On May 22nd I made the humbling and, hopefully, permanent decision to give up the hooch . Up until fairly recently, I really liked to drink. Scratch that – loved to drink. My favorite sound? The cork popping out of a bottle of chilled pinot grigio signaling my day coming to a close. But like a junior high school BFF, alcohol turned on me and we became bitter frenemies forcing me to avoid it at parties and not return its phone calls. I didn’t want it to end that way, but alcohol was negatively affecting my overall happiness and standing in the way of my ability to parent my children and be the best wife I could be.
A few days after coming to my decision, I blogged about it publically and received lots of support which was great but more importantly, many of you came forward with worries of your own about your drinking habits. Imagine my surprise when Amy, yes fabulous Mommytrackd founder Amy, told me about a book written by Rachael Brownell called Mommy Doesn’t Drink Here Anymore: Getting Through the First Year of Sobriety . I knew I had to read it immediately and I fell in love.
From page one it was like the author, Rachael Brownell, crawled inside my brain and scrawled out in vivid detail a raw, moving, brutally honest memoir, chronicling the insidious nature of her drinking, her decision to quit and her experience making it to that first year mark without a drop. And I should mention that she has seven-year-old twin girls and a four-year-old daughter to boot. Sound like someone you know?
Speaking to her only further cemented my girl crush so I pinned her down for an interview of sorts:
“Can you tell me when you first began to suspect you had a problem?”
“I definitely was a bingy drinker in my twenties. But weekend debauchery was followed by weeks of not drinking so I could write it off as normal.”
“Right,” I said. “Doesn’t everyone drink like a fish in college? Oh wait, I didn’t go to college. Never mind.”
“When I noticed a change was after the twins were born. Then it was like medicine. It became the thing I looked forward to most. It wasn’t the amount I drank, it was the way I drank. I wasn’t being social, I wasn’t going out, I was isolated. It was me and these babies in a rural community and I would put them to bed and I would drink. It was like a ritual. It was the thing I looked forward to most.”
“So what made you walk into your first AA meeting?”
“I’m a school nerd and I’d been looking forward to my kids going to kindergarten. So they’re finally old enough to go and I was so excited that I got them into the school that I wanted. The night before, I iron their uniforms and then I decide I’m going to have a glass of wine to unwind so I go to have one and let’s just say… I drank a lot more than I planned and before I knew it I was pretty smashed. The next day I had one of those hangovers that hits you around 11 or 12. You wake up and think you’re fine but then it just gets worse throughout the day. By the time the open house started around 5 p.m., I was shaky, sweaty and totally nauseas and I spent the whole time in the kiddie washroom puking and sick. The next day I called my younger brother and told him I thought I had a problem.”
I took a giant swig of my diet Hanson’s Pomegranate soda and said, “Go on.”
“He asked me how much I drank and I immediately tried to back pedal and play it down but he wasn’t buying it. He said, ‘Go to a meeting and I’m going to call you later and make sure you went’ so I did it because I didn’t want him to be mad.”
“How do you feel about writing such personal matters and making them public?” I wanted to know, since, you know, I have a bit of experience with that.
“Like a really good alcoholic I didn’t think all the way through to ‘now my mom’s going to know I had an affair.’ It sank in a little now that the book is actually out. When I found out that my stepfather’s on the page that starts out ‘I’m terrified of having sex sober’ I wanted to crawl in my shoe. Here’s the thing though, if you’re writing a memoir you have to be at peace with what you write and know that once it’s written it’s not yours anymore. I take the book, I write it then I put it into a little thought bubble and blow it away. How people receive it and what they do with it is out of my control and I hope for the best. If it’s just about me and my ego it’s going to be embarrassing. I just hope it’s helpful to people. Fingers crossed.”
I can tell you this; her book has already been incredibly helpful and inspiring to me. So, one down, and hopefully a lot of readers to come.
Stefanie on Drinking:
My Sobering Secret 
Hair of the Dog 
A Shot Glass of Truth