Day 103. Last night the husband was at a work do, so I took the opportunity to indulge myself by downloading a copy of the new documentary on the Brits and their drinking: A Royal Hangover, by Arthur Cauty.
It's well worth a watch. Many of the themes got me thinking, and I'm sure I'll come back to more of them over the next couple of weeks.
The film starts and ends with a lady in her twenties talking about her drinking. One particular phrase stuck in my head. She said "I never, ever had enough to drink."
I've heard many people say this. They talk about having one drink and then not being able to stop. They decribe a raging thirst that is unquenchable. They were born, they believe, with a faulty 'off switch.'
It reminded me vividly of an old friend of mine. Once she started on the vino she couldn't stop until she was either physically incapable of drinking any more, or physically restrained from drinking any more. I once bumped into her in a restaurant. She was on a date with a relatively new boyfriend (they never hung around for too long!) and was obviously the worse for wear.
I noticed that there were three barely touched bottles of red wine under the table. My friend kept ordering new ones and then, when she wasn't looking, her date would hide them from her. That must have resulted in a very large bill.....
Every time I heard someone talking about off switches I'd feel a little smug, and hugely reassured: that's not me! I don't have a problem! I am not an 'alkie.'
You see, whilst I was physically incapable of having 'just one drink', and would always drink as much as I could, I would be able to stop at the point just before I lost control. I would never get to the vomiting, falling over, passing out or shagging strangers stage.
So I watched the documentary last night which focussed on the classic 'no off switch' binge drinker, and was littered with shots of people dribbling and vomiting into gutters, knowing that in the past the wine witch would have been cackling gleefully, shrieking "not you! not you! Have another drink!"
But now I realise that alcohol is an extremely pernicious drug that insinuates itself into the fibre of your being in very different ways.
From what I've read, and from the stories people tell me, it seems that the 'no off switch' drinkers get into trouble at a relatively young age. They know that they are 'different' almost as soon as they start drinking alcohol in their teens.
My problem crept up much more deviously. Yes, my off switch worked, but as my tolerance increased, it kicked in later and later, until it would take at least a bottle of wine before it had any effect at all.
Plus, many of the 'no off switch' drinkers are classic bingers. They don't drink for days at a time and then they go on a bender.
Not me. You see I think my 'on switch' was the problematic one. I found it very difficult - from my early twenties onwards - not to drink every day. And then, over the last year or so, it became very difficult not to drink every lunch time as well as every evening. And at the weekends (and sometimes on Fridays) lunch times and evenings would blend into one.
So, I might had had an off switch, which meant that I could fool myself (and all my friends, plus most of my family) that I was perfectly ok, but, in reality, over the course of a week I would drink at least as much as a classic binger. Just on a drip feed basis.
I discovered right at the beginning of this journey that my drinking type is known as a 'maintenance drinker' (see my post on maintenance drinking), and is a typical middle aged, middle class, educated female profile. And the profile most associated with self denial. It's also the type of drinking that is most easily hidden from everyone else, which is why I called this blog 'Mummy was a Secret Drinker').
So, whilst I loved A Royal Hangover, I found it a bit frustrating that it focussed solely on one particular drinking profile, therefore re-enforcing the stereotype of the binge drinking, gutter hugging alcoholic.
I wonder how many women watched it, patted themselves on the back and opened a second bottle of sauvignon blanc?
It's Friday! Have a great one.
Love SM x