How I became an alcoholic mom

I grew up in a home that valued work, but we also made sure to enjoy life.  My dad was an alcoholic, and so was his dad.  There was beer at every meal, and it was a requirement at every thing we did.  It was normal.  As I grew older, and life became harder, I was often encouraged to drink a beer to settle my nerves…And so began my journey to rock bottom.

It wasn’t until I began my life as a wife and a mother that my own drinking began to get the best of me.  I was enrolled in grad school with a two-year-old little boy filling my life with joy.  I had the world at my fingertips.  My husband, at the time, was working as a broker, making great money, and my career was on the ups.  Alcoholism wasn’t even a thought in my mind.  When things got rough, it was nothing that a glass of wine couldn’t settle.

Functioning as an alcoholic women

As my grad school pressures got harder, and my job became more demanding, and my son grew busier and more needy, my self-medicating with alcohol grew worse.  My husband was home less, and I had to manage it all—including my drinking.  I would fill travel mugs with wine and head to the playground, so I didn’t have to entertain my son—I had to get settled so I could keep juggling.  When I felt calm enough—from drinking at the park full of kids—to tackle grad schoolwork, I’d drive my child home—while intoxicated.  I was managing, but my judgment was skewed.

One night, the pressure got to be too much.  My husband was working late, my son had an ear infection, I had a project due the next day for grad school, and I still had to work in the morning.  I snapped.

I shattered a bottle of Admiral Nelson’s spiced rum in the hallway in a fit of rage, took the shards of glass and dug them into my arms in order to try to stop the anxiety from filling my body.  It was consuming me, and the booze couldn’t put it to rest anymore.  I was on the verge of rock bottom, falling fast.  I had to up the drinking to get settled; I had no choice.

This alcoholic mom hit rock bottom.

As if the scars on my arms are not a daily reminder of my self-medicating past, my criminal record adds to my list of regrets.  That’s right.  I got a DUI, with my three-year-old son in the back seat.  I am that mom that has been plastered on the news, who drove blitzed, with her toddler in the car seat.  To complicate matters, I hit an innocent family, and I am forced to live with it.  Every.  Single.  Day.

It was the same daily routine, I couldn’t take the pressure, I went to the park, and I drove home—after the calming of my nerves.  On my way home, I drifted across the centerline and ran into the side of a minivan filled with a family on the way to a soccer game.  It almost sounds too cliché.  My son was rushed to the hospital, and one of the kids in the minivan broke his leg.  No one was killed.  I was so lucky, but I was so wrong.

Recovery as an alcoholic mom

I took other people’s lives into my own hands when I chose to get into my car.  Not a day goes by that I don’t thank the lord that no one died that day.

After the accident, my husband left me, and I lost my son for a bit, but recovery taught me to take it one day at a time.  For seven years, I’ve worked the program, and I’ve made me the center of my sobriety.  I know what it means to accept responsibility for my choices, and I know when to say it’s too much.  I ask for help.  I did manage to get my son back, and I’ve started over.  It is possible; it just takes work.

My story is not one of some great epiphany or survival.  In fact, metaphorically speaking, it’s one that is probably common amongst most women alcoholics.  We try to juggle too much and we crash—sometimes literally, and sometimes figuratively.  The difference between my story and yours is I didn’t care what people thought about me getting sober, I didn’t care that it made me look like a bad mom—when I was drinking, I was.  Not getting help is what made me a bad mom.  Getting help made me see that.  Can you say the same?