Let’s face it, it’s been a very weird year. We’ve changed, we wash our hands more and we don’t hug as much. We do strange elbow wagging when we meet, and we feel like terrible people if we sneeze at the supermarket.
But, slowly things will get back to normal, we’ll look back and be grateful we made it through.
But there is one thing that might stick around, one thing that we leaned on too much, that took off the edge and made isolation, well, a little more bearable.
Our old buddy,
Our social lubricant,
Our Covid crutch…
Statistics show that Australians drank more than 20 percent more during the peak of the crisis and Americans over 30 are drinking 14 percent more, and now the pandemic is spewing out another side effect: lots of people, especially women, are dealing with a newfound problem with drinking.
It’s amazing how quickly a casual sundowner can morph into something more sinister, but being stuck at home with online access to wine delivery services has left its mark on society and on some people’s already dysfunctional relationship with booze.
I watched with interest as friends and family members made excuses to drink earlier in the day; I listened as justifications for lunchtime beers were slipped into conversation, the ‘yeah, why nots’ and the ‘we may as wells.’
Wine o’clock used to be after 5 p.m., but home-schooling, loss of work and sheer boredom have made it acceptable to reach into the fridge whenever it feels necessary.
If I’d been a drinker during isolation, I’m sure my casual habit would have deteriorated to such a level that I would have been banging down the door of a rehab center as soon as lockdown lifted. I’d have been the one cracking open the white as soon as things got too heavy.
You see, I’d always been a huge binge drinker, a party girl with no off-switch, the last person on the dance floor and the one falling into the gutter at the taxi rank. A binge drinker extraordinaire with a cut on her chin from a misplaced break-dance move.
But, nearly three years ago, I stopped. I ditched the drink.
When I had kids, I became ‘Sober Curious,’ having to question my drinking because motherhood and hangovers didn’t mix as well as vodka lime and soda. My life had curdled, gone sour I suppose, and I had to take action. Drinking was interfering with me being the best mum I could be, So I sought help and quit. It sounds easy, but it wasn’t — there were lots of therapy and tears, but I got there.
So, I was two-and-a-half years sober when the pandemic began. I still keep alcohol in the house for guests and I have to admit, with each strained home math lesson and each argument over the last piece of toilet roll, that bottle clanking around in the little compartment in the fridge door, did become more appealing. The thought of numbing out instead of struggling over trigonometry was very tempting indeed.
But, as I’ve discovered, a sober mum is much more useful to have around than a drunk mum, so I never gave in. I was available for my children during the pandemic and not hiding in my bedroom with a hangover. I held on.
Not leaning on alcohol to get me though anything, is a major relief for me. I don’t have to deal the negativity that alcohol dealt me. My hangovers were tainted with shame and anxiety, and without those feeling weighing me down, I was able to handle myself and the children with a level head and a strong heart, both of which were lacking when overly inebriated.
I believe there is another way of coping, coping with pandemics, children and with life in general. Not drinking is how I get through. It’s how I function and how I mother. It means I’m available mentally and physically and I’m not teaching my kids that drinking is how we deal with life when things get rough.
Sobriety has had some very pointy corners; I get poked by them often … grumpy kids, family fallouts and tiredness all envelop me some days. I end up daydreaming about a crisp chardonnay soaking up my mood, but I pour myself a peppermint tea and remind myself why I have chosen this zig-zaggy path … drinking never solved anything, it just left me in the same rut I started in, just now with a stonking headache and sick on my cardigan.
Giving up being a drinker has made my family so much happier. I don’t hide, I feel, I don’t opt out and my mind isn’t preoccupied with when I’m next going to lift a wine glass to my lips. My head space is in the moment, ready for anything and when the sun is setting and the kids are snoring in their beds, I’m thankful.
Thankful that drinking isn’t part of my life, or theirs.
So, if your drinking has increased over the pandemic or you’re questioning your relationship with alcohol — then maybe it’s time to reach out? I learned that any problem, no matter how big or small, is worthy of support and you don’t have to reach rock bottom to get better.
I will admit, there is not as much bad robot dancing or karaoke, not so many late nights or unexplained injuries. All there is, is more laughing and more time.
And if there is one thing that the pandemic has taught us is to live life to the fullest because we never know what is waiting around the corner.
For me, choosing sobriety means I have more time, no memory loss, no blackouts. Just time.
And that is so worth it.