I received an email from Rachel and asked her if she was interested in sharing her story here. She sent the following about her experience with drinking. I am sure she would welcome your comments.
Banishing the Booze. By Rachel Black
I don’t drink. Never. Not at all. None. One year ago things were very different. As a professional woman it was normal to unwind with a glass or two of wine in the evening. Precious ‘Me Time’ equated to ‘Wine Time’. Very quickly, wine o’clock arrived earlier and earlier, the quantity consumed gradually increased, the second bottle was opened. Drinking crept under the radar to invade my life. Very quickly the couple of glasses that started as a treat, became a coping mechanism for the stresses of daily life, and latterly, became a need. I thought alcohol was the solution, rather than the cause of my problems. The worse things got, the more I drank.
I don’t know if I am an alcoholic but my drinking was certainly problematic and I accept I had a psychological dependence on it. This was not always the case: my relationship with alcohol was typical of my peers throughout High School, University and until I was around 30 years old. At that time things changed and I began to want and need more wine, more often. If I was not drinking I was certainly thinking about drinking. I don’t know how this started but I do believe I have inherited a pre-disposition to alcoholic tendencies from both parents.
Children grow up believing the ways of their family is the norm; it is all we know. I was no different and grew up unaware of the significance of alcohol in our home. I watched my parents laugh and joke over who had had more than their share from the bottle. I remember other couples coming round for a boozy evening: I would be up early and alone the next morning and would wash, dry and put away every glass we owned, making the kitchen neat and tidy for my parents. I was never aware of them being hungover, or never recognised it as such, my father was always strict, irritable, easily aggravated and had little time for us. My mother was better and I was surprised when she announced mid 50’s that she was becoming tee-total. She continues to cite ‘health reasons’ for this change and will change the subject whenever the conversation moves towards asking why. Only when I saw my life was following a path I recognised from my father, did I see the problems they both had, for now they were occurring in my life. My father continues to drink excessively each day and I knew I did not want to become like him and decided I had to change.
After a few years of trying and failing to moderate the amount I drank, I decided to take the path of my mother and to give up alcohol completely. I thought this would be all about doing without and deprivation. I resigned myself to a life of straight-laced misery, missing out on all the fun. I did not consider what I would gain when alcohol was removed from my life.
One of the biggest differences is time. I have loads of time, in the evenings and in my head. My evenings are not truncated at 6pm, my productivity disappearing with each glass, I can concentrate to do online banking and sensible shopping. I have started a Spanish class as I am no longer reluctant to drive. My brain kicked back to life and I started to write and published my first book: Sober is the New Black.
My head is no longer pre-occupied with drinking. No planning nights out and organising taxis, no buying wine or suffering monster hungovers the following day which render me fit for nothing until they pass.
Life seems so much simpler and relaxed now. There is no rush to get to wine time. There is no anxiety if things run late. Life just happens.
18 months ago I was making my family miserable with my constant irritability, antagonism and over-reaction. I was ‘stressed’ about everything from making packed lunches to putting up the Christmas tree. Now I am calm, measured, pleasant. My moods are appropriate. I am a better wife, a better colleague and a good mother who happily drives her kids to clubs and has time for a chat at bedtime. They will not see me drinking wine nor see me drunk and I hope I can be happy and believe I have set them the best example I can possibly give.
I need to continually remind myself that my life is now as good as it always looked on paper only because I continue to choose not to drink. I was so reluctant to give alcohol up, worried I would miss all the fun, scared of words like ‘forever’ yet here I am, relieved to be free from the clutches of alcohol, knowing I need never drink again. Why would you?
Contact me: firstname.lastname@example.org
Follow my blog: email@example.com or Twitter @SoberRachel
Sober is the New Black is available on Amazon:
SOBER IS THE NEW BLACK is being price slashed on an Amazon countdown deal from wednesday 26th Feb-Sat 1st March.
I am on the boat for a few days. Next post, I'll tell you about the State Al-Anon Convention.