I admit my drinking was out of control. I was living under the same roof as my abusive and controlling husband and alcohol seemed the only escape. I was drinking about two bottles of wine each evening hidden away behind my bed (we were in separate bedrooms) to try and escape the reality of my situation.
Then came the custody assessment, it was in black and white. I had to quit drinking if I was to have my children spend the night with me. I wasn’t losing custody, but I was losing control. I had to make a decision, it was the drinking or the kids, and thankfully the kids won. I enrolled in an intensive outpatient treatment program the next week.
At first, I was angry, I didn’t see myself as an alcoholic. I was just using alcohol as a coping mechanism. I had told the custody assessor that I could quit any time. He asked why I didn’t? The answer was simple, it felt like the only thing I could control, it was the one weapon I could use against my husband. I couldn’t imagine a life without a glass of wine with dinner, or champagne to celebrate or a cold beer on a hot summer’s day. It was unfair that I had to make this sacrifice when he had to do nothing.
I started the program on November 1st, 2016, on October 30th I bought three bottles of very expensive red wine and drank two of them, knowing that they would be the last drinks I would have for at least the next eight months. I was required to complete the program and then do six months of continuing care and then I would be done. Back to drinking, I thought.
Now nine months later I am still sober. It is the best thing I have ever done. I now live in my own house, I have my kids 50% of the time and I am in charge of my destiny. I know I would not be where I am today if I had not quit drinking.
It is hard some days. It is amazing how pervasive alcohol is in our culture. At one of my son’s soccer games, one of the parents brought a bottle of Prosecco and several people tried to hand me a glass, my Facebook feed is filled with memes and photos about how Moms deserve a glass of wine. There is a liquor store on every freaking corner of this country. But I have persevered and I can live happily without alcohol.
Has sobriety solved all my problems? Absolutely not! I am still embroiled in a very nasty divorce. My financial situation is really not good. I am unfulfilled at work. But the most important thing sobriety has given me is clarity. I now no longer push problems to the side, I face them head on. In my drinking days, I would be out of commission for most evenings, it takes a lot of planning and time to be an alcoholic. I now use that time for productive things. I’ve started reading again, I go to movies, I’ve started dating … I’ve restarted my life.
I am not a big proponent of any particular program for recovery, but if you are thinking that you might want to quit drinking, I highly recommend reaching out to one of the many sober support programs that are available (AA, NA, Smart Recovery, etc.). You’ll find friendly people who understand, can help and make no judgments. Making that first step is very hard, but I can testify it is worth it.