Hi I’m Yvette and it’s been 7 months since my last drink. There was a time when 7 days between drinks felt like an almost impossible feat. My brain was wired for the Groundhog Day, one-size-fits all solution of ‘wine’.
Good day? Wine. Bad day? Wine. Going out? Wine. Staying in? Wine. Happy? Wine. Sad? Wine. Hangover? Hair of the dog that bit me…Wine! Wine was the answer at least for most of the questions in my mind.
Wine was friend. Always there. I could buy it! The novelty of this fact has never worn off. I can buy it? Whenever I want? Wherever I want? With wine as always is Garth/ Yvette. Of course it started off as a relationship full of fun and parties. Hangovers were minimal (oh to be young) and drinking almost an expectation. Slowly it slid into a co-dependent relationship. ‘I can’t go out without you!’ ‘Who am I without you?’ ‘You complete me’ ‘ Tomorrow? Never heard of it!’ ‘Please Sir, can I have some more?’
Hangovers got sharper, I was Flaky Flakerson. Slept through everything, rarely answered my phone, was late/ absent/ out of it for so many things. Still I drank. I tried tempering it with ‘only on the weekend’, ‘only 3 drinks’, ‘only as a celebration’. Soon the lines become blurry; ‘Thursday’s the weekend right?’ ‘ 3 giant glasses is still 3 right?’ ‘I’m celebrating having a crap day!’ You don’t negotiate with terrorists.
Drinking was a short-term solution to an ever-present problem; humans have feelings! It’s much more comfortable not to sit with the feelings of anxiety, anger or sadness but to wallpaper over them with the numbing effects of alcohol. The problem is those feelings are still lurking there under that paper-thin wallpaper and can’t be avoided forever.
I wish I could be a take it or leave person and enjoy a drink ‘now and then’ but I’m more of an all or nothing person and so (incredibly slowly) realised that if’s it’s all or nothing, it’s going to have to be nothing as all is not working. My hangovers become extreme. My body was clearly telling me enough was enough. I spent 2 days in bed throwing up after a party in July and after that decided, ‘perhaps a break is in order’.
I didn’t set any grand plans just that I’d try not to drink for a while. Initially it was hard; it was such a default program in my brain. I avoided social occasions for a while, I stocked up on Soda Water and Ginger Beer. I was shocked by the strong feelings I felt. I thought I wasn’t an emotional person anymore but I felt rage and despair and I cried. It wasn’t fun to feel that but a feeling fully felt dissipates, whereas what you resist persists. The days became weeks and the weeks became months and it became easier, the mood swings settled and I went out again into the public arena. On time, present and without my co-dependent friend, Winey Winerson. Maybe one day I can enjoy a drink now and again but until then…make mine what the French call, ‘sans alcool’.