Why I’m glad I questioned the norm
The morning of my youngest son’s fourth birthday I had one of the worst hangovers of my life and I thought, “Why did I do this to myself today?” I felt so selfish telling the kids to be quiet because I felt “sick.” I told myself I was done drinking and I did try to stop but I wasn’t ready. I was terrified to stop.
Choosing sobriety took a long time for me.
Charleston is a drinking town, the social scene here centers around food and beverage. Charleston is home to the oldest continuous liquor store in the United States. I run a local blog and enjoy taking photos of colorful cocktails at downtown rooftops and poolside bars.
That coupled with the “Wine Mom” culture made it seem like my daily (or close to it) drinking was normal. Moms need alcohol to get through the daily tasks and chores, to relax after a long day, to stay calm while balancing kids and life. Right? The “Send Wine” t-shirts and coffee mugs, the kid-friendly breweries, and the lack of concern for the everyday modern mom drinking wine alone at 3 pm were all normal in my world.
I started to notice not only a tolerance building up towards every type of alcohol for me but more concerning was my anxiety the day after a night of drinking. It was all I could think about. I needed another drink to make the anxiety go away. I started to feel prisoner to it. I couldn’t concentrate on anything else other than the voice asking me for a drink.
On July 7th, 2021 I read “Sobriety: A Love Story”, an article on Charleston Moms written by Erin DiNicola, another local mom. This was two days after I had decided to do another 10-day alcohol cleanse. As I read her story, I thought her decision to no longer drink alcohol sounded so liberating. I decided this was going to be more than just another 10-day cleanse.
But I still struggled with the decision to stop.
Nothing negative had ever happened to me because of alcohol, I had never gotten into any sort of trouble because of it. It was reiterated to me since I became a mother that in our society it’s normal for mothers of small children to have several glasses of wine several times a week in our society- in my social, fun-loving southern beach town. But, for me, my “mommy juice” turned into something else.
I had never thought of myself as having a problem, I knew my limit. I had been drinking since I was a teenager. I had this “under control” and I knew what I could handle. After all, I had stopped drinking during both of my pregnancies and while breastfeeding both of my children for over a year each, so “clearly” I could go without it I told myself.
I used to drink to make my anxiety quiet.
But now, my anxiety was louder than ever.
I got to the point where every single day my mind was telling me both “It’s time for a drink” and “Please just skip tonight”. It was very confusing. The thought was no longer only at 3:30p when I brought the kids home from school and I was done driving for the night, but it was when I opened my eyes in the morning.
My mind made it a priority to decide when in my schedule I had time to go to the craft beer store down the road or the grocery to grab what I needed.
What I needed, to feel better. To quiet my mind.
I kept telling myself that I didn’t have a problem. I had it all together.
I began listening to Annie Grace’s podcast “This Naked Mind” about her view of alcohol in our lives and how society views the normalcy of it. It hit home for me as she explained her experience of wanting to drink but also not wanting to drink at the same time. She dove into the interesting relationship between anxiety and alcohol. I am slowly working my way through her podcast and the hundreds of readers’ stories and questions that are eerily relatable.
I began to realize even more so that alcohol was doing absolutely nothing for me. It was in fact, making me feel worse. As an introvert, I used to rely on it in social situations in an effort to be more outgoing. I used it to relax and fit in. But it had a hold over me that I no longer wanted.
I never expected change overnight but I knew that I wanted to feel better.
I was three months alcohol-free on October 5th.
My mind feels clear, and I am facing my anxiety head-on. In all honesty, I am still terrified to say to myself that I will never drink again. So, instead, I remind myself to take it day by day. I am going to focus on the goals that I have for myself. I realize that alcohol is not going to make any of those goals easier to obtain.
This is my celebration of current sobriety. As a former wine mom, I can tell you it’s normal to question your habits. I have never felt better than I do now without depending on alcohol for my happiness and stress relief. It’s still a thought in my mind, but it doesn’t seem necessary anymore.
I am in charge again. I am finding joy in other activities and discovering healthy ways to unwind (I do have to admit I still have plenty of other unhealthy habits too- candy and TikTok anyone?)
Everything considered I am a happier and more present mother now. I am healthier and more content in my life. I am raising my boys to become men who aren’t afraid to not only face the hard stuff in life but to be able to talk through and share their struggles as well.