Everybody is different when it comes to drinking. I work with people who drink in the pub everyday and there are those who only go on weekend benders, or find that their social drinking has got out of hand, but the majority of people are just like I was – they prefer drinking at home.
I was doing some research on this and unbelievably I came across two articles actually promoting the benefits of drinking at home! One was titled “10 reasons getting drunk at home is better than drinking at bars” and the other “Why drink at home – best reasons to not go to bars!”
Some of the ‘benefits’ they promoted were things like: It’s cheaper, you don’t need to worry about driving, there is no waiting in line for the loo, you can remove your pants without fear of judgement and even more unbelievable, you can throw up in the comfort of your own bathroom, pass out whenever you want and indeed some saw house drinking as a future investment!
Now, I am sure (I hope) that these articles are meant to be taken with a huge pile of salt but it got me thinking about my own reasons for drinking at home.
I am an introvert, naturally shy and at times lacking in self confidence. I am also a worrier – I especially worry about what people think of me, am I wearing the right clothes (usually not) is my makeup perfect (never) how’s my hair (white and generally messy!) So, going out for a drink was a huge deal for me, it required a lot of effort and then of course I would worry if I had enough money, how I would get home, what the kids were doing which was usually ask for food, or get bored and want to wander off or end up doing something naughty.
The more I drank the more I cared less about all of this stuff and in the end I wouldn’t want to go home which resulted in spending far more money than I intended, bored, ratty kids and then upon arriving home intense feelings of regret, anxiety, depression and the realization that I had just wasted too many hours and too much money with nothing to show for it.
So of course, drinking at home was the ideal solution for me. In fact I was always drinking at home and generally for the reasons mentioned in the articles.
Going out is expensive, even here in Spain especially for me as I could never just have a couple, added to that and hungry children, an afternoon out could easily add up to 40 Euros. Compared to 6,95 for a 5 litre box of wine or a crate of Cruzcampo at 10,90 (which we would polish off in an evening) staying in was the obvious choice plus, we didn’t have to fork out on overpriced bar food or have another beer just so the kids could eat the tapas.
Drinking at home also meant removal of my social anxiety. I didn’t have to do my hair or change my clothes and put on makeup and although I drew the line at following the Finnish trend of Pantsdrunk which encourages drinking at home, alone in your pants I would regularly put my PJs on as early as 4pm.
I did all my drinking at home because I could and that’s what everybody did, wasn’t it? Whenever we went to anybody else’s house whether in the UK or here in Spain we would be offered a beer, glass of wine, G&T, whatever. Once I went to a friends house and was offered a cup of tea and was dumbfounded, I couldn’t believe it. Admittedly it was only 12 but still, I found it odd to be offered tea! I am ashamed to say that I declined and cut the visit short so I could get back home and have a beer – what kind of friend was I??
Give up or moderate – Which is better?
One of the problems of drinking at home, unchecked and free from any judgement, rules and responsibilities is that we tend to drink even more than we otherwise would. As soon as one can of beer was drained I would immediately reach for another. I never allowed my wine glass to go empty and we even had one of those boxes with the little taps on for convenience! If I drank gin I am pretty sure the measure was at least a treble.
I would often lose track of how much I had drank and would be surprised the next morning to see there was nothing left in the fridge or that the bin was overflowing with beer cans. Sometimes I would be quite happy with just a couple of drinks all evening but other times I would drink as much as I possibly could.
I believe that my alcohol consumption got out of control simply because I drank at home. The usual social rules and restrictions didn’t apply and yes, I could puke in my own bathroom and pass out on the sofa without fear of judgement. Except that I was being judged.
My kids were witness to it all and often I got out of hand. I remember carrying the dinner plates through from the living room to the kitchen once and maybe I passed out or lost my balance but the next thing I was flat on my face on the floor, cutlery and broken plates everywhere. I blamed it on the dog but I knew otherwise. I started crying saying that I’d hurt my head but it was the shame and guilt that they had seen me so out of it, that upset me so much.
“I believe that my alcohol consumption got out of control simply because I drank at home. The usual social rules and restrictions didn’t apply”
Other incidents were blasting the music until the wee hours when the kids were in bed or getting drunk so early in the day that I was in bed by 2pm – another afternoon wasted.
As I write this, we are currently enjoying a long weekend due to Spanish national holidays In the past that would have meant we would get our beer supplies in early and then hole up in our cave (literally as we lived in a cave for 12 years!) No going out, no doing anything just drinking at home. I used to love this holiday as it meant that we could drink as much as we wanted, no getting up early, no responsibility.
Our village is very small but gets quite busy during this holiday weekend and we never saw any of it. In fact we never saw the light of day except to walk the dogs. Today though I’ve been out with the dogs three times, been to the village with my youngest son, helped my husband with a photo shoot, planned my weekend and drank loads of lovely tea – it’s only 1pm!
Drinking at home was my thing and I drank through everything. The big Saturday house clean was always accompanied by beers, kids bath time, reading, watching the telly and cooking dinner needed wine.
Any problem or difficult situation could only be handled with booze and all celebrations were made better with a glass or two of something sparkly and if there was nothing going on then I had to have a drink just to do something. Boredom, relaxation, me time, fun times, working, cleaning, eating – anything and everything wasn’t complete without a glass, a bottle or a can in my hand.
When I made the decision to stop I was terrified of being able to do any of this stuff without my prop to help me along. Going out and not drinking wasn’t really an issue as I didn’t go out that much anyway and if I did, then I would actually prefer not to drink. It was the long hours at home to be faced without alcohol that had me the most worried.
Most people talk of the 5pm witching hour or reach for the bottle after work, but for me beer o’clock was anywhere between 1 and 2 pm – 11 or 12 at the weekend and even with a siesta thrown in to break up the day, that was still ahelluvalot of time to manage sober and I just couldn’t imagine it at all.
Looking back I can’t believe how I actually got anything done and it amazes me that that I did indeed manage to look after my kids, cook, clean and do my work through it all. But manage is all I did really, I never did anything to the same standard and with the love, care and energy that I do it now.
My days are so much more productive, my life is fuller and richer, my kids are happier and I wouldn’t go quite as far as to say that my house is cleaner but I am far more content in it!
And, if I am honest the huge worry and anxiety about how to do any of those things without alcohol that held me back for so long, have not been as bad as I thought. Sure, in the early days I would get a pang whilst cooking dinner without my glass of wine, or I would wonder how I was supposed to relax at the end of the day without a glass of something or make the switch from mum to me without my beer.
It was also difficult to cope with the cravings at first, not so much the physical ones but the whirlwind of thoughts and voices telling me that I needed to have a drink, that the cleaning would be so much easier or helping with my kids’ homework would be less stressful with a glass of vino tinto to take the edge off and give me a boost.
I soon learned though that actually I didn’t need it, any of it, and slowly I began to realize that, when you are fully present in everything that you do – yes, even the bad, boring stuff, it is far easier and takes less time because I wasn’t stopping every five minutes to get a refill or go to the loo or have to redo whatever I was trying to do because I made a mess of it due to too much liquid help.<
I must confess though that I still find it hard to be without something to drink all the time. But my drinking at home no longer involves alcohol, for which I am truly grateful. However my favourite Bugs Bunny mug is never far from reach, filled with either, tea, tea, tea or sometimes coffee.
I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences on this. Do you do most of your drinking at home? Let me know in the comments below.