Joann fell prey to the ‘Mommy needs wine’ culture. A blog post that led to The Alcohol Experiment and This Naked Mind allowed her to break free.
I Stop Today
I wanted to send out a note of thanks to Annie Grace and her team at This Naked Mind. THANK YOU for opening my eyes to an AF life that is both fulfilling and genuinely more fun than I could have imagined. A little over a year ago, I read a Scary Mommy blog that talked about mommy wine culture and it hit me in the heart. I knew that my nightly wine intake was a poor habit. What I didn’t realize was how common it is AND that there was another way to live!
I decided to stop drinking on the spot. In fact, I started the 30-day experiment and then became aware of your book, which I bought and read in a couple of days. Then, I went on to read your second book and listen to the podcasts. Now, I am enjoying my 14th month of alcohol free living.
The History Lesson
My family history plays quite a bit into my choice to live AF. I never met my grandfather, who was a police officer in the 1950’s. He suffered from depression and alcohol addiction. One day, when my mother was around 9 years old, a boy in her neighborhood came up to her while she was playing outside and said that her dad had just shot himself. The news must have swept through the neighborhood. My grandfather had ended his life with his police-issued revolver. Thinking of it now, it breaks my heart to imagine the trauma my mom experienced in that moment.
Growing up, we were told he died of cancer. Eventually, we were told he had cancer and was in so much pain that he took his life. Finally, as adults, we learned the truth – he died by suicide and suffered severe depression. The stigma was too much for my mom to bear. I don’t envy her having to decide when and how to explain suicide to children.
It Runs In The Family
Although my mother buried her trauma and gave us a great childhood, she suffered from severe depression and alcohol addiction all through my 20’s. I spent a decade calling and begging rehab facilities to take her in yet again, fighting with the health insurance over coverage. I recall calling 911 for help when she fell down the stairs and screaming at her for all of the pain she was causing our family. After years and years of it, she finally found sobriety through AA two years ago. Our relationship has improved greatly and she is back to her true self, a caring and generous mother and grandmother.
As for my personal alcohol history, I drank heavily through late high school, college, my 20’s and early 30’s. In hindsight, I am stunned at the way I drank in my teenage years and early twenties. I regularly blacked out and, at the time, thought it was how everyone had their fun. I continued on the same path through my twenties, drinking some during the week and heavily bingeing on the weekends. The weekend days were for hangovers and recovering for the next night of drinking. I went from bingeing in my younger years to a daily moderate intake in my late 20’s and 30’s. At 28, I decided to go back to school and enrolled in an evening law school program. I worked full-time during the day and had class 3 or 4 nights a week. To be successful in school, I had to slow down my drinking, which I was able to do to a point.
Mommy Needs Wine
When I was in school, a group, Lawyers Concerned for Lawyers, spoke to us several times about the difficulties of being a lawyer and the high rate of substance abuse that often came along with this career choice. After graduation, I was working full-time at a small firm. I had two children in a three-year span, my son being born during my first year with the firm. True to form, I began pouring the wine the second I walked in the door from work. For several years, I was drinking 3-4 glasses a night during the week and a little more on the weekends. Because I wasn’t bingeing, I felt as though what I was doing was an appropriate way to unwind after a long work day. I deserved it, didn’t I? No one questions the whole ‘Mommy needs wine’ thing. In reality, my anxiety compounded. I would get chest pains from the stress of it all – full-time work, young children who required so much, no time to exercise, no time really to think or care about myself at all. That is when I read the Scary Mommy blog about Annie Grace’s 30-day experiment.
A Better Life
I began my AF journey the week of my daughter’s second birthday. These past 14 months have brought a mix of pride for the good choice I made for myself, and despair at realizing I was incapable of properly processing my emotions without alcohol. Re-learning how to address stress, anger, and even happiness without a drink has been a challenge. However, I have been able to push through those problems with the support of my husband. He has never drank much, and I think my drinking scared him for what it was and where it could lead. He is just finishing your book now, and I suspect he won’t ever drink again.
Now, instead of being hungover on the weekends in bed with a headache, I spend quality time with my husband and kids. We enjoy biking, hiking, camping, exercising, cooking healthy meals, watching movies, playing games – all of it. We even took our first AF beach vacation this past summer, which was more amazing than I could have imagined. Bonfires on the beach, rides on the boardwalk, great meals, sunrises and sunsets over the ocean. If there is anything I have learned from these 14 months, it is that drinking holds us back from having the quality of life we all strive to have. Now, my interactions are authentic, my time with my family is meaningful, and my relationships are well-cared for, as they should be.
I’ll Never Say Mommy Needs Wine Again
When I read This Naked Mind, I highlighted this line from page 75: “It is much harder to go against the grain, skipping the drink and showing your children a different way, than it is to be swept along in our drinking culture. That is courage.”
After reading that passage, I knew my choice to live AF would impact not only me, but my children, and potentially their children after them. I became aware that alcohol had caused 70 years of trauma to my family. I had the power to stop it.
Thank you will never be enough.
Have you fallen into the ‘Mommy Needs Wine’ movement? Read This Naked Mind to find out how you can break free and reclaim your joy in parenting and your life!
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