I'm making a change...
This is a tough one. So tough in fact that it’s taken me months to come to a final decision on it. I kept thinking that I could manage it by myself. I kept telling myself that it wasn’t a big deal. I kept it to myself, and didn’t share this internal struggle with my closest friends or even my husband. “I’m only doing it to be social” I said. “It’s part of the culture of the city” I said. “One drink isn’t a big deal” I kept telling myself, but honestly it was never really just one drink. One always turned into two and two oftentimes turned into three. Three sometimes turned into four, and on those nights I’d wake up in the middle of the night PARCHED (because apparently I’m still a college girl who doesn’t know to drink one glass of H2O per margarita), grab myself a glass of water and also a few ibuprofen, knowing that the morning was going to be brutal if I didn’t.
This wasn’t the norm, but it was happening once every couple of weeks, and every time it happened, I’d hear this whisper in my head telling me that this was not good. Telling me that there was better for me. Telling me that I should stop. And this went on for months.
I held tight to my bottle of chardonnay like a security blanket because it had the power to fix all of the crazy that was swirling around me - Brooklyn living, raising four young boys, their schedules, connecting with friends, stressing over budget, gathering people for church, keeping the house tidy-ish, keeping my marriage healthy, laundry. You know the drill. It’s all hard; no matter how many kids you have, it’s always hard. I always say that motherhood is like a muscle and that the more you’re given, the stronger you become. When I had one child it was hard, and I never know how I’d manage with two, but I adjusted. When two was hard, I never knew how I’d manage with three, but you just get used to it and so on and so on. At first, you feel like you’re being crushed under the weight of it all, but you adapt as time goes on. That doesn’t mean that you won’t have hard days, but it means that you’re capable of handling more than you ever knew you could. But at some point, with all of the different stressors and dynamics going on in our lives (including moving from suburbia to urban living with no family for miles), I unknowingly became more dependent on my nightly glass of wine than I’d care to admit.
It was all too much.
And I’m not the kind of person who ever thought that this would be an issue for me. Oh, no; not me. I had known a fair amount of people who were alcohol dependent, and I would think to myself “How do they not see that they have a problem?”, but now I know. It’s a problem unlike the other ones in your life because you can’t even look it in the face. You’ll see it in your peripheral, but immediately decide to turn the other direction, disguise it as “culturally appropriate” or cover it with a mound of excuses as I did.
The truth about drinking was that it went from an enjoyable treat that I allowed myself every once in a while to something that I became dependent on to wind down every night. I would count down the minutes until 5 o’clock even on days when the kids weren’t particularly demanding, and then on days when they were, I’d pop that bottle at 4.
The turning point wasn’t this hugely dramatic experience or a moment of complete embarrassment. It was the realization that I was holding myself back from the things that I really wanted in my life. I wanted to love God well, love my husband and my kids well, be a good friend, dedicate time to writing and focus on taking care of myself. I knew that for now, I couldn’t do all of those things AND continue to drink. I’m sure it’s doable for many, but it just wasn’t possible for me. I couldn’t care for my kids well if I was hungover in the morning. I couldn’t take advantage of writing after the kids were asleep if I was on the verge of falling asleep myself thanks to the 2 glasses of wine I had consumed. I couldn’t take care of myself by getting my ass to the gym in the morning if my head was pounding (have you ever run on the treadmill with a headache. Ouch).
I think it ultimately comes down to trusting that whisper that said, “This isn’t good for you”. It wasn’t this loud, commanding “You need to stop this, OR ELSE” (I don’t believe God works that way) but more of a “I love you too much to see you continue down this path” and “I have better things for you than this”. I think that by laying down this chardonnay-shaped security blanket, I’m actually opening a door for more good in my life, more purpose in my life and more intentionality to see the things that I desire come to fruition.
This isn’t a permanent thing for me. At least, I don’t think it is. It’s indefinite, it’s a season, it’s temporary. It isn’t punishment, but it is practicing discipline. It’s something that I’m letting go of in order to gain better, more fulfilling things. It’s placing my dependence on something greater and not on something that I can pour into a fancy glass. It’s about consuming things that are going to benefit me, and not harm me. It isn’t “holier than thou”, it’s removing something that was keeping me from hitting the stride of my true potential. It isn’t objectively bad to drink -not at all - and I don’t think that everyone should stop drinking, but it was bad for ME in this season. I truly believe that removing distractions from our lives that are standing in the way of our goals is something that is ridiculously underrated, and something that I aim to do more of in the coming weeks and years. So for now, bring on the LaCroix. That is my drink for the foreseeable future.