Gray Area Drinking
If you’re anything like me, my friends, my clients, or most of the women I simply know, you’ve had countless opportunities over the years to think about your relationship to alcohol. Maybe you’ve Googled topics like, “am I an alcoholic?” or “how to stop drinking so much,” or “how to control alcohol.” You’ve probably done some fairly honest self-assessments that lead you to believe that alcohol isn’t a problem: you don’t drink alone (or, at least, all the time); you don’t drink in the morning or have shakes; you haven’t lost your job, your home, or trashed your relationships; you drink less than so many people you know; you’re able to stop for days/weeks/months at a time. That “rock bottom” you hear so much about? Nope, not even close. Whew. All good. You’re not an alcoholic. It’s not that bad.
When afternoon rolls around, you find yourself thinking more and more about that cocktail or glass of wine awaiting you after work.
You tell yourself you’ll only have one drink, maybe two, and almost always have more.
You wake up feeling like total crap (and this gets worse as you get older).
You question things you’ve done or said the night before, maybe sent a text message or two that brings on total dread.
You miss out on your fun morning plans because you just can’t (I’ll just meet you later at brunch, guys!).
You make rules for yourself around drinking (and the only-on-weekends plan ends up being every day but Monday and Tuesday).
Over the past few years, the conversation around drinking has shifted, yet our beliefs haven’t quite caught up. Somewhere in the middle, between rock-bottom-lose-everything and “I only have a glass of champagne on New Years’ Eve” (I mean, seriously, who does that?), is this gray area drinking.
So, in this gray area, you might not feel like you have an obvious “problem,” and maybe none of your friends would think that about you either. (You’re fine! You’re just being a perfectionist! Everyone drinks that way!) But over the years, you’ve had enough hangovers and next-day anxieties to cause you to question your drinking, at least a little bit. You’ve probably made and broken countless promises to yourself about your intake (hello, frustration!)
You’re still (mostly) keeping it together, and yet, part of you wonders…
You know you could feel better. You know your relationships (the ones that mean something) would improve. You know you could get that promotion, or start that business, or reach that goal. You might be a better parent, wife, friend. You’d have more energy, more presence.
I’m here to tell you that gray area drinking, although not necessarily life-wrecking, is often a tough place to be. Most of us are on this spectrum, somewhere. And we don’t need to be.
If you’re hearing that intuition that tells you: you deserve so much more than this. life could be so much more than this, then you owe it to yourself to listen. (And honestly? If you’re not sure you deserve it, I can help you with that one, too, because I believe we all do.)