Saturday, 30 June 2018

The bottle

I used to have a really bad relationship with alcohol. Like really bad. In hindsight I guess I was a high-functioning alcoholic. I drank most days. However at the time I believed I was perfectly normal, perfectly ok and absolutely in control of the situation. It was my choice to drink if and when I wanted to. I had a wine club subscription that would deliver twelve bottles of wine every three months.

I often ran out in the first month.

I worked in a corporate environment for years and it wasn’t uncommon to hit the pub at lunchtime on a Friday and I often wouldn’t roll home until well after midnight. Anyone who works in a corporate environment will know what I am talking about and may or may not readily admit that this environment is toxic. 

When I fell pregnant with Josie at age 30, I stopped drinking and these habits went away (along with the smoking habit I had also developed).  Then ‘mummy medicine’ became a thing. As I have written about before, my kids were hard work, so I drank my way through this. I would wait for 5pm to tick over (witching hour) so it was acceptable in my mind, that’s how I justified it. 

This went on for years.

I broke this habit when I met a coach who I recruited to help me change my body composition. He taught me what I know now, but it took quite a bit of convincing and education. Actually, let’s be real, he was pinching my body fat with giant callipers every week and I couldn’t get away with it anymore. The accountability and realising that if I actually wanted to achieve a certain body composition goal, I HAD to make a change. Actually, let's get real, I was trying to prove him wrong and I failed. 

Slowly, the progress became evident and then it became more important than the ‘mummy medicine’. I went twelve weeks without drinking straight up. After that I still socially drank from time to time, but never as regularly as I had been. But I missed it and I started to justify it again. 

Fast forward a few years, another child, a marriage breakdown and significant illness. The cycle continued on and off. Then I met a man who, while being 16 years my junior, had a really healthy relationship with alcohol. He taught me that alcohol didn’t fix a bad day. He taught me that it was perfectly ok to say no in a social situation and he taught me to love myself the way I was. Sober.

He also taught me that it was ok to take pride in my appearance and to also respect the process of training. Drinking didn’t serve this. Do we still drink and have fun together? Absolutely. But it is a rare occurrence these days.

Now that the fog has cleared and I have been almost four years ‘sober’ (no longer a functioning alcoholic), I can see the benefits. I also realised that the greatest gift my father gave me was his early death as a consequence of poor lifestyle choices. I know this sounds strange to some, but for those who know me, you know I search for the gift in every experience, this was his life lesson he gifted to me. I now use this as fuel to constantly remind myself why I NEED to be on this earth.

I do not want to leave my kids without a mum too soon because of my relationship with the bottle. I don’t want to miss out on seeing my kids get married and have children of their own because of my relationship with the bottle. And I sure as hell don’t want to have the body, skin, hair and nails of a chronic drinker because of my relationship with the bottle.

Now that I am a reformed drinker, I am that person who can pick out a drinker a mile away. You can see it in their skin, in the body fat they carry, in the way their belly sits over their gym tights and in the way they speak and communicate.  Drinkers think they are happy, but there is a sadness that you only become aware of once you reform. I am that annoying reformed drinker.

Why does alcohol have such a strong hold over us? Because as a society we have decided that it is our right to drink, that we deserve it. We work hard, so why the hell not? If we’ve had a hard day, a tough week or the kids annoyed us, we should dull it with wine. It works. But here’s the thing, that problem doesn’t go away, it only compounds it.

What I don’t understand is why we WILLINGLY choose to shorten our life by drinking. Please process that. YOU ARE SHAVING YEARS OFF YOUR LIFE. And no, you are not immune to this. If you are drinking regularly, you are causing damage to your body at a cellular level.

If you have kids…look at them and tell them you won’t be here for as long as they would like because the wine in your hand is far more important than they are. In fact, you might not even make it to their wedding.

What I have learnt is that I can actually tackle problems so much quicker and more effectively with a clear head. But from a purely selfish point of view, I am the happiest I have ever been with my own body as I face my 40th birthday.

So as a mother, I implore you. Reach out and let my team help you.

Break the cycle and live a long and healthy life, because you only get one fucking shot at it.

1 comment:

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