This is long, so grab a cuppa tea / coffee and sit down. I haven't included every single part of my journey (that's for therapy), but I have tried to summarise it best I could ...
I won't go into my history growing up (because it's boring) - but just know it was relatively normal for someone who lives in New Zealand. I wasn't overly exposed to alcohol by my family but of course I was aware of it. When I turned 18 (which is the legal drinking age here), obviously I started drinking.
It wasn't huge - and it was mostly on weekends with friends ... it wasn't overly dissimilar to others experiences during teenage years, but there's definitely trigger points that caused me to drink - that's for therapy though.
If anything I was exposed to it more at the work I worked at - Friday night drinks, plus work trips away.
I graduated High School at 17, and started work straight away (instead of going to University). Which meant I was the youngest person in the corporate office that I worked at.
This exposed me to alcohol in a way I wasn't expecting. I was basically a child with no knowledge (or limited anyway), being thrust into an adult world.
Did I like wine - hell no. But I learned to like it, heck I learned to love it; because that's what you did at work. You worked hard and you partied harder.
Especially because I was surrounded by a bunch of Engineers - who were notorious for being heavy drinkers.
Fast forward 15 years and I'm now married, and have just had a child.
I was beyond excited for this step in my life - I couldn't wait to be a parent. However, nothing prepared me for it, and I was like a fish out of water.
I had no idea what I was doing, and struggled SO much. When I think back on it, I still cry. Which sounds ridiculous, but my body remembers that time like it was yesterday.
When my eldest was 6 months old, I was diagnosed with post-natal depression and the medication I decided to take really helped feel like myself again.
So did the occasional wine - which help me relax after a stressful day; which felt like everyday to be honest.
Don't get me wrong, this was not the time things went pear-shaped. Instead it was over the next 8 years that I slowly descended into forming a nasty habit with alcohol.
Obviously I wasn't a big drinker, but I enjoyed my glass of wine; and as I travelled through the world of parenting, it would seem a lot of mums used wine to help them relax at the end of the day.
Heck we all joked about it too!! We couldn't wait for 5pm to have that glass of liquid gold; 4pm if we were feeling particularly stressed because "it's 5pm somewhere".
My biggest stressor was the time between 3-7pm. Which was when the day was winding down and I was waiting for my husband to come home from work.
(I was so incredibly jealous of my husband getting to go to work BTW. I would cry often thinking about how lucky he was to get to leave the house without a child)
That time (between 3-7pm) is known as the "witching hour" in parenting terms. The babies / kids are getting tired and are cranky and the mother / father are too.
I was particularly affected by this time, and slowly started using alcohol to get me through - without realising it of course.
Although my kids grew older, and out of their baby phase, I still had trouble letting go of the feeling that I had during the 3-7pm time.
My doctor / counsellor said it's like a form of PTSD (albeit a very tame one).
Over the years I slowly went from 1-2 drinks a week, to 1 every few days, to drinking every day.
Please bear in mind, this was not a quick process and along the way I definitely had self-reflective moments of "have I got a problem?", and would often google it to see if I was an alcoholic.
However because I didn't fit into the typical "drinking at 10am and being hungover every day" stereotype, I let myself off the hook - and so did a lot of websites.
I was very good at outwardly appearing as though I didn't have an issue. I would never get drunk or hungover, and it was only 2-3 glasses of wine each night (or whatever I was drinking).
However along the way, as I started drinking more, my tolerance levels increased meaning I needed to drink more to feel relaxed. Which meant I embarrassingly did some dodgy things so I could hide my drinking. I won't go into detail yet as I'm still new to sobriety and not quite ready to divulge all of the details.
It wasn't until a few years ago (2019) that my habits started causing outward issues.
I was getting overly emotional at stupid things, and I started realising my drinking was getting out of control.
In March 2019, I finally said out loud to my husband "I think I have a problem" and I cried for hours pouring my soul out to him.
He was wonderful (he needs a whole blog written about how he handled it)
I then decided to read Allen Carr's "Stop Drinking Now" and this really helped me with the decision I had to make - which was to take a break from drinking.
Which I did - for three months. I then ended up heading overseas to visit family and of course I started drinking again.
Instead of having a healthy relationship with alcohol, I sadly fell back into old habits.
It was in January 2020 that I started reading "We Are The Luckiest" by Laura McKowen, that I finally broke.
Something in the book triggered me so much that I couldn't stop crying.
Again, I had another "I really have an issue here" moment with my husband and decided right then and there I was going sober.
I have been sober now for just over a year.
Obviously there's a lot more to my story than what I've written, but this post would be too long if I went into it all. Perhaps I'll write a memoir one of these days hahaha
Either way - my story is very similar to so many other people out there. We are not the typical "alcoholics" that you see.
I was good at hiding it from people (although my husband knew), and I was embarrassed about it.
Over the space of 8 years my casual drinking turned into something I felt I couldn't manage.
I would wake up each day feeling guilty about drinking the night before, and promising myself I wouldn't drink that night as well.
But each afternoon I would feel the pull of alcohol. I would feel that need to drink - and so I would.
And ultimately that's how I knew I had an issue.
I don't know what my relationship with alcohol will be like in the future, but for now I love sobriety.
I don't know if I can ever have a healthy relationship with it - not now that I know all that I know.
I've listed the books I read during my year of sobriety on the Books To Read page if you want to check them out.
Are you worried about your drinking habits? Are you sober? Or perhaps are you just curious about alcohol? Would love you to let me know below ...