A year ago I drank almost a magnum of red wine by myself.
It wasn’t a special occasion. It was just a Wednesday night. But it easily could have been a Tuesday or Thursday.
So a year ago Friday, December 3, I told myself I was going to stop drinking.
It wasn’t the first time I’d stopped and it might not be the last.
I’d been struggling with the question for almost 7 years.
Am I an alcoholic?
I started drinking again socially after my kid was born. And as a way to relax in the evenings after a stressful day at work. I started with a small glass of cheap wine. One glass a night.
But one glass became two and two became five and five became a box in a week.
Most of time I was drinking alone. I was watching the clock for 5pm. I might have a glass at lunch.
But what started as a relaxing glass to take the edge of a stressful day because a problem. My kid knew all the liquor stores in our neighborhood by what type of free candy he got when we stopped by after work/school.
So the question – am I an alcoholic?
I used to think that an alcoholic was the person who got up and started drinking first thing in the morning. The guy who stopped by the liquor store at 8am to buy a 5th of vodka to down before work. Or started the day with breakfast of beer at Midtown. Alcoholics needed to drink all the time to function. Right?
I made so many deals with myself.
I’ll only drink at restaurants. I’ll only drink on the weekends. I’ll only have two glasses a night.
I found all kinds of reasons to eat out.
Weekends started on Thursday and ended on Tuesday.
For a while I put the date on the box of wine when I opened it and marked off each glass to tally how many I’d had.
It was never just one. I could never stop at just one.
I’d pass out on the couch or in bed. I’d wake up about 2am feeling like I needed to throw up. And after a few hours of pacing and taking a shower and breathing deeply to calm my nerves and my stomach and my head, I’d end up hugging the toilet.
And by 5pm the next day, I was pouring myself a glass of wine and starting all over again.
Was I self medicating? Probably.
Have I sat in my feelings to figure out what? Yes and I still don’t know.
Does this sound familiar? Are you asking yourself that same question? Are you wondering how I did it?
I didn’t go to AA (although it works for a lot of people) and I don’t join a Sober Moms group (but I follow a bunch on Instagram). I did read Annie Grace’s This Naked Mind and had a bunch of aha moments.
I was just tired of feeling physically sick. I was tired of going to work hungover because I’d been told hungover isn’t sick so you go to work anyway. I was tired of my life starting at 5pm and ending at the toilet at 3am.
So I’ve gotten up each day over the past year and I didn’t go to the liquor store on the way home. I didn’t make a big deal about it. I told a few of my closest friends.
And I don’t want to make a big deal out of it now. But I did want to mark the occasion here. I don’t have a chip. But I have a healthy and happy life. I’m present in my world. And that’s better than a glass of wine any day!