I’m a 39 year old Mum of 2 kids, and I’ve just hit 700 days sober after realising my drinking habits were not good. Here’s why I stopped drinking alcohol …
I feel like I need to write a book about my entire history with alcohol, but for now just know it was relatively “normal”. Well by New Zealand standards anyway.
I want to start this blog about my journey with alcohol when I became a parent. Because that was the moment I truly believe things started taking a turn for the worse.
Obviously I didn’t realise it at the time, but my struggles as a new parent and my lack of knowledge about alcohol, lead me down a path that I wasn’t expecting.
Now don’t get me wrong, my journey with alcohol stems back to when I was 18, and I have a LOT of shit to unpack from between then and when I became a parent – however it’s a LONG story, and again, it’ll need to be in a book for me to really get into it.
If you’ve followed me for a while, you’ll know that I couldn’t wait to become a parent; and when I did it was the most life-altering experience I’ve ever had.
I struggled with it SO much that I ended up getting post-natal depression.
Everything was hard for me – the lack of sleep, the breastfeeding, the formula feeding, the constant burping, the spilly baby, the fact my life wasn’t my own anymore and the enormity of parenthood that lay ahead of me.
The whole thing was utterly soul-crushing and overwhelming.
Especially during the hours of 3-7pm. This was when the day was starting to wind down and I’d start to look forward to my husband coming home from work.
I was incredibly jealous of him for being able to go to work each day and leave the baby. I often dreamed about being in his position and escaping the day-to-day life of being stuck with a newborn.
So at 3pm, suddenly I could see the light at the end of the tunnel. I could see 530pm when he would come home and takeover.
It was this time, however, that things started going wrong for me. The baby was always tired, and so was I, so I just ended up struggling more.
Then my husband would end up having to stay late at work, or would get stuck in traffic, and not be home on time. So by the time he got home, I was a freaking mess.
Without realising it – I started drinking more alcohol. It started out as a harmless glass of wine at 5pm because “I deserved it”.
This nightly glass of wine went on for years. Nothing seemingly sinister about it.
I got pregnant again with my second, and stopped drinking for 12 months – no issue at all.
However, of course, that nightly glass of wine started up again.
My depression was managed with the help of medication, but I never formally sought therapy; and I should have.
Sadly over time, I still struggled between 3-7pm, and a glass of wine each night, slowly turned into two glasses; and then three glasses each night. Sometimes I’d finish a bottle before I’d even realised what was happening.
I’m talking over a period of years here – not weeks, or months; but years. This kind of thing doesn’t happen overnight.
In 2019, I realised I had issues (to put it mildly):
- I looked forward to that glass of wine each night. Sometimes it would be the only thing keeping me going during the day
- I’d go to bed feeling guilty that I’d been drinking, and would vow the next day I wouldn’t drink – I did though.
- My sleep was utterly shit. I’d wake up each morning at 2am thirsty AF and racked with guilt.
- I would promise myself I wouldn’t drink during the week, but nothing ever came of that.
- My emotions were all over the show when I was drinking. More often than not things would set me off and I’d end up in tears.
- I started feeling trapped – like I couldn’t stop. One glass was never enough, and once I started I almost couldn’t stop.
I was what you’d probably call a “high-functioning alcoholic”. You would never ever know I had a problem; I was really good at hiding it. I would never appear on social media once I’d had a couple of glasses of wine unless I was out with friends and everyone was doing the same.
Unfortunately that “afternoon” wine that had evolved, also evolved enough to make me use it during other times to cope. Feeling nervous about an event? Have a pre-drink to calm my nerves. Dinner with strangers? Have a pre-drink to calm my nerves. Dinner with friends? PRE-DRINK.
It got to the point where I was definitely using alcohol as a coping mechanism on many different levels; to the point where I didn’t know how to be myself around people without alcohol.
I was very good at hiding it, but I was extremely embarrassed about it. The shame and guilt that came with drinking the way I was, was huge.
In March 2019, I decided enough was enough and had a big breakdown in front of Phil. He really is amazing – he knew there was a problem but knew I was the one who had to come to the realisation first.
I stopped drinking and read a book called “Stop Drinking Now” by Allen Carr (he’s the guy who does the smoking one too).
It was actually really helpful and I managed to stay alcohol-free for a couple of months.
Then I went to Germany to see my sister, and decided to try casual drinking again.
Sadly I kind of just slipped back into old habits.
I hadn’t actually dealt with any of my issues, other than read a book, so it was inevitable really.
It wasn’t until January 2020, that I finally reached a point where I said “ok times up”.
I was reading a book called “We Are The Luckiest” by Laura McKowen, and I was having a glass of wine at the same time and was utterly bawling my eyes out.
It hit a nerve and I knew I had to stop for once and for all.
That was the last time I had a drink. January 2020. We are now January 2022 and I have come such a long way since then.
I don’t know if I’ll ever drink alcohol again, or if I want to, but I have learned so much over the last 24 months.
I’ve read quite a few books (I’ll list them below), even started my own private Instagram sobriety page.
It’s really hard talking about my sobriety because people view it as an attack on alcohol and take it as though I’m telling everyone to stop drinking.
This is, of course, a direct reflection on the issues we have as a society, and often a reflection on the person who messages me; but it makes it incredibly difficult for me to want to open up about it.
Like I said above – I don’t know what my relationship with alcohol will be like in future. For now I am enjoying sobriety and learning how to be myself without alcohol.
I view it as a very brave thing to do because society is all about alcohol.
Just by saying I had an issue with sobriety on my Facebook page, I was inundated with messages telling me to stop talking about it.
Sobriety is very confronting for people who have an issue but don’t want to admit it.
Anyway … that’s my story. I’m sure I’ve missed parts but that’s why I stopped drinking alcohol.
Here are some of the books I read:
- We Are The Luckiest – Laura McKowen
- Quit Like A Woman – Holly Whittaker
- The Wine O’Clock Myth – Lotta Dan (This is a New Zealand author)
- Sober Curious – Ruby Warrington
- The Sober Girl Society – Millie Gooch
- Stop Drinking Now – Allen Carr
My motto will always be: there is no harm in taking a step back and re-evaluating your relationship with alcohol. Taking a look at it doesn’t hurt anyone, in fact, it can only benefit you.
The way I approach my children will be education first and foremost – educate them about alcohol so that they can make an informed decision. Yes we know alcohol is addictive, but drinking alcohol isn’t just about the alcohol. It’s about society and it’s pressures too.
Anyway … I could go on and on about this