I love alcohol.
I love the flavour of a good merlot, the sharpness of a super sav blanc, the bite of a delicious Italian limoncello. Parties and celebrations of all kinds demand champagne and there’s nothing like a beer on a hot summer’s day after slaving in the garden. And ending the night with a smooth port, or an Irish coffee is just perfect.
In fact, I love alcohol so much I don’t know when I’ve had enough. I don’t know when to say no. I don’t have an off button. I only plan on having a glass or two, but often that becomes a bottle … or two.
But the night I almost lost my husband and son because of my drinking was the night my love affair with alcohol ended. Thankfully I didn’t physically hurt them, but the scars run deep.
Watch members of the Mamamia team reveal moments they too felt like horrible mothers (post continues after video).
It was a night to celebrate – our son had turned 21 and we were hosting a long-awaited party for him and his mates. We spent the day with our son and his girlfriend getting the function centre ready and I remember thinking how much I was enjoying spending precious time with him; how proud I was of him; how much I enjoyed his company.
Naturally we opened the bar for business when we arrived, a good hour before the guests started arriving. The food arrived and I made sure our guests ate their fill, especially the young ones, being the good mother that I was. The wine had taken the edge off my appetite for no more than a few forkfuls of lasagna, which, of course, had to be accompanied by a red wine rather than the white I had been drinking all night.
A few dances and a few more wines later, I did something so stupid, so embarrassing and so hurtful to my son and husband that it makes me feel sick thinking about it.
A cosy chat with my son’s best friend while enjoying the night air somehow became more than just friendly, even more than just harmless flirting.
I was flattered by the attention given to me by a good-looking young man, and his compliments, along with the alcohol glow, resulted in a kiss — and not the kind of kiss a 50-year-old woman should be sharing with her son’s best friend.
Suddenly, in the space of no more than minutes, a family and friendships were shattered.
I wept and wailed the whole way home in a taxi, and then, for some reason which I can’t remember (like much of the night) I decided I couldn’t stay at home and had to go to mum. I packed a bag and drove. I woke up in my car outside of mum’s house, thankfully only a few minutes drive away on suburban streets, but with little to no recollection of the drive.
The next few days were among the worst of my life. I cringed every time I thought about “it” and I cried with shame. I cried whenever I thought about my son and couldn’t sleep without replaying what I could remember of the incident.
My husband told me to stay away from helping to clean up after the party and there was never a question about staying with Mum that night.
My depression took hold and I started having anxiety issues. I felt sick to the stomach at the hurt and embarrassment I had caused my family. My son didn’t respond to my daily messages for four days – I knew he was hurting but this time Mummy couldn’t fix his hurt because she had caused it. His first message told me to “chill, Mum, I forgive you”, but I wasn’t convinced.
To his credit, my husband was calm in our first conversation about the incident – after all, I had deeply hurt and betrayed him. He even comforted and held me as I sobbed and worried I could never make it up to our only child.
Watch Mamamia staff reveal the biggest lies they’ve told their partners (post continues after video).
I was also worried about my son’s relationship with his best mate. They had been like brothers since meeting in high school and we often referred to him as our “second son”.
We had to fly interstate for a friend’s birthday midway through the following week. I still hadn’t spoken to my son despite my plea to come home and talk about it and didn’t know if he would speak to me again.
Thankfully that friend is one of my many wonderful friends who knows me inside and out, and knows me well enough to let me cry and rant, without judgement but with love and understanding.
Finally, almost a week since I’d seen or spoken to my son, we spoke on the phone. It wasn’t much of a conversation, it certainly won’t go down in history as a ground-breaking message, but to me it was the most important conversation in the world. When I told him I loved him and he replied with his usual, “love you too, Mum”, I cried again and could barely say goodbye to him.
In one of my text messages to him, I promised I would see a psychologist and would cut down my drinking. I found a wonderful psychologist almost immediately but, although I started adding soda to my sav blanc, I just used a bigger glass.
During one of my previous attempts to stop drinking, my doctor prescribed a drug which helped stop the cravings. It worked – for about a fortnight, until some social occasion came up and I wanted a drink so I stopped taking it.
This time I had to see a locum doctor and she didn’t pull any punches when I asked if she could write a script for the same drug.
She asked how much I was drinking – most days it was a bottle a night.
She asked how much I drank when I was bingeing – or did I lose count. Yep, lose count, lose the rest of the night.
It could be genetic, she says, the fact you don’t have an “off” button to stop you drinking.
How would you feel if you couldn’t drink again, if that was the case, she asked?
Scared, I replied, that’s a really scary thought. As she wrote the script she said well, that may be the reality.
So here I am, a month sober. The last time I’ve been dry for this long was seven years ago after a health scare. You thought I would’ve learnt then.
I refuse to say I’m an alcoholic. I had alcohol-free days (not as many as I should, but did manage it), I didn’t need a drink to function in the morning and I limited my drinks when I was driving (with quite a few exceptions when the car had a sleepover wherever I left it).
But I do have to face the fact that I nearly destroyed my family because of my drinking. No-one was physically injured, but that so easily could’ve happened.
My husband continues to love and support me, though it may take a while for trust to rebuild, and as for my beautiful son, we’re OK. Not as good as we were but I’m hoping with time we will be.
So as much as I love you alcohol, our relationship is over. We had some great times but you can be a really demanding bitch. I’d like to think we could one day be friends on my terms, but I don’t know that you would give me up so easily so I won’t take the chance. I love my boys far too much to risk losing them again.
Have you ever struggled with alcohol or drug dependency? Let us know in the comments.