ONE month sober.
I genuinely thought I’d never be able to say this. Even during pregnancy I’d have a sip here or a small glass of wine there. I have never gone this long sober since I started drinking at 14. Sad, eh?
I’ve had this niggling feeling in the back of my mind for a few years now but its gradually grown into a silent shout since I had my son Callum. My list for quitting is long; laying it out like this makes me wonder why I didn’t quit sooner.
As I’ve gotten older my hangovers have gotten worse. The next morning I’d be a zombie, sometimes sick, sometimes not, but I’d eat all the shit food and have zero patience for my kids. The following day would be rife with anxiety and depression. The third day would be a sluggish crawl back to humanity.
I’m a shitty drunk. I can be fun and funny but more often than not, especially when I’d see videos of drunk ass, I’d be ashamed and embarrassed. I’m loud, crass, inappropriate and confrontational (mostly with my innocent husband). I’d have no filter and I’d say whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted, other’s feelings be damned. Sure, I was funny, probably hilarious especially rapping to 90’s hip hop, but I’d still loathe myself the next morning. It was an ugly cycle I was in far too many times. But bad habits die hard, if they ever die at all. I have developed a habit and it wasn’t in my best interest.
The last three times I got drunk, I got black out drunk. I don’t remember anything and I was really worried about what had happened, whether I did or said something or worse, what trouble I could’ve gotten into.
A five foot, blackout drunk woman is not a good idea. In fact, it’s downright dangerous.
COVID has messed me up. Isolation with three kids and an internet overwhelming supporting moms who drink wine made me feel like it was okay to drink four or five nights a week. We’re moms living in unprecedented times and we have a hard job momming, right? Wrong. I was using alcohol to cope with everything and in the boredom that comes from never leaving your house, I was getting drunk to just simply have something to do.
I’ve been drinking since I was 14. Studies have proven that the younger you start drinking, the more likely you are to have a problem with alcohol down the road. Since my first drunk night, I have used alcohol for coping and have essentially stunted my emotional intelligence because of it. For years, rather than working through my feelings or the issues at hand, I’ve chosen to ignore and bury it with booze. My counsellor once told me his son, who had been sober only a couple years after many years as an alcoholic, was basically still 15 in terms of his emotional intelligence and that’s always stuck with me. I don’t want to be like him. Also, I come from a long line of alcoholics on both sides of my family which is another risky chance of myself developing a problem.
Children from alcoholic families, immediate and beyond, have a 50% higher likelihood of also having a drinking problem.
If I get really real here, I was developing a problem. But in the culture we are brought up in, drinking to cope is considered acceptable, revered even. Think of the marketing you see from liquor companies. They all tout the stresses of day-to-day life and how a cold glass of beer or a nice merlot can help lessen it. Moms are specifically targeted now too: “Drink wine. You’re a mom! You deserve it!” I believed I deserved to unwind with wine and although I do, I don’t know what moderation is. I’m the kind of person who can’t ever just have one. In the words of AA gurus, one is too many and a thousand isn’t enough. Once that switch is off, and it’s usually off after one because the buzz has kicked in, I’m all in. Bring on the party. But the after party just isn’t worth it anymore.
Because I’m a mom, I don’t want my kids to see me coping with their behaviour with booze. I don’t ever want them thinking they’re the reason I drink. I don’t want my kids to feel the wrath of my hangovers. When they get to the appropriate age I want to teach them how to drink and how to do it responsibly if drinking interests them. I don’t want them to ever feel like the booze is controlling them. I’m not naive enough to think they won’t show an interest in it so it’s my responsibility to get real and honest with them.
My reasons for not drinking heavily outweigh my reasons to drink. So on Sept 28, with a wicked hangover banging in my head, I decided I had had enough. I had been thinking about quitting drinking for awhile but didn’t think I could. I still don’t know if I can but I hope blogging about this holds me accountable and acts as an anchor; something I can reread on the thirsty days to remind myself of my Why.
Sobriety may be the best thing I’ve ever done for myself; more than marriage or exercising or secondary education. The benefits will be endless, I just know it.
In the month since I’ve quit, loosely using Sober October as a means to not have to really explain myself, I’ve not noticed significant changes. It’s not about what I’ve gained but more about what I’ve avoided. I’ve avoided the embarrassment, the shame and the hangovers. I’m a little skinnier in the face and maybe less fun to be around but it’s for the better. I don’t want to be the wild one anymore who forgets the nights out. I spend less money and I’ve gained more time to make better decisions: not drinking means more time with my kids or with a book. I can get up at 5am with my kids without as much resentment and exhaustion as I would’ve previously. I want my kids to look up to me as a positive role model, not the drunken mom sluggin’ wine on the back deck.
Maybe one day I’ll try drinking again and hopefully, if that day comes, I’ll have learned what moderation is and I won’t turn into high school, black out drunk Kelsey. But until that day comes, I’m happy to sip on my sparkling water and have a good time as the sober sister.
If you’re considering quitting drinking but are unsure how, reach out. We can be accountability partners and do this together. As Glennon Doyle says, we can do hard things. Being sober has never felt so good and I am so damn proud of myself. I can’t wait to see where this takes me! And you if you need this as much as I do.
Strumming G and sipping water,