My Drinking: My Love Story
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I am a sober mommy. I have two babies, and one on the way. I honestly don’t believe I would be sober today without my children, the love I have for them, and the fear that if I continued in my addiction they would end up just like me.
I grew up with an absent father and a mother who was very stressed and reactive. Many of the adults in my life would come and go due to their own addictions. I internalized my dad’s leaving, my mom’s emotional and physical abuse, and the inconsistency of my family. I didn’t believe I was worthy of love. I am a very sensitive and perceptive person. Now six months sober, I am realizing my feelings of worthlessness and insecurity coupled with this sensitivity and my past was a breeding ground for addiction.
When I began drinking at age twelve, I remember feeling like I had escaped all of the unwelcome feelings and entered into a wild world of abandon. I began stealing alcohol from my mom’s stash and bottles from stores. I lost my license before I could even get it after I drank in public, got alcohol poisoning, and drove without a license. When I was sixteen, I started attending a drug and alcohol program.
By the time my early 20s rolled around, and I could drink legally, there were days I would be driving to work and hallucinating. I would see pops of color out the windows because of how much I had drank the night before. When I was 22, I met my husband, and he shared my love of drink. I felt like things really settled down as we would share just a six-pack after work at night.
I remember checking out Caroline Knapp’s, “Drinking: A Love Story,” from the library and hiding it so no one would see what I was reading. She described exactly how I felt about alcohol, but thought I could never let myself get so out of control, so I wouldn’t have to stop. We worked in restaurants — cock-tailing at the horse races — and drinking was just the norm for people we surrounded ourselves with.
As I got older, most of our married friends became more responsible and drank less. I started choosing single friends who could keep up or out-drink me, so I could continue to feel okay about how much I was drinking. I would ignore comments from my mom about how much I was drinking, and I got really good at hiding the amount I was drinking from my husband; which wasn’t difficult he only paid attention when I got sloppy.
We tried to have a baby for two years, and I remember asking God to please allow me to get pregnant so I could stop drinking and things would change. Having the first baby did change things for a little while, but soon after I was back to my binge drinking ways.
When I got nights out, I felt the need to make up for lost time and began blacking out. I started drinking at nap time, feeling like I deserved the break and relaxation time. As my husband started working late nights I would drink to pass the time. I even saw a counselor to talk about the issue, but continued to drink and try to moderate. I couldn’t wait to get pregnant again to give myself a much needed break from alcohol.
I stopped drinking during my second pregnancy, but my drinking really ramped up after my second child. I suffered postpartum depression and felt completely overwhelmed by how much work it was to take care of two children. Drinking was a way to get through the tasks, while still having something for myself. It became less and less social and more a way to cope and escape from the monotony of motherhood.Drinking made anything more fun — from cleaning bathrooms to playing make believe with the kids. As a way to moderate my drinking, I tried rules – no more white wine (I drank white wine too fast), no drinking on the weekdays, only drinking four days a week, not drinking IPAs, no drinking martinis. Over the course of ten years, I tried to enact many rules depending on the year and what I liked to drink. Nothing worked. I gave up drinking for 30 days a few times and resumed right where I left off.
Alcoholism is prevalent in my family. My father lost his children, because of drugs and alcohol, when we were young. My uncle died of an overdose, at the young age of 49, after several stays in rehab. My mother’s father got sober after struggling with alcoholism. My mother has a love of the drink, and our adult relationship has revolved heavily around drinking. Despite the alcoholism and drug addiction surrounding me, I had never heard that alcoholism was a progressive disease. I just knew I would never “let” myself get that bad.
Unfortunately, I was already well on the road to alcoholism. At the age of 32, when my youngest child was 14 months old and my oldest was three, I had my moment of clarity. I was the last person who would ever think she would be a sober woman. There were definitely signs, and I ignored them. I knew as a woman I shouldn’t be drinking more than seven drinks a week, to avoid becoming an alcoholic.
I would like to think if I knew then what I know now, I would have been more careful, paid more attention, been more moderate, but alcoholism is a cunning and baffling disease. I think I was more powerless back then than I would like to believe. After a $150 charge for throwing up in an Uber car and a couple of nights where I truly could not stop (a feeling I had never had before), I decided I needed to be done for good.
It was not easy at first. I had psychological withdrawals leading to severe depression, anxiety and mood swings. The first few months were very difficult, and I felt raw and vulnerable. I felt like no one could really understand what I was going through inside. Websites like this one, podcasts, sober blogs and sober memoirs all helped tremendously. Finding people I could be vulnerable with and choosing to avoid spending time with many others was also helpful. In the beginning my bubble was very small. Today I can say I feel very differently than I did in the early days; more healthy, happy and whole.
I know this recovery journey will be a lifetime of discovery, and I am thankful for the beautiful, divine intervention that led me here to the opportunity to be present in my life. I am so grateful for my sobriety and feel it is the biggest gift I can give myself, my children and my family.
Click HERE to check out “Drinking: A Love Story” **(Sober Mommies is an Amazon affiliate. If you purchase this book using this link, we will receive a tiny fraction for referring you.)**
This inspiring post was submitted by Angela McElroy.