It’s a modern-day epidemic. Our drinking culture is next levs and just when we should be taking it down a notch, it’s got a life of its own. Drinking. Why do we do it? Why so much? Why so often? There have been several articles lately pin pointing that Mums are the group in our society out-drinking and by that, I mean, drinking more than any other group. I’m all for women’s empowerment but this is a race we don’t want to win.
According to ground-breaking research conducted by Western Sydney University in 2015, more than 624,000 Australian women aged 35 to 59 years old engage in high-risk drinking.
What is high-risk drinking? If I’m being honest, any drinking is high-risk as alcohol significantly increases your chance of getting 7 types of cancer, can age your organs and it stops your brain from functioning properly, but that’s just my opinion.
Of the data, Dr Janice Withnall said at-risk women have ‘limited coping abilities’ and as a result tend to ‘take solace in alcohol.’
Perhaps women are more at-risk because of our very nature we know our potential is untapped and the thought of rising strong is terrifying. I’ve always been more innately distressed by the prospect of success than failure. Failing I had down-pat. Success, is a little trickier to navigate.
So why am I bringing this up? You see, this was me. And it checks out that my story is far from unique, and if that’s the case, a not a case of wine, then I want to tell everyone woman, Mum, sister, wife and daughter, you can beat this cycle you feel trapped in. There is a better way to cope. It’s to deal.
When I was at the height of my career, I was at my lowest self-worth and the disconnect almost broke me. What I realize now, is that no-one had taught me how to handle the stress load in my life. That sounds like I’m blaming someone else, so let me re-phrase. I hadn’t learnt how to deal with major stress in my life. It had compounded and compounded and the temporary relief from it all, I found in the bottle, well in the bottom of the bottle. Perhaps the solace of the bottle is a comfort we want to recreate from childhood that offers security and a source of vitality, the ones we knock back as adults are far from that.
We all know knowledge is power, Jay Z said so, and seeing as I can’t exactly counsel you through your highly stressful environment you’re barely keeping it together organizing right now, let’s me do a quick education on alcohol. At least that way we are on the same page.
Alcohol does nothing for you. It is not your friend and if you can’t be in public without it, then you have a dependency, it might be mild, but the problem with alcohol, is that you need more of it to give you the same effect it used to, like ‘unwinding at the end of a long day,’ or ‘taking the edge off.’ The more you drink, the more you need and the main concern here, is that no matter how much or how often you drink, alcohol does not change the very thing you are turning to it to escape; your environment, your situation, your relationship, your workload or your kids are not going to be any different after a few Savvy B’s.
You may think alcohol offers you comfort, but it just stops your brain from working properly, which means you simply can’t process and deal with your environment or your situation, which means, nothing will change and if nothing changes, nothing changes.
Ok, so now we know that alcohol isn’t your friend, you’re probably slightly concerned about how much you and/or your girlfriends drink, or you want to at least figure out why? Ultimately, the ‘why’ is an excuse.
‘My marriage is loveless’, ‘there is no time for me’, ‘my children are high needs’, ‘I deserve it’. These are all excuses. These are situations in your life, created to grow and evolve you. Full of character development for you to unpack and hurdles for you to attempt, all making up your life experience, that you were put here to live, not ignore. All geared to see you flourish, not bound.
Alcohol enables you to check out, so I’m being a friend and checking in. How is your relationship with alcohol? Not sure? Haven’t thought about it? Uncomfortable?
What I know for sure is, this is manageable. We were built to deal with life’s toughest tasks and we are armed with the brain power, capacity and ability to do it all. Without alcohol. With resilience. With good people, around us to build us up, help us along and raise the bar, not just sit at one mid-week.
Here’s the good news. I lived like this for years, ok that’s not great news, but I clawed my way out of this bottle to bottle existence. My life wasn’t terrible, in fact on paper, it was kick-ass. But no matter how successful I was, no matter how many ticks on my bucket list, what weight I became, or how many dream jobs I nailed, there was an empty part in my self-worth. And drinking didn’t fill it. Ever. I figured (eventually) a couple of traumas, a lot of work pressure and my fixation with being perfect, or as perfect as I could be, was slowly breaking me and my coping mechanism of choice was to knock back some beers and forget about it. Well, that doesn’t play well for a long game. My relationship with alcohol was very uncomfortable. It wasn’t a problem, yet, but I wasn’t able to get through a week without a trusty bottle of red.
What did I do about it? I took a month off, at first. I took 31 days to ‘step away from the bar’ and give myself a fighting chance at getting my head around who I was and why I was doing something I didn’t want to do anymore. The clarity I experienced by taking time away, helped me understand my choices and enabled me to make better ones. I implemented strategies to deal with pressure of work as my job escalated one last time and I was helped through the past trauma with some counselling, I also started and still, journal. This was the beginning of what has now been three and a half years of living alcohol-free. Living out a life that I am content with and I believe we all deserve that.
Let’s not shame anyone who is drinking too much or too often. Let’s seek to understand this beautiful soul is a bit lost and a bit broken and then let’s lead each other in new ways, let’s figure out how to deal with the tough stuff, build the resilience and create a life we want to live. That’s what we deserve.