This may or may not be the right forum to delve into such matters as personal relationships but it’s time I duly ‘fessed up’. You see, besides my maturing marriage I have become deeply entrenched in another long-standing relationship. We’ve known each other a long time now but it’s only in recent years that ‘things’ have become more serious – so much so it has started to impact my life – and it’s time to instigate a separation. Not that anyone will care mind you, because so many of you are in the same relationship. Some know how to be the dominant partner and take control of the relationship while others are completely overwhelmed and are led down the gradual slippery slope into oblivion – I find myself teetering somewhere near the top of this slope – my partner is reaching out a hand to me – come, let me lead the way…..
I enjoy a drop of wine – very often. Recently the Queensland government ran a TV campaign to get us locals to think about our relationship with alcohol and the ending strapline was “what’s your relationship with alcohol?” and I found myself answering out loud that ‘I bloody love it thank you.’ I was alone at the time and looked over my shoulder to see if anyone had heard me. This, followed by one too many foggy mornings has lead me stop and take a good long look at my drinking habits.
I started by looking at what it means to be an alcoholic – how would I know if I’m ONE OF THEM? Aren’t they the people whose waking thought is “where’s the vodka?” Aren’t they the people who drown each day in a bottle of sherry? Aren’t they the people who can’t function unless they are off their chops? When I discovered that alcoholism is an addiction to the consumption of alcoholic drinks – the inability to manage ones drinking habits – I realised that this could NEARLY be me!
My problem is that I’m not too good at drinking in moderation and when I say moderation I mean just one glass with dinner instead of the whole bottle E.V.E.R.Y S.I.N.G.L.E N.I.G.H.T OF T.H.E W.E.E.K. I’ve even started thinking about booze such as wondering if there’s enough tonic in the fridge or deciding what to drink when we go out or thinking I really should be having an AFD (alcohol free day).
I’ve always had an appreciation for wine and growing up in, and marrying into, the hospitality industry, it was always an important part of family celebrations, dinner parties and, erm just dinner! The first ten years of our Australian life were spent in Adelaide South Australia, the wine state of Australia. I was privileged to work in an environment where I was surrounded by wine and lots of it. My overtime was paid in wine and so too my ‘thank you’s’ – it was easy and glorious; Barossa Shiraz, Riesling from Clare Valley, Coonawarra cab sav, wine from the Adelaide Hills, McLaren Vale and Langhorne Creek – it was obscene and we were in wine heaven.
I am certainly not one to wake up and automatically reach under the bed for the vodka bottle – no, no, no, no, no – that is not me. And I don’t sit at my desk wishing for the booze fairies to deliver a little something into my desk drawer – heavens no! I do sometimes sit behind my desk wishing I hadn’t had that last glass. I do know when enough is enough – having learned my lesson at a young age and with maturity came the ability to realise that one more was going to take me over the edge and would have me talking to God on the great white telephone. Some people can drink themselves into such a state they lose the last few hours of their evening and don’t remember the journey home and into bed (or into someone else’s.) That is not me.
Alcohol has been acceptably woven through the fabric of our society for generations; we are faced with a barrage of ‘alcoholic glamour’ every day – it’s on the greetings cards we send each other, it’s on billboards and TV ads. Our sporting men and women are sponsored by alcohol and so too are some of the largest sporting events on the calendar. I even heard of yoga and gin classes – really? Our world has gone booze crazy and you’re a freak if you don’t drink – how can you not drink – I mean, what’s wrong with you, you weirdo!
I’m the first one to post a photo of a wonderful glass of Friday-evening-wine on Snapchat or Instagram; an Aperol Spritz looks soooo inviting on Instagram with a Lo-fi filter over it. As Kristi Coulter so wonderfully put in her essay Enjoli “Maybe all that wine is an Instagram filter for our own lives, so we don’t see how sallow and cracked they’ve become.” Kristi’s observations and experiences resonated with me as they did with thousands of others. She continues her journey “staying sober in a world that’s often three sheets to the wind” on her blog Off-Dry.
So as my partner reaches out a hand, desperate to lead me down the slippery slope to alcoholism, I begin to weigh up my options. Is it all, or nothing? Is it possible to reach a compromise – a happy medium before it’s too late? I shall certainly try. Do you suppose someone attending an AA meeting proudly informs the assembled group of recovering alcoholics “I’m doing really well, I’ve cut back my drinking to just a couple of glasses on Friday and Saturday evenings”? Is that possible? I DO have to take control though and hopefully I’n strong-willed enough to do just that – watch this space.
As a footnote, it has taken me a few evenings to put this post together (glass of wine in hand). I nearly pressed delete and dedicated the blank page to Romeo and Juliet instead but this is a journey I have to go on and I owe it to myself to be brave and share it with you. Have you noticed how non-committal I’ve been though….