This morning I read an article in the Boston Globe that really resonated with me. In her article, “Women, drinking, and wine-as-reward culture,” Kara Baskin discusses the paradox of wine being celebrated and pushed with wine labels like “MommyJuice” and “Mommy’s Time Out” while “The Center for Substance Abuse Prevention reports that 2.7 million American women abuse alcohol.” She goes on to explain that defining alcoholism among women is often challenging because “not everyone who grapples with alcohol use is a stereotypical in-the-gutter alcoholic. Many are outwardly functional and successful.” If we’re still getting up in the morning, making breakfast, taking the kids to school, going to work, we must be okay.
At least that’s what I thought. How could I possibly be an alcoholic? Most of the women I know drink. It’s our way of letting go after a stressful day or like Baskin says, “It’s a legal mode of escapism, and the camaraderie over talking about drinking is as intoxicating as the buzz itself — especially among mothers.”
But, how much are we really drinking? I was a wino – I loved my wine! Okay, I also liked vodka and gin, but my drink of choice was always wine. And, it was acceptable. Who doesn’t have a glass of wine at dinner? Who doesn’t have a glass of wine while visiting with girlfriends? It was just what people in my world did – and still do. But, I was completely ignorant of how much I was really drinking. According to Baskin’s article, “a ‘standard drink’ is 12 ounces of beer with 5 percent alcohol, 5 ounces of wine with 12 percent alcohol, or 1.5 ounces of 80-proof liquor.” When did I ever pour 5 oz. of wine? The answer would be NEVER. Do you? If you still drink, I challenge you to pour your regular glass of wine and measure it. I’m guessing it’s more like 8-10 oz. And, the same goes with liquor. My shots were more like 3-4 oz. in a typical cocktail, but then again, I’m just guessing because I never actually measured it.
The point is, I was lying to myself in order to justify how much I was drinking. If I filled my large wine glass to the top, well, it was still just one glass of wine, right? Towards the end of my drinking, I would have a “couple” cocktails before my husband got home and then a “couple” or a “few” glasses of wine in the evening. Realistically, I was having four cocktails and 4-5 glasses of wine – each day. Seeing that number written, astonishes me. Can you imagine what that was doing to my body? Ugh.
We tell ourselves what we want to hear. In no way, did I want to hear or even acknowledge I had a drinking problem. What kind of person would I be if I was an alcoholic? I sure wouldn’t be the high-functioning-have-it-altogether-type I was known for. The stigma was too much.
People have asked me, and I’m sure others often wonder why I choose to speak out or write about my alcoholism. And, I’m sure there are those who wish I would just shut up already about it. It’s simple. I share my story to help remind myself of where I came from and what I used to be like and to help other women like me who are still there.