Alcohol. Beer. Wine. Gin and Tonics. Hard Cider. Margaritas.
I’ve been exposed to them my whole life. My father made it a point to not shelter us from the stuff. I guess you could say that he wanted his children to be wine connoisseurs and beer snobs rather than binge drinkers. At around the age of 13, he would let us have some wine at our family Sunday lunch. I felt SO cool with my little shot glass full of wine. Thanks Dad.
My siblings have a steady and controllable relationship with alcohol. I did too, until my eating disorder embedded itself deep within me.
Back then/when I was young/in the good ole days (whatever you want to call it), I rarely got drunk–I mean I was 16 and a goody two shoes! On Friday night, I stayed home and caught up on my chemistry homework and then watched my weekly episode of Call the Midwives. When I did drink, my highest level of consumption only reached stage tipsy, and the night would end innocently with lots of giggles.
Alcohol gives warm, fuzzy, love-y feelings. Feelings that enable us to believe that everything will turn out OK. That the world is great. I liked that. I was never and will never be opposed to alcohol. It serves many purposes. It’s FUN! When done properly, that is. But doing things properly regarding alcohol consumption is not my strong suit these days.
Once I matured more, I started going out to gatherings that involved large quantities of alcohol (*ahem, parties).
One party. Wow that was a BLAST!
Two party. Went a little hard last night. Whew. I can feel it.
Three party. Went too hard. I feel sick. Don’t eat much.
Four party. Drinking makes me have the munchies. My tummy hurts now. Don’t eat.
Five party. Restrict the day of the party so that I can snack a ton and not feel sick.
Six party. Restrict throughout the day, binge drink and binge eat, pass out, wake up, restrict.
Seven party. Same deal.
Eight party. Same deal.
And on the habit goes. It still goes up to this very day.
Stage: Party three.
Alcohol relaxes me. It relaxes me enough to let go of ‘control’ and eat potato chips and lasagna. But the stickler is, I don’t just relax and let my hair down a little. I binge. I go crazy.
ED has ruined many a party.
Parties where I would close up into a my shell. Parties where I was simply waiting for everyone to leave so that I could binge muffins. Parties where my mind was occupied about when, where and for how long I will run in the morning. Parties where my hangover isn’t just a headache, it’s mental chaos.
One time, I was visiting Vancouver BC with a few girlfriends. The goal of the weekend was to go out to all the bars and clubs. We were all under 21, so this was a TA-REAT!
I lived the evening in good ole McCaleb fashion. Binged on food and alcohol. Woke up the next morning with makeup crusty and smeared, cookie crumbs in my bed, a throbbing head, and a gassy tummy. I looked outside into the bright and beautiful day and had a moment.
Why oh why did I do actions last night that I KNEW would make this day awful and uncomfortable. Here I am in beautiful BC, supposedly about to go get brunch and enjoy the sunshine, and all I want to do is go home. And run. And throw up.
I suffered from regret that day. Big time.
Boy, I would have loved to have had a delicious breakfast sammie rather than a plain biscuit. I would have loved to have had the mental and physical energy to tour the infamous Granville Island and ENJOY it. Instead I was consumed with negative thoughts, gassy tummy grumbles, and zero appetite (The worst. I hate being appetite-less. It makes my ED upset, it’s twisted). Sure, I could have still had a breakfast sammie and simply said fuck it to my ED and enjoyed the activities of the day. But I’m not there yet. I am at the stage in recovery where I have to take care of myself, watch myself, and check in with myself. I am not at the stage where I can just say ‘fuck it’ and move on.
That day, I made a pact with myself.
I am no longer going to ‘miss out’ on a day beautiful day due to drinking copious amounts of vodka crans and binging on nachos and cookies. I don’t even like the taste of vodka cranberry’s! What a lousy reason to miss out on so many other great, even more fun and tasty activities!
Since then, my relationship with alcohol has changed. Red wine is for drinking on the porch and watching the sunset. Beer is for post day hike. Gin&Tonics are for family dinners. Cocktails are for happy hour. This is where alcohol belongs in my life. And it has been treating me better than ever.
(Disclaimer: You do you. Alcohol serves a different purpose in everyone’s life; religious, cultural, ethical, pleasurable, etc)
But lately, I have been struggling with my old habits regarding drinking. I have been reverting back to the restrict, binge, restrict, cycle.
Let’s be real. Of COURSE I am. It was a habit for 4 years and is not going to go away in a snap. Alcohol has turned back into a behavior rather than a pleasurable activity. It is putting my recovery into a swiverly swirl and causes unnecessary anxiety, which then wakes up my ED mind, which causes more unnecessary anxiety. At the present time, I am not consuming alcohol. It triggers me up.
Um, no thanks. I don’t want to deal with that.
So my therapist and I decided to put down to the bottle until I’m ready to try again sans behaviors. I’ll be honest, I sure have eyed my boyfriends beer while out at the beach. Or wished to have been able to join my sister and best friends ‘Wine Wednesday’s’.
I miss it. It’s true. I must remember to seek patience for my growth of mental and physical health. I really must.
When I crave it, my dear recovery mind says to me, ‘Dude, grab yourself a glass of red! Are you craving it? Listen to your cravings!’
Bless it. I know it only wants the best for me. Often times, I feel like I am toeing a fine line between taking a break and restricting–two totally different things. I forget why I have to say no when my Dad offers me a G&T.
My sister makes the most bomb Mint Mojito’s!
However, I when I look back upon the numerous nights that my mind was clouded with food thoughts, binge thoughts, etc. I realize how much I was suffering on a day to day basis. The depressing effects of alcohol slowed me down enough for me to notice my 47+ daily emotions. And I hated that. So I would pour myself another glass until I didn’t feel anything. I do NOT miss alcohol when it acts as a recipe for mental disaster.
I must remember that in my journey, alcohol consumption and tolerance is a part of my recovery. I’m working on what I need to work on, no matter how much I miss the community feeling as everyone breaks into a bottle of red at a dinner party or the refreshing bubbly taste of a corona and lime while out in the backyard, playing botchey ball in the sun.
When I am ready to consume alcohol again, I will be able to enjoy those exact things. Exact, this time around, one beer will do it for me. And I will fall asleep sober, calm, and hydrated.
That is what I want alcohol to look like in my life.
Not destructive, simply present.