I have a weird relationship with alcohol.
My mother is southern Baptist and would not allow alcohol in her house, let alone consume it. My dad was an alcoholic who kept his Budweiser tall boys in a cooler in the garage to stick by my mother’s “no alcohol in the house” rule.
Obviously, I — a socially awkward teenager who was introduced to alcohol in this way — started to hide and guzzle.
I’ve gone through periods of sobriety since the ripe old age of 14 when I started drinking. Once I stopped using drugs, I also stopped alcohol for a while. I didn’t drink when I was pregnant. When things would get out of hand (according to friends and family) with my drinking, I would stop. When I was committed to losing weight or achieving a particular athletic goal, I would swear off the booze saying, “Do you love the skinny, or do you love the sauce?”
Alcohol, though, is so socially acceptable that it’s easy to slip back into having a drink here or there, which turns into a bottle on Friday night, which turns into a box of wine in the pantry, which turns into blackouts and regret. If you can drink alcohol in moderation, that’s awesome! I, however, have reached a point where I can’t seem to drink in moderation. As of this writing, I am 129 days sober.
Although not all mamas who choose not to drink are alike, most of us can agree on some key points. Here are a few things this sober mama wants you to know:
1. I am not judging you if you drink alcohol.
My not drinking has absolutely nothing to do with anyone but me. If you see me eyeballing you as you sip your Merlot, I’m either a little jealous of your ability to have just one (or two) drinks or trying to figure out how “normal” people consume alcohol. I’m not sending you to hell with my stares; I’m actually thinking, “Huh. So that’s how a regular person consumes intoxicating beverage. Cool.”
2. No, I will not have “just one drink.”
The thing about me is that I’m all-or-nothing. This is a good and bad quality, for sure. It makes me an excellent athlete, mom (most of the time), employee, etc., but it also makes me prone to go from one glass of wine to blackout drunk before anyone knows what happened. While some people can have a drink or two and call it a night, there are some people — and I am one, at least for the foreseeable future — who will have one drink and go from Dr. Jekyll to Mr. Hyde. Dr. Jekyll has one drink. Mr. Hyde is doing shots and yell-singing from the center of the room. What flipped the switch? That one drink. So, Diet Coke for me, thankyouverymuch.
3. I don’t go to meetings.
Truth be told, I drove to an AA meeting and sat outside for a good five minutes before thinking “I’m not an alcoholic!” and driving home. Meetings are great and have helped countless people get and stay sober. So far, with a great group of friends and some hefty self-motivation (remember that all-or-nothing personality trait?), I’m fine with not drinking and haven’t needed the extra support. Maybe one day I’ll take the plunge, but not every sober gal subscribes to the 12 steps.
4. I want you to invite me to things.
Heading out to a bar? Invite me and give me the chance to decide whether I want to go. Don’t assume that because it’s a function that involves alcohol I won’t want to attend. I will probably pass on a wine tasting, but bars have fancy non-alcoholic drinks I can enjoy along with your fabulous company. Just don’t assume I’ll be the designated driver. If you need a DD, let me know up front and I’ll likely agree! Just don’t be that person who invites the sober girl out just to be your Uber.
5. Most importantly, I want you to know I’m here for you.
No judgment. No drama. If you feel like you can’t make it through the day without a drink or are mortified by the last five times you’ve gone out because you accidentally got wasted, we can chat. It took a long time and a lot of ugly missteps before I could say, “Alcohol isn’t the best for me.” There are a lot of ways to get your drinking under control and not all of them involve “hitting rock bottom” or going to a meeting. If you just need someone who’s been there, or someone who will be honest with you about whether your drinking may be a problem, grab your nearest sober mom friend and chat her up.