Sunday Morning: Every Now and then

Another Sydney lockdown: case numbers escalating, home isolation and the strange malaise that comes with not doing much. Plenty of time to think. Plenty of time to drink – if you wanted to.

Last Tuesday, I had one of those days where I should have stayed in bed and watched the world meander past. The workday over, dinner cooked, I figured why not, and went to crack open a new bottle of red.

Pausing, wine bottle in hand, I realised this was what I did last lockdown. I reached for a mid-week drink. Hey, only a glass or two – no harm in that. But I asked myself why I was having a drink in the first place.

Sitting on the couch, glass of wine in hand (I poured that glass after all), I came across one of those memes humorously comparing the life progress of someone famous, the caption reading: “How it started. How it’s going”. And I wondered how you could sum up my journey with alcohol.

How it started

Townsville in the 90s: Bintang, singlets and footy shorts – you were lucky if people wore shoes to the shops. No smart phones, you spent your weekends outside. XXXX signs advertising the local brew on every corner, a giant Bundy rum motif blazing down on the kids’ playground along the beachfront, for all the kids to see. Mum would leave a tea towel on the front fence when it was time for dinner. A simple life.

It was Saturday night, my parents were out of town and my older sister, the sensible one, was on school camp. Sweet freedom.

Left to our own devices, Dave, my younger brother, and I raided the liquor cabinet and went to a much older neighbour’s gathering.

My parents weren’t big drinkers, but there were more than enough options around the house.

Alcohol seemed such a mystery. I’d seen ads on TV, beer ads during the Boxing Day Test, and the heart-strings-triggering “if you drink then drive, you’re a bloody idiot” government ads which seemed so raw and real. Ingrained in Australian culture, from parents asking their kids to get them a beer from the fridge to beers at the footy every weekend.

I just wanted to get involved in the general vibe of drinking. What was this drink called alcohol that so many adults liked? That made people talk loudly and sometimes fall over. That made people loud and confident.

We were giddy.

Gareth, our neighbour, was 15, and your typical teenager of the day. Silverchair pumping out of his parent’s hifi system, he was stoked we’d arrived with some grog. The West Coast Coolers were approved, but the almost full bottle of Mango Schnapps? Interesting combination.

I was way out of my depth. The geeky glasses-wearing 12-year-old girl with her younger brother amongst kids two, three, four years older than me – I had no idea what to do. One couple was making out, sitting on a milk crate and broken esky, which wobbled precariously every time they broke for air. The rest were drinking and talking and doing what teenagers do. They all just looked at ease doing it – I was lost, I had no idea. But maybe grog would help.

The schnapps was sickly sweet, somewhere between a can of Passiona and a Sunny Boy ice block. We’d downed three quarters of a bottle of the mango molasses in a matter of minutes.

We waited for something to happen. It didn’t. Was this all there was to it? Were we doing it right? Apart from a slightly weird feeling in my stomach, which in hindsight was probably the kilos of sugar in it rather than the effect of the grog.

My brother shrugged, “well this is boring isn’t it”, and started playing with his Gameboy (ahhh, the 90s!).

After 15 minutes, my brother started talking quickly. And I felt weird. I started laughing uncontrollably and running around the backyard, which didn’t look odd at all to everyone at the party. It seems the high had hit.

It’s an odd feeling, being drunk so young. It’s so unknown – you’ve never experienced a feeling like it. It was like being on a plane for the first time, seeing a crocodile in the wild, getting caught in a rip, and going on a roller coaster, all at the same time – pure exhilaration.

For a few minutes at least. My brother’s green face was the first sign this wasn’t going well. He looked at me and said “I don’t feel great” – which I understood, because all of a sudden, I didn’t feel good either. It felt like I was on a bucking bull and couldn’t get off. All of a sudden it was a race to find a patch of garden.

In a stunning sense of bad timing – because parents have a sixth sense for impending doom when it comes to their offspring – my parents chose that moment to come home.  Given the noise coming from next door they used their excellent methods of Agatha Christie deduction to seek us out. Imagine seeing your kids vomiting, at a party with much older teenagers. A magnitude of grog hanging around. Cue an entirely unsurprising reaction from the parentals.

How it’s going

Nowadays, I’m not a huge drinker.

