After college, I continued my weekend binge drinking activities. I knew the amount of alcohol I was consuming could not be good for me, but I was still intensely drawn to this routine. I made deals with myself. I did my best not to drink Monday – Thursday, figuring if I was alcohol-free for four days straight, it wasn’t that bad. I was hopeful that eating well and exercising would help counteract any possible negative effects alcohol was having on my body.
Fast forward to my early 30s when my husband and I tried having children. We struggled with fertility issues, and after a battery of tests were categorized as “unexplained infertility, ” finding no definitive diagnosis. We started infertility treatments, and happily ended up having twin sons in 2006. To this day, I still wonder if my excessive binge drinking contributed to our infertility.
After my boys were born, I officially became a stay-at-home mom. I suffered from postpartum depression, and the drinking started up again. The stress of being a first-time mother of not only one, but two babies set in, and my drinking escalated quickly.
We welcomed another son three years later, and while I constantly reminded myself about how a “responsible mother” should behave, my weekend binge drinking continued. Over the years I read various books such as 7 Ways to Safe Social Drinking, Mommy Doesn’t Drink Anymore, and The Easy Way to Stop Drinking. I felt the books gave me some hope, but once I became a mother, the guilt surrounding drinking had new meaning. I also realized that while motherhood was a blessing, I also felt trapped.
When my boys were little, I tried to set limits and moderate my drinking, but every day was a struggle. It consumed so much of my thoughts, even on the days I was not drinking! At this stage, I was not overly concerned about my behavior because I figured they were not yet old enough to notice a difference.
As the years went on, alcohol continued to be a major part of my lifestyle. My favorite “hobby” was to go out to bars with my girlfriends. I became known for making the best margaritas. It was such an integral part of my social life, and never in a million years could I imagine not drinking alcohol!
When my boys got older, things started to shift for me. I started to worry if my boys were going to notice I was drinking too much or if I was being a good role model. With all the daily stress of motherhood, I still loved the euphoric feeling drinking provided. It was an escape.
I questioned whether or not a few hours of drinking were worth the guilt and mental and physical suffering that came after. As I got older, recovering from drinking became noticeably more difficult. I had such cognitive dissonance over the situation, knowing the amount of alcohol I was drinking was not healthy for me, but still doing it. I had this mental stress battle in my mind since my early years of drinking, and it was not letting up.
Lifelong battles come to a breaking point.
Since I was a teenager, I dealt with chronic insomnia, depression and anxiety. I started to wonder if drinking was connected to all three. Plus, drinking while taking an antidepressant did not seem like sustainable behavior, and I found it wasn’t really helping my mood.
I felt exhausted all of the time, needing to take a “nap” every afternoon, even on the days I did not drink the night before. Just the thought of alcohol had me stressed out and anxious.
I spent the next few years trying to gain control. At one point, I was successful at living alcohol-free for seven months, but I soon found myself depressed, lonely, and isolated.