As a suburban soccer mom, I’m pretty sure I’m not the face you picture when you hear the word alcoholic. I went to an Ivy League school, I had a successful career as a lobbyist, I married a wonderful man and I gave birth to three healthy, happy children. On the outside, everything looked perfect, in order, just right. But on the inside, I was suffering.
I didn’t know it, though. I thought I was just an average social drinker, like everyone else. Everyone was always raising a glass at work and at home, and I was doing the same. Receptions, fundraisers, cocktail parties and dinners for work. Happy hours, tailgates at sporting events, and neighbourhood dinners. Drinking was all around me. And I loved it.
While most people know when to stop drinking (most of the time), I started to realize that I didn’t have the “off switch” that others have. Once I started, I didn’t want to stop. More was always better. One drink was never enough. I was obsessed with where and when my next drink would be.
At work functions, I headed straight to the bar to get a little liquid courage before having to mingle with a room full of strangers. At home, I opened the first bottle of wine while I started making dinner for my family. That bottle quickly became empty and I made sure to hide it in the recycling bin so my husband wouldn’t know that I’d polished off a full bottle bottle before he even got home from work.
I miraculously always made it home from my work functions but usually suffered the next day with a miserable hangover, many times needing to be reminded of things I did or said the night before. I plowed through that second bottle of wine at dinner with my husband, often continued to drink after dinner, and usually passed out before putting my kids to bed. The next day, the vicious cycle began again.
I started missing appointments because I was either too hung over to go or had forgotten to write them down when I was drunk. I spent more time in bed nursing the ailments from the night before, telling my kids that Mommy had a bad headache again. Or the flu. Or something.
The strange part was, I didn’t see anything wrong with the way I was living. I didn’t see that my life had started spiralling out of control. The house became a cluttered mess. My marriage took a turn for the worse since I was devoting so much more time to Mr. Cuervo and Mr. Mondavi than to my own husband. I was in my early forties and I was pissing my life away.
And yet, none of that seemed to matter. A good day for me then was just getting out of bed without having to throw up.
It was only when my daughter, who was 10 at the time, asked me why I didn’t remember talking to her about something the night before that it started to dawn on me that I might have a problem. And when my hands trembled until I got a drink in me, I knew I needed to make a change before it was way too late.
I was a married suburban soccer mom and a well-educated professional woman. But I was also an alcoholic.
Once I admitted that I was powerless in the face of alcohol and that I could no longer manage my life the way I was living it, I finally got help, and for the past four years and counting, I’ve been sober. I am a better wife, a better mom and a better friend. Don’t get me wrong, I have my faults, but I started to learn to live life on life’s terms, not in the bottle.
As one of my favourite writers, Brené Brown, said, “Loving ourselves through the process of owning our story is the bravest thing we’ll ever do. If we own the story then we can write the ending.” Working on owning my story is one of the best things I have ever done for myself.
Martha Carucci is an author/blogger who is currently the Executive Director of the National Breast Center Foundation. She spends most of her time trying to avoid being suckered into too many volunteer positions and maintaining her sobriety and sanity. You can buy her book, Sobrietease, on Amazon.