In my twenties, definitely. The usual weekends out, nightlife in Surry Hills. Kings Cross. Stumbling home after consuming the latest trendy cocktail served in the la-de-da bars of the Sydney scene. Travelling overseas to Ibiza. Beachside bars in Rio. To Berlin, dancing all night and stumbling down the cobblestone streets post dance-off. Full moon parties in Thailand. Binge drinking was my 20s, as for so many of us. It’s easy to do when you are young. You think nothing of going out ’til 3 am and getting up the next morn to do the City2Surf, only needing a large burger and fries at the end of the 14 km race to get you ready for your next sesh.

But serious exercise came a-knocking. Early morning training doesn’t really gel with late nights. As did my 30s – that dreaded decade where at the flick of an overnight switch, you are left putting on 4 kilos after one big weekend at the pub. Was it vanity that impacted my regular boozy nights? Or my career becoming something real and realising I was just a bit better with fewer drinks on the weekend.

Probably a combination. Mornings when not a soul is awake, except the local run club and iceberg swimmers. Wanting to feel good, in my body and mind. Having clearer skin, and glowing eyes. Getting satisfaction each day, to show up at work, and really give it my best shot.

Now, my 5 am body clock marches me out of parties early. I’m like a 10 pm version of Cinderella, without the pumpkin and replacing the ball gown with swimmers and sandy toes.

But I do like a drink and could never see myself stopping altogether.  

I drink nicer wine now, and I buy less of it. I enjoy each sip. I have a liquor cabinet, but it’s not full. I typically drink only on the weekends, because I want to wake up fresh.

I scour the internet for fancy drinking glasses that bring me more joy than the liquid that’s inside – so that the act of drinking feels like a part of another moment. Like I’m in a grand ballroom (my lounge room in Queenscliff) in a fabulous outfit. With those I love. It’s a simpler approach to drinking, and it works. For me.

Being in lockdown again sucks. And I’ve done four lockdowns – it’s a skill to be able to chase down lockdowns all over Australia, and I seem to excel at it. But I’ve found a silver lining in lockdown. I’ve realised that while I enjoy drinking, I don’t need to drink as much.

The drinking isn’t to get drunk, it’s about complementing the moment. It’s just not the main event. And that is something I’m comfortable with. That’s how it’s going, for me.

Just don’t pour me a mango daiquiri anytime soon.

 Louise is Head of Development & Marketing at Hello Sunday Morning. She’s passionate about helping our members. She loves the beach. She never forgets her Queensland roots. And whenever something goes wrong in her life, she yells “plot twist”. And dusts herself off. And gets on with it.


29 Comments

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  • You are not an alcoholic. You have not struggled with alcohol. You do not understand addiction. This article isn’t helpful. Its smug.
    Please tell me this app digs deeper than this. Disappointed.

    By Agnes Bruck
    |
    August 7, 2021
    • Hi Agnes,
      We are sorry this blog post struck a chord with you but we can guarantee Louise’s aim was not to brag about being able to drink in moderation. This is her personal experience, which can be an inspiration for people in a similar situation.

      Hello Sunday Morning’s mission is to change people’s relationship with alcohol, whatever this means for them.
      We don’t deal exclusively with addiction but support people to choose the level they’re comfortable with, if they’re in a position to choose.

      Your experience is probably very different to Louise’s, and we’d love to hear about it if you’re comfortable to share https://hellosundaymorning.org/share-your-story/

      By Hello Sunday Morning
      |
      August 9, 2021
  • Reading this I think I have just had a light bulb moment. I too do not want to give up alcohol altogether and love the idea of the fancy glasses. In my late 50s, it seems binge drinking became acceptable again within my friendship groups – but the health side effects are terrible. New mantra from your post – Drinking is not to get drunk but to complement the moment!! Thank you for your post and here’s to HelloSundayMorning!!

    By Judes
    |
    August 7, 2021
    • thanks, that blog article just nested a seed in my mind that has driven me crazy for 24 hours. Now I don’t want to come back to this app, this blog or read your emails because all of a sudden you’re publishing caveats to drink.
      It says if you can find an excuse then run with it, it works for her. For now. Where will it lead then ? I know where it leads!
      If this women chooses to drink even after her experiences with it then just like religion she should keep it to the appropriate place.
      I hardly feel this is the place.
      Extremely smug eastern suburbs individual. Typical really and smacks in the face of everyone that is doing their hardest effort to stay away from it. All it takes is a poorly thought out article like this to tip someone into a one two three binge.
      How absolutely disappointed.
      You all need to examine your motives.

