Wine Does NOT Solve Everything…

I become stressed quite often. I spin too many plates, juggle too many flaming sticks, and usually have too many irons in the fire. I’m sure it has something to do with the fact that I selfishly want to save the world, at all cost, from feeling sad, or alone, or frightened. I want to offer a hand wherever I can and as often as I can.

I was taught somewhere, very early, that if you’re thinking about someone else and not of yourself, you’ll always feel grateful. That sounds awesome. I’d love to always feel grateful. It’s when I focus too much on myself and my own wants and needs that I start feeling overwhelmed and maybe even a little depressed. Sometimes though, I give until the well is dry and leave myself with too little.

Balance is a tricky little bitch.

I’ve just recently come out of a very long battle with Postpartum Depression after my third child and I am enjoying the freedom I have without the extra weight on my heart. I wake up, I feel purposeful, and I believe that that purpose can make a difference in the world.

Sometimes in the planning of “all things others” I forget about me completely, which is awful. I forgot to eat yesterday. How does that happen? I just kept planning to and never did. Then later I found myself sitting at my kitchen table wondering why I wanted to tear everyone’s face off. Boom, there it is.

As a stay-at-home mother and owner of two blogs, prioritizing is a must. The house isn’t going to clean itself, the kids are in constant need of something, and my days provide me with tons of inspiration for blogging. Unfortunately, there are not enough hours in the day and I suck at prioritizing. Inevitably at the end of each day, I find myself disappointed that I wasn’t able to start or finish something.

Some days, I feel like I could have been a better mother if I hadn’t had my nose in my blog most of the day. I try to write during naps, but lately, they’ve been sporadic and scarce. At the end of days like those, I worry that I’m a failing blogger.

Blogging has saved my life this year. It has been a fierce connection to the world when I could not bring myself to open the front door. It has provided an outlet for all of my fear, rage, and confusion during my depression and OCD. Writing has and does free me from myself, which in turn makes me a better parent. So why can’t I give myself a break and cut some slack?

I find myself tipping the scales in one direction or another every day, but struggle to find balance. I’m not even sure what that would look like right now, because I’m nowhere near it. The pressure I put on myself is horrific. If you told me tomorrow you had these expectations of yourself, I would tell you to slow down and breathe. I would tell you that you’re doing the best you can with the tools you have and to be kind to you. It is unclear why I can hear those words flow out of my own mouth and not embrace them

So what can I do?

I can ask for help, and sometimes I do. The world has opened up to me since I got sober and I have more friends than I can count. Some of these friends are drinkers, however, and I don’t always appreciate the response I get if I let it sneak out that I’m struggling.

“Just have a glass of wine! Wine solves everything!”

I beg to differ.

Wine does not solve alcoholism.

Please don’t get me wrong; I know that it’s not your responsibility to remember I don’t drink. It’s not like I’m talking about it all the time or wearing t-shirt that says “Raging Alcoholic.” It doesn’t make me mad so much as it makes me wish I was “normal.”

“Normal” women have a rough day and maybe come home and unwind with a glass of wine. My mother does it sometimes and doesn’t even finish the glass. That I cannot understand. I can probably count on one hand the number of drinks I’ve left with anything but ice in them, but that’s me. I have a problem with alcohol and my mother doesn’t. I learned years back that I am allergic to alcohol. It affects my body in ways that “normal” drinkers don’t experience.

Do I wish I could have a drink sometimes? Fuck yes! It has been many years since I’ve had a drink and I still remember that feeling of instant relief. Unfortunately, for me and those I drink with, it doesn’t take long for relief to turn into a feeling of “fuck it,” and that’s what keeps me sober today. I’m not willing to go to that place anymore because it no longer fits with my life. I have too many wonderful things going on and “fuck it” is not an option.

I’ll be honest though, sometimes I do wish you’d remember my recovery. Mostly, because it’s been a difficult road, and as a friend, I want you to rejoice with me. I understand it’s not necessarily as important to you as it is to me because you’ve only known me sober. When you say things like, “I’d love to get drunk with you. You’re probably a really fun drunk friend,” it’s not always awesome to hear. I mean, it’s true. I am a really funny, charming drunk friend—for at least the first twenty minutes. I’m not so much fun the next day when you’re off to work and I’m still sleeping on your sofa.

I know none of these things are said with malicious intent.

I’m aware that my sobriety is not national news or even the most important thing about me. I suppose the longer I’ve stayed sober, the less I talk about. Because of the work I’ve done on myself, a drink is not the first thing I think about when I’m stressed out or upset. If you knew me drinking, you’ll know what a miracle that is.

Stress sucks and the struggle to find balance is an everyday event, but a glass of wine will only make it worse. I know that today. It doesn’t stop me from being a little jealous. You can still have that glass after a tough day, and I have to pray or sit in some awkward yoga pose instead.

So, the next time I let it sneak out that I’m struggling, how about you suggest a tub of ice cream or a massage?

Those two things have never gotten me in trouble.

