Now we’re at the point where I figured this whole journaling thing was going to come in handy. I realize I’ve published more than enough posts in this last week, but they were more polished, more “this is a good thing to write about”, more planned. What I’m going through now is what I need this journal for.
My son got sick a few years ago. Sick to the point of hospitalization. He’s still dealing with a chronic condition, though now it’s managed very well. When he got sick, though, I was just starting to work full time again after having been unemployed or underemployed for several years following the economic crash in 2008. I finally felt like I was doing pretty good for myself and that finally, FINALLY, life was getting good. And then he got sick and I was laid off (no FMLA because it was a small company). I felt out of control, like I didn’t have anything grounding me. I had a handful of close friends, but it was still something I couldn’t handle by myself. I wasn’t seeing my therapist, and my husband was working long hours. So I did what any mom with no outlet does…I drank wine.
I had my glass a night, which would often be two glasses. It took the edge off and let me relax because I couldn’t leave my son alone. I had to be there to take care of him. There was no daycare I could send a sick kid to. 24/7, it was my son and I, and my little glass of anxiety relief.
Once he got stable enough to send back to school, it was still really hard and I couldn’t work. There were lots of absences from school and the school district breathing down my neck…even though we had a 504 plan and all of the legal protections because he was still a very sick kid. I felt like a failure in the system I had felt like a super mom before. My kid was failing, I was failing him, and nothing was good. Except for my wine.
I clung to that glass or two a night for years. Some weeks, when things were really bad, it was three glasses a night. But mostly two. Last year, I tried several times to quit, and made it for almost two months earlier in the year, and almost a month around Thanksgiving. But then I always say, “You know, a glass out with friends shouldn’t* be a problem at all. I can do that and not drink for the rest of the week.” And, every time, I would end up picking up another bottle, sometimes on the way home from hanging out with friends, because one glass just isn’t enough, y’all! I know I’m not like the fifth-of-vodka-every-night-black-out-drunk alcoholics, but I am chemically dependent on a substance that is no longer necessary.
So here I am, with a new year presenting itself as a super pretty, glowing fresh start. The folks who run stop drinking programs always say, “Don’t think about a year from now. Start with today.” I am trying really hard to think about just this night right now, with my glass of chamomile tea right in front of me, and how I will not be drinking today. I don’t have to think about the morning, I’m just thinking about right now. This chamomile is similar in ritual…except it’s even better. It’s warm, it’s soothing, and I know it won’t leave me feeling bad later. Sure, it’s not potent as that glass of Cab, but I know the pay off of drinking this is so so much better.
I do have anxiety, much of it from the neurotransmitters in my brain having up regulated for years of having a depressant in my system that which will now need to down regulate in order to not make me go nuts. That will take months (even years) to readjust to. Which totally fucking sucks. Chamomile will help a little, but it just isn’t the same. Exercise will help. Journaling will help. Nice hot bubble baths will help. Sleep will help. Ultimately, time will help. And that’s all I can hope for. I hope I have the resolve and mental fortitude. I’m going to need it. Until then…
I’m not going to drink today.
*I just noticed after I wrote this and hit publish, that I have one “should” in this whole thing. Son of a bitch, as usual, it’s a dirty word.