We are born into this world to acquire, to receive. First it’s the baby blanket they wrap you in, maybe a rattle to limply hold. Immediately, they are ours and we would fight for them. The world is generous, things fall our way. Our wardrobe grows and changes, we add friends to the Must Have list. Books, even if they’re only temporary loans from the library. Records (because we’re of that generation that still calls downloads from iTunes “records.”)
We may consider ourselves frugal. Aesthete. And yet we keep taking more into our life. Not all of it tangible. We took on that guardedness after a bad divorce. That love of the ocean after the perfect vacation.
It’s not always our fault. Maybe we didn’t want that cat a daughter adopted in college, right before she became engaged to a man with cat allergies. There’s a box of clothes that fit perfectly before our bodies betrayed us. Before the weight shifted to a mid-section unresponsive to any number of crunches or diets. Every year you’ll think of donating them and then stop, resolving again to lose the weight.
But the weight doesn’t come off because nothing has changed. Because you like a little ice cream at bedtime, you’ve been doing it since forever. You feel bad, you wish things were different, but the comfort of those accumulated things mean something to you.
And that’s the problem with drinking dames. We acquired a taste for white wines from summer afternoons on the deck, alone for the first time all week. The wine wraps us in quiet and calm. We want to relive that feeling often.
We have our book clubs and our lunch dates and our girls night out. But for some of us it isn’t about the books or the food or the friendship, It’s about the wine. In all our acquisitiveness, we’ve also acquired a problem with drinking, although we won’t call it that. Women like us don’t have problems like that.
But still, you know the symptoms: Feel like crap in the morning, look like crap in the morning, clothes fit like crap in the morning. You’ll try to cut back one day, sitting at lunch you’ll order a diet Coke instead of a glass of wine and your friends will stop talking, look at you a bit alarmed. Maybe there will be one that is angry at you for not ordering a drink. Very angry. So you order a drink. You’re not an alcoholic, after all. You can stop, you promise yourself.
And you could. But you don’t really want to. And you should. But you don’t really want to. Doctors say a glass of wine is good for your heart, but maybe not 3. Maybe not everyday.
The thing with adding so much to your life is that some day you’ll have to subtract, or all those things, those assumptions, those habits trap you like a hoarder in a trailer home. Pack a few boxes and haul them to a charity. You can do it now, or someone will do it after your gone. The benefit for doing it now is this: Fresh air will rush in to fill that vacuum created by things and you’ll be surrounded by a sense of newness. Of possibility. And maybe of loss, but fight that. It’s another one of those things you’ve acquired that you’ll need to dump later.
Pack a booze-free day in there too. It’s not a commitment yet. You can fill that hole right back up if you don’t like it. But if you’ve ever wondered if maybe you should stop give it a dry run. Literally.
With this third part of Women and Alcoholism at Midlife, we continue our online dialogue. Read Part 1 of Women and Alcoholism At Midlife here, and Part 2 here. We encourage you to post comments below and to email this article to your friends to increase awareness about this growing issue.
C.Anne Roberts is a journalist whose novel, “Grief Group” will be published later this year. She blogs at Midlife without the Madness: Women and Sobriety. You can also find her on Facebook and Twitter.