I’ve never been very active in social media. Facebook has mostly been an easy way to share pictures of my kids with family and friends back home. I’m not even sure what Twitter is. But a little over a year ago, at one of the lowest points of my life, I found the support that I needed by logging into the internet and blogging every day.
There is endless support on facebook and television for women to relieve stress with a glass of wine or a couple of shots. Drinking has become synonymous with “ me time”. You can’t log into facebook without tripping over an ironic and delightfully funny blurb about the necessity of moms claiming their right to a drink. Mommy needs Vodka, Mommy Juice Wines, and OMG I so need a glass of wine or I’m gonna sell my kids, are all hugely popular face book pages. The “Happy Hour” on television begins on the Today Show at 10:00 Monday morning. Every weekday Kathie Lee and Hoda “celebrate” life with generous glasses of wine. On Friday afternoon Rachel Maddow winds down the news and information week with her Cocktail Moment. From comedies like Cougar Town and Modern Family to dramas like The Good Wife, beautiful, fit, likeable middle aged women are everywhere selling the image of drinking alcohol as an essential part of a life well lived.
About eight years ago I started to worry that I was slipping over the line from enthusiastic nightly drinker to addiction. But I found support everywhere I turned to see my habitual drinking as the new norm. When Ellen DeGeneres demonstrated that one of her holiday gift picks for 2012, the XL wine glass actually did hold an entire bottle of Merlot, her audience laughed with warmth and knowing enthusiasm and I breathed a sigh of relief. Every time Claire’s kids on Modern Family joked about her maybe being an alcoholic as she poured a glass of wine while making dinner, I felt like maybe I was being a bit overly dramatic. As I understood it alcoholism was a debilitating disease that I knew the fictional moms on my favorite shows didn’t have and neither did I. Alcoholism leads to dysfunctional families and while my little family had it’s quirks we were definitely not dysfunctional. I liked to drink like a lot of other women and like them I had everything under control.
Until I didn’t.
As my life kept steam rolling through middle age and I juggled work, parenting and family my drinking steadily increased. No matter how hard I tried to control it I couldn’t and although I had been sober through two pregnancies and could stop for a week or two here and there I couidn’t stay stopped. I was fit and successful like all of the middle aged role models in the media who tout the joys of drinking. I put a lot of energy into “purging” the alcohol with exercise and great nutrition. I would wake up suddenly at three in the morning with a dry mouth and a sense of regret and immediately drink a litre of water. My early morning workout routine had become a necessary penance for the indulgence of the night before and by the time I clocked in at work most traces of my hang over were gone. But when I finally stopped I was drinking a bottle and a half of wine at least 5 nights a week and keeping things under control was becoming an increasingly exhausting up hill battle.
I never hit the proverbial rock bottom that people associate with alcoholism but I could feel myself headed in that direction. I would often wake in the morning not having any memory of going to bed. Sometimes I wouldn’t remember what we’d had for dinner or the conversation I had with my kids. My day would start at 6:30 and speed along activity after activity, responsibility after responsibility, until I shut down around 7:00 pm with enough wine to usually lose myself in oblivion. When I woke up one morning in pain with no memory of falling on the way to bed I knew that it was time to retire from my long and illustrious drinking career. It didn’t matter anymore if everyone seemed to think that drinking too much was funny and normal. It was no longer funny for me.
It seems like there is support out there for every kind of drunken drama that falls short of physical abuse. “Been there..done that…we understand…everyone is human.” But there is not a lot of support for people who want to stop drinking unless they confess to alcoholism and join AA .
The thing is that people need community support if they are going to break an addiction. The guilt and shame that comes from losing control creates a sense of isolation that only a supportive community can cure. But we celebrate our “right” to drink with such enthusiasm that admitting we have lost control and can no longer be members of the “cool” club has become even more difficult now than it was 20 years ago.
About this time last year while doing a google search of sobriety blogs I stumbled over the facebook page for a website called HelloSundayMorning . At first I thought it was a religious organization for sobriety but it turned out to be a free, members only , group blog for people who wanted to cut down on or quit drinking alcohol. On March 6 2015 I joined the HelloSundayMorning community and wrote my first blog post. Within minutes a nurse from the UK, about my age, with a couple of grown children and a husband who likes his beer, popped into my comment stream and said “ hey you’re just like me…it’s ok…you’re gonna make it”.
I have been sober ever since. Every day I write and read the posts of men and women from around the world who may be younger or older, parents or not, but in their addiction they are “just like me”. It was hard work to break my addiction. I read every book I could find on addiction and recovery and wrote about my feelings , frustrations and triumphs. As soon as I had my feet on dry ground I started reaching out to new members of HelloSundayMorning like the nurse from the UK had reached out to me and said “ It’s ok…you can do this …I did.”
Blogging turned out to be so therapeutic for me that I’ve started a blog outside of HSM on a website I built full of resources and the history of my first year of sobriety. I know that there are a lot of women out there who feel just like I did a year ago. Every time they see a facebook meme celebrating their right to drink they wonder and worry if they might be the one who can’t and they’re not sure where to turn for the support they need to stop or cut down.
I want them to know that they’re just like me. They can stop drinking. Life is waiting and it’s beautiful on the other side of the bridge.
Alcohol is the only drug that people question you for NOT using but you don’t HAVE to drink. Don’t stay trapped because the stigma of not drinking seems worse than the cost of drinking to much.
Sobriety is Clarity, Creativity, Freedom! Community connection is the first step.
Come talk to me and others who have found an alternative solution to claiming “Me Time”.
ReThink the Drink https://www.boozemusings.com/
This post was also editted from it’s origonal version published in Huffington Post as Redefining ‘Me Time’ in 2016
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