      By Jason
      |
      August 11, 2021
    • thanks, that blog article just nested a seed in my mind that has driven me crazy for 24 hours. Now I don’t want to come back to this app, this blog or read your emails because all of a sudden you’re publishing caveats to drink.
      It says if you can find an excuse then run with it, it works for her. For now. Where will it lead then ? I know where it leads!
      If this women chooses to drink even after her experiences with it then just like religion she should keep it to the appropriate place.
      I hardly feel this is the place.
      Extremely smug eastern suburbs individual. Typical really and smacks in the face of everyone that is doing their hardest effort to stay away from it. All it takes is a poorly thought out article like this to tip someone into a one two three binge.
      How absolutely disappointed.
      You all need to examine your motives.

      By Jason
      |
      August 11, 2021
  • Is Louise suggesting its ok to drink to excess from age 12 thru our 20’s , because later in life we will find moderation through the shape of a glass? Hmmmmm?
    A blog out of context with my thoughts on HELLO SUNDAY!

    By John Ryding
    |
    August 7, 2021
    • Nope, I think she’s just an ordinary person honestly telling us how things were & are for her. I find Hello Sunday Morning to be about support not preaching.

      By Petrina Randazzo
      |
      August 7, 2021
    • I’m quite sure that wasn’t the point of the article John. This is about maturing one’s relationship with alcohol, which is a common goal for all here I believe

      By bevan
      |
      August 7, 2021
    • John, I’m not sure how you could read this story and come to that conclusion – bizarre.
      Louise, thanks for sharing such an honest and uplifting story. This is exactly why I have a relationship with Hello Sunday Morning. It’s stories such as this inspire me on in my relationship with alcohol.

      By Carmen Reynolds
      |
      August 7, 2021
    • Hi John,
      We can guarantee Louise’s aim was not encourage people to drinking to excess and then moderate later in life. This is her personal experience, which can be an inspiration for people in a similar situation.

      Hello Sunday Morning’s mission is to change people’s relationship with alcohol, whatever this means for them.

      Your experience is probably very different to Louise’s, and we’d love to hear about it if you’re comfortable to share it https://hellosundaymorning.org/share-your-story/

      By Hello Sunday Morning
      |
      August 9, 2021
  • Hi John, That is not the message I got from Louise’s blog. Everyone has a different journey and this one belongs to Louise. After a long journey – like many of us have made, Louise has settled into a healthy pattern where a glass of wine enhances or compliments an already special moment.
    Thankyou Louise for a story without bells and whistles but one that will resonate with many other than me.
    It is possible gain control and enjoy a sip rather than a bottle.

    By Billie
    |
    August 7, 2021
  • Thank you Louise. I found your story very inspiring. My goal is to get to a place similar to where you are now. After reading this, you’ve given me a lift and I feel closer and even more confident. Thank you!!

    By Jo
    |
    August 7, 2021
  • HSM has been great for me but I think it has lost the plot with this blog.

    Someone drank a bit then decided to drink a bit less with vanity being one reason.
    And to top it off manages to moderate by using a fancy glass!
    Give me a break!

    This picture is so far removed from the reality of lives destroyed by alcohol and frankly has put me off HSM.

    Who is your current target audience? Please work it out.

    By Alan
    |
    August 7, 2021
    • Hi Alan,
      We are sorry this blog post didn’t resonate with you.
      This is Louise’s personal experience, which can be an inspiration for people in a similar situation and might not be relevant for everyone.

      Hello Sunday Morning’s mission is to change people’s relationship with alcohol, whatever this means for them.
      We don’t deal exclusively with addiction but support people to choose the level they’re comfortable with, if they’re in a position to choose.

      Your experience is probably very different to Louise’s, and we’d love to hear about it if you’re comfortable to share it https://hellosundaymorning.org/share-your-story/

      By Hello Sunday Morning
      |
      August 9, 2021
  • Great blog, thankyou! I reckon you highlighted the key to abstaining from alcohol, or moderating it’s use – finding something that you value more than drinking. This has given me some good ideas, thanks again!

