Thursday, February 19, 2015
19 days in, I have learned a lot about myself and also about our society's love of 'the drink'.
Like many families, my family's relationship with alcohol is a jumbled one. Three of my uncles have had a very tough time with booze: one's an admitted recovering alcoholic who told me when I was younger that he was "interrupted by God' as he used an axe to chop down the door of his own house during a booze-fuelled fight with his wife. He hasn't had a drop ever since that day. Another uncle died of drinking and smoking; he had cancer of the esophagus, stomach and lungs. Still another is estranged from the family, living off the grid in a single-wide in the woods somewhere in BC. We haven't seen him in decades, but I'm told he has struggled with the bottle since his teens.
On the other side, my father's parents had a bottle of something or other in the house, somewhere deep in a closet, and it lasted at least 20 years, since they weren't sick all that often. It was for medicinal purposes only, and I don't know what was in it. Rye, probably.
We don't have get-togethers with one side of my first family, and we don't serve alcohol at gatherings on the other side. One of my cousins says the lack of 'truth serum' is why we still manage to have those family parties, and she might be right. Although, I think there might be a secret beer or two swilled near the fire at the corn roast some years.
With my in-laws, Sweetie's mother is banned from making my drinks at his family functions, because, as she puts it, she, "doesn't like wasting the mix". I make my own, to prevent, as I put it, 'being shitfaced at Thanksgiving dinner." I'll never forget being offered 'moose milk' at Christmas when I was 17 as Sweetie and I had just started dating. There were certainly no drinks offered to underage girls at our weeknight dinners at the farm.
Over the years, my relationship with alcohol has become quite close. A cocktail before dinner. Wine with dinner. Port or something afterwards. Prosecco and OJ in the tub, Bailey's in coffee on weekends. Two drinks after curling four nights a week, boozy dancing at a bar, membership in a Scotch Society for Sweetie. Thinking it over, it's... a lot.
Which is why this month of sobriety proposed by the Health Unit was so intriguing to me. Somewhere, I was wondering if I was really in charge.
It turns out, I am cut from the bolt of my Dad's teetotalling parents. This not-drinking thing has actually been a bit of a breeze. I'm 19 days in and have had exactly one time when oh, boy, I really, really wanted that drink. Pizza Friday and Moosehead are simply made for each other, and the desire was very strong that first Friday of the month. But, just like when I have quit other habits, I acknowledged my craving and watched as it passed by.
What I have discovered is that I use booze as a treat. I know because I am replacing my glasses of wine and my vodka/Frescas with extra food and food-type treats. I'm downing chocolate bars at work, making chelsea buns at home, taking an extra portion of last night's pasta and some afternoons, I'm having chips while watching Netflix even though I just munched through a big bowl of butter-laced popcorn. So far, the switch from booze to food has shown up as three unwanted pounds on the scale. Three pounds in two weeks is about the amount of weight a 4-H beef calf is supposed to gain. Silly me for thinking I might actually lose some weight during this exercise!
Speaking of exercise, there is clearly more of it in my future, plus a bit more of that McLeod-style, jaw-clenched motto. I'll hold fast, just not to the martini, wine or beer glass. And I should definitely let go of the fork, too.