Drinking has been my avocation for years. Most of my life I’ve been able to keep it a sideline.
I don’t remember my first drink (I’m 64) but I do remember the first time I got drunk. I was 15 and the beverage of choice was cheap fruit wine, swilled behind Larry’s Confectionary in my hometown.
In high school, my friends and I drank on weekends and at around 17 started sneaking into bars. Booze didn’t play a huge role in my life; it was present, but I didn’t crave it.
Watch: Your body after one year without alcohol. Post continues below.
There have been times in my life when my drinking morphed from entertainment to a calling.
The first was my first two years in residence at university. This requires no explanation.
The second was three years in my 20s, when I was a social worker in child welfare - a job I was so ill-suited to that I looked to alcohol to mitigate my anxiety. I was also lonely, but booze was a lousy stand-in for love and companionship.
The third phase was when my older daughter hit 14 and began acting out: I had the crazy notion that I deserved a drink. I gained momentum from there.
In my forties, I started giving myself permission to drink under conditions I never had before.
It crept up on me… I had a glass of wine at lunches out. I had one resting on the vanity as I got ready to go out for the evening. I'd have a couple of glasses of wine with my husband at supper then tip back another good-sized glass while he walked the dog.
I was head over heels for the wine that continued into the night at a dinner party, the bottle resting on the table, the conversation flowing as well. How about one more splash after the guests leave as I do the dishes?
Without the structure of an office job and with fewer physical demands from kids as they got older, I found alcohol consumption as seductive as a high school boyfriend.
Then came my eldest’s turbulent adolescence - failing grades, rages, refusing to comply with limits we set.