Mark was out-of-town and I was worn out and thin from the daughter I was beginning to now call “toddler”. Fits of crying and negativity left me hankering for a glass of wine night after night. I “needed” my edge smoother, I thought.
But I also worried that I might have a problem. I worried that everyone else thought I had a problem. Ask an alcoholic and they’re sure everyone is one too. Ask the child of an addict and they are waiting to become one too. Every man I ever dated, and the first one I married, had drinking or substance abuse problems. So did I have one too? The worrying about it made me want to drink my glass or two or three of wine all the more.
I grew up witnessing my father operate in much the same mode as Stephen King described of his early work process in his book On Writing. Quantities of drinking to get quantities of writing and work done. Drink, work, and repeat. And nights in my youth were sometimes spent drinking to get drunk.
In more recent years, I didn’t obsess all day about my next glass of wine. I wasn’t hiding my use. I just assumed that come wine thirty, it would be time to pour a glass and relax. Although, I didn’t drank until I was falling down or slurring drunk, I worried that this casual use to calm my nerves was a problem that I was not in control to stop. I was building a tolerance and a midsection. Because most of all, I really didn’t like my wine belly on top of my post 40 something pregnancy belly.
If I’m a role model who says ‘No’ to her children, doesn’t that mean I should believe I have control and can obey my own No’s? Finally, I tested the waters and said,”Not this week”. Sometimes the biggest dare is to see if we really are in charge and have the guts to do something without ropes. In many cases, I think the wine was a given safety net. And I wanted to prove I could handle life without it. And I did.
Every day I’d say “See, your life is calm enough to do without that anxiety queller.” And it did wonders for how much I trust myself to have restraints. And to know I’m in charge, not the anxieties or the chosen substances to appease these fears. I proved I am running the show and my fears are not. And eventually, even when I am at my most stressed, I do not think about drinking or my long departed pal nicotine anymore.
Wine drinking has reached epic casual joking heights online. So many memes extolling the virtues of this method of “relaxation”. Not enough wine in the world kinda stuff. It’s not the wine that is in question, it’s our assumption that everyone is “using” it in the same way. And it’s a razor wire to walk. These references are shared in the kinda way that makes you complicit for your participation in the joke. You won’t judge me if you and I are both in it together.
It is OK to be stressed out. And Moms absolutely need to figure out some way to make the stress of today OK in some way. Anxiety is a real feeling, and more common than you know, and despondency isn’t good. Talking with someone may be the better choice to work out other choices. A depressant doesn’t help depression.
Grant that substance use is not abuse, yet it’s over use is also a sign that you may need to step up for your own needs and support yourself through those very real fears. And needing wine isn’t the same as wanting it.
I didn’t believe I could kick my fears or using the wine to quell the fear until I actually bravely did it. And although the first week was a tough one, the next week I said no to playing into the week’s anxieties and I had kicked my daily wine habit. On the weekend, I may say yes. And then during the week cold turkey again if it is an habitual action. I am the only one who knows how much and why I’ll drink now and it’s really my business but… I can tell you, I am not an alcoholic. And that certainty means so much to me in the light of what I grew up with. It really comes down to what I believe about myself and my truth is mine to know and be proud of while I live it.