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BMBL Podcast 003: Quitting Alcohol – What My Friends Said

Welcome to Episode 003 of the Busy Mum. Balanced Life. podcast!

In this episode, I share the responses and reactions to quitting alcohol from my family, friends and readers.

Some good, some bad – all interesting!

Thanks for listening!


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Transcript

This is episode three of Busy Mum Balance Life Podcast.

Hey, this is Mim Jenkinson and you’re listening to the Busy Mum Balanced Life podcast.

If you caught the last one, you will have found out why I decided to quit drinking alcohol and how I did it. So if you haven’t yet listened to that, then I’d probably stop this one. Skip back to that one, give that a listen and then come back here.

So what I wanted to talk about today was not so much the reasons why I did it, but the reactions that other people have had. And as I mentioned in the last podcast, I was really surprised, and I’m still really surprised, at how many other mums have come forward since and told me that they have been struggling too, or they struggled in the past and they also quit drinking for the same reasons. Exactly, most of them. Or they’re struggling right now and they don’t know how to stop. And they’ve been chatting to me about how I did it and if it will work for them.

And so many have gone, are undergoing the same journey as well. So they’ve since started reading the book that I recommended that’s in the last podcast. And the success that they’re having so far and how they’re feeling. So that was a big surprise to me, that I wasn’t alone.

But there’s been a few reactions from friends and family and acquaintances that I wasn’t quite expecting. So 99% of people have been so supportive. In fact, everyone has been supportive for sure. No one has not, intentionally not been supportive and most people have been really surprised and didn’t actually realize that I had a problem, which is kind of good that I obviously hid it quite well. Or I don’t know. It gives me mixed feelings. My husband knew that I had a problem, so he was thrilled. I mean, now he spends time with me every evening. He knew how much I was drinking, he was drinking a lot of it with me. So we both had a bit of an issue together.

But otherwise, yeah, a lot of people have said, “oh, I didn’t think you had a problem”. And my reaction to that has been, I did, I was addicted to alcohol and the habit of drinking alcohol. I could not stop. And that generally is enough to put that one to rest. I don’t think people realise, people who knew me, who know me and I realized how much I was drinking and how frequently. So this is not something I’m proud of in any way, but that response generally shuts that reaction down.

The second reaction action has been “why, why do you want to stop?”. And my response to that is it’s really, for every reason, I want to stop because of the health implications that drinking that much was having on me. The fact that it was really masking different problems that I had and I’m now having to kind of face in many ways. And that it was costing me in every single way. It was costing me in terms of quality time with my kid and my husband. It was costing me in the negative health implications. It was costing me the next day in the anxiety or feel about having drunk so much again and how I was beating myself up. And financially the amount that we were spending on alcohol, particularly wine, even though it was cheap wine, was ridiculous. So it was a financial cost to us.

But alcohol, I realized, was doing nothing good for my life. And that’s one of the main messages in the book that I read. That alcohol does nothing good for you. And I fought against that in the beginning by saying but it does, it’s social, it’s enjoyable. I enjoy the taste. It helps me relax. But I now realize that alcohol wasn’t actually giving me any of the benefits that I perceived it did. It really wasn’t.

Another reaction has been, “well, why stop? Why quit drinking altogether? Why don’t you just cut down?”. And again, I’ve had to go into detail about how I’ve tried to do that and I just couldn’t. And you may say, I don’t have the willpower or I’m weak or I’m not trying hard enough. No one’s ever actually come to me with those reactions. But perhaps that’s what people are thinking. That’s probably something I may have thought if I didn’t understand. But none of those things are true. And I now realise that I was addicted to alcohol and that’s the reason I couldn’t stop. It wasn’t my fault. I tried, trust me, I tried.

I tried so, so, so many times, for months and months and months. I could not stop. I couldn’t even cut down one glass, I couldn’t stop. And so that’s the reason I can’t just cut down.

And then the next reaction to that has been, well, “don’t say that you’re going to never drink again. Why don’t you just see how you go for a bit, maybe cut down for a month or three months and then when you start drinking again in the future, you’ll have a better grip of it and you won’t be as bad”. And yes, I went into this process thinking potentially that might be the case, but it isn’t going to be the case for me. I hope and I think that I will never ever drink alcohol again because it doesn’t do anything good for me. And because of all of the awesome things that have already started happening in my life because I don’t drink alcohol.

But I know that I am, I’ll eventually get addicted to it again. And I’ve never been a “one glass of wine” girl anyway. I’ve never had any interest in having a slight buzz of alcohol or just drinking for the taste of a lovely glass of wine. That just has never been me. I have always drunk to get drunk, whether it’s just a slight buzzh to take the edge of the day off or because I’m going on a big night out and I want to have the confidence to be able to go and dance on the dance floor in front of everyone. Or I’m going to a party with people I don’t know and I want to have the confidence to be relaxed. Like all of the reasons I would give for drinking would actually mean there were reasons for being a big drinker. So I’ve never been interested in only one glass. The chances of me ever that person in the future is slim to none. So those who suggested I just cut down, can’t, won’t.

A couple of people, not many, but a couple have doubted me and said, “oh, you won’t stick at this”. And they mean it in a fun, jovial way. And that’s the manner that I’ve taken it as well because I am not very good at quitting things or starting healthy lifestyle habits. I’m sorry. That’s very negative. I am good because I’m doing this, but I have got a track record of announcing to the world that I’m going to take on this new regime of health benefits or exercise or food and then just not following through.

