“After I had children, I started drinking alcohol every day. “

We are being sold the idea that motherhood requires alcohol to survive. And I joined it, like so many moms. So much so that I didn’t know there was an alternative. So I continued. It wasn’t until years later that I started to question my drinking habits.

As a newly divorced single woman in her 30s, I was eager to regain my independence and this inevitably resulted in drinking more alcohol, more often.

On the nights my sons were with their dad, I wanted to make the most of my free time and get out as much as possible. And, if I didn’t go out, it would most definitely be a bottle of wine for someone on the couch.

I didn’t know how to navigate alone in the evenings. Yes – the “dinner, bath and bed” routine of the past seven years had been tedious at times, but it was also beautifully comforting. So I drowned out the feelings of guilt and loneliness by pouring wine on it. It should do it. And he did. Until no.

The thing is, I knew I wasn’t an alcoholic. But in a way, it made stopping more difficult.

I told myself that my drinking was not bad enough that I had to stop. But the question I really had to ask was, “Is my life good enough to continue like this?” The simple answer was no.

I wanted more from my life than foggy nights followed by sloppy mornings. I wanted more concentration for my work. I wanted more energy for my boys. I wanted more results from my workouts (rather than using them as a way to punish myself for consuming empty calories of alcohol for the week).

It was a banal Sunday in July 2018, when I decided it was time. No time for another sprint to go a month alcohol-free, but time for a longer, smoother walk to avoid drinking for a while.

The following months have been weird and uncomfortable as I navigate this new way of being me in this world, especially in social situations. I didn’t know who I was alcohol-free and I was there, awkwardly doing it publicly so everyone could see it.

Then something beautiful happened. My life has slowed down at a delicious rate, and at the same time, it has grown. I had more space, more time, more clarity, more creativity in all areas of my life.

Image: Supplied / Vari McKechnie.

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About Michael Brafford

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