Mommy Doesn't Drink Here Anymore

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My name is Sheri, and I'm an alcoholic. That's right. Me. I'm an alcoholic.

Fortunately, I have been sober for more than eight years now, and thankfully, I quit drinking before I became a mom. That sure made things a lot easier — especially cause getting sober ain't easy.

So, for obvious reasons, I was drawn to the new book Mommy Doesn't Drink Here Anymore: Getting Through the First Year of Sobriety by writer Rachael Brownell, whom I enjoyed reading over on Babble for some time.

"Even if I successfully lay off for a few days, I can't shake the image of the glasses I'm not drinking. I can taste, smell, and conjure them from clouds or soda cans, or from my children's faces. Wine is everywhere and seemingly all-powerful. It is all I can do to stop myself from rushing to the store to buy gallons and gallons of wine to swim in, to live in," Rachael writes about the pull to alcohol. And the love...yes, love. That's what it felt like for me too.

Along with getting the power of addiction, as it feels, pretty darn right, Rachael Brownell tackles a lot in one book: growing up with an alcoholic parent, love relationships, the birth of twins, marriage, the birth of another child, raising kids, work/life balance, the quest for and loss of self — and all are in the shadow of the discovery that she was, indeed, coping with motherhood, loss of self, marriage, life, and more with the help of wine. Lots and lots of wine.

I also used alcohol to cope with life, with everyday anxieties, with hard relationships, with fear, with boredom — and while it is not part of my story, I can completely relate to the idea of using alcohol to cope with motherhood. From childhood, I can remember being afraid of being the person I really am and motherhood and all its expectations only bring that kind of unbearable self-judgment out into the light of day.

Here I am, world, doing the best I can, making mistakes, often flailing — all under the microscope of society and in the name of another individual's life. Yikes! A drink sounds really good amid all of that.

And at the same time, whether the transition into motherhood feels just right or whether it feels very very wrong, something else gets lost. The self. For many women, the self gets lost altogether and for all women, the self as we once knew her changes.

Rachael says it well, "Since becoming a mother five years before, I've longed to hang on to a part of myself that isn't smeared in mommy goo."

"On the surface, I stay sassy and edgy and champion other mothers' need for time alone, for love and reading, for many worlds beyond raising young children. In public, I am the rebellious swearing mama who is lively, saucy, and driven. In private, I shudder in fear in the corner, as I lie myself into believing that alcohol isn't the destination, only a ticket to the real journey."

For alcoholics, booze is an incredibly good liar, even at the expense of our own happiness.

While, by a miracle of sorts, I have not partaken in alcohol since becoming a mom, I have definitely felt the very real struggle to maintain a sense of self that Rachael writes about. However, for me, what I thought was lost in early motherhood, only became fuel for the fire of actually being the person I am and pursuing my goals outside of motherhood. And I owe that not only to the strong belief that my children should have a mother who takes care of herself but overwhelmingly to the clarity that came with sobriety.

Getting to be who you are, who you were meant to be, and with your head held high is pretty much the best thing about being born. I hope by living this belief the best that I can, my kids will learn to believe it and live it for themselves. That would be the biggest gift I could give them.

"There is a real life hidden in there somewhere," Rachel writes of her drinking life, "but it's buried underneath denial and a whole bellyful of liquor."

Rachael's tale is ultimately a good one as she realizes the greatest gift of sobriety for an alcoholic mom. "I'm grateful to have a chance to be present and sober for their lives while they're still young... I've given them a mother who can change and learn to love them, learn to like them deeply, eye to eye, nose to nose."

And really, that's everything.

Thank you, Rachael for sharing your story with us. Read more about Rachael's book on her website rachaelbrownell.com.

Have you or someone you know struggled with alcohol addiction or drinking in moderation since becoming a mom? If you'd like me to post your response anonymously, send me your thoughts and I can post them here without your screenname.

 

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When is Alcohol a Problem?

Bye Bye Social Drinking

Melissa Gilbert: On Child Stardom, Losing Rob Lowe's Baby, & Alcoholism

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MomIWant MomIWant

GREAT article -  thank you so much for sharing.  While I have my share of issues, alcoholism is not one, but I certainly admire the strength of will & hard work required in staying sober. 

Lumin... LuminousMom

ahh yes. My grandma (moms mom..) was an alcoholic from the time my mom was 5 years old until my mom was 25years old. She drank while pregnant with my aunt (the youngest of three) and lluckily it caused no defects.. but it certainly didnt make life easy for anyone to have a newborn, two toddlers, and no mother. She was a very dangerous, very toxic aspect of my moms life for many many years.... grandpa braided hair, made lunches, and not only worked two jobs but drove the kids to school and baseball practice. Drinking all those years has had sad physical affects on my grandma.. but the emotional affects it had on the family are whats worst. She started drinking when my mom was a newborn and my uncle was 2... she couldn'thandle the stress of being home alone all day with two kids, and it was her coping mechanism. I cant say I don't understand why she did it.. it was escapism. And back then... everyone drank. She tells me often that the girlfriends (her and her other friends with small children) would all get together for lunch at someones house, drink and smoke for hours, and then go home to cook dinner.. every single day. Because of this, my uncle and aunt also struggled with alcoholism.. and I think my brother does in a social aspect (its not a party unless you are drunk, to him), but has yet to admit it.