And so I do understand why people who love me and who know me would assume that I’m not going to follow through with this as well. But my reaction is that I’m doing it and this is my intention and I’m grateful for anyone who supports me and yeah, just you wait.

On the subject of waiting, I had a friend who said, oh, but it’s my birthday soon and so please don’t do this yet. Please wait until after then because I guess they want the fun jovial drunk Mim for a bit longer. And yeah, I get that entirely because I just think from being out with friends when we’ve all been drinking, the person who doesn’t drink sometimes does stand out a little bit like a sore thumb. And I haven’t been in masses of social situations yet being a nondrinker and I haven’t been on like a big night out where everyone’s been drinking except me. So that will be really interesting from my perspective and theirs to see whether I’m just the same old Mim or not.

But you know, as much as I loved being the life and soul of most parties, probably the loudest, I did have this anxiety the next day of ah, did I drink too much and was I a bit obnoxious and did I have the mic at karaoke way too much? The answer is yes by the way. And did I say something to offend anyone or when I said this, that person looked at me funny, was it because I was a dickhead? Was I drunk? Like I don’t want that anxiety and that paranoia in that guilt feeling ever again. It’s a really horrible way to start the morning when you’ve had what hopefully was a good night out before.

So I hope in time with some practice of being the sober person on a night out or a social occasion that I will enjoy myself just as much and other people will enjoy my company just as much as well, hopefully more so.

And then the absolute biggest reaction from people that I’ve told has been a bit of a defense mechanism, I guess, for them. And I don’t think they realize how it’s coming across. So I’m going to try and articulate this as best I can.

But probably at least 50% of people, especially people who are friends and family and close to me enough to be able to talk quite openly, their reaction has been, “oh well I have a complete grip on my alcohol consumption or I know when to cut down or I can stop whenever I want to, but I know that I can drink just one glass a day or one glass every now and again”. It’s basically coming across to me like, well, “I’m fine, I don’t have a problem”. Which makes me wonder one, do you have a problem? Because you seem quite defensive. I hope you don’t.

And two, no need to rub my face in it though. Like I’m actually putting my hands up and saying I had a problem with alcohol and I have a problem with alcohol. I can’t be a drinker again. And so for them to come back to say, well I don’t, I’m fine. It’s kind of like, hey guys, come on. I’m sharing something really personal and a failing on my part, I still fell in many ways, although it’s an addiction. It’s embarrassing and it’s not something that I wanted to have consume my life.

So to have people say, well I’m fine kind of makes me feel a little bit shitty about myself, but I do appreciate they’re not, that’s 100% not the intention. So I’m kind of getting used to this reaction from people and seeing it for what it is, which is just them justifying their own actions and they’re dealing with their own issues with alcohol or not. I don’t know if that’s their life. But just taking it with a bit of a pinch of salt and not moving on.

However I am, that has surprised me. So that’s been the biggest response I’ve had so far to me telling people that I’m no longer drinking. And yeah, it’s kind of trying to see the funny side of it as much as anything. But yeah, that’s just some of the responses I’ve had from telling the universe that I’m no longer an alcoholic in any way. Like I don’t drink anything. Sorry, I laughed and I’m not making light of the issue. It’s just it’s still very new for me to be able to say out loud I had a problem with alcohol and now I’m sober or now I’m a teetotaler and now I don’t drink. Now I’m a person who doesn’t drink. It’s still very new.

And I’m still kind of getting used to saying it. I did wonder whether I was making a big deal out of nothing because I don’t want to make light of something that is actually an incredibly difficult, and in many cases, tragic disease for so many mums and families globally. And I would hate to be seen as making light of this or being insensitive in any way. Hope I’m not coming across that way.

However, I am glad that I shared my story because it has opened my eyes to how significant this issue has been in my own life and how very damaging it was without me realising. Even in the early days of me quitting, I actually didn’t realize what a transformation this was going to have on my life and my health, and particularly in my mental health. And again, because so many other mums have come forward now and said they share the same issue when they want to do something about it, it’s made me realise that this is a bit of an epidemic really.

So this is important. It’s an important issue to talk about. It’s important for me to be able to talk about it because it’s therapeutic in many ways. And it also helps me to be able to connect with others who have either done the same thing, overcome the same challenge or are potentially thinking about it or in the process I might as well.

Again, if you have any questions about my decisions, about the benefits and how I felt since I quit drinking or whether you’re considering something yourself and you want to ask my opinion, I can’t give you any medical advice. Obviously, I’m not qualified in any way whatsoever to do that, but I’m very happy to share my story and recommendations on books and articles and literature that I’ve read and apps even that have helped me to be able to quit.

So yes, anyway, I hope this has been interesting for you to listen to. Please subscribe. This podcast isn’t only going to be about alcohol, but I think that this is something very significant that’s happening in my life at the moment and in the lives of many busy moms. So it’s one subject that I really wanted to talk about early on. And if you have any ideas or topics that you’d like me to talk about in the future, then please let me know.

I would love for you to subscribe to the podcast and I’ll be in touch with you very soon. Thanks for listening.

BMBL Podcast 003

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I acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the land I work and live on, the Awabakal peoples, and pay my respects to Elders past and present.
I thank them wholeheartedly and express my love and gratitude for the privilege to live and work in such a beautiful part of the world and for the opportunity for my family to be part of this vibrant and supportive community.

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