“When I was a child, I believed my parents drank every night because they liked the taste of alcohol. It was considered an adult drink because only adults would think it tasted good. I remember asking my mom for a sip of her drink when I was about 13. I thought it tasted awful and I almost spit it out. It was either gin or vodka, and it tasted like gasoline. I thought to myself, ‘Why would anyone choose to drink something that tasted so nasty?’
Both my mom and dad had two drinks every single night. Starting at 5 o’clock sharp, the ritual would begin. My dad would ask my mom what she wanted. He would prepare it and serve it to her. They would eat peanuts and watch the evening news with Tom Brokaw. My dad would then pour each of them a second drink as my mom cooked dinner in the kitchen. I do not remember them drinking alcohol at dinner unless they were finishing up that second cocktail.
I don’t remember ever seeing my parents drunk. They managed to control their drinking and as far as I knew, it never ever progressed. I grew up believing this was normal. This is what every parent did and this is what I will do when I am an adult. I will be exactly like my parents.
I tried every which way till Sunday to be a controlled, daily drinker, just like my mom and dad. This behavior was ingrained in my DNA and I spent the better part of my adult life trying to master it, only to FAIL over and over and over again. Naturally, I gravitated toward the popular ‘Mommy Wine Culture’ narrative that drinking alcohol to survive being a parent in today’s crazy world was perfectly acceptable! I fell right in line with this distorted group though. I believed it was my reward at the end of a hard day managing a career, a home, and a family. I felt like I earned and deserved it. ‘So what if I drink a little more than Mom and Dad did? I’m not drinking any more than my mommy wine friends,’ I thought to myself.
Mommy Needs Wine! Mommy Juice! — I bought into a billion-dollar marketing campaign that allowed me the perfect excuse to drink more than I knew I should. I forwarded all the funny memes and laughed at the cute sayings printed on pink tea towels and stem-less wine glasses, ‘Kids Whine, So I Wine!’ The normalization of excessive drinking in the Mommy Wine Culture almost took me down… because oops I got addicted.
My drinking slowly escalated from one glass of wine to three, sometimes four on any given night and more on the weekends. I started to think about drinking all the time and on days where I promised myself I wouldn’t drink, I would find myself pouring yet another glass. I was the woman in yoga class joking about sweating out the booze on a Wednesday morning. I was the mom who planned pre-drinks before going to the parent/teacher night at the elementary school. I was also the businesswoman in the board room, completely hung-over, giving a PowerPoint presentation in high heels.
I was the woman you would never guess in a million years was addicted to alcohol. My struggle with moderation continued and no one knew exactly how much I drank because I hid it. I hid it without being aware I was hiding it. It was almost like I did it instinctively. I didn’t wake up every morning and strategize how I was going to hide I drank too much the night before. I just did it. Like a programmed robot. I did what I had to do and just didn’t think about it all that much. The alarm would go off in the morning and it was go-time, no matter what. The game was on.
Did ‘Rosé All Day’ t-shirts and hoodies make me drink alcoholically? Of course not, but the suggestive messaging make it a perfect breeding ground for the millions of women who have the propensity to become addicted to alcohol, just like me. Alcoholics don’t become addicted to alcohol, human beings do. Mommy’s and daddy’s do.
Somewhere along the line, we have forgotten that alcohol is one of the most highly addictive drugs on the face of the planet. This mind-altering legal substance is responsible for 2.8 million deaths annually worldwide and it is deadlier than all of the other drugs combined. There is a dark side to Mommy Juice, but you aren’t going to see that message printed on a crop top. Over the last 20 years, the US has seen a dramatic increase in alcohol use – and that surge is mainly among women. Big Alcohol is specifically targeting their products to stressed-out moms under the guise that drinking alcohol will make their struggles more manageable (or even disappear). The message, clearly, is to medicate your nerves, your anxiety, your depression, and turn to a bottle for comfort. Period.
When I stopped drinking, I thought my problem was I drank too much. I learned shortly after stopping that drinking was actually not my problem. It was my ineffective solution to my problem. Drinking was my coping mechanism for my problem. My actual problem was anxiety. I had postpartum depression and anxiety with both of my children—the second time worse than the first. The depression eventually subsided, but the anxiety decided it would stick around for the ride. For the next 8 years, I would be on and off a variety of anxiety meds and drinking alcohol at the same time.
I was told that drinking alcohol while taking a drug for anxiety negates the purpose of taking the medication. Alcohol, a depressant drug, will cancel it out. I didn’t listen to that part, because I wanted to keep drinking. I wanted to believe that my body would respond differently and that it would work despite continuing to drink. Maybe I could have my cake and eat it too.
What I didn’t understand was that drinking alcohol every night was like pouring gasoline on my existing anxiety. I thought I was relieving it by drinking. Alcohol is supposed to relax you, right? It does for the first couple of hours you drink it, but what is it doing in your body after you stop ingesting it? It just goes away, right? Wrong. It stays on board for a long while after its consumption, and our bodies respond to the depressant drug by releasing cortisol, a stress hormone, to regain homeostasis (normalcy). Mommy wine time was every night, so my cortisol level at a steady-state was elevated. That elevation attributed to my chronic anxiety, which was getting worse year after year. And there was the cycle: drink, anxiety, drink, anxiety, drink, anxiety… It was a never-ending, exhausting merry-go-round from hell.
Once I got off the merry-go-round and stopped drinking, it was like night and day, the relief I felt. My anxiety went from a nine to a manageable two or three. Quitting drinking was just part of the puzzle. Finding my own underlying causes and conditions for drinking in the first place was another. I couldn’t tackle my anxiety properly until I took responsibility for my drinking.
Despite popular belief, mommy’s don’t need wine for anything! I quit drinking in January of 2019 because alcohol was no longer serving me. It was no longer helping me, it was hurting me. It was no longer adding to my life, it was taking away from my life. I didn’t have to hit the proverbial ‘rock bottom’ or label myself as an alcoholic to stop. I just had to wake up, ask for help, and start taking better care of myself.
Sobering up was the greatest gift I have ever given to myself and my family. I am proud to be an alcohol-free woman and I choose to wear it like a badge of honor. My sobriety is not a punishment. It is a healthy choice I get to make for myself every day. I have found that sobriety makes me feel powerful, not powerless. I prefer to focus on all of the gifts that living without alcohol has given to me: significantly less anxiety, more clarity, vivid memories, increased cognition, more confidence, NO HANGOVERS, better sleep, improved complexion, being more present with my family and friends – these are just a few things I continue to enjoy and cherish about living an alcohol-free lifestyle.
It is my dream to rebrand and normalize sobriety while empowering and inspiring others to live an alcohol-free lifestyle, in hopes it will inspire others to question their relationship with alcohol sooner.”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Megan Camille. You can follow their journey on Instagram, Facebook, and their website. Do you have a similar experience? We’d like to hear your important journey. Submit your own story here. Be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.
Read more stories about recovery here:
‘I could’ve killed myself, or my precious son. I’m riddled with guilt. I’m so ashamed of things I’ve done in front of my child.’: Mother in the throes of addiction, ‘I don’t want to do it anymore. I want my son to have a sober mom’
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