Lumin... LuminousMom

(cont ) I am wary of drinking because of this. I will have a drink from time to time but NEVER alone, and NEVER if there isnt another sober adult present. In a way, my families alcoholism helped me be a young adult and know to respect alcohol and its affects versus abuse them. Now that I have kids of my own I can see how it would be easy after DH leaves for night shift and I'm alone with them all day and night long to just pour a glass of wine to relax.. but I also see why I cant and wont ever do it.

Cafe... Cafe MicheleZ

Sheri you are not just a beautiful writer, but a beautiful person, inside and out. This brought tears to my eyes, as has other pieces you have so eloquently written. I so admire your strength and also value your friendship (we got to know each other through CafeMom!).


My father is an alcoholic. I love him with all my heart, but I so wish he could find the strength that you have. To quote you: "For alcoholics, booze is an incredibly good liar, even at the expense of our own happiness."


So well put.

NDesmond NDesmond

I can relate. I was expelled from college my very first year for alcohol related incidents. They sent me to alcohol counselling, meetings, classes, you name it. It just didn't take. I was using it to try to beat down my stress, loneliness, fear, everything. It went too far my first year and I paid for it with a year of wasted tuition. But it still didn't hit me. It took a few years, an attempted suicide, gettting diagnosed with cervical cancer, and watching a friend face his own addictions (pain meds) before it dawned on me that I had a problem.


Now, if I have one glass of wine with dinner in a month it's shocking. I DD some weekends for friends. But that want is always there. I think it'll always be there. But the thing that helps me face it and deal with it best is my son. He's almost two now, and the thought of doing something stupid after getting annihilated at the bar scares the hell out of me. I couldn't bear the thought of hurting him or leaving him alone in the world (I'm a single mom). So I very very rarely drink. But I can still hear the call of it some days... telling me that it's just one drink, just to calm my nerves... what could it hurt? ... A lot.

nonmember avatar consirned

I grew up with alcohol being an excepted drink for celebrations, socializing, and life tramas. It is very hard to stop drinking a drink now and then . But I dont do it in front of my kid at all anymore. Thanks for the wonder article.

madil... madilyn1503

I struggle everyday with an alcohol problem. I'm almost 40 now. I come from a family of alcoholics. My mom, grandfather and uncle- as well as my biological father from what I've been told. For years, while raising my young children, I reassured myself I had "missed the alcohol gene" being I only drank sociably and social gatherings were maybe once a year at the most. Even then, I would have one or 2 drinks, I never got drunk. I had been in a very hard marriage. By the 18th year of my marriage, I finally got the courage to divorce. Two months before I turned 37 . The divorce was a relief, however, watching my kids struggle with the change, my ex and his treats, losing my children's home and other assets, ruining my "perfect credit" as well as his, took an emotional toll on me. I was the one asking for a divorce, he didn't want it. .... my kids DEPENDED ON ME and now that I've divorced their dad, their lives have suddenly turned "upside down". The last 7 years of my marriage, I wanted out but stayed thinking it was best for the kids. I was in denial, thinking I could "fix" the issues of physical and emotional abuse my husband did to me and the kids.

madil... madilyn1503

(continued) I often think, if I had stayed, realistically, the problems would still exist but I wouldn't have "a drinking problem now"??? Sadly, my outlet through the divorce was alcohol... how can this happen to someone my age? Never having a problem before? I realize I have to get help soon. I've been drinking heavily for over 2 years now. My oldest is grown and married in the military with a baby on the way, my youngest will be 16 soon. I know if I don't stop, I may not be around in the future for my kids and grand kids. The thought of that "kills me". I'm sharing my story in hopes that if someone who is at the beginning of an alcohol problem and reads this will "stop before it gets out of control"!!!!! Please, don't allow alcohol to ruin your life! Get away from the bottle while you still can....

nancy... nancy_pttrsn

Thank you for sharing. I am going to go out and  buy it.


Monday I will have 6 mo this time 'round .  Took 22 years to get it!  My children didn't grow up with a sober mom, But my grand children will.

Cafe... Cafe Sheri

@madilyn1503, hang in there. getting sober is hard, but there are also gazillions of us that prove it can be done if we want it.


@nancy_pttrsn, congratulations! 6 months is a miracle and so awesome. keep it up. this is a huge accomplishment. you should be proud.

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