'While my kids were watching TV, I was hiding in the pantry drinking wine.'

The following is an extract from Beyond Booze: How to Create a Life You Love, Alcohol-Free by Sarah Rusbatch, available here.

I looked around to see if anyone was looking and, satisfied that all family members were absorbed in their own worlds and activities, I snuck into the pantry and reached behind the bottles of olive oil and vinegar for my half-empty bottle of red wine.

With my heart beating fast, I quickly poured a glass and, standing hidden behind the door of the pantry, drank it with the sole purpose being to get that alcohol into my system as quickly as possible to make all the noise in my head stop.

Once I had drained the glass, I poured a fresh one, walked back into the kitchen and resumed duties of chopping veg for dinner, innocently pretending this was my first glass of the evening.

Watch: The changes in your body after a year of being alcohol-free. Post continues after video.

Video via Mamamia.

In truth, I was feeling pissed off, resentful, tired and frustrated. There was always so much to do, there was never any time for me and even though I knew deep down that alcohol wasn't the answer, I didn't have another solution. I had just broken three of my cardinal rules.


Rule 1: Don't drink on Monday. Rule 2: Don't drink in secret. Rule 3: Don't lie about my drinking.

And just like that, on autopilot without really thinking, I'd watched myself do all the things I knew I didn't want to be doing. But I felt powerless. I couldn't just magic another hour into the day to get through everything I had to do and I couldn't ever seem to find the confidence to say no to all the extra demands. Alcohol, momentarily, made it all stop.

While I knew on a deeper level, that drinking wasn't really the answer, I just didn't know where to look to find any other solution. And the thing about alcohol is that because of the big dopamine punch it delivers, we get our feeling of reward while we are doing 'all the things'. It's a way of making ourselves feel just a teeny bit better when we feel like nothing more than glorified chefs, cleaners, waitresses, housemaids, Uber drivers and counsellors. Can you relate?

We have talked so much in the previous chapter about stress and the impact it has on our physical health, and why we need to prioritise activities that will soothe our dysregulated nervous systems. Yet the truth is, many of us find it incredibly challenging to actually do the things we know can help us, and instead are still relying on an evening wine for solace. Why?

The reality is that, so many women carry the lion's share of the household work, while also working long hours, which leaves very little time for ourselves. And we feel guilty about even taking any time for ourselves, as we have been conditioned to believe that 'self-care is selfish'. There are two main barriers I see again and again to reducing our stress and prioritising ourselves: time and guilt.


The problem with alcohol is that we can get our reward and relaxant while doing all the other things we need to do and it doesn't involve us taking any time away from the home, the family or the kitchen.

We can do the ironing, prep dinner, empty the dishwasher and mop the floors with a glass in hand and we don't have to experience the guilt of leaving the home or taking time away from our chores. But if we want to create a life where we don't want or need alcohol at the end of each day (or let's face it, sometimes by 1 p.m.), we have to learn to set boundaries, ring-fence our time and energy, and learn to say no to others and yes to ourselves.

Because what's the alternative? A life of always feeling resentful, pissed off, overwhelmed, exhausted and eventually, ill.

Yes, I know saying no to others can be scary! But when we remove alcohol our clarity, confidence and self-esteem begin to grow, we stop feeling shame about the night before and we start to prioritise ourselves, which leads to us feeling happier and more content. And remember what we've already said – the greatest gift we give to the people we love is our own happiness. A mum, wife or friend who is constantly exhausted, angry or sad isn't supporting this at all.

Beyond Booze by Sarah Rusbatch. Image: Supplied.


Beyond Booze: How to create a life you love, alcohol-free by Sarah Rusbatch is now available to purchase, here.

Read more from Sarah Rusbatch:

Feature Image: Supplied.

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