I’ve been reading a super interesting new weekly series on women and alcohol by an awesome health and fitness guru hottie here called Aimee Barnes. I personally don’t have a prob with the devil drink, as you know, but I am told that it’s not unusual for excess drinkage to occur in our Expaterati community. It has shaken me up a bit though because I thought only alcoholics shouldn’t drink in the morning. Aimee’s point in last week’s piece is that “alcoholic” shouldn’t even be how we’re thinking about this. And now that I apply my massive brain to the matter, I’m thinking, actually like, yes Aims babe.
As you also know, I’m not one to say no to a beverage on a night out with my Expaterati girlies, or at fabulous parties, and occasionally I do like a bit of Veuve Click on the roof terrace. Purely at times of celebration, of course. Or commiseration, of course. Or, when all else fails, because all else has failed, of course. Apart from that, I can totally take it or leave it.
I have, howsoever, known some Expaterati ladies who are far worse than me, and the thing is, as long as you know at least one person who’s worse than you, you’re good to go. Aimee didn’t exactly say that (at all), but I’m putting my own expert spin on this. Otherwise I’d just re-blog her stuff, right?! And what would be the point of that??!!
The v sad thing about said drinky-ers is what Babe Barnes writes re lost potential. I believe that’s a majorly good point because when I think about the expat boozers I have known – partic the ones who gave up their careers to become trailing spouses – it makes me wonder about what they’d be doing with their time, in the absence of alcohol. That said though, therefore thusly, they are often having an amazebobs time and tons of laughs, and I am v much in support of that.
This evening I was thinking about all this over a few glasses of NZ’s finest, and I got myself into a bit of a pickle. So if it’s true that expat wives like a drink a little too much, but it’s making them feel happier than they would be otherwise, what exactly is so wrong about that? I decided I needed to speak to cousin Clara the psychologist, even though she told me quite categorically not to contact her at work. It was just a quick question or two.
I Whatsapped her, saying, “Babes, soz, just a quickie! It’s kinda important for expat wives everywhere. EJ x”.
“Ok, I have 15 mins before my addictions group”, came the reply.
Once we were speaking, I put my first question to her: “Why do expat wives drink, if indeedy they do?”
“Alright, Emma-Jane, I’ll do my best to answer your question this time, but please, in future, stop trying to contact me at work unless it’s an emergency.”
“Yes sure, babe, but it kind of is an emergency because it’s quite an important issue, don’t you think? There are like a bajillion expat wives who need clarification on this, and I’ve Googled it and Bing’d it, but not much comes up, you know, so we need answers, and fast!! I need to get to the bottom of this!”
“Ok…”, Clara did the long pause thing, as these patronising psych people are prone to do, and then finally said, “In answer to the why, you could equally well Google alcohol use disorder in general, and then apply it more specifically to the population you’re talking about. The issues are the same: unprocessed or unmanageable loss, anxiety, and sometimes also past trauma. In the case of expat spouses, those issues can be compounded and re-enacted with each transition, when very real losses occur and recur. So you know as well as I do that if there is a transition every few years, that equates to a potentially serious build-up of unprocessed material, which in turn becomes increasingly unmanageable. It’s particularly difficult if the person is a parent, because then they’re likely to prioritise their children’s emotional wellbeing over their own. And you also know that expat marriages can be more challenging than those among stable populations, given the upheavals, uncertainties, frequent separation, and the fact that the couples really only have each other as the consistent adult presence along the way. So whilst that can have a strengthening effect in many cases, it’s still a significant source of anxiety, and it’s common that one party will end up carrying the anxiety on behalf of the other.”
That last bit made sense because I was feeling extremely anxious on Saturday, and Don just seems to be going about his business, totes relaxed, like he always does. I told Clara about that (she doesn’t read my blog because she’s too busy, which is like completely fine), and said that could be why I had maybe a little too much to drink after my turbulent emo journey with the Angelina Jolie looky likey.
“But”, I added, “That doesn’t mean that I have alcoholic usage disorderedness, right, because I was going out anyway, and I had a really great time with my girlies. So, you know, having a really great time made me feel a ton better, and we all had a lot of fun, and just because we were drinking… I mean… So ya, we got a bit tipsy and stuff, but it was a laugh. What’s the big deal, really? That’s kind of my other question: if it makes you happy, why the hell is it so bad??”
I heard what sounded like a sigh from Clara, but she’s all upset about the election result, and about how the National Health Service is going to be destroyed, yada yada, so it was probably about that rather than about our chat. I can’t understand why people don’t just get private health coverage, like in America. It works great there, right?? Oh everything is better in America. My turn to sigh LOL!!
“Emma-Jane”, Clara said, “I have to go and do my group now – while there still are groups available on the NHS for people who need so much and get so little – but I hope I’ve answered at least part of your question. Alcohol use, or use of any mood-altering substance or behaviour, is a way of managing difficult feelings. I like to see it as the psyche striving for balance, albeit in a distorted way, which unfortunately takes its toll on the individual and everyone close to them in the long-run. So if you take nothing else from our conversation…” –
I was v interested in what she was saying, but at the same time there was a Mega Thread happening on RSEW* in the form of a hashtag anonymouspost by a lady whose hus (presumably a FMAWG) had run off with a petite Asian girlie and wanted nothing more to do with said her, so I couldn’t completely concentrate on Clara’s words. I tried, believe me that I did!! But with every passing second there was a new and exciting comment. OMG, people were all over it!! I used to watch pay TV with a glass of wine, but here, with the Facebook groups, I can sit back in my roof terrace jacuzzi pool and see great drama unfolding for free!!
I got so caught up in the thread that I only realised I was still on the call with Clara when she shouted, “Emma-Jane!! Are you there? I have to go now!”
Argh, these psychologists can be so precious about their time.
“Ok, babes,”, I said, mostly wanting to return my full attention to the Mega Thread, “I’ll let you go. So interesting and I think you’ve really nailed it there, sweetie. But I need to run too. Speak soon! And babes, ffs cheer up about the stupid government stuff!! That’s my advice to you! You’re welcome!! Byeee!!”
* Real Singapore Expat Wives Facebook group. Over 8,000 members since last Autumn, go them!! The original group, Singapore Expat Wives, from which the RSEW admins were expelled, must be quaking in their 11,000 member boots. Hahaaa! As exciting as the Melbourne Cup and fox-hunting all rolled into one!! Thank goodness sanity will hopefully prevail on the latter when Cameron brings it back. I really don’t get what all the fuss is about! It’s just a bit of fun!!