    By Craig
    |
    August 7, 2021
  • Louise’s experience sounds like a story that mirrors my own. Sometimes I wonder if it’s just the process of growing up and having responsibilities. Two little ones who need you with a hangover ain’t fun! Then I realise, it’s still actively a choice to drink more mindfully than I once did.

    By Kate
    |
    August 7, 2021
    • I envy you Kate, that it is that simple.

      By Fiona
      |
      August 8, 2021
  • Haha so damn relatable. The first time I drank I had a similar reaction “is this working? This is it” – and then it hit… our relationship with booze as a young person is a wicked mix of keeping up with our peers fitting in and washing away what would otherwise be social awkwardness at its finest.

    Lockdown has 100% been a test of WHY. Why do I crave this at the end of a long day, when I’m cooking – the habit of swirling something in a glass and letting it take you away.

    Applaud you for your authenticity, your vulnerability and for giving us something to think about. Thank you Louise!

    By Morgan
    |
    August 7, 2021
  • If you have an intolerance to alcohol which is what the beginning of the malaise we know much later as alcoholism. This article is NOT helpful. I never drank much in my 20’s, 30’s and early 40’s. However in my mid 40’s whilst the amount 3/4 of a bottle of wine was steady it became frequent. Then during lockdown daily. I reasoned that I functioned well but that’s DENIAL. I was shrill, snappy, exhausted and making stupid decisions as par for the course. I took eight months off. So I thought ok surely I can drink now. Answer NO. I had immediate numbness in my fingers again( ooh I forgot about that) an instant headache. Lethargy. And a fog came down around my mind that was frankly alarming. That was with one glass. I was lucky that I had done enough work in fellowship with an online AA zoom community and has learned from people how had lost everything and suffered much greater that those of us who are predisposed to have an allergy to alcohol cannot start drinking again. Like nothing happened. I actually wanted to drink because I was lonely and I realise it’s not an emotional management system. I poured the rest of the bottle away and sweated and slept through the next days. Experiment results in. I cannot have it. I DONT need it. Am really grateful that it didn’t cost me more in this life. But it has cost me plenty already. Strained relationships. Fights. Estrangement. No thanks .

    By POM
    |
    August 7, 2021
    • Hi POM,
      We are sorry this blog post didn’t resonate with you.
      This is Louise’s personal experience, which can be an inspiration for people in a similar situation and might not be relevant for everyone.

      Hello Sunday Morning’s mission is to change people’s relationship with alcohol, whatever this means for them.
      We don’t deal exclusively with addiction but support people to choose the level they’re comfortable with, if they’re in a position to choose.

      Your experience is probably very different to Louise’s, and we’d love to hear about it if you’re comfortable sharing it https://hellosundaymorning.org/share-your-story/

      By Hello Sunday Morning
      |
      August 9, 2021
      • HSM, read your comments.
        This site is a joke. For those of us who struggled and won true sobriety. These “experiences” are NOT helpful to those who struggle with alcohol. The obsession of every abnormal drinker is that they will be able to drink normally. The truth though is once you have passed a certain point in the DISEASE progression that is NOT happening. These last two blogs. This weeks and this one are DAMAGING! Truly. Rebrand! Be honest about what your site is for. The desperation of those of us who seek genuine help is NO LONGER available here. That’s not so bad but be HONEST about it or you are inadvertently hurting not helping MANY!

        By POM
        |
        August 14, 2021
      • Hi Pom,
        we have a very varied followers base, and not everyone has struggled with addiction.

        We have always been honest about what we stand for, which is to support people to have a healthier relationship with alcohol, and this includes moderation if it works for the individual.

        We don’t judge and we don’t preach sobriety, we never have.

        We are very grateful for the feedback we are receiving, and we will start articles about moderation with a trigger warning in the future.

        Thanks

        By Hello Sunday Morning
        |
        August 16, 2021
  • With all due respect, I found Louise’s story to be very unhelpful, to the point of offensive. The majority of people here struggle with moderation when it comes to alcohol – Louise’s story is the story I wish was mine. But it isn’t, which is why I am here at a program for people with alcohol dependency issues. To have someone say “once I drank too much but now I don’t”… I’m not sure how that is a helpful story for people who won’t ever be able to live that life. I love reading the real life stories Hello Sunday Morning offer because it makes me feel less alone. Louise’s story just makes me feel like even more of a failure.

