Middle-Aged Drinking And Your Relationship With Alcohol

Tetra Pak® - Couple on beach with Tetra Classi...
Tetra Pak® – Couple on beach with Tetra Classic® packages, 1960s (Photo credit: Tetra Pak)

I think I AM probably one of those happy people in denial about their drinking.

The last time I went for a medical and was asked about how many units I consumed on average in a week and answered ‘thirteen’, the doctor replied ‘that’s honest of you’.

It wasn’t. I might have taken the lower end of my ‘average’.

But what was he implying by that comment?

I took it to mean that maybe I wasn’t an alcoholic after all and then persecuted myself for turning into such a lightweight.

You probably know that I’ve been trying out this new-wave dieting healthy eating and exercise fad recently. I’ve found that I have absolutely no problem with eating less but my biggest challenge is not being able to pour myself a liberal glass of wine to make everything seem better at the end of the day.

And when you torture your body with exercise for the first time since high school, it tells you in no uncertain terms that you deserve a drink a treat afterwards. And that treat isn’t a salad.

Apparently, it’s the sugar addiction talking.

No matter how hard I try, I can’t seem to eradicate the mirage of wine completely. So instead of going Cold Turkey and being completely fucking suicidal, I have been trying to cut back to just one sad, lonely glass per night to make way for the calorific extravagance of my mega binging session at the weekend.

Because I’m responsible like that.

But my body still doth protest. It likes its 1-2 glasses a night, it’s what it’s used to, and as I can’t compensate with any culinary naughtiness either, it feels un-sated and dejected in the evening. I felt particularly defeated last night when I watched the Oscars without my customary glass of fizz strapped to my hand, because I’d foolishly used up my allowance in a ‘discussion’ with Kurt about homework.

I’m sorry, but real women just don’t drink herbal tea after 6pm.

And science is on my side. A recent study proved that continuing to drink like a fish in middle age is good for relationships and that the relationships of couples who get shitfaced drink together have a better chance of survival.

This scientific evidence appears to have some credibility in my experience.

Drinking Your Way Through Menopause
Drinking Your Way Through Menopause (Photo credit: RickC)

The old man and I have always been pissheads had a Friday night routine of drinking copiously together and putting the world (and obviously our relationship) to rights – a habit passed down from generation to generation by our own parents.

In fact, I could blame some recent turbulent patches in our relationship on the fact that in middle age, since I have acquired the alcoholic tolerance of a fly, those fabulous evenings are a rarity now. We have to synch our drinking carefully these days, stagger our start and then meet majestically like synchronised swimmers somewhere in the middle.

Another more serious consideration, which could alter the stats of other successful relationships based on alcohol, too, is that we are role models to two impressionable teenagers.

With this in mind, we always take the precaution of thanking them profusely these days when they get our wine and beer from the fridge. As responsible parents, we take the over-consumption of alcohol very seriously and know that drinking has taken a bad rap of late due to the issues with the younger generations not knowing how to handle it.

Personally, I believe that if abused correctly and with experience, alcohol can in fact benefit a relationship by distorting reality for those few precious hours in a long week.

A few glasses into the evening and once the drinking goggles are firmly back in place, the old man begins to look almost attractive again, his dad jokes sound funny and he can even look happy to be in my company.

What is your relationship with alcohol?

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The Middle Aged Hangover Part IV

I may need to revise my own advice about choosing wine over food, after last night. Let’s just say that my memories of ‘Vivid Sydney’ aren’t quite as ‘vivid’ as they should be.

Hangovers can be a b*tch when you’re middle aged.

The Middle-Aged Hangover Part IV
The Middle-Aged Hangover Part Middle IV

Middle aged hangovers are one of the more tedious symptoms of getting older. While it might seem unfair to gather age-defining lines on your face and extra weight around your middle, not being able to console yourself with more than a few glasses of wine, is plain evil.

My excesses of those innocent-looking bottles of horribly cheap wine began to haunt me the minute I first opened my fetid mouth this morning, when the dog actually rolled away from my breath.

There are certain days in your life when you simply have to ignore the nagging need to cram as much into 24 hours as is humanly feasible, simply to fulfill some perverse notion of needing to achieve something every day. It’s as though once you reach forty, you need to treat every day as if it were your last, (in case it is) and so wasting a day (and relaxing, say) seems the height of decadence.

Today was one of those days, when the effects of alcohol damaged my whole raison d’etre and I was forced to concede the day for the purposes of recovery.

I am a loser. I admit that I achieved a whole lot of nothing today.

Hangovers are bad news; middle aged hangovers with kids/teenagers are brutal.

Of course I couldn’t admit to my still-evolving, adolescent brood (to whom I am normally preaching about the effects of alcohol over-consumption), that their primary role model was hungover. I couldn’t explain the real reasons for my lethargy, pallid skin-tone, need to remain prostrate on the sofa, nausea at the foul stench of dog food and inability to communicate effectively.

Fortunately, a pre-existing lower back pain issue seemed a reliable cover for my excesses as I planted myself in front of the tv, dog at my side, and erased all plans of ‘living’ for the day.

‘Are you hungover?’ asked Kurt with a sly grin plastered on his face as I began to explain the symptoms of Sciatica in depth.

I did manage to achieve a few things:  I increased the level of the old man’s contempt for me, slept through Jack Reacher for the third time, devoured my Maccas cure in five minutes flat (and without drawing breath), upset both my children and gained 2 kgs.

Am I disappointed in my juvenile behaviour? Do I think that other women of a certain age are still going out and getting sh*t-faced on occasion? Don’t judge me – I’ve already been punished.

Perhaps it is finally time for me to grow up.

I admit that I am guilty of still refusing to acknowledge my intolerance to cheap white wine on an empty stomach. Unfortunately, noisy bars where you can’t hear yourself speak (or anyone else for that matter) make me nervous and to allay my anxiety I tend to drink very quickly – the simile ‘like a fish’, springs to mind.

I never have days off. Even when I have a cold, I push on through coughing and spluttering, spreading my germs; stoically. There is little compassion in our house for illness – it is seen as weakness (or worst case, ‘neediness’) and in our family ‘strength’ is requisite for survival. I came from the school of ‘you only have a sick day if you need to be hospitalized’ type of parenting.

By midday, once I had accepted that the 2L bottle of orange juice and three cups of coffee and Panadol weren’t going to cure the hangover from hell, I sought a man fix.

Which is where those restorative powers of a good old-fashioned quarter pounder with cheese meal came in – my final attempt to cure the insatiable hunger (scientifically recognized as ‘the munchies’). Sometimes a girl simply has to do what a girl has to do – Darwin called it ‘survival of the fittest’ – and I needed that dose of cholesterol to survive today. I did mention in my last post, The ‘Replacing Food With Wine Diet’ For Women, that sometimes blowing the diet clear out of the water at the weekend is necessary for success. Today was one of those days.

Of course, the family folded completely without the nagging matriarch to organize them. Where was mum? Why was she lying on the sofa? Was she pretending to have a bad back again? You might think you get taken for granted as a mother, but only until you go down and all those on board go down with you.

On occasion, in order ‘to live’ you have to ignore caution and refuse to cow-tow to the effects of aging. Because when you are finally forced to surrender to old age, you want to know that you went out fighting.

‘Wine’ courtesy of Andrew Borodin at http://www.flickr.com