(From June 2021. Adapted from my gratitude letter to The Bubble Hour)
On June 6th, I reached 9 months alcohol-free. The amount of time it takes to grow a new life. As a mom of two (VERY!) spirited young boys, I’m awed at the parallel I feel between how it took 9 months to “build” them, and how it’s taken me 9 months to build a patchworked foundation for a new life. A new life that is growing in ways I never thought I deserved.
I’m 43 years old. Mom of two small boys. Wife to one large boy (Ok, he’s 43, but has the devil-may-care attitude I see in his sons. I adore it). Daughter to a mom who battles anxiety every day; and daughter to a Dad to whom we had to say Good-bye in November 2020. I was there for his last days in the hospital. I was 72 days sober. And it was raw, and heartbreaking, and terrible, and beautiful to feel all those feelings. But I did feel them, and I could honor him.
My story is very much like those in this beautiful community. I started drinking at 15 to ease social anxiety and to feel a sense of self-worth. There’s been trauma, abuse, fear, rejection, anxiety – and I covered it all well with an armor of good grades, good behavior, people pleasing, shape shifting, wanting to be seen (but really NOT wanting to be seen), popularity, college, grad school, ‘good’ job, growing independence… Achieving all of this with an underlying, consistent stream of gross beer (high school and college), wine (young adulthood), then straight vodka (working mom hiding in the closet ashamed of failing at everything).
After plenty of stops and starts (and starts and starts and starts), I pulled out of a nosedive this past summer. My liver was inflamed due to all the vodka I was hiding in my bathroom cabinets. Why I was hiding it is a story in its own right. But it was the wake-up call I needed to turn things around. My drinking was causing actual physical harm.
I thought of my boys’ sweet faces. Of the way they hug me really tight, then take off to catch frogs in the back pond. Of how they say “I love you Mumma” before they start wrestling each other in the middle of the living room.
How much was I going to miss if I kept up this vodka habit? The answer was clear to me on my Day 1: All of it. I was going to miss ALL of it.
I’d like to share my patchwork for sober living as it currently stands:
•The amazingly honest, safe space Jean McCarthy provides in The Bubble Hour
•Weekly Zoom meetings with my dear friends in Women for Sobriety (WFS)
•Walks (and perhaps short jogging bursts when I feel daring!)
•The Soberistas WhatsApp group called “Wrong Side of the Ponders”
•A sober day counter/tracker
•Sober Instagram community (@mummadoesntdrink)
•Attempts at writing
•Therapy with a beautiful person who tries to help get me “unstuck”
•A friend in AA and a few tentative visits under my belt
•Rides on my Vespa named Cheese Doodle (because my husband calls me “Doodle” and the Vespa is bright orange)
•Other podcasts like HOME; WeCanDoHardThings; In Recovery; Dear Sugars; Love Sober
•Coffee & Jellybeans
“The opposite of addiction is not sobriety, it’s Connection.” ~Johann Hari
The Bubble Hour was my first connection. From there, my hope and community started to sprawl. I never would’ve been able to get to 9 months alcohol free without connection.
What does your patchwork look like? Who or what group did you reach out to first to help you flip that switch and realize life really is better over here? To whom are you forever, and ever grateful — besides yourself? 🙂
Thank you for reading. Be well, be curious, be hopeful.