I have been reading some interesting pieces on the excuses alcoholics use to justify their drinking. When I was drinking, I had a whole host of excuses up my sleeve to explain why I didn’t have a problem and everything was fine. Some of these I used with Mr So but mostly, I used them to reassure myself and to normalise my drinking.
On of my favourite excuses was that there were plenty of other people drinking a lot more than me. I didn’t really come across many of those people in my day to day life but I had read about them in the Guardian. One of my friends had told me about Mums from school who opened a bottle of wine as soon as they got in from the school run. What she didn’t know was that I was one of those Mums. Still, I knew other people were doing the same so it couldn’t be that bad could it ?
If I got as far as acknowledging that perhaps I needed to cut back on my drinking – huge understatement – I would point out to myself how successful I was. I was extremely good at my job. I had a lovely home, Mr So and my two beautiful daughters. I looked presentable and my house was clean and tidy. I ran our household like a well oiled machine. I was ultra efficient. Surely if I was drinking too much something would have slipped ?
I “only” drank decent New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc and never touched spirits, beer or red wine. Obviously if I had a problem with alcohol I wouldn’t care what I was drinking, would I ? Similarly, I never drank in the mornings – well hardly ever.
My therapist didn’t think I was an alcoholic although we agreed drinking was something I needed to keep an eye on. Unfortunately as I have said on this blog before, I lied about how much I was drinking, so he wasn’t really in a position to advise me. But, I told myself – if he doesn’t think I have a problem, who am I to argue ? After all he’s a professional.
To Mr So I would say I deserved a glass or two of wine. I worked hard didn’t I ? If I had a hard day it was only normal to wind down. If it had been a good day, we needed to congratulate ourselves, didn’t we ? The “we” bit was important because if Mr So joined in it must be OK.
Over the years I managed to stop drinking or cut down several times. I took this as concrete proof that I didn’t have a problem because it showed I could stop any time I wanted. I could stop tomorrow if I wanted. I would cut down after Christmas, I wouldn’t drink in the week…
At the same time as I was telling myself I was in control of my drinking and could stop if I wanted, I also justified my behaviour by blaming someone or something else. Mr So was stressing me out, my boss was being a pain. After all it wasn’t my fault if the unreasonableness of others meant I had to drink. Either way I looked at it, I had it covered.
The excuses went on and on. As it began to occur to me that I might possibly have a problem, the excuses I used to justify my drinking seemed less and less plausible. I had to admit that even I was no longer entirely convinced. And that was when my mindset began to change. That nagging feeling was the start of the process.
Now and again I think about the excuses I could use to justify starting drinking again. Surely I’ve proved I can control my drinking – I don’t really have a problem any more. It was my choice to stop drinking and it is up to me if I want to start again. Sobriety hasn’t solved all my problems, I don’t feel as good as I thought I would, so is there any point ? What if something really bad happened – would that be enough ?
Right now, I don’t want to start drinking again so I don’t need an excuse to do so. But I can’t say for sure I won’t ever want to drink. In fact I am pretty certain that the thought of drinking – either “normally” or purely with the intention of getting completely obliterated – will cross my mind at some point in the future. I need to be ready for that. I need a plan.