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Motherhood Made Me Want To Drink

I was five and a half years sober when I had my daughter. I was active in my recovery.  Then a familiar obsession started creeping back.

I was five and a half years sober when I had my daughter. I was active in my recovery.  I was married to another sober alcoholic. Overall, my life was pretty damned good and surprisingly stable.  Then a familiar obsession started creeping back. Maybe I can have a drink. Maybe I’m not an alcoholic after all.

Maybe, just maybe…

Becoming a mother, not unlike getting sober, has brought me a sense of peace and an abundance of joy and gratitude I never knew were possible.

And being a mother, not unlike being sober, is at times really, really hard.

When I first got sober, before I felt the benefits, before I was able to see the miracles happening in my life, all I felt was a sense of loss. My identity had long been synonymous with alcohol, and I felt a profound loss of self. I was only 21, and I felt as though I was losing out on my youth; my right to drink.

I wanted the drinking lifestyle I had become accustomed to without the consequences but inherently knew that wasn’t going to work. Eventually, with time, work on myself, and an amazing support network, that sense of loss was replaced with a fullness of heart, self-worth, and hope that I had been missing through all those years of drinking.

When I became a mother, the sense of loss returned. Gone was my independence, my free time, my ability to make plans at a moments notice.  I suddenly felt incredibly tied-down, isolated, and even bitter. I was torn up about these feelings, because I knew 100% in my heart that I wanted to be a mom, I wanted that little baby girl more than I had ever wanted anything in the world, but I didn’t want the mom lifestyle.

And then I wanted to drink.

I have become comfortable with the idea that, as a recovering alcoholic, there will always be times I want to drink. I had thought, however, that the obsession over a drink had been removed. For a long time, it was.

Motherhood brought it back…with a vengeance.

Because here’s the thing: in my alcoholic mind, it was ok to want a drink, but God forbid I want, even for a second, to not be a mother anymore. What kind of mother would I be if I thought such a thing? What would people think of me if I voiced that out loud? And so, instead of recognizing what I was really mourning—the loss of my independence as a non-parent—I reverted to an old familiar loss, the loss of my friend, Booze.

Thankfully, I never did have to pick up a drink, but it wasn’t easy; sometimes it’s still not. I know the rewards of sobriety and they vastly outweigh the rewards of drinking. It took me time to adjust to sobriety, and it has taken me time to adjust to motherhood.

In many ways, sobriety and motherhood aren’t all that different: there is a steep learning curve at the beginning that can make for some rough waters, and there are always days that are harder than others.  And there is strength in numbers. I am better at being sober and better at being a mom when I surround myself with people who are doing those things too.  And most importantly, like sobriety, the rewards of motherhood vastly outweigh the rewards of independence.

I will keep that in mind the next time a drink looks good.

original photo credit: solo.dolo via photopin cc

This post originally appeared on Sober Mommies in March, 2014.

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  1. Thanks so much for this. Our baby arrived four years ago (via stork), when I was 49. At that time I was already 26 years sober. My experiences were so similar to yours. For a number of reasons, I didn’t have ANY support. Still don’t have any family or close friends nearby. Also, hubby works so far away it’s almost like being a single parent. I had almost no experience with babies. People looked at me and saw a grandmother, so when I asked for basic help with the simplest things, strangers or acquaintances thought I was just plain weird. We seem to have made it through infancy, “toddler-hood”, and are preparing to transition from preschool to kindergarten already. But I never touched a drop–though I admit that I had a fantasy or two. There’s no escaping the responsibilities of parenthood, and drinking just makes things worse in the long run. It’s comforting to know I’m not as alone as I feel sometimes.

  2. Wow. You’ve said what I never knew I was thinking when my daughter was a baby. I didn’t know I was thinking it until I read your words. 1000x thank you

  3. I loved this. I just wrote a blog yesterday that I wrote the words, “sometimes I can’t believe that I don’t drink.” Parenting is so much harder than I ever took everyone’s warnings to be. I still have to learn to just roll with the punches. I’m the kinda girl who likes to be prepared. Some stuff there is just no preparing for and I have to be okay with that. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!!

  4. s2s @ Inspirational ? OR NOT? on 3/20 (y)

  5. Sing it.

    Looking back, the best thing I can share is-all those perfect pictures, all those perfectly clean kids, all those perfect looking Mom’s? They aren’t. You only see what they want you to see.

    Do the next right thing. Your kids will love you with filthy faces, dirty jeans (yours and theirs) and not following one single parenting book you read.

    All the stages seem like the most difficult, and they are when you’re deep in it. Be kind to yourself, surround yourself with whatever support system works for you and love. <3

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