Back To Basics

Finally, the media is actually presenting some real truth about moms and alcohol! If you haven’t seen Maria Shriver’s segment featured on the Today Show this morning, click here. And, coming from one of the morning shows that basically promotes daily drinking, it meant even more (I’m talking about you Kathie Lee and Hoda!).

Many of us in recovery are familiar with the author Stefanie Wilder-Taylor who was interviewed for the segment. Oh, how I can relate to her story! She pretty much sums it up when she says,“All of a sudden I was like, I don’t have an off switch.” But, as a mom who looked the part, she didn’t feel like she could be an alcoholic.

I talk a lot about my life living sober and what that’s like, but I think once in a while it’s important to go back to the beginning when I finally realized I was an alcoholic and the fear that consumed me then. I’ve been contacted by a number of women in my community who have read my blog and know my story and I’m constantly reminded of the intense fear in admitting you have a problem. Most of these women are like me. They’re moms and wives who on the outside look like they have it all together, but inside they are suffering and questioning their dependence on alcohol.

I cannot begin to express the fear I felt in admitting I was an alcoholic. I was fearful of what others would think, how they would react to the news and how they would respond to me personally. I couldn’t imagine my life without alcohol, mainly wine because that was my “thing.” It had become such an ingrained part of my everyday life, that really (as horrible as it sounds now), I couldn’t imagine life without it. Date nights, happy hours, weddings, parties, girls’ night outs, work events, conferences, and yes, even play dates – you name it. The thought of not having a drink at any of these was incomprehensible. I even briefly thought about becoming Mormon because they didn’t drink anyway, right? Yes, these are the thoughts that went through my head.

Most of the women who have contacted me haven’t followed through with getting help. And, believe me, I get it. It’s by far the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do in my life. It takes major desperation, defeat and humility to walk through the doors of treatment or your first recovery meeting. You’re afraid of giving up what has become your comfort, your best friend; you’re afraid of what people will think and say; you’re afraid of who you will see and who will see you. We all have our bottoms; our lowest point when we realize we can no longer go on with the way we’ve been living. As much as I want to tell them how amazing and gratifying sobriety is, they have to truly want it. It’s one of the hardest parts of being sober – seeing yourself in others and knowing what is possible for them as well.

I know there are people who aren’t crazy about me sharing my story. And, I know there are people out there who think, “Just shut up already about your drinking and sobriety.” Or, those who think it’s a personal matter that I should keep to myself. And, to all of those people I say, “Hell, no.” Hell no I won’t shut up. Hell no I won’t shut up because if I can share my story and save one life – just one life – I will have accomplished everything I ever set out to do in sharing my story.

I know we have all seen the “Are You An Alcoholic?” quizzes, but I think it’s important to go back to some of those basic questions. Our society still has this image in their minds of what an alcoholic looks like, but the reality is we are all over the place. Here are some things to ask yourself:

  • Do you drink alone?
  • Do you look forward to drinking?
  • Do you drink to relieve boredom or loneliness?
  • Do you drive after drinking?
  • Do you drink to maintain a “buzz”?
  • Do you have memory loss after drinking?
  • Do you drink before leaving the house for an event?
  • Are you uncertain about going to events where there will not be alcohol?
  • Do you drink to feel more relaxed or less anxious?
  • Do you create situations (outings, parties, etc.) so you can drink?
  • Do you become defensive when someone questions you about your drinking?
  • Are you concerned about your drinking?
  • Do you drink while angry, upset, depressed or under stress?
  • Have you switched types of alcohol to prevent becoming too intoxicated?
  • Do you limit the amount of food you eat so you can get a better “buzz?”
  • Have you tried not to drink, but find yourself drinking anyway?

Just because you answer yes to some of these questions doesn’t mean you’re an alcoholic. However, if you see yourself relating to many of them, there’s a good chance you have a problem. Believe me, I’ve been there. I knew way before I ever admitted it that I had a problem.

I know it’s scary to think about opening yourself up to the possibility that you might have a drinking problem. But, there are SO many people out there who have been where you are and are willing and able to help you take the next step. If nothing else, check out some of the other recovery blogs on my site. Or, read some of the books listed. It’s easy to feel like you’re alone and the only person in your situation, but know that you are not alone. And, of course, I’m always available to answer questions or just talk with. Please feel free to e-mail me at chenoaawoods@gmail.com.

 

 

 

Drink – A Book Review

A quick note to my fellow recovery bloggers and aspiring writers: if you haven’t yet tried it, I suggest using Grammarly’s plagiarism checker because you never know what us drunks are capable of (kidding!) – and it’s way more fun to read original stuff!

Drink Pic

As many of you know, I love recovery-related books. Before I ever got sober, I was reading books about people who had been there, done that. At the time, I secretly had concerns over my own drinking, but it would be months before I admitted I had a problem. And, then when I finally did get sober, I had this overwhelming need to know that there were other “normal” people like me out there who had gone through the same thing. That was a very lonely time for me and the voices that came through the pages of those books took away some of that loneliness and gave me hope.

Ann Dowsett Johnston’s recent book, “Drink: The Intimate Relationship Between Women and Alcohol” is one of those books that give us hope. But, not only does she give us hope by sharing her own experience with alcoholism and recovery; she gives us knowledge with her in-depth research regarding what has truly become an epidemic in our culture, stating, “We need to have a robust discussion about this issue: How does alcohol play out in your community? In terms of suicides? Kids being abused? Violence? Teens in emergency rooms? Are we having an adult discussion? I don’t think so.”

As I read about Johnston’s own experience with alcoholism, I found myself nodding my head, thinking, “that’s exactly how I felt!” Sometimes it’s hard for me to put into words what my alcoholism was like, but Johnston explains it perfectly when she says,”Suddenly, you realize booze has moved in. He’s in your kitchen. He’s in your bedroom. He’s at your dinner table, taking up two spaces, crowding out your loved ones. Before you know it, he starts waking you up in the middle of the night, booting you in the gut at a quarter to four. You have friends over and he causes a scene. He starts showing you who’s boss. Booze is now calling the shots.”

One of the main differences in Johnston’s book compared to other recovery-related books that I have read is that Johnston takes it a step further and really addresses the core issues related to drinking, women and our culture. She raises key questions, such as “why are we aware of the dangers related to trans fats and tanning beds, and blissfully unaware of the more serious side effects associated with our favorite drug?” And, most importantly in my opinion, she takes aim and questions the motives behind the alcohol industry, media and politics and how they all work together to feed this growing rise of drinking and alcoholism among women. Giving the history behind the alcohol industry to attract more women, she describes the development of “alcopop” or “chick beer,” and I couldn’t help but be reminded of the loads of Zima, Mike’s Hard Lemonade and Smirnoff Ice I used to drink.

Johnston urges us to educate ourselves about the serious risks of drinking and to start having real conversations about it. “When it comes to alcohol, we live in a culture of denial. With alcoholics representing just a tiny fraction of the population, it’s the widespread normalization of heavier consumption that translates to serious trouble.”

I often think about what I’ll tell my kids about drinking. While I would love to tell them to never touch it and avoid it like the plague, I know that’s not realistic. But, I will tell them the risks. I will tell them my story and how easy it is to get caught up in a culture that normalizes drinking. I will tell them they have a history and they need to be very, very careful. I will tell them that no matter what, they never HAVE to drink. And, I will tell them that alcohol changes you. It changes the person God intended you to be.

Johnston’s book inspires me. It inspires me to tell my story and do my part in telling the truth about drinking.

As a side note, I was not paid for this review – I simply liked the book. However, this post was sponsored by Grammarly.