As I was contemplating where I’m up to in my relationship with smoking (not stopped but have cut down) and how long it will be before I decide it’s over; I got to thinking about how I got to quitting alcohol and whether that can help speed up the process this time.
I remember telling my brother Xmas 2011 that I knew I drank too much and I was going to cut down. He nodded sagely. I’d probably already started the trying to cut down; the no booze til Friday, well maybe Thursday as you’re going out anyway routine; that usually ended with a beer after a hard day tues or wed followed by wine Thursday as you may as well now and start again Monday. This went on for years. I’m sure you recognise it. The incessant bargaining with the wine witch. I didn’t know about her then though, just thought it was me myself I in the conversation.
At first I told myself I drank because I wasn’t happy in my marriage. I got divorced. I still drank. Even more. I was stressed of course, so that made it ok. I was also in a new relationship and in love. Whereas A had acted as my brakes in our relationship (or tried to) C was more of an accelerator. He would anticipate my every want and what I wanted was alcohol! Our weekends together were champagne fuelled and deliriously wonderful. I’d return home to stress at work and home; just me and my angry upset younger daughter. Wine got me through. Drinking for fun; drinking to deal with my emotions; drinking to manage stress – whatever the situation wine was most definitely the solution.
C moved up and our relationship shifted to more ordinary married life. The champagne was replaced by ordinary wine. I knew my drinking was out of control but I couldn’t talk about it. I began to realise that I had changed everything except myself. I had run out of excuses as to why I drank. I drank to drink. Simple. I wanted someone else to tell me I had a problem. In the end my daughter did and I stopped for a few months. On a Friday. No waiting for Monday. Just before Xmas. I reconnected with yoga during those months but then thought I could drink moderately again. It took almost a year of not so moderate drinking until I stopped again and here I am 8 months on; wiser and happier most of the time but still not addiction free. I have a foot in each camp – half sober, half addict. I worry this might be what leads me back to alcohol.
One of the most powerful motivators for me was not wanting to hit rock bottom – whatever that might have been for me. I’ve seen my mum living in a bedsit with a drunken partner; no money, no friends, no self respect. I seemed to be getting away with it or was I storing up a big load of trouble for later? This thought vexed me constantly. The other big motivator is my relationship with my girls and this may help with the smoking. Since my divorce I’m really conscious of being their only source of support. They don’t see much of their dad and they are both single. They have each other of course and friends but I fear not being around for them. Not enough to stop smoking so far though! Our ability to disassociate information when we want to is truly remarkable.
If I’m honest smoking is a habit and a hard one to break. I also think that staying in with C and smoking rather than going out when everyone else is drinking suits me at this point. I like our bubble; I feel safe, soothed and protected from the world. I thought not drinking would change it; it has and it’s better. Perhaps it will be better still without the smoking? When I finally get there I’ll let you know!