Showing posts with label Addiction. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Addiction. Show all posts

Wednesday, 30 January 2013










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.

Sunday, 28 August 2011

The Deli...

The shopkeeper watches her. From behind the counter of his old fashioned parade grocer that has turned into a gourmet deli, he is a providore of small goods and wine, tobacco and fresh artisan produce. 

He smiles a sad smile.

He has known her for over a decade.

He has known her mother even longer. These women, they used to appear together, and similar. These days, not so much. He has not seen the mother for a number of years. She has shrunk, from the local community, from life, into herself.

He keeps an eye on the girl as she moves around the small store, fond. He observes that she has lost weight, but still has tired eyes. Her movements are efficient. He wonders if she knows that despite the economy of her actions, she still displays a generous amount of care and worry?

Her children are not with her this week. Nor have they shared this chore for some months now. They are at school now. A useful protection from new and sadder memories.

The girl chooses quickly, from a list. A list, he notices, that is part of a further reaching diary of things to do.

Today's component of the list that gets shorter each and every week.

A list that used to pretend to be full of the promise of nutrient rich meals, a list of normality. Now they don't bother with pretending. Dog food, coffee, and the staples.

The staples of cigarettes and wine. Great volumes of both.

The fruit has disappeared from the list.

She still buys tomato juice and vanilla yogurt. And hopes that last weeks healthy produce may have been eaten. She will sadly realise, next week, that there is little point.

The point of the shopping, of the chore, is just the substance exchange.

She strides, still quick, taking note of crusty breads, rich mature cheddars and succulent pâtés. Creamy dips, some camembert, some gourmet crackers. Tropical juices, like nectar. Full fat iced coffee in a carton with some free chemicals, some cheesy chips with their divine orange crack dust. Her brown eyes flicker over the wares that are enticing.

She throws a block of chocolate into the basket. It will satisfy, perhaps. In the heart of her mind, she actually knows it won't help. The temptation is easier to fulfil that abstinence.

She pays him. Her card, the total cost of real food to substances is in poor ratio. The cost is high on her card, on health. Regardless of the cheap red wine, the volumes required come at such a cost.

She hauls the shopping bags from counter to car.

The providore watches her still.

He knows she will unpack the majority into her mothers larder. The wine is left out on a drinks tray, for convenience. She will clean up, feed the dog, deal with garbage bins and recycling. He recalls she deals with her Mothers post, with her bills, these days. He can hear an echo of the chatter they used to indulge in. Do they chat still? Or does resentment fill the guilty silences?

And then she is back in her car. And she sighs. Exhales. Relieved that the chore is complete for another week.

She sits for a moment without driving off. She wonders how long it will be before the time of day is justified for a glass to fill with red wine. Her Mother will feel the relief as she takes that first sip, as she swallows it to stuff down all the other stuff. The stuff that is too hard to deal with.

She reaches into her bag and breaks a chunk of chocolate and mindlessly eats it. It turns her brain off, momentarily. She swallows it, to stuff down all the other stuff...the stuff that is so hard to deal with.

We are all addicted to something.

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Saturday, 26 June 2010

Bad shit

Yesterday was a weird day.

I felt very lost and vulnerable .

I still do.

I watched Dr Phil for the first time in long while, whilst I ironed, and it was an episode on "Moms Who Drink". (I am not a mother that drinks. But I am the daughter of a mother that drinks. Hence my morbid misery interest.)

It was scary.

And of course I know that Dr Phil will always present the extreme. But I guess it is a mark of my current state of mind that I started to freak out and fret that I will morph into a Mom That Drinks.

(The sane and intellectual bit of my brain know s that this will never ever happen. But the sad scaredy bit of my brain says "You probably will. Look at the pattern of generations behind you. All alco mums fell into it somehow.")

Enough of that.

I did, however, also end up eating way too much junk funk food.......something I haven't done since forever.......

I scoured the house and ate a mountain of carbs. A box of Delites, a bowl of cereal, a bowlful of cashews. A bag of chippies. Inhaled. Binged.

And the thing that is scary about that is not what I ate or how it affects a weeks weigh in, but the fact that it was all emotional eating: I was not hungry at all. And I knew it. And I chose to not care, and eat all that crap anyway.....

Along with a glass of wine, and you can only imagine how utterly crap I feel this morning: literally like I have a hangover.

I guess today is a new day and I simply move on.

Headache and all.

(I have just proof read this post. If I am binge eating and watching Dr Phil whilst ironing and fretting about alcoholism, I am in a bad way. I shall continue to post and continue to blog. Not sure how much sense I am gonna make though, 'till this passes.......)

Friday, 16 April 2010

The Misery of Addiction

This post was featured on You, Me and Georgie, a while ago, as a guest post. Whilst I am not proud of its content, this post is a part of me, so it has a new home here now, on my blog.

