Sure, it always starts our fun. Girl’s night out, woo-hoo. You deserve a night out with your friends, after all it’s been a long week of work and kids and you deserve to treat yourself. Who can argue with that? What happens for far too many women though, is that a night on the town turns into another night of regrets. One, you swore you’d only have two drinks, or at the very least that you’d stop at three, but the reality is that you kept drinking long after you meant to stop. The next morning; familiar self-loathing, mixed with vulnerability, anxiety and depression seep from your pores along with the stench of alcohol. Your mind shifts to the rote questions that have become your morning after routine: what time did I get home? How did I get home? Are the kids all right?
You hear the familiar cry, the baby’s hungry and your toddler wants breakfast and cartoons, in that order. You can barely stand due to the pounding headache; the nausea is worse than your first trimester of your first pregnancy when you subsisted on Saltine crackers and water. All you can think is damn, I did it again. I hope I didn’t piss anyone off. You check your phone to make sure you didn’t drunk text or drunk dial that bitch from the Mommy and Me group that is super competitive, about everything having to do with her kid. She grates on my nerves, you think, and you’ve been wanting to set her straight for a while now. Okay, let me look, are there any incriminating pictures here? You toss your phone aside. Nothing out of the ordinary there.
Thank goodness your SO or hubby is out of town or lives across town. Guilt and remorse smack you in the face. You stumble to the bathroom to brush your teeth because your mouth tastes like gorilla farts, and your skin looks blotchy and your face is bloated. That’s it you say to yourself. I’m done drinking for a while, because deep inside you know this can’t be good for you. I’ll never do that again. I’m done with the party scene. As a mother of two children, I have to keep it together. I should be more responsible.
It’s four-thirty the same afternoon. The headache is gone. You took the kids to the store with you to pick up some groceries. I’m gonna pump some new milk and make a few bottles when I get home, clean up the house, get things together so tomorrow can be a family day. You believe it’s all good, as three bottles of Chardonnay hop into your shopping cart—and by the way, you missed the dejected look that flashed across your toddler’s face. They already know.
Heading home, the internal dialogue still spins: The grocery store, that was quality time, right? The kids, they’re fine. You’re sure they have no clue, they’re too young to know. A run-a-way dart stabs through the tsunami of thoughts; shit, when I breast fed this morning, what if the baby got some alcohol laced milk? That’s terrible, right? I’m a terrible person. No I’m not, I know moms who breast feed and they have a glass of wine. It’s fine. All that alcohol was probably out of my system by then anyway—you think—or so you hope. Another wave of guilt and shame baths over you. This is so not okay. Yes it is. Everyone does it, so it’s fine. I’m fine. So I drank a little too much. It was only one night.
I’m not drinking tonight you say to yourself, as you scrutinize the beautiful wine label before you move to put it away, or do you?
Was it always so floral, you wonder? It’s good to have a bit on hand in case someone drops by. You spin around the kitchen. The groceries are put away, the baby’s fed, and it’s time to contemplate dinner, and before you can finish your next thought you’ve got the cork screw clamped in your hand as you start working to release that pesky obstruction. Your second promise is already broken, but it’s only one glass.
Three glasses later, more guilt and shame, but you’ll do what you always do and pour another glass. By the time the fourth glass gets drunk, it doesn’t matter. You’re fine, and you won’t think another thing about it—until tomorrow.
The dance: My mother did it; my sister has done it, and by the grace of God, I was newly sober when I found out I was pregnant with twins, so I didn’t have to. I will always be grateful that I decided to get sober while I still had a modicum of choice left in me. I know it’s hard to change and even harder to give up your best friend, but alcohol is the BFF that will turn on you—it’s only a matter of when.
I know enough about alcoholism to know that until you’re sick and tired of being sick and tired, most likely, nothing will change. What every woman reading this needs to know is that once guilt and shame becomes a theme, you’re already in trouble with your drinking. I stopped when there were still people around me shocked that I would even consider such a drastic choice, but how bad does it have to get? I decided I was done living the drinking life. I wanted the hamster wheel to stop. The cool thing was, once I decide to pursue recovery, everything about my life changed. I had to do different to get different?
There’s no shame in having an alcohol problem. The only shame is to not address the problem. Why suffer the angst and allow your children to grow up, not with the mother you know you could and should be, but with a mother who is so preoccupied with wine that she misses the whole experience. Buying wine, drinking wine, play-dates with wine, going out with couples and friends to drink more wine— all of it draws your attention inward and usurps copious amounts of time that you’ll never get back. The mother who was never emotionally or mentally present doesn’t have to be the label you’ll wear or the stories you’ll hear when your kids are grown. Why suffer a life of regrets when you don’t have to? Your bottom comes the moment you stop digging.