Alcohol – A Very Real Post
When starting this blog I debated over whether I wanted to keep it lighthearted or give a peak into some dark truths in my life. Part of my blog (the ‘overcoming obstacles’ part) was that I wanted to create a real blog about a real woman and mother. Not the airbrushed smoothie drinking profile pic you often see and then use to tell yourself you’re failing somehow.
Also I love to read real, raw accounts of people’s lives and I think as a mother I need it even more. The struggle is real and the more open we can be about it, the closer we will feel to all mothers and the more we can let go of some of the guilt and shame we often feel as mothers.
I’m writing this post as I sit in bed having spent most of the night throwing my guts up. I had a wonderful day out with the kids but didn’t make the best food choices.
I decided to ‘treat’ myself to some caramelised peanuts with sesame seeds at our local Curzon cinema as I was taking both kids there for the Kid’s Club film. We’d not been there before, usually I take only my older one to Odeon and we buy a kids’ size popcorn and I’d have a little bit of that and then we’d go for lunch (having had a healthy breakfast before leaving the house). But as I had overslept and missed breakfast I thought the peanuts were the best option. Live a little, I thought.
Also I feel like when I eat brekkie then snack at the cinema (I usually take some healthy treats in too) and THEN have lunch it’s too much. I’ve been eating a lot less lately, since I lost my baby weight and reduced my breastfeeds down to roughly 1 a day, as I just need less food. I did get some popcorn too but the small size was huge. It tasted really buttery too which would be great if it was actual butter but it was probably butter flavouring. I didn’t ask too many questions as I didn’t want to think about it when I had both kids to manage by myself.
The kids had had breakfast and weren’t too fussed on the popcorn and a curse of growing up poor is that I cannot waste food!! So I ate a fair bit of it along with my sesame peanuts. They weren’t anything special, the sweetness tasted kind of empty which means they were probably caramelised in refined cane sugar instead of something rich in flavour and healthful like honey.
We then went to the park and had a nice long play in the beautiful sunshine. It was a lovely day and I was more than full from the cinema snacks so we didn’t end up leaving the park until about 2.30pm. I had avoided buying the children an ice cream there despite several requests as I wanted them to have something decent to eat after the morning’s sugar fest (they also had some sweets at the cinema).
So we headed into town for some shopping and lunch. I wanted to get the shops out the way first as my son was not up for it and I wanted to keep pushing the buggy so my daughter could sleep. She did sleep which was great but then my son and I argued about whose turn it was to pick where we go for lunch (I choose somewhere healthy, he chooses McDonalds). We settled on Eat as a compromise but we got there at about 3.30 and nothing appealed to me, I still wasn’t that hungry and since my husband was going to be picking us up in a short while I didn’t see the point in spending a lot of money on a small bit of food I could easily create at home soon enough. Also we were having steak and chips that night so I really wanted to enjoy it and not be full from a late lunch.
My son said he wasn’t really hungry either so we just got a juice each. I had had my heart set on a green juice from Skinny Kitchen so I settled for a Drama Green Juice and my son got an apple juice. Turns out my juice was mostly apple juice. What I call fake veg juice.
I didn’t like the packaging waste either – 2 plastic bottles straight in the bin as I had enough going on with the kids without taking them home to wash and recycle. This is one of the big things I hate about McDonalds but I’ve learnt that I need to compromise on my principles. It’s important to tell our kids about these issues and model good behaviour but really, they just want the happy meal toy and to not be different from others. And their wishes are just as important as mine. They will develop their morals in their own time but definitely not by having mine forced onto them.
Anyway, I digress. So we drank our juices in the sun and listened to live music until it was time to go home. We met my husband at another park and the kids were having so much fun running around we hung about there for a bit.
And this is where it all went wrong. I was really looking forward to our dinner of steak and chips. I’d splashed out for fillet and goose fat chips as we NEVER go out to eat, or do anything away from the kids really. So it was a special treat for my husband and I and so I started to build up a picture of it in my head.
I always associated steak meals, or really any fancy meal with wine and we had a bottle of opened red wine at home that needed ‘using up’. So I started dreaming of sitting in our garden with the fire pit, drinking wine and eating our glorious meal. Partly remembering each other as we were before the stresses of parenthood but partly enjoying each other in our new roles in our wonderful family unit. Family is everything to me but the balance is still off – too much time doing stuff and not enough time relaxing.
Upon seeing my husband I enthused about my vision for the evening but he said he wasn’t very hungry just yet. Being the martyr I am I chose to hold off the evening meal but I also wanted to start the vision as soon as possible after arriving home so I poured us a glass of the wine each and enquired about the fire pit. Hubby had to go out and get firewood so I stayed in and worked on my blog in the garden with my wine. Thinking this is the life. Even though it was now cold and I had also forgotten the deck was completely up as it’s being redone. But I was desperate to make this evening work and it did to a point.
By the time dinner was ready it was about 8pm. I had snaffled a Rhythm 108 hazelnut chocolate bar from my Healthy Nibbles snack box as soon as I got home in a I can’t think about this too much, I just need a bit of food so I can get on with dinner mindset. We had a wonderful time out in the garden. It was a pure, honest kind of happiness the kids were feeling and the steak was awesome. However, I had started to feel REALLY bloated and a bit sick. Bloating is the first sign that something’s wrong with my digestive system. I had poured another glass of wine to get the bottle finished but I gave that to my husband as soon as I felt odd and then ate my meal thinking I just needed something in my stomach and running through what I had eaten that day in my head.
