My children drive me to drink. They drive me to drink and carbohydrate. So these last eight weeks of childcare (and counting – neither is yet properly settled into school/nursery) have made me fat. It’s the drink and the sticky buns and the chips and the chocolate. But mostly, it’s the drink.
There have been a few times in my life when I’ve been drinking too much. The first was when I was working at my first job and my boyfriend ran off with another girl. I was exhausted and demoralised and depressed and so drank to forget. The next time was when I was working at a daily newspaper and it was just an endless unhappy cycle of hangovers and drunken evenings that ended with me trying to open the front door of my flat with a cheeseburger.
And then now. This summer as soon the children were in bed – not even asleep – I would have a large cold glass of white wine in my hand. Or a chilled manzanilla. Or a big, room temperature, round red.
Down it would go, glug glug glug, and I would feel the day slipping away. Even if it hadn’t been a bad day I would usually need help letting it go. Life with children, like working on a newspaper or being at war, is just long periods of boredom punctuated by short periods of extreme stress. The drink levels you out, brings your shoulders down from around your ears, stops you feeling so twitchy and jumpy.
And I carry on and do it all the time because I’m a nice drunk. I only occasionally pick fights with my husband when tipsy – but really only occasionally – and hardly ever with strangers. When drunk I just fuzz about vaguely and then go to bed early. The worst that can happen is that I buy something online. But drunk internet shopping is one of life’s great joys. When the package arrives a week later (or sometimes the next day!!) you have totally forgotten about it and it’s like a present from your drunk self. And my drunk self loves me a lot.
“At the Chardonnay were we?” cackles Spencer the Hermes driver (Topshop, ASOS) as I open the door and take the package in puzzlement. “I hope it’s somefink nice.”
My point, which I am getting back to right now, is that the only bad thing – wait, 2 bad things – about drinking too much is
- it makes me put on weight and I don’t want to put on weight
- you need to keep drinking MORE to achieve the same effect. More drink, more calories, more weight. Hang on and actually…
- The next day you feel weak and confused and sorry for yourself – and also very peckish – and so end up consuming Fat Cokes, sandwiches and more drink in order to achieve equilibrium
So I am drying out. I am allowed one can of Diet Coke – with ice and lemon! – after bath time as my substitute sundowner and I have to make that last all night. If the day has literally driven me to shouting and/or crying, I am allowed 1 vodka soda & fresh lime (the anorexic’s drink) just to, you know, take the edge off.
And in fact even though I am a nice drunk and have become one of those people who LOVES WINE, it’s a good thing. Because the number of times I have thought to myself “I WANT A DRINK I WANT A DRINK I WANT A DRINK” in the last week or so has made me think that it’s not that I want a drink, it’s that the the drink wants me. And I’ve never been that keen on needy people.
This post really struck a chord with me, perhaps because I’ m also in the process of drying out. Not forever mind, but certainly for a few more weeks. I’ve gone into this, for once, not resenting the whole process (as I do when we’ve decided to do a dry January, say) but actually happy about it on the basis that it was my decision and mine alone. It was instigated by a wonderful family holiday in Tuscany when the children and my wife would bound out of bed to go go swimming/go running/squabble and I felt ABSOLUTELY rubbish. We’re talking shaky hands, incredible (and unfocused) remorse. Totally, self-inflicted, as I’d habitually have a four course lunch with wine and then somehow push on through (boozing) on and off until about midnight. The awful thing was that I wasn’t getting completely, staggering around, mumbling blotto (he claims) but more that I was constantly topping up and maintaining, what felt at the time, like a warm buzz. Yet in the morning I felt wretched, totally out of proportion (I thought) to the amount I’d actually consumed. On returning home I had a long hard look at my drinking habits and realized that whilst I would d avoid drinking during the week my entire weekend revolved around opportunities to have a drink (with lunch out with the kids, after coaching rugby with the kids, anything with the kids to be honest! I realized that I wasn’t actually enjoying my time with the boys (they’re 8 and a half so demanding in different ways than really young uns but demanding all the same) and more importantly I was always sniping as I was tired and grumpy (because of not sleeping well due to staying up late watching tv and necking wineI associated weekends with drink, relaxing with drink. This was MY time to do with as I saw fit. But the penny dropped (you put it v well talking about needy people) that it wasn’t my time at all, someone or something else had made the decision for me. I’ve not given up forever, mind, but certainly for a few more weeks. But this dry period has certainly allowed me to ponder why I drank as much as I did and the circumstances under which I would drink. I certainly feel a lot clearer and generally calmer (and less resentful of various things, which was a happy but unexpected consequence). Apologies for the length of this post, I’d been mulling over this for a bit and reading your post has set me off. As an aside, my wife gave up drinking 8 months ago (having been a massive boozer) and at first this was incredibly annoying as she’d often raise a single eyebrow when I ordered a second large glass of red and intone “Do you really need that?” or in an exasperated fashion declare “Are you incapable of drinking a double espresso in a restaurant without having a grappa?” after a nice waiter at Polpo had up-sold me a double rather than a single grappa. Now, though, I kind of get her point. Is your other half understanding about the new drinking habits?
Tonic water with a few splashes of Angostura Bitters is a popular choice in our house when it’s time to dry out. Feels enough like a proper drink to stop you flying into a rage over the missing gin.