I always hated those online quizzes named “Are you Drinking too Much?”. Have you ever experienced a blackout? (Duh). Has your family suggested you get help? (Whatever). Do you drink more than once week? (Who doesn’t?) Do you have more than 2 drinks in one sitting? (Are you serious right now?) Have you missed work due to your drinking? (I had the wine flu, but I am incredibly high functioning).
I saw another bloggers list of 8 signs your relationship with alcohol is more complicated than you think. I thought it was really good. I really related to the signs she mentioned.
I started thinking back to my own uneasiness about drinking. I thought it might be helpful to share some, not so obvious clues, that I was picking up on. These clues were subtle, but it became more obvious that alcohol was becoming more and more important to me.
If you are becoming mindful about your alcohol consumption here’s a few things you might consider as clues that your drinking is taking up too much head space.
1- Sharing is not caring
Preparing for social gatherings. You do not want to share alcohol with anyone. You want it all to yourself. You want to hoard your drink for only you. You heart skips a beat when someone picks your bottle to fill their cup. Now you have one less drink than planned. You would rather have too much than not enough to drink. You bring your own drinks to be sure, and some extras “to share”, but you don’t want to share. That is just a cover. Maybe you disguise the extra as a bottle of wine for the host.
You are concerned about the drinks and the offerings, before you even arrive. You usually don’t trust that there will be enough at any event. You are relieved when you see your drink (red wine) is offered, and you are annoyed when it is not (white wine only). You drink extra fast, take more than your share, and fill your glass to the rim, when you fear limited amounts. You offer to get someone else a drink so you can privately refill your cup. You have an emergency exit plan. Where/when you can go for more. An after party, the happy hour after the happy hour, the bottles at home on your counter that are thankfully all yours and yours alone.
2- Not the Drunkest
You are extra proud on those few occasions when you don’t over drink. You really work to moderate, especially on momentous milestone events or in front of certain people. You would never over do it at your high school reunion or in front of your Grandma or boss. You moderate and limit your drinking at certain times and then feel overly proud of yourself for your remarkable self control. If someone drank more than you on New Year’s Eve, you are thrilled. It wasn’t you. You drink every day, so you don’t need to over do it at the New Years Eve party, you might be really proud of yourself for being NOT hungover and the first one to pour a drink on New Year's Day. Reminding others when they were drunk, or those handful of times, when you were the voice of reason to drinkers. When you showed up late and everyone else was drunk so you drove people home safely, that one time. You love to remember and affirm yourself of your not problem, because obviously, you weren’t the drunkest one at every event, it was someone else. Not you. Someone drank more than you one time or another time or whatever. They may or may not have a problem, but obviously you don’t. Because at least one person, one time, drank more than you.
3- Normal Drinkers
Speaking of others, you might want to consider your thoughts when you get excited about other people’s drinking. I remember arriving to a holiday party that started at 10 am. I had just finished my coffee and I was so happy to see the ladies were already day drinking upon arrival. Yay, I could be a normal drinker!!! Drinking early in the day is festive, because everyone else is doing it. I loved it when at a conservative business dinner, a normal drinker suggested more wine for the table. What a delightful and unexpected way to get more of my drink on! Looking back, these should have been signs that my drinking was not in my control. I was very, very excitable when I got more drinks than expected and it was someone else’s idea. This felt like permission to keep drinking.
If you are concerned about your drinking reputation, you might want to think about that. I was casually throwing alcohol in at every opportunity. I never wanted to seem obvious, even to cashier’s that I had a drinking problem. I would casually throw a few bottles in my cart at the grocery store, as if I was buying wine for my whole European family to sip at dinner. I would load up at Costco because bigger is better. I would buy an entire case from Trader Joe’s because you could just slip it on the bottom of your cart, and it was practically invisible under all the groceries. I could buy a bottle at the CVS pharmacy, along with tampons. Super secret. I could go to this liquor store or that liquor store. I could mention something I was hosting (not) to the cashier that’s why I need all these bottles. Hahaha, hardy har har, the neighborhood ladies like their wine at book club. Total fucking lie.
5- Travel accommodations
I was all good with my secret at home drinking routine, but travel really threw me out of whack. I ubered to liquor stores and back to my hotel to make sure I had my fill. I put a wine bottle in my luggage so I knew I would have a drink immediately when I arrived. I utilized alcohol delivery at my corporate apartment for work. I would pay for 2 glasses of wine at the hotel bar and carry them up to my room so I could drink alone. I have bought so many travel wine openers in my time. I bought a whole bottle of wine to go from a country tavern when staying with my Grandma once. She was surprised there was so little left of the bottle in the morning. I was amazed that I left any in the bottle. I could not imagine visiting another country or going on a weekend retreat or anything that didn’t include drinking as much as I wanted.
6- You recognize the drinker in the other drinkers
When I arrive to a new social scene, I can tell who the drinkers are. I seek them out right away. I connect myself to them. I attached myself to them. Kindred. We both are going to drink lot. We are strangers, but we know. We get each other. We don’t give a shit. We are fast friends. A little bit louder than everyone else.
There is always a reason to drink and when there’s not we create on. We use our emotions as a reason to drink. We are suddenly really sad and feeling grief. The only way to get through it is to drink a little more than usual. We have free time, we celebrate by opening a bottle. We suggest celebrating everything with drinks. We pacify every uncomfortable feeling with a drink too. Bad news on the news? Drink. Holiday coming up at the end of the week? Start drinking now. We use the weather for goodness sake as a reason to drink. First sunny day, means drink on the patio. Thunderstorm equals romantic drinking. First snowfall means booze in a warm drink. You can and will always find a reason to add alcohol.
8- We don’t stop
Do you know what its like to have a glass of champagne at brunch and then go to the grocery store and end the night finishing your laundry and taking a bath? Me either. Can you have a beer at a baseball game and then go to the gym, pay your bills, and schedule a dentist appointment? Me either. If I started to drink, I would continue to drink. The rest of the day was a wash. I could not have a drink and then go about my business. To taste a drink was to keep the party going. I wasn’t done until I was passed out. I could never imagine having just one. Why would anyone? There was always more. There always needed to be more. One was always too many and 10 was never enough.
Do you relate? Do you have some to add? You don’t have to quit drinking to pay attention and start being mindful about your drinking.