I don’t drink… not even during a pandemic.
On an ordinary Saturday in November of 2017 I got black-out drunk. Still in bed the next morning, with my head spinning, I checked the sent items in my text messages and emails. I viewed my activity log in social media to make sure I hadn’t said or posted anything embarrassing or regrettable. This was all part of my standard “shame-over” process – hide from my family for as long as possible and assess the damage. What happened next, however, was new… before my feet the floor on that groggy Sunday morning, I made the decision that this would be the last time I would wake up feeling like this. And I haven’t had a sip of alcohol since.
For years I had thought about what my life could be like without alcohol, and I was terrified of what it would look like. I was terrified that I wouldn’t be me, that I wouldn’t fit in, that I would lose a connection to who I was and to the community I’d built.
In many ways, drinking seems to be a normal part of being an adult… acceptable, humorous, and worthy of a million memes. It’s a narrative that plays out in society, and it’s a role that I created for myself, it was who I am. Socially acceptable, almost expected, and so the fuzzy and questionable could be laughed off and excused. But these moments stayed with me. I was building a life around personal development and self-awareness. I felt an enormous disconnect from who I wanted to be and who I was showing up as when I was the “rosé all day” kind of mom. When I envisioned the best version of myself and who I was striving to be, I realized, or maybe I just finally became comfortable with the idea that I had to create a future in the absence of alcohol. It was different, it was scary, it felt like an enormous departure from everything that made me ME.
I’m not writing this as a critique of anyone. I’m not passing judgment, and I’m definitely not telling anyone how they should live their life. But I am here to say that for a very long time, I had a dysfunctional relationship with alcohol, and yet I couldn’t imagine a world where I fit into my own life without drinking. I’d written about this last fall in my personal blog, the first time I’d publicly spoken about not drinking, and I likened it to the story of the four-minute mile… once thought of as an impossibility, until it was done.
Until I saw someone who I could relate to and who felt like a peer struggle with alcohol and come out on the other side, I couldn’t comprehend what it might look like. Going out with friends, work and social gatherings, girls’ trips, family vacations… it seemed hard to imagine how these scenarios would play out. As it turns out, you can order hot tea at a bar, you can drink iced coffee poolside in Mexico, you can go on girls’ trips to New Orleans and Nashville (and anywhere else) and get by on seltzer and Diet Coke.
I found comfort and strength and possibility in following the journey of someone else. And so, mid-pandemic, or any other time where life feels overwhelming and out of your control if you’re reading this and finding comfort; if you’re reading this and feeling like these words are the antidote to all of the boozey mom-memes you see; if you secretly cringe at the constant glorification of excessive drinking, I’m here to tell you that you are not alone.
There are so many people struggling, AND ALSO, there are so many people who’ve taken steps towards sobriety, and you are most definitely welcome to join us!