BY EMMA TOMS
‘Wine o’clock!’ calls a wife to her husband on T.V.
‘Wine o’clock? Where did you get that awful phrase?’ he replies.
It struck me. Where did we get it? Where did it start, this ‘happy hour’ — and where did we get phrases like ‘It’s going to get messy?’
When did booze become so ingrained in our culture? When did we begin planning to get ‘off our faces’ and feel like shite the next day?
I scroll through Facebook and see photographs of cold beer or wine, no people. Just booze in a glass.
Why is it so revered? It is pushed like a dealer sells drugs, because it is a drug. Drinkers are horrified by addicts snorting up cocaine or injecting heroin, yet struggle to take a day off the booze. The result is the same.
I know the highs and the lows. I’ve been there. The incredible nights and the hideous hangovers.
Did I worship it? No. Did I rely on it? Yes. Definitely.
Alcohol was a big part of my life and always had been. My dad was a hard-working UK Northerner who enjoyed a pint, so pubs were places familiar to me. I spent many pleasant hours there with him. When I reached my twenties it was how I enjoyed myself and I didn’t want to change, it was too much fun.
It crept up on me slowly. Loomed over me like a dark shadow. It affected my work, my relationships, and eventually my health. I wasn’t listening to me any longer, I was listening to the booze.
I did stop. I thought I’d find it difficult, but after only a short time it became incredibly easy. I realised I’d been using alcohol as avoidance, to escape my life. I was lonely and self-loathing. I felt like a failure and alcohol had helped me get through.
During that three months sober, I realised more about myself than I had in years.
My voice was stronger, I was less anxious and shy, I slept better, communicated better, I did everything with more purpose. I liked myself, which was a revelation after years of self-doubt and disappointment. I noticed the beauty around me instead of struggling through a hangover haze or being pissed.
I found that although on occasion it was nice to share some vino with my husband, it actually added nothing to my life. Emotionally, physically, mentally, and spiritually, I was better without it.
Sober was the new me.
What was hard was knowing what to do with my time. Who did I spend it with? Being with drinkers when you are sober ain’t easy. Sometimes it’s boring and repetitive. The same conversations spew out and things you found funny drunk, just seem childish. People didn’t want me around either, I was boringly sober and a social pariah, too!
I changed how I viewed things, tried new stuff and got back into activities I used to enjoy. It was a change I made — and had to make.
My life has altered beyond measure and I love it. I believe in myself for the first time. The stuff that made me anxious when I was I drinking: the nights waking in a cold sweat worrying about what I’d said, the arguments with my husband after a night out — gone forever.
I used to worry about what others thought, too. Now, not so much. I’m less bothered because I trust myself and I’m not constantly anxious from the effects of alcohol.
I am more conscious, more aware of my words. I am more loving and caring. I feel more. I see more. I am more.
I occasionally partake, very little and I weigh it up. Do I want to feel worse tomorrow than I do right now? And that truly is the question I ask myself. If I feel this good, why do I want to change that?
The advice I give anyone wanting to make a change or feeling trapped is: give yourself the chance to get to know you again.
Whatever you think you are –- you are better without booze. Always.
You are not trapped unless you allow yourself to be.
Take control. The journey may feel rocky but the rewards are immense.
For more self-study, The Urban Howl recommends The Inner Voice of Love: A Journey Through Anguish to Freedom.
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