Sober October seemed like a really good idea at the time. I love a challenge and if I’m raising money for one of my faveourite charities, (Macmillan Cancer Support), along the way, then everyone’s a winner. I knew it’d be tough. I like a drink. Nope, actually, I LOVE a drink. I hadn’t realised to what extent alcohol has played a massive part in my life until this point, now that it’s temporarily prohibited.
Let me just pause to address something before I go on. I realise that not drinking alcohol for a month to some people sounds ridiculous. To some, it’s not a problem, it’s not a challenge as it’s not a part of their life, or if it is, it’s on a take it or leave it basis. Also, to all the Mums out there who have given up alcohol and lots of other things, for 9 months (or longer in some cases) yeah, I get why you might think I’m harping on about nothing. However, I’ve never grown a tiny human inside me and so that immense motivation to stop has never been there. I hope the rest of the blog will put into context why this is a big thing for me.
It was on a 6 hour road trip with a friend that I started talking for the first time about alcohol and the part it has played in my life. I started drinking at a young age. By the time I was 15, my Dad was buying me Archers on the weekend and I would drink a liter of the stuff, with lemonade, over the Friday and Saturday nights. My Dad, who is a big drinker, believed that by giving me access to alcohol, in a safe environment, took the mystery out of it and therefore I wouldn’t end up rebelling and getting off my head in a field with a bunch of pubescent boys. (Little did he know, that actually happened too, despite drinking at home with my parents…sorry Dad).
When I hit the legal drinking age of 18, I went straight to University where I spent 3 years drunk. I was always the main instigator of drinking to excess, earning me the title “Alcohol Pimp”. After Uni, I moved to Dublin which has even more of a drinking culture than England. At 26, my Mum died and the drinking increased. It’s never really been an issue, or at least not one that I recognised. I loved a boy once who is the only person who has ever called it out as a problem. I just put it down to him being a boring bastard and carried on getting shit faced. The drinking and my behaviour as a result, massively contributed to the breakdown of our relationship. That is something I have only just realised and it makes me sad.
I never felt like I was good at much, but consuming alcohol has always been something I’m excellent at. I’m 5 foot 3 inches and I can put it away with the big boys. I’m fun when I drink and I’m fantastic at holding it together and in British culture, a girl who can drink and stay relatively classy is generally a hot commodity. Or at least it was when I was younger, now…. I’m not so sure.
This week, I’ve had good and bad days. On the bad day, I wanted to drink, to take the sting out of it. On the good day, I wanted to drink to celebrate. When I’m lonely, I go to the pub, when I’m socialising with friends, I go to the pub. When I’m bored at home on my own, I drink. When it’s a birthday or christmas, someone’s work leaving do, a wedding, a funeral, a christening, a Friday, a Monday, a fucking god awful Tuesday, there is always an occasion to drink, always a reason. I asked my friend, (tongue in cheek but with an undertone of concern) “Do you think I’m an alcoholic?” She didn’t even look up before responding without hesitation “Nah, you’re just British.”
I can’t remember the last time I saw my Dad and we didn’t drink. In fact, I’m not sure it’s ever happened. Is that a bad thing? Maybe. Is it normal? Well yeah, for me it’s completely normal. I guess the question that has emerged through this experience is if my relationship with alcohol is healthy or not? Clearly it hasn’t been if it led me to lose a love. How, when and why I drink is going to be a much more conscious decision in the future. I know I have more reflection to do about the part it plays in my relationships with people too.
What started as an opportunity to raise money for a charity that does amazing work supporting people facing cancer has turned into a personal journey of self reflection and discovery. That may sound a bit pretentious but it’s true.
If you’d like to sponsor me, I’d be eternally grateful: