The image at the beginning of this post is literally how I used to feel. I used to feel trapped in the domesticity that I had chosen. I was a vibrant, active, loving wife and mom. Like many of my friends, I had my children after becoming established in my career. My daughter was born when I was 35 and my son when I was 40. They were both loved dearly and both were planned. But as I neared 50 and my daughter entered her teens I was drinking more and more and craving escape to a sort of imagined, higher plane. In the evening after work, my mommy’s wine time was becoming the focus rather than my kids.
I’ve been singing the praises of sobriety so loudly and for so long that it’s hard to believe there was a time when I could not imagine living life well without drinking. Not just drinking but getting drunk. I thought that I Needed to get drunk. I thought that I Deserved to get drunk. I thought that I Enjoyed getting drunk. I completely bought into the justification that wine was my reward for being a working mom who hit the ground running at 6 am doing, doing, doing all day. On-call 24/7 for everyone else and the wine was my just reward.
For many years I used alcohol and eventually I abused it.
Became this mom in a matter of a few short years.
Very drunk and about to get very dark, at 7 pm at my children’s Halloween Party.
There is a saying that describes it perfectly:
You take a Drink
The Drink Takes a Drink
The Drink Takes You
How did this affect my loved and wanted children?
My daughter was older by 5 years. When she was very young she never saw me drunk because she went to bed early and my drinking was still quite controlled. She didn’t consciously understand that something dark often came over me at night until she was about 12. And by the time she was 14 it was beginning to trouble her. When she asked, I would say that I’d get it under control, or I’d stop drinking for a week and tell her that it was no longer an issue because I now had it under control and adults simply needed to drink a bit every night because that is how adults deal with stress.
Eventually, though, I couldn’t make that story work anymore. Eventually, I stopped drinking for her and for her little brother because I knew that I was becoming a dishonest parent. I could lie to myself over and over again but lying to them became intolerable to me.
I finally did stop when my daughter was 15 and her little brother was 11. My new sobriety passed the one-week point, and the 11-day point. I was then miraculously two weeks sober and then two and a half weeks sober!
I remember sitting down with my daughter in the kitchen, I held her hands and looked into her eyes and said it’s going to be ok ! We’re going to be ok!
I remember how terrified I had been that I could not make sober stick, and that if I could not stop drinking everything in my world was going to fall apart, that HER world was going to fall apart…. but … I stopped drinking and it stuck and then everything in our world began to change for the better.
My need to give my family the love they all deserved changed me because sober is the best thing I have ever done for myself. Sobriety empowered me. It brought me balance. It brought me peace.
Do it for them and you’ll find that it is absolutely THE best gift that you can give yourself ever. It is giving you back to you.
I wrote this sticky note to myself and pasted it over the wine glass cupboard on my last day one.
It was a note to me that said
Keep it simple Just stop
My daughter climbed up there while I wasn’t around ( it’s a hanging cupboard) and added
You can do it Mommy
she didn’t tell me, or talk to me, she just quietly added it, and the next day I quietly added the other note.
Thank you Honey
We didn’t talk about it… we’d BEEN talking about it for over a year, we just both held our breath until we knew it had finally stuck and then we said together
It’s gonna be ok
There was another note on the other side of the room that said Sobriety Offers Everything That Alcohol Promised I had read that on a blog and I was hoping and praying that it was true because I didn’t want to live a dull boring life that I expected sobriety to be. It was true ! But it took some time for me to know that. It took a few months of me simply focusing on not picking up the first drink . The Beauty of Life Alcohol-Free
On the other side of my kitchen were sticky notes with inspirational quotes from the Tao.
“Simplicity, patience, compassion.
These three are your greatest treasures.
Simple in actions and thoughts, you return to the source of being.
Patient with both friends and enemies,
you accord with the way things are.
Compassionate toward yourself,
you reconcile all beings in the world.”
― Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching
Wonderful sentiments that I had written out and pasted up a couple of months earlier hoping that they would inspire me. Hoping that if I read them enough times it would get my head into a space where I would not pick up that first drink ever again. But ultimately I found that what worked for me was simply focusing on the nuts and bolts of identifying triggers and finding tools to turn them off .
Rather than focusing at first on the abstract intention of
Simplicity, patience, compassion
I needed to focus quite simply on the practicality of… HALT
Hungry – Angry – Lonely – Tired
if you are hungry – eat – don’t drink
if you are angry – breath – don’t drink
if you are lonely– reach out – don’t drink
if you are tired – rest – don’t drink
And that simplicity, the simplicity of starting to learn how to patiently show myself compassion, rather than drowning every need in a bottle of wine, got me there . Simple Solutions to Beat the Binge Drinking Routine
In AA they say that the only way out is through and you get there by just doing the next right thing . Those are wise words to live by, and at four and a half years sober I am thrilled to be in a place where those Taoist sentiments above are simply a way of life.
“Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage.”
― Lao Tzu
Took me there.
The love of my family. Deciding to save the very domesticity that I felt trapped in turned out to be the thing that took me to a higher plane. Not mommy’s wine time. That was a product, a lifestyle, that I had been sold.
If you’ve decided it’s time to stop drinking do whatever you need to do not to drink today. Do it for them. Do it for you.
It’s worth it!
More reading here : A Former Wine Mum’s Guide to Alcohol -Free Serenity
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