When I look back at my embarrassing drinking sessions there are a few – actually a few too many – situations that I am still hesitant to talk about.
However, if you’re reading this you’re probably concerned about your drinking so I consider this a safe space.
So, deep breath, here it goes.
A few years back I went to my son’s 21st birthday party, which was held at his dad’s house. His father and I had separated about 15 years earlier and, while we were on okay terms, it wasn’t as if we were besties who hung out every weekend.
I felt awkward about being at his home with his partner, friends and family all there.
I had invited some of my friends and family for moral support and my two sons and their friends were there.
But I found the situation awkward so I turned to my usual “anxiety buster” – white wine – to quell my nerves.
I had a few glasses in quick succession when I got there to take the edge off.
Now that I know how alcohol works I realise that those first few glasses were also creating all sorts of reactions in my body and brain that would lead me to drink more as the night went on.
Which of course is what I did.
The night starts going downhill …
The main meal was served late – a spit roast that took longer to cook than expected – and I barely touched the nibblies, so I was drinking on an empty stomach. Never a good idea but especially when you’re feeling overly anxious.
By the time the speeches came I was well and truly tipsy (sloshed would probably be more accurate).
I gave a speech but who knows what I said and I do remember my younger son gently pulling me back, a subtle sign to let me know that I was rambling.
I should have called it a night then as many of my friends and family had already left but my inhibitions were completely gone by that stage and I was up for a big night.
Thankfully, one of my friends (who’s also a big drinker) stayed on.
I can’t remember much of the rest of the night – I do remember playing a game of pool, accidentally walking into a glass door (thankfully nothing was damaged – me or the door) and having conversations with various people (although who knows what we talked about).
My memories are very fragmented and blurred although I do remember my friend and my son (the one celebrating his 21st) walking with me around to the front of the house for our lift home.
I was wearing high-heeled boots and tripped and fell. Thankfully, it was out of sight of the party goers.
I later justified it on the uneven ground but only hours earlier I had walked across that same uneven ground in the same high-heeled boots without tripping and falling.
Morning after the night before
The next morning I woke at my friend’s house feeling terrible – not just physically but feeling awful about the way I had acted.
I asked myself the usual questions I did after a night like that:
“Where am I?” and “What the f*ck did I do last night?”
And when I started to piece together the fragmented memories of the night before, I felt sick and I don’t just mean hangover sick – although the headache was horrendous and the nausea next level.
I have since spoken to my son about it and, in his typical laid-back way, he has shrugged it off as nothing to worry about.
But I did worry about it and part of me still feels embarrassed that I behaved in that way.
However, I can now give myself grace and forgiveness around it.
Because I now understand that my response to alcohol – particularly in a situation like that when I was feeling incredibly anxious – was a coping mechanism.
I used alcohol as a crutch and then once I was a few drinks in I kept on drinking because of the complex way in which alcohol was working in my brain and body.
Once I understood that, I could give myself greater leniency.
However, it took me a long time from wondering what was wrong with me to figuring out that it wasn’t because I was weak willed or not able to handle my drink.
That’s why I became an alcohol coach so that I could use my experience, along with the knowledge and strategies I have learned through my training, to support other people who are going through the same thing.
Most importantly, I hope they don’t have to spend as many years as I did trying, and failing, to gain back control.
If you want to reach out to me to chat about your situation and how I can support you, I invite you to schedule a free 30-minute discussion call.
You can also join the private Alcohol Reset Facebook page.