This post originally appeared on Sober Mommies on June 11, 2013.

Julie Maida founded Sober Mommies in May of 2013 after a bout of postpartum depression made it impossible to keep up with her previous recovery routine. She is the contributing Editor-in-Chief, and also runs the non-profit organization in Massachusetts; where she lives with her amazing husband and three children. She has been in abstinence-based recovery since May 2, 2000.

Julie is eternally grateful for all the gifts of recovery and fiercely determined to advocate for, and connect, ALL women with the appropriate support and resources necessary to achieve their personal recovery goals. She writes about mothering with mental illness at nextlifenokids.com.

12 Comments on “Wine Does NOT Solve Everything…

  1. This really speaks to me today. I’ve been struggling with something at home that seems really trivial to some of my friends and family. They all tell me I “just need to relax”…which they invariably say between sips of their Gallo Chardonnay. Wine isn’t the answer for me. I thought it was once because I loved that initial feeling of escape and “relaxation,” but like you, the end result was never a positive thing. I wish more of our friends were better versed in ways to lend an ear instead of just offering a drink.

  2. Beautiful post. I read earlier this year about the high rates of binge drinking among middle class women, so I do not think you are the only one for whom a glass of wine does not solve everything. (I came from the Hump Day Hook Up.)

  3. Great post about the honesty of addiction. You know I have a friend who is suffering an addiction with food. Actually she just had gastric sleeve surgery and she’s coming for a visit. Usually what we do is find great things to eat. Now I’m not so sure what to do because I know she is on a strict post surgery diet and I’m afraid of any kind of temptation that our families eating habits might impose on her. I’ve never had a problem with weight, but I know that friends not being in the same situation can unintentionally be motivators for bad behavior. I think this post is great because it shows you how to truly be a good friend. Thanks for writing this. Oh and with the blogging thing, I write a list and only do the things on that list. Once the list is over, the rest of the time I spend with the kids. Its not easy balancing it, but at least with that list I don’t feel too overwhelmed. Good luck!

    New follower from the Hump Day Hook Up. Would love for you to stop by sometime!

    Heather from Mommy Only Has 2 Hands

    • Thank you Heather! That list idea is a great one and I’ll give it a try. 🙂 It’s so wonderful of you to be thinking of how your actions might affect your friend. That is not a requirement for friendship, but it’s always nice to have someone in your corner that is aware of your feelings. She’s lucky to have you!!

  4. Loved this. I’m the daughter of an alcoholic and I don’t drink because I’m afraid to. I’m afraid the glass of wine she had to “unwind” at the end of the day will do the same to me as it did to her, so I just don’t do it. And I, too, am surrounded by drinking friends who consistently talk about wine by the glass, bottle, vat in order to relax after a long day. Not an option for me, but it’s hard to explain the pain I get by the suggestion that it might be just that easy. Really beautifully written. Thanks for sharing.

    • Thank you Amy! There is SO much chatter about alcohol in and outside of the blogging community. I have to remind myself that it’s okay for other people to drink whenever and as often as they want to. It is my responsibility to set boundaries or remove myself completely from situations where I feel uncomfortable. It’s not always easy. It’s wonderful that you have the foresight to avoid alcohol because of the possibility that you might follow in your mother’s foot steps. That is TRULY amazing!! Thank you so much for sharing with us. I’m glad you’re here!! 🙂

  5. I haven’t had a drink in 18 months. After losing a massive amount of weight my body just can’t handle it. People just don’t understand and really have trouble accepting you don’t want a drink. I will remember not to tell you to have a wine and relax… 🙂 Thanks for hooking up to the HumpDay Hook Up

  6. I’m jealous too. I love the “just don’t worry about it” too. As if it was only that easy. I love that you wrote this. It sounds like it came right out of my head, only a in a lot more interesting way. A massage and some ice cream sounds nice. Thank you for sharing. LOVE this!

    • Not worrying is definitely easier said than done. I’m so glad you enjoyed it! Ice cream and massages for everyone!! <3

  7. As I sit and type this, I am 4 days shy of 4 months sober. I, too, no longer see the “fuck it” place as an option, my life has become so much more meaningful and wonderful in my short time in recovery. I say short time, but I couldn’t have imagined 4 days sober, let alone almost four months not long ago. Vodka was my go-to, and lots of it. Thanks for your honesty, I really loved reading this, and can see myself in just about everything that you shared. So, I will rejoice with you, YOU GO! 13 years is amazing to me, and I hope to one day be there with you! Ice cream all around!

    • Congratulations!!! Four months of sobriety is amazing!! I loved vodka too, but I always got into fist fights every time I drank it. I convinced myself that it was the reason I became so violent and stopped drinking it after a while. I of course found reason to drink it again.

      I am SO glad that you found us and that you shared your wonderful achievement here. I have a friend that once told me that the key to long term sobriety is simply a matter of not drinking and not dying. 🙂 I hope to continue this journey with you as well and look forward to hearing more about the gifts of your sobriety!!

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