Turning 40 and getting back on the wagon

I deliberately haven’t written anything here for a while to give myself some space to decide which direction I want my recovery to go in. I’ve been practising moderation since Christmas and more often than not, it has gone to plan. There have been many occasions where I’ve gone for a meal with JT and just had a glass of red wine and been happy with that, but as time goes on I’ve found myself thinking about having another glass more and more. JT doesn’t drink so it’s not that there’s any temptation in my face. I don’t know why I crave more. I just do and I guess that’s addiction for you. So, over the last few months I’ve learnt that I can moderate my drinking but it does take a lot of thought, preparation and determination. At times I’ve thought maybe it’s easier to just stay sober. I do think it is a lot easier but staying sober for the rest of my life is a really scary thought and I find it difficult to process. A bit like trying to process how many stars are in the sky. You know, that feeling you get when you think about something so much it blows your mind? Yeah, that! I can’t handle the thought of never drinking alcohol ever again in my life. It’s too much for my tiny brain so I’m back and forth with what I want to do from one day to the next. Moderate? Back on the wagon? Moderate? Back on the wagon?

When I was thinking about trying moderation, one of the main reasons I wanted to drink alcohol again was so that I could celebrate turning 40 ‘properly’ and in style. For the last 26 years I’ve celebrated with alcohol. It’s what people do and the first thing a lot of people think about when throwing a party is alcohol, whether it be Prosecco, beers or shots. Not many people will think about the food first. In fact, a lot of people don’t eat when there’s food put on because they’ll save room for beer! It’s the way society has made people and when there’s a celebration, most people’s focus is what they’ll be drinking and how drunk they’re going to get. Anyway, I worried my birthday might be a little disappointing without alcohol so I decided to moderate.

I turned 40 at the beginning of June and I can honestly say, it couldn’t have been better. JT took me to Gran Canaria for a week and towards the end of the holiday it was my birthday. I woke up to the apartment covered in banners and little ’40’ glitter numbers everywhere. I’m still in shock that JT had done this whilst I was fast asleep right above my head! For my actually birthday we spent the day at the waterpark and i can’t remember last time I laughed so much. It really was the best day ever. Then in the evening JT took me for a lovely meal and it was the perfect end to a perfect day. Turn your volume up for this one. Here I am gracefully hitting my forties …

I went away with the intention of drinking AF drinks during the day and having a few alcoholic ones in the evening but that didn’t quite go to plan. We arrived quite late in the day so as soon as we arrived at the apartment, we only had time for a quick shower and change then headed out for food. Off we went and if I’m really honest, I was really looking forward to one of those ice cold pints you get on holiday where the glass is out the freezer. It’s not really the best thought process of someone who is in recovery from a binge drinking problem. The waiter came over and asked what we’d like to drink and without even thinking I ordered a large beer. Holiday mode had set in and I didn’t even think about ordering an alcohol free beer. I didn’t even think about asking if they served them. I only had the one but it’s my thought process that scares me the most. JT quite rightly says that if I was with someone who drinks the night would have turned out completely different. I have to be extremely careful when I drink and who I drink with. I’m not saying it’s anybody else’s fault but I’m easily influenced and could definitely be persuaded and get carried away. When I went to the supermarket for beers I did go for the alcohol free option but I didn’t have as much will power when it came to ordering in the bars and restaurants. I didn’t go crazy and I only had a slight hangover the morning after my birthday but the daily drinking habit quickly set in and my thought process changed. I could see my thinking about each evening being more about the drink rather than the food and I’m not comfortable with that.

When we arrived home I continued with moderation but it quickly started to make me feel wary but that didn’t stop me. A few weeks ago I decided to have a catch up with my friend and we went to a carnival in Manchester. Three, maybe four drinks in and the whole moderation thought process was out the window. I really don’t understand it because I have no problem when we go for a meal but when the day’s focus is about drinking I just find it so difficult to control. Although we had a fab day, I ended up getting extremely drunk. I didn’t do anything crazy or dangerous but it’s the vulnerability I put myself into that I don’t like. Then there’s the mental health side of things that bothers me. I woke up the next day with horrendous anxiety and my mood for the rest of the week was particurly low. I don’t want to feel that way again and I’ve decided the only way to remove that from my life is to stay sober.

So here I am, back on the wagon, 20 days sober and counting…

Thanks for reading.

Claire xx

5 Comments

  1. You are so right that we live in a society controlled by alcohol.
    It is about willpower too.
    You are doing really well.
    Hope you can stay focused for your health and mind.
    Good luck with your recovery Claire. xx

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Claire, I completely understand your experiences especially the piece about thinking more about the evening drinks rather than the evening food. I used to wake up with similar thoughts. I had to give up the booze over 5 years ago which I’ve not found too difficult given that I ended up in the hospital and nearly died but something inside me pulled me through. After a while, I stopped thinking about booze, and I can visit pubs and social events without much bother. However, the thought does come back every now and again, surprisingly when I’m in a good mood. At these times I would love to sit in a sunny beer garden with a cold pint. However, (for what it’s worth) I remember what the liver surgeon that I was under said to me after I told him I hadn’t drunk for over a month, “so you’re in control of the booze and it’s not in control of you”. For me, this hit it on the head, and whenever I feel like a drink I think about the consequences of the booze taking control of me again, which it no doubt would. So far it has worked but who knows about the future. Try and keep the booze under your control but he is a sneaky little chap and can take over very easily. Sorry if this sounds like a reformed drinker telling others what to do, that’s not my intention. I just wanted to give you a bit of solidarity and my perspective that might help, if not then just ignore it. Stay strong and in control, and if you choose to come off the wagon or fall off the wagon, don’t beat yourself up, if you want to, just get back on again. You can fall off and get back on as many times as you want, there is no winning line or final achievement in this one, you don’t win life, just be happy and look after yourself. xx

    Liked by 1 person

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