Bleary-eyed after being up for half the night with a wriggly toddler boasting an excellent starfish impression in my bed, I wandered up to my local Sainsbury’s this morning to buy a few items and a take-away coffee. My heart sank a little when I noticed that the check-out person was the same one who has served me the last few times I’ve called into the shop to purchase a latte, feeling, as I was, somewhat self-conscious about my increasingly frequent habit.
I stood, a few minutes later, waiting to hand over some money for bread, bananas, apples and the aforementioned coffee, and my gaze fell upon the array of bottles of alcoholic drinks lined up on the shelves behind the counter. I remembered with alarming clarity the terrible sensation of shame and guilt that I used to encounter whenever I bought booze during the last few years of my drinking life. I would usually have incorporated the wine or beer into a more innocent selection of items, a casual afterthought that I’d slipped breezily into my basket. But in reality, the entire experience from the walk up to the supermarket from my house, to perusing the bottles in the wine aisle with a faux expert eye, to unloading my shopping onto the conveyer belt, would ensure that I was riddled with self-consciousness and worry.
However, these obvious warning signs that I was not in control of alcohol – or at least, not as in control as I would’ve liked – did little to deter me from routinely making the trip up to the shop under the guise of untold ‘last minute’ shopping trips for imagined necessities: cheese, juice, biscuits and other grocery items that I could always have done without, but nevertheless, would be promoted to great importance as a valid excuse for visiting the supermarket yet again.
And so, back to this morning, and the friendly shop assistant who I fear will, any day now, be ringing in a large latte on her till even before I’ve pressed the buttons on the machine to fill my paper cup. We smiled and said hello, I paid and took my shopping bags and coffee, and reminded myself that I no longer live a life that fills me with shame. I am just me, a person who doesn’t drink, who likes herself sufficiently to deal with living minus the prop of mind-numbing booze.
As the late Steve Jobs once said, “Life is short, so do not waste your time living the life of another person”.
Remind yourself that it is fine to just be you – no alcohol required.