My name is Wendi and my sobriety date is July 14, 2000. I was born and raised in Greenville, SC and have never really had the pleasure of living anywhere else (minus a brief stint in Columbia, SC). My childhood wasn’t all that different other than my parents divorcing when I was 3. I come from a family of alcoholics and so I’ve been around alcohol my entire life.
I have always felt different. Even in sobriety, there have been so many times where I felt like an outcast. I felt like if people knew the real me, they wouldn’t give me the time of day. As a child, I think more than anything, I just wanted to be seen and heard. In 8th grade, I took my first drink. My friend and I got into my grandfather’s vodka and drank several glasses of it mixed with milk. My friend threw up violently, while I handled it pretty well. Each time I drank after that, it was always the same, drink until I black out. At the age of 14, I started doing drugs for the first time. I smoked weed with some friends and did that all throughout high school. Of course, I drank too, but weed was so much easier to get and hide.
I grew up in a traditional strict southern household. I think that kept me out of trouble while I was in high school, but once I arrived at college, it was on.My freshman year looked similar to most freshman, I think. We went to frat parties and drank socially. Somewhere along the way, I was introduced to heavier drugs and by the time I was a sophomore, I was a full blown heroin addict. After that, I did anything and everything that came my way. Boys were the same. I didn’t respect my body in any way. I would go home with whomever and I would do whatever drugs you had. I tried some geographical cures but found that wherever I went, there I was. I hated who I was and my only goal was to black out.
At the end, I was living in a dirty motel because I had gotten kicked out of everywhere else. I remember seeing people in the streets who lived a seemingly normal life and envying them. They were free. I felt trapped by this obsession and I couldn’t get out. Even when I tried to stop, the physical pain was too much for me to bear. And those attempt never lasted for more than a day. I couldn’t bring myself to face the world. I called my mom shortly after that moment and asked for help.
After a 28 day rehab, it was time to start my life over. I didn’t even realize that I was an alcoholic, I just thought I needed to stop hard drugs. I started going to meetings and followed suggestions. I went to 90 meetings in 90 days and got a sponsor. After I started working the steps, I realized that for me to have success in all areas of my life, I had to stay away from any mood and mind altering drugs. I celebrated my 21st birthday sober.
In sobriety, I have accomplished so many things. I went to college, sober, and got a degree. I got married, I had successful career, I got to travel to Rwanda, Mexico, and Costa Rica. I lived such a full life. After 13 years of sobriety, I had my first child. I decided to leave my job and stay home with my babies. It has been amazing in so many ways, and freaking hard in so many ways.
Being a mother is hard. It can sometimes feel lonely, our hormones are out of whack, I was terrified and elated all at the same time. I was consumed with both fear and joy. There wasn’t really a manual to tell me how to care for this tiny human. Being a sober mother is even harder. In addition to all of the above, there is an entire culture that celebrates drinking wine daily and rosé all day. I tried to hang out with new moms but our outings without kids were the same, finding a place to drink wine. I remember going to a wine tasting with a group of mom friends and as I turned down each glass of wine, I could feel the eyes of everyone on me, like I was some kind of prude. If only they knew!! I decided that I had a choice in creating a life for myself and making the most out of the gifts my higher power has given me. From that point on, I began reaching out to other sober moms, reaching out to sober women who weren’t moms, and taking care of myself. I had so much fear when my babies were born and I thought i had to sacrifice all of myself caring for them. I didn’t trust anyone else to care for them and so, for 3 years, I hid behind the mask of motherhood, forgetting who I was and that I needed love too. I have dedicated this year to self care and it has been life changing. Life changing.
My advice to newly sober moms is to take care of yourself. As moms, we tend to sacrifice of ourselves first, and though it’s noble, we can’t care for our kids if we’re not well. For me, taking care of myself includes connection with other moms, especially sober moms. I try to talk to at least one sober woman a day. It means daily prayer and meditation, whatever that feels like to you. It means daily exercise, daily affirmations, and daily nourishment. It means allowing myself to experience pleasure and to let go of all the shoulds. It means going to meetings regularly, like twice a week, and working with a sponsor. And it also means working with sponsees. Motherhood is such a joy and it’s so hard because we are growing closer to who we really are. When we care for ourselves and do daily things to maintain our spiritual condition, we have the potential to be our highest selves. It’s beautiful and I am so grateful that I get to do it sober.