I Quit Drinking to be A Better Mom

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quit drinking

My name is Jess, and I’m an alcoholic. I quit drinking to be a better mom.

I had a tumultuous relationship with alcohol, from the first sip at sixteen. I was excited to drink, all butterflies and pink cheeks. I was crushing on liquor long before we ever met. By the last drink at 36, I was anxious and clammy, depressed and powerless.

From age sixteen to twenty-seven, alcoholism ruled my life. I had severe legal and physical consequences from drinking, failed relationships with my ex, young kids, and family. After a DUI, I entered AODA rehab and stayed sober, using AA, therapy, and recovery groups. I stayed sober for seven years.

I was 34 when I relapsed. I had married and had three more children. My relationship was rocky, and we were in a new city. I felt alone with post-partum depression.

In my isolation, I convinced myself I could drink. I was in denial. I’d been sober for years. I’d had therapy. I had changed. Could I drink like the moms who were unashamed of nightly drinking or posting memes about wine? They talked about Mommy Juice and sneaking vodka in coffee tumblers. I wanted to believe I could have something to take the edge off the overwhelming and lonely stay-at-home mom’s life.

I quickly proved I was not one of those people. I couldn’t stop at one glass or even one bottle. I checked the clock obsessively, waiting for a respectable time to drink. The only time I could handle my kids was in that sweet spot between the first glass and the third, floating on the false high of the early buzz.

The changes were subtle at first, insidious. I had a general disinterest in life. I judged harshly and hypocritically; I resented people I loved. I burned bridges and built walls. Anxiety was only soothed by alcohol, which was also the poison that fueled it.

The consequences of my drinking piled. I became apathetic and angry. I couldn’t emotionally connect with my kids. I passed out on the couch after bedtime and blacked out. The classic signs of alcoholism were glaring. Was I still an alcoholic? Without question. I failed the “normal drinking test” spectacularly.

I quit drinking with my last (unplanned) pregnancy. I was angry to be sober and pregnant, but as the days gathered, I remembered who I was without alcohol. I connected with my kids. I rebuilt trust. I started intentionally taking care of myself rather than escaping. I did things I loved, and I did things I was afraid to do.

I built myself up, so I had something to give.

I’ve been sober for three years. I still have days when I’d love to run. Kids are hard. Life is hard- it didn’t become a fantasy world. Everything didn’t automatically get better when I quit drinking, but I did. As I get healthier, my world gets more stable, no matter how fast it’s spinning.

Sober, I’m vulnerable and brave. I’m not running from my life. I’m accepting it. I’ve found peace in embracing the chaos. Parenting is still terrifying, exhausting, and thankless sometimes. Leaning into the fear and difficulty helps me grow, to feel alive, and to love harder.

I’m an alcoholic. There is no world in which I can drink and be healthy, and that’s okay. Tonight, instead of a bottle, I will pick up a book and read it to my kids. Tomorrow, I will do the same.

I quit drinking

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Jess
Jess grew up near Madison and has lived in the Milwaukee area since 2013. She's a mom to four small children, who love to make crafts out of garbage, draw on walls, and make creepy, creepy masks. She also has two teenagers who live with their dad in Madison. She loves to watch them all grow to be amazing, unique humans. She spends her time outdoors with her feral little family, hiking at State Parks, camping, or visiting new parks. She also loves helping them make messes and create art... but hates the clean-up. She is a freelance writer, editor, and marketer for a living, and spends the free time she has left working on personal writing and art projects. She's involved in social justice and advocacy work and is particularly interested in LGBTQIA+ issues. She stays involved in politics and her community and is always looking for ways she can help to make a positive difference and spread awareness to inspire change. When she isn't busy with those things, she can be found binge watching Netflix, reading, listening to new music, and wasting her life on Facebook.

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