“Mama, you’re drinking wine!”
My three year old knew the smell of cabernet on my breath when I tucked him in at night. His statement boasted only of his pride of recognition of the aroma, but it felt like a nightly indictment. His nightly proclamation alerted me that I needed to change my habits.
I can’t pinpoint when my drinking went from “normal” (if you call ingesting a toxic substance as recreation and stress relief normal) to problematic. In my college days, I binge drank as did most of my peers. Alcohol was the common denominator in a slew of reckless choices I am grateful to have survived mostly unscathed.
As I settled into adulthood and marriage, my drinking slowed, became less frequent. I avoided alcohol entirely in my three pregnancies, other than a small sip of champagne on New Year’s Eve 2012.
Somewhere in my early years of motherhood, however, my drinking became less about celebration and recreation. I found a glass of wine in my hand every night, then two, and eventually an empty bottle on the counter. I swapped out my bottles for boxes claiming I was making the economical choice when really it allowed me to drink more while spending less.
In the summer of 2017, I knew I had to make a change or alcohol could ruin my life. I vividly remember thinking if I needed a bottle of wine to get through a typical day’s stress, what would I do when my parents died, or someone got sick? I am a religious person, and I believe this thought came straight from the Holy Spirit, prompting me to examine my relationship with alcohol and my unhealthy stress management.
What began as a six-month trial period of sobriety is now over a year of wine-free nights and headache–free mornings. I can’t imagine going back to where I was 18 months ago. Now my baby only smells sparkling water or sleepy time tea on my breath when I tuck him in. My oldest has mentioned I yell less, and I feel significantly more present for my family.
Sobriety has come with many gifts, but the most significant to me are my new eyes. When I was drinking, I saw advertising for alcohol everywhere, but I didn’t think twice about it. Like a woman desperately longing for a baby who seems to see pregnant women everywhere, the newly sober me felt overwhelmed by the amount of alcohol promotion around me. Yoga and wine, races ending with a beer, handbags with hidden beverage dispensing compartments, t-shirts yelling about mimosas and rose all day.
The sheer amount of alcohol merchandising daunted me, but I became particularly alert to how alcohol is marketed to women as our prize for modern womanhood. Studies continue to link alcohol to breast and other cancers, not to mention a whole host of other diseases. Yet somehow we hear more about the “heart –healthy benefits” of wine than the risks that enormously outweigh the benefits.
Admitting to yourself you have a problem with alcohol is tough. Sharing your deepest secrets with your circle of influence is terrifying. Even though I was scared, I decided to share my struggles publicly. I know I am not the only mom who nightly drowned her stress, disappointment, and overwhelm in a bottle of wine. I want women, especially mothers, to see there is another way. In sharing my story, I have been connected to a community of sober women from across the globe that are ringing the alarm bells and showing our sisters the path to freedom.
One day the sweet little ones I tuck in each night will have to make their own decisions regarding alcohol. I hope they remember the deep divide between drinking mom and sober mom. I hope they can make informed choices and realize anyone can become addicted to an addictive substance. More than anything, I hope they dare to see when society tries to sell them a lie, to speak against it, and live boldly in the truth. This is the gift sobriety has given me. I want that gift for us all.
Learn more about Lindsay here.
Authors - Various