Learning to trust myself.
It’s 4.30 am. The kids are awake.
‘Santa’s been,’ they whisper through the darkness.
My head pounds and I’m desperate for a glass of water. Too many wines while wrapping presents last night. I reach over to my night light and click it on. The brightness reinforces my hangover and I flop back down onto my pillow.
Urghhhhhh, Christmas, a whole day of being with family. A whole day of noise and arguments over tangled slinkys. Oh well … At least I can drink through it.
The lead-up to Christmas has always made me nervous, I couldn’t look forward to it because I knew I would always, without fail, overdo it. So instead of being full of cheer like a happy elf, I’d cringe when I saw the lights go up at the park, and snarl as Michael Bublé crooned over the speakers at the supermarket, But, the kids loved it. So, I did what mums do. I bought gifts and smiled as the turkey burnt in the oven.
You see, for me Christmas used to feel like a chore, a drinking marathon that I felt I had to adhere to because it was what we always did. Tradition. A never-ending filling of my glass that inevitably ended in me tripping over a nerf gun and falling on top of Grandad who was asleep in his armchair.
I never meant to be the drunkest person at the Christmas dinner table, but I always was.
Before I quit my binge-drinking habit, I used to dread Christmas and in fact, all other social events.
My behaviour was so damn predictable. Nights that started with good intentions always descended into chaos. I’d shut the front door and head to the bus stop promising myself to just stay out for one or two, then five hours later would be balancing on the edge of a curb thumbing for a taxi to take me to an after-party. I used to wake up wearing a feather boa on the cold tiles of my bathroom floor.
Then the regret. I used to sit in bed with waves of fear and regret rolling over my body, trying to remember what I said, what I had done. The not knowing, the blackouts, filled my body with fear and self-loathing. I’d sit in my bed holding my sheets up to my chin, promising myself to never drink again, hoping that a little Facebook invite notification wouldn’t ping on my phone. With my hangover from hell pulsing through my body I used to make promises to myself to do better next time. If it was a birthday I’d just stay for the cake; if it was work drinks, I’d avoid the heavy-drinking crowd and sit with the Techie guy, and if it was Christmas, I wouldn’t drink in the morning or tuck into the Baileys.
I always had plans, tactics in place as to how I was going to approach each social occasion.
Then of course, even with weeks of internal chatter, telling myself that I would drink ‘well’…
Not only that, I was the one buying a round of shots. I was the one on my hands and knees scrabbling under the sink to try and find Auntie Peggy’s ancient bottle of port. I was the one holding the bottle of Baileys upside-down watching each creamy drip fall into my thick glass tumbler.
Over many years of trying to be a better drinker, and consistently failing, I realised the reason for my fear and dread was that, deep down, underneath a thick layer of denial, I didn’t trust myself around alcohol.
No matter how hard I tried to be good, I just knew I’d fail. So instead of being excited about seeing friends or family, going to the pub or just having a bbq with neighbours, I knew within two hours I’d be slurring my words and demanding someone go to the bottle shop.
I didn’t trust me.
Out of all of the people in the world, I should have been the one person I could rely on!
Realising that I couldn’t trust myself around alcohol was a huge wake-up call for me. It’s what began my questioning.
‘If I don’t trust myself around alcohol does that mean I have a problem with it?’
It took many months of counselling to find that the answer was yes. Of course, I did.
Now I’m 1000 days alcohol free.
Christmas is coming up in a few weeks and I feel nothing but excitement. I won’t be hung over or preoccupied with how much wine is left in my glass. I won’t be hiding in my bedroom asking for Alka Seltzer.
I’ll be saying ‘Hello Christmas morning!’ as my kids empty their stockings onto my bed.
I will be there … soaking up every moment.
Nowadays I’m able to ignore the ‘Come on! One won’t hurt’ comments and take time-outs when I need to, I’m able to navigate the festivities without alcohol. It’s a relief to be free from the mental torment involved with being a drinker. A sober Christmas is so much more appealing.
Sobriety gives a lot. It gives contentment a chance and it diminishes anxiety … but by far the most important thing sobriety gives me,
Being able to trust myself means I’m able to look forward.
And when my phone pings with an event notification?
I feel excitement over dread.
(but probably leaving early and buying a tin of Roses on the way home)
Victoria has been writing about sobriety and motherhood for over two years. She lives on The Sunshine Coast with her family. You can find out more about her on her blog www.drunkmummysobermummy.com or follow her on Instagram @drunkmummysobermummy