Economical with the Truth

My husband has a glass of wine, occasionally two, once or twice a week. And that’s it.

So on my previous attempts to stop drinking for a while, or moderate, he would quite happily agree to help me by stopping drinking as well. However invariably sooner or (occasionally) later he would arrive home from work, usually on Day 1, and find me already started on the wine. Any attempts on his part to remind me of my resolve would be met with very bad temper and grumpiness from me, basically telling him that anyone who had had to deal with the sort of day I had just had would need a drink to help them cope. So, for the sake of marital harmony, he learned that it was better not to say anything about it, as it didn’t make any difference to my drinking behaviour anyway. And I learned sneaky and devious behaviours to ensure that he never knew how much I was really drinking. And every single evening I was utterly, completely, 100% convinced that the very next day I was going to cut back/stop/drink responsibly/whatever.

And all my underhand drinking behaviours and hiding how much I was drinking and almost but not quite lying about it had meant I had a really low opinion of myself and I couldn’t bring myself to tell my husband that I’d actually been pretty deceitful about the whole drinking business for years.

I was sort of hoping that I could become a non-drinker under the radar, without anyone really noticing, without having to admit that my drinking was, or ever had been, out of my control.

Which is kind of ridiculous really, to think that I went from hiding how much I was drinking, to hiding the fact that I’d stopped. And I was hiding that I was antsy, restless, scared, headachey, but all the while excited and knowing, just knowing, that stopping for ever was definitely the right thing to do.


Who to tell?

At first I didn’t tell anyone I’d stopped for good, not even my husband. This went against everything I had previously read, the problem drinker being encouraged to confide in those closest to them, and enlist their support. Well that had never worked for me. I had long since lost count of the times I would announce to my family that I was only going to drink at weekends, or never at lunchtime, or not if I had an early start the next day, or that I was giving up for Lent, etc etc etc. Then I would drink anyway, and nearly snap the head off my husband when he tried to remind me of my resolve. And I would try to convince myself that my children wouldn’t really remember that I had said I wouldn’t drink, and that they wouldn’t really notice whether I was drinking or not, but the overwhelming fact remained that I hated myself for drinking so much and not being able to stop. And the whole drinking thing was such a mess of shame and self loathing and pretending to other people that I could take it or leave it that I couldn’t even admit to my nearest and dearest what a massive problem it really was. And I was in such a twist about who to tell, what to tell, because I didn’t actually want to tell anyone that I had stopped for good, for ever, because that would mean admitting that it was in fact A Big Problem. I didn’t want my children or any friends to know that it was a problem at all, and I wanted my husband to think it was just a teeny weeny problem.

So, as far as my husband was concerned, I was cutting down. He was happy enough with that. And when he opened a bottle of wine and asked if I wanted a glass all I said was “Not just now, thanks”. “Oh, ok”, he said and poured himself a glass and I wondered did he have any clue at all about how much I drink and had he not even noticed that huge, massive difficult thing I had just done, that I had just refused a drink?

I sat down with my rose lemonade and emptied the glass in about 8 seconds and knew that I couldn’t watch him drink wine so I got up again and said that I’d a headache and I felt queasy so I was going to bed.

So I went to bed and read blogs and more blogs and my husband came up and was worried and he said I shouldn’t be reading from a screen if I had a headache so I said my headache had gone. He went back downstairs and had his dinner and wine by himself and I had a couple of bananas and went on reading more from sober bloggers going back to the beginning of each person’s journey, and somehow I was identifying with, and drawing on, their excitement, their desperation, their hopefulness and resolve and commitment. Different circumstances, different lives, but with the same stuff in their heads.

And there is no easy way to do it. I certainly acted rather strangely, but it didn’t matter because I didn’t drink.

A funny thing happened on the way to the fridge….

In the end, it all happened very quietly.

I had an evening to myself. I was on the sofa, binge-watching The Medicis, drinking wine, and thinking I really should stop eating so many peanuts. I went to the kitchen for a refill and nearly jumped out of my skin when the back door opened and my husband came in. He looked at me, at the empty wine glass in my hand. “The meeting was cancelled” he said. “Are you not trying to cut down?” “Oh I am”, I replied hastily. “I’m just getting some juice.”

So I filled my wine glass with juice and went back to eating peanuts, only not as quickly as before. And I thought that maybe it was actually the wine that was causing the peanut problem. Along with other problems. And I just wished I could cut down. I searched yet again on-line about cutting back on alcohol, hoping to find some new method that would work for me. Except this time, for the first time, I found a blog, and another, and another and they sounded so elated and thrilled about stopping drinking, which sounded strange and new and exciting to me, as I hadn’t thought it was possible to be enthusiastic about, well, anything really that didn’t involve drinking.

In fact, I couldn’t wait to try out this new sober life for myself. Then I did the stupidest thing ever. I went back to the fridge to finish off the bottle of wine so that I could get started with not drinking.

However, somehow, for some reason, that was it. I wanted to stop. Not to cut down. Not to give it a break for a while. Just stop. For ever.