I remember the moment I saw how things might go.
It was a couple (or 6? I remember so little that first year) of months after my son was born. I was shattered from the c-section, from the terror my son’s birth and surgery, from the isolation and crushing loneliness of my new life at home as a mom. I’d been fighting a migraine all day, and when my husband finally came home and took the baby off my hands, I found myself rummaging around in my bedside drawer and I found the pain meds I’d been prescribed after my c-section. I’d taken almost none of them, having been worried about how they’d affect my son through my milk. I shook one into my hand – a Percocet. I took it. It wasn’t long until I felt this slow unspooling of my whole day; I felt lighter and vaguely euphoric. It didn’t just take my headache away – it took me away.
I didn’t keep taking them – even as depressed and broken as I was, I could still recognize a cliff when I stood on its precipice. But once I wasn’t nursing anymore, I discovered that a glass of wine (or two) or a vodka cocktail (or two) accomplished the same thing. It made me feel pleasantly distant from the chaos of my day. It let my shoulders relax, let me feel warm and loving toward my family. And most importantly, it took me off the clock – slightly drunk Mommy wasn’t going to be expected to do much of anything. I could just stand around in the kitchen, stealthily refilling my glass while making dinner, and let my husband do the childcare. It was Mommy’s time out.
Now, this isn’t the story of my descent into alcoholism. I didn’t drink daily or finish entire bottles; I didn’t drink and drive. But I drank for the wrong reasons – to become numb, to avoid the painful feelings about my struggles with motherhood, my shame, my guilt. I drank for all the reasons I used to obsessively count calories and run for miles until my body became broken.
I stopped drinking a month and a half ago. I can see that it’s awfully easy for me to attach to habits that let me check out from my hard feelings; drinking kept me from having to show up completely, and I am too damn old to keep throwing away days like they’re guaranteed, you know?
I’m feeling pretty excited to show up entirely for my life for the first time in a while. Messy as it might be, it’s all mine.