. Followed by the second beer, and the third… and then at dinner, I crack open my other bottle of wine….. and when its cashed in, I switch to the Captain. At some point at night, my husband goes to bed, but since I slept in, I say that I’m the night owl and I stay awake. Enjoy the Captain’s magic potion. Watch TV, get on Facebook, surf the net. Finally, stumble to bed.
SUNDAY Morning: ARRRRGH!
With my head pounding, I drink lots of water and take Advil…. again, pretending all is normal but the truth is, I’m not well. If I took a BAC test, I’d probably fail. I know I have “family commitments”: we have to finish the weekend chores, and get to church too! (A fantasy pops into my head: if one of my kids makes a fuss, I’ll fuss back and then we won’t go to church! (Evil to confess, I know.)) Alas, as a “responsible mom”, I lead the charge and everyone gets dressed.
We go to church, sing, pray….(conflicting emotions swirl in my soul. From afar, I look like the typical worshiper, but my prayers are about my drinking, and trying to be a better role model, and with my eyes closed, I am on my knees asking God for help)… the soul searching hour is followed by a trip to the grocery store to get Sunday Dinner. A quiet dilemma rages in my mind while we are shopping, for I know this: I have no wine left. Should I? Shouldn’t I? The whole family is here! GREAT NEWS: My husband must be a mind reader, because he casually puts two bottles of wine into our cart. I’m all set for tonight!
“Lather, rinse, repeat”…. yep, that’s me.
And so here it is, once, again, a Sunday night. My rearview mirror isn’t cracked but I don’t want to look. For if I glance backward, I don’t like what I see. Tomorrow, when the morning chatter starts at work, I’m going to have to string together a bunch of white lies and half-truths when someone asks about my weekend.
So on one particular Sunday night, I laid off the booze. I made quiet promises to myself that I would change. I told myself that I’ll be a better mom, a better wife, a better friend, and a better co-worker. And in my desperate loneliness, I Googled, “Ways to quit drinking”, or “Controlling drinking”, or “How to moderate alcohol”, and I found this hidden world, filled with strangers, that apparently think like I do.”
“I have no intentions of publicly outing myself. This is MY problem.”
“I’m a grown woman: I can fix this myself!”
“I can’t quit drinking, I’ll lose my husband. I have to figure out how to control myself!”
If you can relate to my Sunday night string, please know that you are not alone.
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There is no “judging” here, but there IS tough love- it’s hard to tell us your half-truths because you see, we tell them too.
Maybe it’s time to challenge your inner being.
Maybe it’s time to re-think your drink.
Today can be THE DAY.
You don’t have to wait until Friday, or until the first of the month, or for the next personal holiday – birthday, anniversary to quit drinking. Today can be it – Day 1.
When I was drinking, I remember waking up, hungover and foggy, and wondering WHY I had drank so much the night before? I remember that during the late afternoon of yesterday, I had a “plan”- I was only going to have one glass of wine, and that was supposed to be it. Period. My pre-drinking plan was to control my alcohol intake. I promised myself.
And then, when I opened the wine and took the first sip, I quietly congratulated myself on my plan…. I was going to just have this ONE glass, and so, I better enjoy it. I intentionally took little sips, and tried to decipher the so-called vanilla tones, and oaky afternotes… wait, the label said something about cocoa bits, and soft pepper…. can I taste that, too? I took another sip, and then pretended to notice what the label told me to taste. And as the glass of red started to magically empty, I silently panicked, because I knew that once it was empty, I was done drinking for the night- my silent promise…. and unknowing to my quiet hostage negotiations, my husband notices my almost-empty glass and tops it off.
He wasn’t in on my plan.
I was trying to do this, “solo”, and unintentionally, he sabotaged me. Do I tell him? HECK NO! My wine witch is giggling with glee, reapplying her “wine with everything” lipstick shade, winking at me and telling me that I’ll be done when THIS glass is done, right?
And when I woke up the next morning, it took a hot minute to recognize that yes, I had cashed in the entire bottle, and then some. Yes, I was once again hungover, and regretting it. And as I brushed my teeth, noticing the tiredness in my face, I knew that I was pretending to try. I was waiting for the next big “thing” – the weekend, the first of the month, my son’s birthday, spring break, our anniversary- I wasn’t really serious about becoming a better version of me. If I was, I would have hidden the bottle after pouring the “just one”. If I was serious, I would have articulated my moderation plan to my husband, so he wouldn’t have poured the forbidden second glass. If I was serious, I wouldn’t have even opened that first bottle, nor had the first sip….
The only one who truly knows me, is me… and when I sat with myself in the morning, I knew I wasn’t being true.
The day that I quit drinking – I didn’t have a big plan to quit, or to moderate….. I did it because I was ticked off. I was pissed off at the control that alcohol DOES HAVE over me. I was pissed at alcohol, so I Quit. Period.
Today, I stay Quit…. and you can choose today, too.
More from this author :
To everyone finding things
really difficult at the moment
who think no-one notices
who might be drinking
more that they would like
to cope with it all…
Hey I see you
Don’t worry though
It doesn’t show
You’re trying so hard
Why doesn’t anyone realise?
You’re juggling everything
And doing it so well
I can tell
But is that bottle of rose
Your reward for getting through your day
Going to help?
Will it take your cares away?
Or could it make things worse?
Could you maybe try and take a break from booze?
For a few days, weeks or whatever you choose?
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