When I was trying (and failing) to moderate I put all sorts of restrictions on myself, one of which was restricting myself to only drinking on weekends.
Being a weekend drinker meant that long weekends were a real ‘treat’ as I was ‘allowed’ extra drinking days.
This is actually how I bargained with myself – using words like treat and allowed – and justifying every occasion that I drank. It was exhausting.
And, speaking of exhausting, I generally felt wiped out by the end of a long weekend.
I would get to the end of three or four days off and instead of feeling relaxed and refreshed, I would be tired, grumpy and lethargic.
It was like I had undergone some sort of torture where I’d been deprived of sleep, water and (good) food. Which of course was the case – I was sleep deprived, dehydrated and fueled by crap food.
But I considered all of it a ‘treat’!
Now that I’m taking a break from drinking I can compare my alcohol-free long weekends with those during my drinking days and it’s quite a stark difference.
The last working day before the long weekend I would spend an inordinate amount of time thinking about when to have my first drink. I’d make sure the wine was chilled and ready to go.
As soon as I’d get home – or to the pub if we were having after work drinks – I’d reach for a glass of wine and say ‘cheers’ to the long weekend.
I’d continue celebrating into the night probably watching sitcoms that I’d have a hard time remembering the next day.
Invariably I’d fall asleep on the couch.
This pattern would repeat throughout the long weekend.
If there were any social events, figuring out the logistics would be an extra complication:
- which one of us would drive? (neither of us wanted to draw the short straw on that)
- would getting an Uber be easy on a long weekend? (the answer was always no)
- could we go for a short while then make our excuses to leave so we could carry on drinking at home?
I look back and I’m shocked that so much of my time and mental energy went into planning my social life around my drinking.
Then finally after three or four days of ‘getting on it’, I would have the back-to-work blues on the final afternoon of the public holiday. Not because I disliked my job, simply because my mood was low.
And then when I did wake up to go to work I would feel far from refreshed after the long weekend. In fact, I’d feel sluggish, hungover, exhausted and in a bad mood.
Yet somehow I looked at drinking on a long weekend as a treat and a celebration.
Long weekends now
Now I look forward to long weekends because they give me so much time to do all the things I want to do.
When I knock off work the day before a long weekend I treat myself to an alcohol free drink (a mocktail in a fancy glass or an alcohol-free gin with good quality tonic) and do something relaxing.
Bubble bath, start a new book, get out the paint brushes … who knew there would be so many ways to unwind besides getting sloshed?!
When I wake up the next morning I’m not hungover so I can go for a hike with my partner or catch up with a friend for brunch.
There seem to be so many more hours in the day because I don’t spend half of them sleeping in or slumped in front of the TV because I don’t have any energy.
If we have a social event, that’s great:
- I can drive (no wasted time trying to figure out the logistics)
- I can spend the time socialising with the people I’m with rather than focussing on when I’ll have my next drink
Comparing the two scenarios is a bit of an eye-opener.
I genuinely believed that drinking was making my long weekends – or any weekend really – better but seeing it laid out in black and white, I know that isn’t true.
Sometimes it’s not until we step back and really look at the reasons why we drink and question whether it’s serving us that we can consider that there may be a benefit in trying a different way.
Want more information?
If you’re concerned about your drinking and would like to discuss it on an obligation-free 30-minute discussion call, feel free to book in a time to chat.
If you prefer to email, you can reply to me at firstname.lastname@example.org
And, if you haven’t already joined the private Alcohol Reset Facebook group, you are welcome to join and be part of the conversation.