    By Fiona
    |
    August 8, 2021
    • Hi Fiona,
      We are sorry this blog post struck a chord with you but we can guarantee Louise’s aim was not to brag about being able to drink in moderation nor to make other people feel like failures for their struggle to moderate.
      This is her personal experience, which can be an inspiration for people in a similar situation.

      Hello Sunday Morning’s mission is to change people’s relationship with alcohol, whatever this means for them.
      We don’t deal exclusively with addiction but support people to choose the level they’re comfortable with, if they’re in a position to choose.

      Your experience is probably very different to Louise’s, and we’d love to hear about it if you’re comfortable sharing it https://hellosundaymorning.org/share-your-story/

      By Hello Sunday Morning
      |
      August 9, 2021
  • Thank you Louise. Definitely quite a journey. The beautiful fancy glasses and staring at a ‘drink’ (alcohol) wondering ‘why bother?’ I can relate to. There are so many other solutions to pour into those glasses. And bonus: Feeling, thinking and looking great!

    By joanne wilkinson
    |
    August 8, 2021
  • Thank you Louise for your authenticity and vulnerability in this blog. So much of this I felt – from trying alcohol for the first time thinking ‘this is it? is it working’ to letting it bridge the gap of social awkwardness amongst peers. Truly a ‘coming of age’ story with our relationship to the drop. You hit a really good point with lockdown and drinking in general, always questioning the ‘why’ behind grabbing for that drink – after a long day, after a tough conversation or just feeling like you need something to help drift you away, and sitting with those feelings instead. It’s not about being perfect, or getting it right all of the time, it’s about growing along the way.

    By Morgan
    |
    August 8, 2021
  • Good on you Louise, to have such fortitude but I agree John, if only I, for one, could “mature my relationship with alcohol” ! Having a “dosage ” of one 120 ml glass of wine at one sitting is just impossible for me and many others, I suspect, otherwise we wouldn’t be looking at this website. For me, half a bottle of wine per evening was normal and I wasn’t inebriated or ugly at all. But according to the guidelines this was risky, binge drinking. And yes I’ve had a lot of the good stuff.. Henschke pinot in a very nice Reidel glass slipped down effortlessly however it’s NO DIFFERENT to the poor sod in the park with the bottle of cheap sherry in the brown paper bag. My point is be careful how things that look pretty and oh so respectable can mask the slippery slope of the grip of alcohol addiction. Rather than have a ‘dose’ of wine ( I live alone and what would I do with the rest of the bottle ? calling me “go on, just one more won’t hurt !) I’ve given up booze totally….proudly 6 months alcohol free… never felt better and no grog in the house is essential for getting REAL about taking control over alcohol. And I’ve ditched the wine glasses (that haven’t been broken!) for pretty water glasses and stocked the cupboard with many varieties of AF concoctions.

    By Jennifer Douglas
    |
    August 9, 2021
  • This article helped me a lot. Just because my issues with alcohol are not as extreme as those who can never drink it doesn’t mean my problem doesn’t matter. Alcohol does cause cancer and I know if I kept drinking the way I was I was going to ruin my life even though I was considered only a moderate drinker. I have reduced my intake and it might seem like a trivial problem to someone who’s alcohol consumption has got completely out of control but having the occasional drink is still something I can enjoy. I like the range of stories you share!

    By Kate
    |
    August 13, 2021
    • Typical comments above from total abstainers because they tried to moderate in the past and couldn’t. I get it, I really do – you’ve come to the end of your relationship with alcohol because that’s the only thing that stops you sliding down that slippery slope; The goalposts move easily and before you know it you’re back to being under its control. You lot have to realise that for some people, moderation is possible. Is it difficult? It can be. Is it impossible? Not for some.
      As someone who has gone from consuming 20 units a day every day to under 3 units a week WHEN I WANT and CHOOSE to drink, to take control of my decisions and enjoy alcohol again rather than let it control me, I found the blog post a pleasure to read and welcomed reading this shared perspective.
      We should be supporting everyone on their journey regardless of whether the end goal is complete abstinence or moderation. We should not be claiming that the author has never struggled with alcohol just because they have control over their consumption.

      By Ralph
      |
      August 16, 2021
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