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How Much is Too Much?

When a drink at the end of a day turns into something else

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We’ve been home with our kids for months. Our social media feeds are littered with “Mommy Needs Wine to Homeschool” memes so it must be okay to drink this much, and alone, right? Is anyone worried about the normalization of disordered drinking going on right now, the effect it’s having on some women, and the message it’s sending to our kids?

If you think you have a dysfunctional relationship with alcohol, only you know the truth here.  It took me and my sober curiosity a while to get there, but I eventually got there.

My journey to sobriety is not very unique. It wasn’t necessarily how much I was drinking, but how much I was thinking about it (should I have a glass of wine tonight?  I wish I didn’t have all of that wine last night. Where is that waiter?! Am I drinking too much? How much is really too much).  The mental gymnastics were worthy of a gold medal. Moderation was too much to think about and I was in a perpetual state of what felt like deprivation. Also, I finally acknowledged to myself that people who don’t have disordered drinking patterns do not read quit lit. Need I say more?

What kept me in Google land for far too long is that the kind of drinking I was doing was normalized and there was no proverbial  “bottom.”  I’m a successful and highly motivated businesswoman, wife and mom. My husband and I have a strong, solid and loving partnership. My children are happy, smart, well-adjusted human beings. All the plates spin and I think I do a decent job keeping them spinning steadily. Nothing happened. No embarrassing stories.

Enter Gray Area Drinking.

We all think we’ll slow down once we get married, settle down and have kids. My twenties and thirties involved sophisticated social drinking. Sunday brunches, drinks after work, wine tastings, and weekly work travel to fabulous cities. Shiny and fun stuff. So naturally settling down to a life in the burbs would equate to less drinking, right? Except it didn’t – it just looked different. Sure there were still plenty of social activities and opportunities to imbibe – much of it involving children. But for the most part it involved Netflix and wine. At home. On the couch. After all, I hustled all day working and parenting so in the name of self-care didn’t I deserve this nightly reward?  

But that nightly reward turned into a pattern. And the pattern turned into a habit. And the habit turned into an unhealthy relationship that I should have broken off a long time ago. 

I noticed my mental health was taking a hit. My world wasn’t as bright as it should have been. I couldn’t put my finger on it, but I knew a few things. On nights that I didn’t reward myself with a daily dose of Sauvignon Blanc I didn’t wake up with anxiety for no reason at 3am. On nights I did I felt blah the next day, less focused and less present. I also began noticing myself getting resentful when something or someone got in the way of my self prescribed self-care (drinking wine almost every night of the week is NOT self-care). I had many, many mornings where I thought “I’ve had enough of this” only to be right back there by 8pm because, well, life.

Today, it’s been more than 2 years and my world is better and brighter without wine. Was it easy? No. But I have tools that work really well for me and I stepped into the unknown for the sake of change (my philosophy is whatever works, do that. There is no right or wrong way here – just your way). Do I miss it sometimes?  Sure, for a fleeting moment. But I like this version of me better. I’m happier, more motivated, and more present.  The best part is that I can talk to my children about the wide addiction spectrum with openness and experience – and those discussions will not be shrouded in secrecy, labels and shame.  

Imagine a culture where instead of normalizing disordered drinking, we talk about it more and consider what this hamster wheel is costing some of us?  

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