It often feels like there are two different camps of folks; either you are a 'wine mom' who loves kicking back with a glass or two or you are someone with addiction issues (which let me stop and say this; addicts need love and compassion, not judgement) who completely has to avoid alcohol for vital reasons.
I honestly feel like I come across few people like me; folks who used to drink, never had a drinking problem, but just made the choice one day to stop. We don't often hear those stories being told as loudly, so I have been wanting to share mine because I know there are plenty of us out there.
The choice I made to not drink anymore was really sort of a whim and the first thoughts of it were an even bigger one; I never had been a super heavy drinker but like a lot of people, I enjoyed a few glasses of wine or a couple of beers on occasion. I had my share of silly and incredibly drunken moments when I was in my early 20's but thankfully I got through it without any major fallout. I was between pregnancies with Ezra and Micah (who take note are only 14 1/2 months apart) and I remember getting a six pack of rose cider and trying to get myself excited about having a couple. It just felt like it made sense; of COURSE I was excited to have alcohol again! I had just been pregnant, and now I could drink again! That is exciting!
...Or was it really? To be truthful, I felt a lot more pressure from the outside world of being able to be like "What a relief, I can drink again!" than I felt genuine excitement about it. I drank those couple ciders and I ended up feeling physically terrible. My head pounded like I had been on a bender or something and it was awful. I chalked it up to not having drank in a long time, but didn't think too much of it. Cue a few months later and I found out that I was pregnant with Micah again, I wasn't drinking again. The thought admittedly didn't cross my mind, I was too busy with the whirlwind of having two babies so close together completely by surprise.
Then we get to New Years Eve 2018; I was not pregnant and ready to rock. We got some wine because yet again...of COURSE you celebrate the New Year with a little bit of wine! And again, I had a small amount (one glass) and ended up feeling really sick afterwards. And yet again, I just didn't think much of it since it had been a while since I drank.
So I tried again a couple of nights later.
And I had the same result; felt incredibly sick.
That is when I truly asked myself why I felt like I had to keep trying to do something that didn't make me feel good. Why did I have to keep doing something because it was what I was 'supposed' to do? It doesn't matter that I used to drink, it doesn't matter how it used to make me feel. What mattered was that it didn't make me feel good NOW. It wasn't something that I felt that I wanted to keep trying to do, even if I got to a point where it didn't make me feel sick.
So since January 2019, I officially have considered myself a non-drinker.
I won't lie, I didn't talk much about it at first. It wasn't because I felt like I wanted to hide it, it just was something I didn't feel like I really needed to make a big statement about. I told Sean and my closest friends, and really just kept it at that.
Then the world started creeping in, though. I would be involved in conversations that would have to do with alcohol. I would see all of the images online, the memes, all of the chatter surrounding wine moms, and being a wine mom, and having all your friends be wine moms too. I started telling people with conviction that I didn't drink, not thinking that I would really have to explain myself or that it would be a big deal.
Y'all, was I wrong about that one.
The most common question I get when I talk about being sober is if I am an alcoholic. It isn't something that I feel ashamed or embarrassed about answering, but I find it very odd how many people assume that you cannot simply choose to not drink without having a problem with addiction. People seem incredulous that there isn't a 'reason'. That it isn't addiction, that it isn't religion, that there isn't a reason simply beyond I just don't want to. It really makes me think about the grip and overwhelming normalization alcohol has in our world.
The reaction that honestly bothers me the most is when I'm in social circles in my life and people tell me that they don't know how I do it with two toddlers so close in age without drinking at night. That sounds so unreal right? I wish I could say that it was, but it isn't. I'm really honest about the fact that life with two little ones that are close in age is HARD. There is no doubt about that and I would never try to gloss over it. I don't like the assumption that to get through it, I should need to drink, though. When alcohol becomes a coping mechanism, that isn't just relaxing; that's being on your way to a drinking problem.
I write all of this because I really want to stress to other moms (and dads and parents of all genders) that you don't have to feel pressured to drink if you don't want to. You don't have to have a reason and you don't owe anyone answers about it. There are so many things in our society that have a way of getting in our heads and thinking there is only one right or wrong way to do something. You are in charge of your story and your destiny. You are able to add chapters, change the narrative, create a whole new ending. That power is up to YOU.
And if you are someone who is on the same path as me or are looking to start it, please don't hesitate to contact me if you need a like-minded ear. I might not want to chop it up over a glass of wine, but I am always down to connect over a cold can of (non-diet) Coke.