Thursday 12 March 2015

Secret drinker hits the high bottom

'Hitting the high bottom' sounds a bit like a Miley Cyrus dance move, but that's not what I'm talking about.

It seems to be generally understood that alcoholics need to 'hit rock bottom' before they can shake off the denial and change their lives. We're used to hearing stories of people doing terrible things like sleeping with their best friend's husband, or putting themselves at huge risk - waking up in a gutter with no idea where they are or how they got there. For some, a medical diagnosis is the wake up call, or an 'intervention' by family and friends. The problem with never getting to 'rock bottom' is that it's much easier to convince yourself that you're absolutely not an alcoholic and, therefore, are perfectly able to start drinking again 'in moderation.'

I know that I'm going to constantly question whether going back to drinking is possible for me, so in order to remind myself why I stopped I thought I should document my 'high bottom'. Not a 'rock bottom', admittedly, but a 'bottom' in any case.

There were three events in short succession that gave me the necessary wake up call. My drinking had gradually increased, from sharing a bottle of wine with my fabulous long-suffering husband over dinner every night, to also (secretly) drinking half a bottle at lunch time and (secretly) drinking another half bottle while getting the children's supper ready and supervising homework. When I say 'secretly', I mean that I never confessed to drinking 1.5 bottles of wine a day, but my children were totally used to seeing me with a glass of wine constantly to hand.

Event number 1 was in my youngest child's classroom. She's five. Her teacher pulled me aside one morning and said "Lucy said the funniest thing yesterday! We were reading a book called 'a cup of tea' and I asked if Mummy liked a cup of tea, and she replied 'no, Mummy likes wine!' Ha! Ha! Ha!"
"Ha! Ha!" I replied, "Aren't children funny?" but inside I felt terrible. The truth is that my children think it's perfectly normal for Mummies to drink constantly. What kind of a role model am I?

Event number 2 was a few weeks ago when, for the first time I hid a bottle of wine. I'd always thought that alcoholics stashed bottles of vodka in laundry baskets, and because I only drank expensive wine, and never hid what I was drinking, I was ok. Well that evening I'd cracked open a bottle at about 5.30pm (as near as dammit to wine o'clock) while I was cooking the children's supper. By 7pm it was only a third full and I knew that the husband would - quite rightly - raise an eyebrow when he got home, so I hid it in the back of the cupboard and texted him asking him to bring a bottle home with him for supper (which I then drank half of, obviously). I did the same thing a couple more times, and realised that I'd crossed over one of my invisible lines.

Event number 3 was another line crossing. Alcoholics drink in the morning. If you don't drink in the morning, therefore, you're not an alcoholic - right? Well, a couple of weeks ago I woke up on a Saturday with a rotten hangover. I had lots to get done and knew that I wasn't going to feel better until I was able to have another drink. But it was only 10.30am. There was an inch of red wine left in a bottle from the night before. I poured it into a mug (a mug! ), so that the children wouldn't notice, and I drank it. And - wow! - I felt better. For about 5 minutes. Until I realised that I'd broken the big taboo. I stared at the empty mug and - with horrible irony - it had 'World's Best Mum' printed on the side. And that was it. I knew it was all over.

So when the wine witch starts whispering that it's really ok to drink on special occasions I'm going to read this again and remember the shame.

By the way, I went out for dinner with the husband and another couple last night and drank water. Yay!


  1. Dear Mummy,
    Thank you for sharing your story! I have been sober for 6 months. You are making a wonderful new start.
    What your children see is so important! (I was a teacher.)
    Being all there for them, and hubby is really a good life!
    Peace and Hugs,

  2. Wendy, your comment made me feel all tearful. Thank you! And good luck to you x

  3. You are really inspiring me! I ordered one of the books you recommended, Kick The Drink, Easily. It should be here next week just in time for my birthday, woohoo! My children are used to mommy always having a glass of wine as well. They never really know how much I drink because I never let the glass empty, which led to me never knowing how much I really drank as well. Last night was my first night with nothing, although I had to take nyquil to fall asleep. My anxiety at night is awful, especially when my head hits the pillow. Then all I can think about is how a little wine would calm me down :(.

    1. That's great, Jen! If I were you I wouldn't think about quitting drinking until you've read that book - it will really help. Do let me know what you think, and please don't beat yourself up - there are loads of us out there, and at least we're doing something about it ;-)