I don’t know when I started to drink alcoholically. I know that, aside from getting drunk on White Lightning cider at my 13th birthday sleepover (which I hated), I first started drinking later than many of my peers at 17 years old, I drank normally. I could go to the pub for just one drink on a Friday lunchtime. What I don’t know, what I cannot pinpoint is when the shift happened, when the blackouts started and hangovers started to creep in.

Family members first started voicing concerns a couple of years ago, although I suspect now they were worried for a long time before. I justified my drinking to myself and to anyone who listen by saying “Well look at my social media feeds, every parent drinks after a stressful day”. What I steadfastly ignored is that just one drink would be enough for most people. My inability to leave an opened (heck, even unopened) bottle of wine in the fridge spoke volumes. My behaviour spoke volumes; sneaking empty wine bottles into neighbours recyclying bins or stuffing them into general waste so that no one would could tell I drank 15 bottles of wine a week, just at home, not counting the several each week in the pub, begging my husband to go to the shop once more for yet another bottle of wine. None that is normal behaviour and yet I was oblivious to it.

Certainly I know that I was becoming dependent on alcohol before I fell pregnant. My pregnancy test was done while I had a hangover from hell, although I registered that mother nature should have paid a visit the previous day. Whilst I didn’t completely stop drinking, I did have just one glass of wine a week. When I was breastfeeding I wouldn’t drink unless I had managed to pump enough to get through one feed.

And yet somehow, it got me again. Once that phase of my life was over, I went right back into old habits. My ego told me it was OK. It was normal as a mum to drink after a day at home with a small child. I made my own rules; no drinking while the son was awake, no more than one glass if the husband was drinking. I changed the rules. One was OK when the son was awake. Then one glass became one bottle. So I switched to gin. So called “Mother’s Ruin”, how apt! I could drink gin normally, sip it slowly like you are supposed to. But I’d crave wine, knowing it could and would give me the oblivion I sought. Soon, I slipped back onto the wine.

I don’t know when the shift happened. Was it when I met my husband? After all, we enabled each other to drink. Was it later? Was it before? Was it becoming a parent that truly caused the shift? Was it leaving home, with all of the freedom and responsibility that brings, ill equipped for it that I was? And really, does it matter when the shift happened?