Day 104 and HUGE CONGRATULATIONS TALLAXO for making the big 100 yesterday! How does it feel? Did you celebrate?
A while ago someone left a comment on here that's been niggling away at me. I tried to find it again this morning, but I can't. It read something like 'anyone who drinks alone has a problem IMHO'. Kats76, was it you?
It got me thinking: when did drinking alone stop being a stigma? Or maybe it still is a stigma, but just one I, and most people I know, ignored?
The 'line that shall not be crossed,' as far as I was concerned, was drinking before midday, and being deceitful about drinking (things like hiding bottles, and lying to the husband and friends. Lying to the GP doesn't count, obviously).
I used to drink at lunch time every weekend, and at business lunches, and when out for lunch with friends. Slowly, slowly it got to the stage where it was very unusual for me not to drink at lunchtime.
And the start time got earlier and earlier, until the point where I would pour a drink at 11.45am, then just watch it until 12pm.
The deceit started creeping up too. I didn't overtly lie to the husband about how much I was drinking. I'd just neglect to mention the half bottle of vino I'd just drunk when I'd suggest he pick up a bottle for us to share with dinner.
And if a friend asked, casually, how much I drank in the evening I'd quote a 'good' day, not an evil one. Doesn't everyone?
But the day came, as it always does, when I couldn't fool myself any more and I knew I'd crossed the line good and proper (see Secret Drinker Hits the High Bottom). That's what made me stop.
So, my question is: did I draw the line in the right place?
If I had seen drinking alone as a danger sign, I would have crossed the line twenty years ago. At that point I wouldn't have had to quit altogether, I would have just reined it all in, and carried on as a happy, moderate, normie with no inkling whatsoever of the wine witch.
Whenever I did one of those online questionnaires entitled: 'are you an alcoholic?' (and I did loads of them) and I got to the question 'do you drink alone?' I'd mentally discount it. Drink alone? Of course I do. Doesn't everyone?
My drinking career started off socially, but, by the time I got to Oxford, there were 'social' drinking events pretty much every evening.
Then, when I left uni, I shared a house with 3 university friends who were trainee doctors. No-one knows how to 'let off steam' better than a trainee doctor. Our house was 'social drinking central' most evenings.
Eventually I got fed up of living in a shared house where everyone pretended not to notice the sink overflowing with mouldy plates so that they wouldn't have to do anything about it and, at the age of 26, I bought my own flat.
I found a large one bedroom in Fulham for the price of £80,000 (I got a 95% bank loan and a 5% loan from my parents). That wouldn't buy you enough space to park a moped on these days.
I had so few possessions that I was able to move with the help of a friend's VW hatchback, and a friendly black cab driver.
That first evening I sat in my only chair (a brightly coloured deck chair) in my new sitting room. The only other furnishings were 2 ornate candlesticks from the Conran shop, my stereo system, a yucca plant and a packing case which doubled as a coffee table. I had never been so happy.
So, did I toast my achievement with a glass of Perrier? F**k no! Obviously I opened a bottle of champagne and drank half of it (that was plenty in those days!) on my own.
Given that I now lived alone, it stood to reason that I would drink alone. I never questioned it. In fact, being able to go to my own fridge, after a hard day of kicking ass in the cut-throat world of advertising, and pour myself a large, chilled glass of chardonnay (as it was in those days) felt terribly grown up.
It was sophisticated. Emancipated. Not sad! Oh no! Bridget Jones drank alone. Carrie Bradshaw drank alone. It's what young, independent, single women did.
As I grew up, got married and had children, pouring oneself a large glass (or three) of vino once the children were in bed (and then earlier and earlier) was all part of being a busy, stressed out Mum.
Every day you'd hear someone say something along the lines of "God I need a glass of wine", or making jokes about "Mummy juice". And we sure as hell wouldn't wait for company before getting stuck in (and blitzed out).
But, the problem with drinking alone is that that's when the vino morphs from being 'social lubricantion' to 'self medication'.
When you drink socially, you drink for the buzz, the relaxation, the shared change of mood. When you drink alone, you drink because you're stressed. Bored. Angry. Lonely. Soon you find that you're drinking to numb any emotion at all. And that is NOT HEALTHY (obviously).
Plus, if you only drink socially, you're more likely to drink about the same as your peers. Drink alone and you set your own measures. A glass becomes a third of a bottle. You 'pre-load' with several drinks before you join your friends. You assume that everyone does the same, then suddenly realise that you're an outlier.
So, I believe that one of the best things we can do for our children, and all today's young people, is to bring back the stigma of drinking alone.
If the government poured some cash into an ad campaign portraying solo drinking as sad, desperate and a problem they would save a huge amount of money down the line in treating the immediate and knock on effects of problem drinking.
God, how I loved drinking alone......(and that says it all, really).
Love SM x