By Victoria Vanstone
I’ve failed at moderation my entire life. My attempts at cutting down were always dismal. Moderation was being conscious of my first few sips then saying, “Fuck it! lets get a bottle”.
Even if my heart was set on a hangover-free Sunday, the naughty little pixie that lives inside my brain would always get its way.
“This time will be different Vicky”.
“This time you won’t have anxiety”.
“This time you will drink well and be funny without vomiting off a balcony”.
“Go on, go crazy… you only live once”.
His voice is a whisper at first. Quiet enough for me to feel confident at my attempt at moderation. I’d sit at a table with my first glass of wine in front of me feeling strong, like nothing would break me. Before any alcohol was soaking up my inhibitions, I could drown him out, talk over him, ignore his need to derail me.
“Just one and I will go home”.
The crisp glass of Chardonnay goes down fast. I notice my friends’ glasses are still full. Maybe they’re staying out later than me, taking it slow. Pacing themselves.
As I turn my huge wine glass upside down and the last drips of wine slip down my throat, I find myself leaning in to hear what the pixie has to say…
“You deserve this. You’ve had a long day. Stay… let your hair down”.
It’s not friends begging me to stay for more that has me walking to the bar, it’s him.
The second one is even more satisfying. The alcohol begins to spread through my body and the weight of my day lifts from my shoulders.
This blissful feeling means the pixie has won. He’s hoodwinked me. He knows that finishing two means I’m done for. I’m no longer capable of making any rational decisions.
Having two means three and having three means four and then, well… who knows…
That conniving pixie has successfully destroyed my good intentions.
His work here is done. He can go home and tuck himself in with a warm cup of cocoa and plan his next take down. He’ll flip through his diary just before turning off his tiny bedside light and scribble a note in for the following Thursday at 5pm: Reminder – Vicky – Happy Hour. No elbow twisting required.
So now I’m alone, alone in my head to try and make the right choices.
Those two wines have made me feel fabulous! I feel like the funniest, most interesting person in the world. I sit with my friends, reeling off jokes and crazy stories. They’re laughing at all the right bits and I feel content. Self-doubt has been overpowered and I’m buzzing with excitement.
I’m up at the bar again. The pixie is nowhere in sight so I can’t blame him now. I’m asking for two shots of gin in my Martini. I’m doing it secretly, away from my friends. Kidding myself that I’m a faster drinker or that my boozing stamina is in some way better than everyone else’s.
My preconceived idea of stopping after two has dissolved like the salt on my lips from my drink. I think I look refined holding the wide rimmed glass. I feel like a character in an F. Scott Fitzgerald book. All class and dripping with sophistication. I even stick out my pinky finger as I take a nip. It’s all a front. It’s the moment before I start my downhill descent into drunkenness. It’s the bit that feels OK before the fall. I’m trying to look sober when actually I’m wasted.
My black out is early – after the second Martini. My friends disappear. I’m talking to a face I don’t recognise. Then my head is dangling over some railings and I’m looking at some sick splattered on the pavement below me.
I struggled like this for years. Wanting to do better but failing.
I have never, ever once succeeded at moderation.