The relationship between events and wine, celebrations and wine, weekends and wine is vivid in sobriety as we cope with our ‘Firsts’. The first time we do something or go somewhere usually associated with drinking alcohol, we cannot help but make a comparison between the two instances. ‘Firsts’ are difficult enough yet have the added challenge of internal background chatter: ‘The last time I was here I was......, the last time I was here I did........, the last time I was here I said.....’ underpinning the reality that the last time you were here you were drunk and were having a good time, this time you are sober and you think you are missing the fun. Thankfully these feelings change as sobriety establishes itself; we realise that talking rubbish and throwing up was never fun at all and we stop missing it. With time and practice, we discover where the true fun comes from, and accept it exists to varying degrees at different times
Initially I swapped wine for an alternative drink. I stuck to my favourite savoury snacks and found ginger beer and lime to be a drink with strong flavours that I enjoyed instead. I really did enjoy this drink and in particular, I took delight in drinking it quickly, drinking as much of it as I wanted and drinking it earlier in the day without comment! Gradually the need for a wine substitute lessened and I began punctuating my evenings with cups of tea and sweet treats. I love them all: biscuits (plain and chocolate), cookies (soft and gooey), cakes (bought or baked), scones likewise, chocolate (preferably Dairy Milk but any type will do) or ice cream (preferably disguised as a chocolate bar or lavished with an indulgent sauce). Breakfast cereals too, all of them, mixed up and crucially, able to be eaten in large quantities without a noticeable absence from the packet.
I have always been diet conscious (some would say obsessed) and have an encyclopaedic knowledge of the calorie count of many foods. Sweet sugary snacks have always been on my shopping list but had been strictly rationed in the past; limited by my discipline and my over-riding desire for wine. I have always wanted more and more of them yet until this last year I have been able to control that excessive desire.
Wine was my priority. I needed sufficient calories to allow for enough wine, and I bought snacks in small individual packs, meaning if I did Iose control and ate several, it was not a family sized disaster. I managed to give up wine and continue to socialise as long as there was the promise of dessert. In recent months I have more than made up for many years of never, ever, ever, even considering, chocolate brownie with warm chocolate sauce, or sticky toffee pudding with ice cream. I coped with my initial perceived hardship of going without wine by continually indulging my sugar pathways with delights previously forbidden. And that’s okay, because I no longer have the bottle of wine, do I?
Well no, I don’t but I abused this shining halo. I thought it gave me carte blanche to eat anything and everything I’d previously deprived myself of (and lately it has literally become ‘continual’.) There is a little internal rebellious me saying, ‘Well, I can’t have wine so I’ll have all the other things it precluded’. I felt justified in doing this and fell into the trap of virtuously refusing wine, for some reason also feeling freed from the dieting practices I have followed all my life. Of course this was not the case.
My pathological love of sweet sugary food, my tendency to greed and over-eating, my constant battle to manage my weight all predated my use, then abuse, of wine. While my disordered eating had taken a back seat for a few years, being meticulously controlled in favour of my liquid love, it was never far away and had been waiting patiently to rear its head and come back with a vengeance. Which is exactly what happened.
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