I heard my baby crying and I was too hung over to go to him. I just stayed there, in bed, full of guilt and anxiety. I had meant to stay out for a couple. I was supposed to come home at 10pm. But I didn't.
I keep doing this. I keep failing. Maybe I need help?
That was it. The moment everything changed. The moment I decided my over drinking was worthy of professional support. There was no drama, no fireworks, just me, in bed, deciding to change.
I had never considered myself to be an alcoholic mother. Those words conjured up the image of me, passed out, in a pile of sick, with a crying baby crawling over me.
But over drinking doesn’t always look like that. Problem drinking is sneaky, subtle, and so insidious that you might not even know it’s happening.
Before I became a mother of three I was a party girl, a passed-out festival casualty, I had the backstage passes, the key to the lock in and the names of the barmen at every local pub.
People liked me and drinking gave me an identity. Getting hammered for 25 years also gave me a reputation but you’d have never picked me out of the crowd as having a ‘problem’.
I was a normal drinker. A style of boozing that got soaked up by the people I surrounded myself with, diluted by the crowd.
But then, the baby…. The anxiety…. The guilt. A consequence to my very normal socially acceptable drinking habit. But an alcoholic? Me?
I’ve struggled to accept that term and find a place where I fit in, a place where I am comfortable with a label.
I don’t feel like an alcoholic, I don’t look like an alcoholic and I never acted like an alcoholic. I was a tipsy girl looking for an after party, or a mum escaping the daily grind of motherhood.
I had reasons - not addictions.
So, when I first decided to take a deeper look at my drinking habits, I was so surprised to come across the term ‘Sober Curious.’
I remember calling my husband and telling him that I had found people like me, people questioning their intake.
It was a relief to find out I was not alone. I was having therapy then too, unravelling why I thought ‘I had to drink.’ Why I had to be the drunkest person in the room.
And as I learned about all my behaviours, I grew, and broke away from the habits that had consumed me for so long.
I realised that my preconceived idea of what an alcoholic looked like stopped me from getting help for years. I just presumed I wasn’t bad enough. I thought you had to be in the gutter, rock bottom, down and out, to be an alcoholic.
In short - I didn’t think my problem was bad enough to deserve help.
I was wrong.
Alcoholic has so many meanings, so many varieties. Hundreds of strands running from its core. Tentacles that squirm into every household.
It covers a wide range of dependency, be it from drinking a gallon a vodka to stop the shakes or questioning that annual cider binge at the local barn dance, the mummy wines, the all dayers, the cocktail parties and the cheeky pints.
I’ve been sober for five years and it’s the best choice I ever made for myself and for my children. I’m a cycle breaker and I hope my decision will ripple through my family for generations to come.
Sobriety brings so much joy, it simplifies everything and brings out the authentic person that was hiding under alcohol.
Getting therapy and becoming a sober mum has shown me who I really am and finding that the word alcoholic means different things to different people has opened me up to a whole new way of living.