How do I start this piece of writing?

I have so much I need to get out of my system; I am struggling between the craft of the writing and the confusion of the topic.

And let me just say, first up, that if you are not a fan of misery memoirs, then this may not be for you.

(I should not be a fan of the genre either, but I find it strangely addictive. Frighteningly so. If you have an addictive personality, does that mean your potential to addictions of any substance is heightened? I hope not.)

My name is Lucy and I am addicted to so many things.

My Mother’s name is Lissie and she is an alcoholic.

A middle class drunk.

I cannot remember the first time I realised that my Mother was an alcoholic.

I cannot pin point the time I realised she just was occasionally having "one too many"

But when I look back on my childhood, it makes me feel so bleak to realise that drinking was my parent’s hobby.

Together they drank.

They loved each other enormously. To the point where we (all five of us: my siblings and I) occasionally even felt slightly excluded by their love for each other.

They would leave us (in the wonderful care of grandparents) to holiday together across the vineyards of France, or to dine in Spain for weeks on end, or to cafe hop in the Canary Islands.

They worked and played and smoked and drank hard.

And then my father became, unsurprisingly, ill. Very ill. Ten years of strokes, heart attacks, hardened arteries, diabetes, gangrene and amputation of various rotten limbs. (It came as no shock to anyone that he died. Aged 63.)

I never knew if he was an alcoholic. He was a large man: tall and broad, with a massive capacity for booze, with no apparent cravings or after effects. Under the influence, he was simply even gentler, kinder, even more loving and affectionate to us all. His pride in us became more evident after several bottles of wine. He was a habitual drink driver.

His loyalty and love for my Mother, coupled with his aversion for any form of unpleasant confrontation, meant that I could never hope for his help with getting him to stop my Mothers ever increasing consumption.

She would arrive home in the afternoon, unpacking a basket that always seemed to contain a new bottle of gin. It was such a regular sight; I don't think I registered for years that a bottle of gin a day was a tad too much?

Dinner was slow to be served. Dishing up with a gin next to the oven and a cigarette on the go.

Her meal was generally left uneaten or spilled. We ignored this behaviour. Silence is easier than dealing.

As an early teen, I recall the excruciating tedium of doing the dishes after dinner with Mum. She would sway, after half a bottle of gin, into our kitchen, cigarette in one hand, glass in the other, zigzagging to the sink, to wash up. It was my job to dry up/listen to the slurring/ ache inside, through my self conscious silence.

In front of the television, she would sit, slack lipped, unable to talk for fear of slurring, whilst I extracted myself to "get on with homework", as quickly and quietly as I could.

I was often disturbed by her later - she would appear in my room to pick a fight, perhaps, or fall into the bath and mumble for help.

I surely do not want to give any more sad examples.

But eventually my siblings and I shared our thoughts with each other. They, with the inherited trait of non-confrontation, were happy to discuss it with me. But not with her. Nor actually to attempt to do anything about it.

Upon leaving home, I thought that I could avoid it too. But those golden threads of familial worry stretch a very long way.

Alone, her grief at my father’s death, her drinking and her emerging anxiety...they all escalated. Depression and alcoholism combined. Chicken and egg, anyone?

At home for occasional weekends, picking her up out of the bath and guiding her, staggering, to her bed became a common and excruciating chore. As did the mopping up of recriminatory tears.

She knew. She knew she had a problem. She would stash bottles of gin around the house, so that no one could keep track. One in the larder, one upon the drinks tray in the dining room, one in the fridge. I felt like I was chasing them.

Upon clearing the empties to the bottle bank for her, she would always brightly exclaim at the quantity of bottles "Goodness, it must be months since we went last.". Yeah. Right.

Twenty years later, a different country later, grandchildren later, nothing has changed.

Oh, the gin has been replaced with cheap red wine.

The habits are even more secretive.

The falls are more frequent and more serious.

The osteoporosis more established, through a lifetime of cigarettes and alcohol.

My siblings inability to help: that remains constant. If this is through fear of geography, I am unsure.

The shame is greater, I think. She knows that I know. She knows that she is thoroughly dependent upon me. She is angry and guilty and sorry. And sad. She is so very very sad.

But unable, totally unable, to stop drinking.

The filth of the house increases. It gets cleaned when she is in hospital, again, with another fracture. And then gets filthy again upon her return home.

When she is incarcerated, she is dry. She can, when forced and locked away, not drink. We are closer then. Closer than we have ever been.

And then, the moment she is home, that closeness disappears in a puff of cigarette smoke and the clink of a glass.

Maybe that is what hurts me the most. That she chooses the addictions over me.

I will never do this to my children.