After my daughter was born, I felt a joy I had never felt before, yet I also felt an emptiness that would not go away. I had considered being a stay-at-home mom once I had children, however, I felt as though in some ways I had been thrust into my role. Within a year’s time, I had gone from being a confidant, career-minded young bride to a new mom with no career dealing with the grief of losing my own mom. Despite a wonderful husband and beautiful baby girl, I felt a sense of loneliness I had never felt before. I began drinking more regularly during this time to take the “edge off.”
Our son was born in December 2008 two weeks before Christmas. Despite being a difficult sleeper and having some reflux issues, he was a happy baby. We soon settled into our routine as a family of four, me staying home while my husband went to work. In the beginning, I was content and happy, but after awhile I started to feel the emptiness and loneliness creep in which I had felt before. I started drinking wine on a more regular basis to help me relax and unwind after a long day with the kids. What began as a few days a week gradually turned into five and before I knew it I was having a glass or two every day.
Within a very short amount of time, drinking began to consume my thoughts. I couldn’t wait until the clock hit 4:30 to pour my first glass of wine. While the kids played on the floor or watched cartoons, I would settle into the couch with my laptop and glass of wine by my side. It wasn’t long before 4:30 became 4:00 and 4:00 became 3:30. And, it wasn’t long before two glasses a night became two strong cocktails before my husband got home and three or four glasses of wine throughout the evening. Usually, by 7:30 once my husband had put the kids to bed, I went to bed myself. It wasn’t until much later, I would realize and acknowledge I hadn’t just been going to bed early; I had been going to bed and passing out.
By the time my son was two years old, drinking consumed my life. I didn’t want to go anywhere unless I knew alcohol would be available; all of our social activities centered around drinking; I even insisted on having drinks available at my son and daughter’s birthday parties. My husband would drink, but he could take it or leave it. He didn’t need it like I did…or so I thought I did.
My husband would comment on my drinking and suggest that “we” cut back, but I would brush him off as making a big deal out of nothing. At times, I would say I would cut back but that would usually only last for a couple days at most. It started taking more and more wine to achieve the “buzz” I depended on to make me feel relaxed. If I was hungry, instead of having a snack, I would begin drinking because I could get a faster “buzz” on an empty stomach. I started manipulating the situation to get the results I wanted – classic signs of alcoholism.
I knew I had a problem long before I ever admitted it. I would wake up most mornings with feelings of shame and guilt, promising myself that I would not drink that day. Yet, by the afternoon I would find myself with a glass of wine in my hand. I started having stomach problems, but instead of cutting back or stopping drinking all together, I blamed it on the wine and switched to drinking beer instead – another classic sign of alcoholism. I started going out and binge drinking more; spending the following days comatose on the couch, unable to interact with anyone.
On the outside, I looked like I had it all. I went to church, had a nice home, a wonderful husband and two beautiful children. I took care of myself, going to the gym daily and leading a healthy lifestyle (aside from the drinking). However, despite all of this, I was falling apart on the inside. I blamed my problems on everyone else. I was angry, lonely and empty. I was physically there, but I wasn’t present in my life. I rarely felt joy or happiness; I didn’t laugh like I used to. I was going through the motions, but I wasn’t truly living anymore.
I was falling quickly and it was only a matter of time before I hit bottom. After a series of drinking fueled incidents, I couldn’t take it anymore. I couldn’t take the lying, deceit, guilt and shame I was putting myself and my family through anymore. One night, while reading on the couch, I felt an overwhelming sense of heaviness on my heart that I had never experienced before. I knew without a doubt that once and for all I needed to be honest with my husband about my drinking. Despite going to church, I had never had a close relationship with God, however, I truly believe that God was speaking to me that night and gave me the courage to finally speak my truth.
As we sat across from each other in our living room that night, my husband asked me once and for all if I was willing to give up alcohol for good. I said I would and admitted to him that I needed help and so began my journey in sobriety. And, it is just that, a journey.
I first got sober and continue to stay sober by attending recovery meetings and working with a sponsor. However, it is my relationship with God that is my true strength and inspiration and what I believe will keep me sober in the years to come. When I stopped drinking and welcomed God into my heart for the first time, I experienced a sense of peace and joy that I had never felt before. For years I had been searching for something to fill the emptiness I had felt inside, not realizing that the only thing that could fill that emptiness was my relationship with God.
Getting and staying sober is not easy. I have relapsed twice since first getting sober, but God willing I will never take another drink again. Before getting sober, I couldn’t imagine a life without alcohol. Would I have fun anymore? Would my friends want to hang out with me? I’m here to say that life goes on and your old way of living gives way to a new “normal.” Getting sober is not a death sentence; it is a second chance at getting to live the life you have always wanted.
Sobriety is a personal journey. I can only speak from my own experience, but, for me, getting sober gave me the freedom to truly be the person I always strived to be. I can now say with total confidence that I am the best mom, wife, daughter and friend I can be. I have been able to delve into my passion of writing again along with discovering new talents and passions. Previously, when I was angry, stressed or lonely I would drink because it’s what I was familiar with. It was the only way I knew how to “escape.” In sobriety, your problems don’t just go away; you find new ways to deal with them. Instead of pouring a glass of wine, I write or try a new recipe or create something. It’s different for everyone; the key is finding what works for you.
I truly believe God brought me to this place in my life so I could share my story with others. I know there are other women out there, who despite having everything on the outside, are struggling with the same loneliness and emptiness I felt on the inside. Perhaps, you’re reading this right now and feeling the same guilt and shame I felt every morning when I woke up after a night of drinking. I am here to tell you there is no shame in admitting you need help. There is no shame in wanting to be a better mom, wife, daughter, sister or friend. Alcoholism is a deadly disease and the longer you wait to get help, the worse it will get. Trust me. I was fortunate to get the help I needed before I lost everything that was important to me. Look in your local phone book or Google recovery meetings in your area. Most recovery groups, such as Alcoholic Anonymous (AA), have closed meetings just for women, which provide a safe and comfortable setting. Or, reach out to your pastor or clergy at your church as many churches offer their own recovery groups. If you don’t feel comfortable going to a meeting in a group setting, you can find helpful resources online as well, such as Women for Sobriety , Hazelden, The Bubble Hour and Crying Out Now. The first step is admitting you have a problem and seeking help.
“The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen.”
– Elisabeth Kubler-Ross