I used to be a lush.
There, I said it.
From the age of thirteen, I could swig back a lethal mix of lager and cider, and hold myself well.
(Or Cinzano mixed with soda. Or Pimms and ginger ale. Or dark run and coke. I was not particularly choosy, evidently.)
I partied hard as a teenager, and I look back in wonder and amazement and disgust almost, now, to realise what I drank, how much I drank and where I drank. The relief I feel that I came to no harm is even more palpable.
I garnished a reputation for being able to drink strong English bitter in pints in the pub from the age of fifteen.
I am shaking my head, now, as I recall all this. In disgust? In shame? In bewilderment, perhaps?
As a student at uni, away from home, my mission, aside from pulling blokes, was to drink. To get pissed. To get legless drunk.
My best friend Susie and I, we were indomitable drinking partners.
We were party girls with the ability to sink a whole lot of booze and stay standing. I made it look easy.
Working, in hospitality, made my drinking ability thrive alongside with my managerial rise.
As the only female in crews of blokes, in the harsh conditions of thriving commercial kitchens, being a heavy drinker (and smoker) was a form of armour. I stayed alive through the talents of my wit and my ability to drink chefs under the table......
My ex-partner was an alcoholic. A high functioning one, but an alcoholic none the less. I didn't realise this when we first got together. But it became quickly apparent, despite his continuing denial. I suspect that part of his attraction to me was based around my hard drinking party girl persona - my habits totally enabled his. I certainly was always faced with this whenever I broached his alcohol consumption levels with him. His standard defence was always "Well, what about you? You certainly can work your way through a bottle of rum." And he was right, I could.
It was just what we did. Our social life, around the restaurants, was booze. Our nights off, a blur of clubs and haze. Our days off, dope and recovery.
Add then stuff happened in my family, stuff I had to deal with, come to grips with.
My Dad's death, and my mothers failing ability to cope, bought home to me, very quickly, that booze was the root of most of the ill health (mental and physical) that I was confronted with.
And certainly that the lure of the bottle was damaging me and my self esteem, through the tolerance of it within my relationship.
So it ended.
For so many sad and pitiful reasons, it ended. It was a long and drawn out process for him.
Not so for me.
With the speed at which I let go, I sometimes wonder if I ever loved him at all. Or whether the love had simply drained away leaving only easily discarded dregs.
I moved jobs, left him behind. Lit numerous other flames, and revelled in burning them all at the same time. And I stopped drinking. Just stopped. It was delicious to be free of the habit and the hangovers.
Alighting to Australia, it was so civil to have a couple of Friday night drinks. Literally just one or two. And to wake on a Saturday mornings feeling OK, not obliterated. Oh, blissful heaven of real life.
The beautiful man who has since become my lovely husband - we flirted and got together via Friday night drinks. I cannot knock the tradition.
But he is a man who instinctively gets that moderation is key. He has a few beers, then cabs it home, un-drunk, because cricket tomorrow is more important than getting legless. And sober love in between, with me, is more satisfying that slurring, apparently. (I agree.)
We have partied together, he and I. We can. We do it occasionally. Once a year? Paint the town red and regret it the next day? Yes. Occasionally. Let our hair down with glorious abandon and get a bit messy? Yep. Memorable. Very intermittently. Especially since pregnancies and children.
And now, I can go for months and months without a drop.
Some have suggested, myself included, that I have a "fucked up relationship" with grog. That I am obsessively sober as a result of being paranoid, and perhpas fearful of turning into my mother. Maybe. Maybe not.
Here's the thing:
I truly do not hear the call the chilled wine in the fridge.
We have boxes of spirits left over from our wedding five years ago. Stacked in our garage, untouched.
I regularly forget to pick beers up from the bottle shop. Shrug. Who cares?
I see tweets and status updates proclaiming "wine time!". I can relate. I know that feeling of "ohmygoddesstodayhasbeenashockergivemesomerelief". But grog simply doesn't do it for me.
I am not "dry" or "on the wagon".
I am not an evangelical teetotaller. I am empathetic and tolerant of anyone else who wants to have a glass, or four. I am not sitting on my hands in an attempt to deny myself, I am not secretly craving, but determined not to indulge. I am not "abstaining". I am just not fussed.
My seventh sense alerts me to alcohol issues in others. I can spot a drinkers veins and their smell from a mile off. I am canny to the myriad of "issues" that arise the moment another person chooses the bottle over other healthier pursuits. I sense their focus, their drive, their need, straight away. I do not judge. It just makes me sad and heart sore.
But for me, I just do not need it.
And I am so so so glad.
An addictive personality, that I have.
A dependency on alcohol, in any shape or form, I do not have.
And thank goddess for that.