After my meal I felt SO bloated and sick that I couldn’t even read to my son, it was 9pm by then though so he just fell asleep after saying ‘I’m worried about you Mama’. I then spent the rest of the night emptying my stomach. My whole body hurt so much, I was freezing cold and really dehydrated. I’ve been sick a lot in my life and I’m never really sure what I’m supposed to do – hydrate, not drink, eat to fill my stomach, take meds or let my body expel whatever it’s trying to. I barely slept and I feel awful today. I stopped throwing up at 6am after I realised I had some Motillium in the cupboard. There was nothing left in my tummy anyway, I was only throwing up the water I was drinking through dehydration!
It’s 10am now and I think I’m going to brave a banana and if that goes down some leftover beans I made. I have some belly pork rashers I can cook up for later as they’re easy to eat and so so tasty. It’s easy calories too as they’re so fatty.
My history with alcohol
At 16 I began a relationship with alcohol I would honestly call alcoholism. I was dealing with a lot of childhood issues alone without much self-awareness and lots of shame and insecurity. I had NO confidence or self-worth and on the facade alcohol gave that to me. I felt I could tackle anything after a drink and it made me feel happy, excited and part of the world. I had hope and faith in my future and made some close connections with people when drinking, something I lacked in my family life.
I won’t go into the whole history of my drinking (unless you want me to do a post on that). But suffice to say it dominated my late teens, 20s and at 30 when I met my husband it still had its grip firmly into me. By this point I was spending most of my post drinking days vomiting all day and it was obvious something was very wrong with me. I could have 1 beer and be sick so I think my liver just couldn’t hack it anymore.
I’d never been afraid of death and often welcomed it but now that I had a secure, loving partner and the prospect of a family on the horizon I knew I had to make some big changes. I read the Allan Carr book – The Easy Way to Control Alcohol as his The Easy Way to Stop Smoking had been a big success for me. He has since made another book The Easy Way for Women to Stop Drinking. I’ve also come across Annie Grace since then who uses very similar concepts but is probably more relatable.
I had a course of CBT with an excellent therapist, which changed my life, I started attending wonderful Buddhist meditation sessions and generally turned my life around. I loved how much better I felt and how many of my mental health issues were reduced by these changes. I wanted more! So I read and learnt and did some trial and error and took some tests and I am still on that journey of self-improvement and self-empowerment. At 39 I am a totally different person to me at 30 and in such a good way. I have so many horrible memories from before the age of 30 but the memories from this decade have been wonderful and they’re only getting better.
I realised that not only did I not need alcohol to be happy, but it was actually holding me back. So I mostly have freedom from alcohol. Until times like this where I think logically I don’t want alcohol ever but the reminiscent romanticist in me attaches positive drinking memories to certain events – like drinking with food, drinking to celebrate, drinking at parties.
Being pregnant, trying to get pregnant or breastfeeding for much of the past decade has shown me that these events are perfectly enjoyable, if not more so, without alcohol. And then you get the whole next day in good health too. But the alcoholic in me raises it’s head when I don’t have a good reason not to drink. You would think my own health and the image I portray to my children would be enough. But that’s not how addiction works. If I were to drink a glass of wine every night for 5 nights I would find it incredibly hard to stop that evening glass. This is why alcoholics say they can never have even one drink.
My body is obviously giving me a clear sign I shouldn’t be drinking. Why was it different this time to when I recently drank a bottle of wine and some port at a friends? Maybe I had had more substantial food then, maybe it was the fact this wine had been open for a week or 2, maybe I had heat stroke from being out in the sun all day, maybe I’m so healthy now that my immune system responds as soon as anything toxic enters. Whatever the maybe – I need to ask myself why I wanted that glass of wine to start with. I never really enjoy drinking anymore and whatever the conditions were that day, I highly doubt I’d have been ill if I hadn’t have drunk the wine. I’d maybe have passed out early and woken up refreshed with fond memories of the day.
So I will stock up with Kombucha and other ‘safe’ drinks and when I feel like boozing or I’m at an event where I will struggle I will go prepared. Like I usually do with food. I had been making good choices lately and was going to be in town with lots of healthy eating establishments so I didn’t bring lunch (only healthy snacks). The ironic thing is if I’d let my son just have his turn and go to McDonalds I could’ve got a chicken salad without dressing, thus compromising on the healthy meal and probably avoided this whole thing. Damn that attachment of mine to predetermined ideas of future events.
These are the lessons we learn because of our children and I am so thankful to have 2 wonderful little teachers in my life.
I think seeing me so ill from one glass of wine was a good lesson for my son. And seeing me navigate parties and the like without having any from now on is an excellent message for him to take away so this wasn’t a total disaster. I am realigning my values too and making positive change. If I can keep it up.
Let’s help the next generation by parenting respectfully and being open, honest and approachable about alcohol. Laura Markham at Aha Parenting has a great post on handling alcohol and our children here.
So in summary, I think the poor eating choices I made yesterday would’ve been OK without the wine. I’d have just eaten my steak dinner and gone back to my usual healthy eating the next day after a good night’s sleep. As it is, I feel awful today and that takes away from the lovely time we had during the day.
Please comment on any tips, knowledge or similar experiences you have below!