3 Reasons Why I Stopped Drinking My Way Through Motherhood
Maybe this title caught your eye because you wanted some juicy details about a mom with an addiction. Or, maybe it caught your eye because there was a bit of conviction felt in your heart when you read it. Or, maybe it resonated with you because it described something about you or someone you know. For whatever reason you chose to click on this post, I’m glad you’re here. This is part of my story.
I remember the first time I had a panic attack. It was almost 2 years ago now and happened in the middle of a furniture store. We took the kids out to look for new bunk beds. I was overwhelmed with the cost of furniture and kept wondering how we would ever afford exactly what they wanted. Then it hit me; the hot flashes, chest pains and out of this world experience. It was like nothing I had ever felt before. I wanted to crawl under the covers of the beds we were looking at. It felt like everyone could see that I was in a state of panic.
I immediately asked my husband to leave, made him drive home and hid in the bathroom for an hour. I felt like I was drowning. I felt like a big failure. I was a wellness person. I was one of those people who was always healthy, and anxiety was something that happened to someone else – not me. I guess I should have seen it coming. The years leading up to this initial episode were filled with deployments, the pain of infertility, the heartache of a rocky marriage, 4 adoptions, 2 career changes, health issues for my husband, and an incurable diagnosis for me. Like woah…..who wouldn’t have had a panic attack, right?
After that initial episode, I didn’t experience many more full blown panic attacks. What I did experience was almost nightly chest palpitations. Not the kind where you are worried about your heart. But, the kind that made you remember that a panic attack was imminent. It wasn’t debilitating, but it was enough to keep me distracted. And, the enemy likes to keep us distracted. I tried praying, I tried meditating on scripture, I tried exercising, and I tried ignoring it. Nothing seemed to work. Well, it probably could have worked if I gave any of those options a long enough try. But, I wanted something immediate. I wanted that feeling of anxiety to go away. Wine helped. So, I started drinking.
I remember the novelty of wine at first. It was like getting a new toy for Christmas and being so excited to play with it everyday when you get home from school. That’s what wine became for me. I got up in the morning knowing that if I felt any bit of uneasiness, that I had a bottle of wine to make it go away. When my day didn’t go as planned, and the the school called for the fifth time, and a child got suspended, a test result came back positive, my child with the allergies just ate chocolate again, and my youngest finished her nightly 2-hour tantrum- I had wine. I didn’t have to walk through any of the immediate reactions to unpleasant experiences as long as I had a glass of wine to sip on. I allowed wine to become what Jesus already became, my Savior.
Now, you might have this image of a sloppy drunk woman in your head, stumbling around her house like an alcoholic. Or maybe you’re imagining a tipsy lady slurring her words and having a grand ole time while her kids tend to themselves. Can I be real honest with you? Those are both furthest from the truth. I didn’t get drunk. In fact, other than not realizing the strength of a margarita on a random Taco Tuesday, I can’t really tell you the last time I got drunk. So, to the world – I didn’t have a problem. To the world – I was a completely normal, overwhelmed mama using wine as a little helper to get her through each day. I came across dozens of memes on Facebook that not only justified my little habit, but also encouraged it. I had friends and family that supported me when I would joke about “needing a glass of wine.” I think I even managed to score about 12 bottles for Christmas because everyone knew that raising 4 kids required a glass of wine (or two) every night.
But secretly, I was crumbling into tiny little pieces. Secretly I was in over my head with life and I felt all alone. Wine was my comfort. It soothed me. It softened the pain, and it didn’t judge. Every time I felt that uneasiness of anxiety take over my chest, I knew I could make it go away with just a few sips. And after a year of letting this habit take over my heart, I knew it was time to be done. Here are three of my reasons why.
1. My kids started noticing
One day I was completely overwhelmed and in tears. I was trying to juggle household chores, the fear the future and a child having a tantrum. And, my oldest son said to me “Mom, why don’t you just pour yourself a glass of wine and hide in the bathroom.” Now, this might have made you chuckle. There are probably hundreds of parody videos mocking this exact situation. But it didn’t sit well in my heart. I was teaching my children that the solution to life’s problems was to drink them away while you hide in the bathroom. I get that once in a while in an extreme emotional emergency this may be an option, but I was doing it everyday.
I want nothing more for my children then to grow up and be mighty warriors for Christ. I want them to know what it means to put on your armor and stand firm in victory knowing that God has already won the battle. I want my kids to live fearlessly in reverence to the Lord. I want my kids to be role models, and fighters, and firm in their faith. My habit was not teaching them to be any of that. My habit was teaching them to dwell under a spirit of overwhelm and look for their next quick fix. I knew it was time to be done teaching them to do life outside of trusting God.
2. I was growing further away from God
The desire of my heart is to turn to God in all my moments of overwhelm, fear and frustration. But for some reason, it was easier for me to pour a glass of red wine and tell God that I would be with Him in a few minutes. I knew in my heart that reading scripture and praying was the best solution, but I wasn’t acting on it. I knew that the Holy Spirit was present and He was nudging me to open my Bible, to pray, to cry out to Him and to surrender. But, I wasn’t doing it. Wine became my idol and quickly put a wedge in my relationship with God.
3. Alcohol doesn’t solve mental health issues
As much as I felt embarrassed to admit it, anxiety is a mental health condition just like depression, PTSD and many others that we like to ignore due to stigma and shame. I felt shameful for experiencing anxiety. I felt shameful for not being able to conquer the overwhelm on my own. I felt embarrassed to admit that I needed help.
But the more I opened up to other women, and when I listened more than I talked, the more I realized how many of us are struggling silently. We are struggling with anxiety and depression and addictions all alone because for some reason we think we will be less than, not good enough, or deemed a failure. We think that no one else could possibly understand what we are going through. We don’t want to be burdens, and we don’t even know how to verbalize the pain that we are experiencing. So we hide – in our bathrooms with a bottle of wine still struggling with the same problem before we started drinking.
Alcohol does not solve your issues – Jesus does.
A few final thoughts
If this article hit home for you, I want you to know deep in your heart that you aren’t alone. You are not the only one in pain going through a difficult time in your life.
I also want you to know that there is NO shame in your struggle. Shame does not come from God, is not of God and does not glorify God. Shame is created by the enemy, used to keep us from standing in the victory that God has already provided.
Even though I am completely confident that Jesus is the resolution for our overwhelmed, anxious mama hearts – I want you to know that this doesn’t mean to sit, pray and wait for the day He returns. This means that Jesus can be shown to us through other people. We can see the love of Christ in other believers that we reach out to for help in our struggle. Jesus can be shown to us through Biblical Counselors, pastors, friends and mental health professionals and even strangers on the internet (i.e message me). Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
Lastly, you may wonder if this means I won’t ever drink again. My answer is no. I will still enjoy a cocktail at a nice dinner, during an event or out with friends. But what I will do moving forward is refuse to replace my Savior with a quick fix. I will refuse to look into a bottle for the answers to my discomfort. I will always check my heart first, and I will never judge you for your choices, even if they are different than mine.
I would love to hear from you. Leave me a comment and let me know how I can pray for you or feel free to click on my contact page and send me a message. Sweet sister, you aren’t alone. You are loved. You are not a failure.
In His Strength,