**I want to preface this post by telling you all I am not sober, nor do I want to be, or intend to be. This post is more so about recognizing that I was drinking too much alcohol at a certain point in my life that I was comfortable with and how I decided to take control and change my habits. Read on, mamas.**
I LOVE IPAs. Loud and proud, I am a beer drinking kind of a lady. I love the sharp taste of those precious bubbles on my tongue, I love the bitter hoppiness, and to be perfectly damn honest I love the amazing feeling of that buzz rushing into my bloodstream. I do. Guilty. (Insert shrugging emoji here) But, towards the end of last year, I began to see a shift in my drinking frequency and behavior that I did not like.
After college, as I eased into real adult life, I would enjoy a beer here and there at a restaurant or a get together. We never kept beer in the fridge at home, and it wasn’t something I thought too much about, really. But then, life kept coming faster and faster. And by faster and faster, just imagine being pelted repeatedly with a thousand dodge balls on the gym floor in your PE uniform. Within a span of 3ish short years, I was married and ta-dahhhh, I had made TWO tiny humans. Hello, that was fast. When my daughter was about 3, and my son almost 2, I entered the work force as a middle school teacher. (There was no “going back to work” for me. I never had a salary-paid position before kids, so EVERYTHING was new to me.) I was commuting an hour + to my new school where I was teaching a boatload of kids with some gnarly emotional issues, I was struggling with having enough energy for my toddler daughter and son, and overall, I was freaking tf out over the work/home balance. SO. Much. Stress. Have you been there!? When you have given it your ALL at work, only to come home to that sink full of dishes, homework that needs to be completed and you remember YOU are the one responsible for feeding your tiny humans!?
Slowly but surely, my every-so-often beer turned into a here-and-there beer, and then somewhere along the line, I realized I was drinking some sort of alcohol most nights of the week. It came to a point where when I was making dinner, it was becoming second nature to pour a glass of wine or pop open a refreshing beer. I wanted that taste, I wanted that buzz, and more than anything, I wanted to ease just some of the anxiety, stress, and worry that I know so many of us carry all the damn time. And then, last year, when my life as I knew it completely crashed and burned around me, the nightly beer, started becoming something different. It started to become something I seriously looked forward to. It went from being, “I love the taste and the experience of this drink” to “I could realllllly use a drink. Like STAT.” And I also noticed during this time in my life that I was starting to reach for that drink earlier and earlier. Not like 11am earlier, but more like, “Well, I’m home and I know it isn’t 5 o’clock, but it’s like 4ish, so what the hell” kind of a beer. It was like a, “I’m so insanely sad and overwhelmed, what is happening to my life” kind of beer. I KNOW that some mamas out there know this feeling all too well.
So now, during this dark season of my life I’m consuming on average 5-6 drinks during the week. Not so bad, right? Well, because yours truly is such a little social butterfly, come the weekend, I would be invited to a function of some sort like a winery, or a party where social drinking is considered the norm. And you guys, I’ve got a good head on my shoulders, but I’ll tell you what- I was NOT drinking smart. I know you know those super responsible drinkers. And I’m not necessarily talking about having a DD. I’m talking about those mamas that make sure to set out their water and their Ibuprofen before they go out to take when they get home to prevent a hangover. (Imagine I said that last sentence in a really whiny, obnoxious voice.) And I’m talking about those people who make sure to eat a good, solid meal before indulging in their drinking for the evening. Hell, there are probably even women out there that complete their skin care routine when they get back home. That, uh would not have described me in the slightest during that time in my life. Far from it.
This was me: During those dark times I would go pretty much all day on maybe one meal. I just did not have an appetite. Even though I felt dead inside I would charge forward with parenting and the errands and the chores, putting a smile on my face for neighbors and other acquaintances, completing all the necessary tasks asked of me in life. Checking off the boxes. My kids would be picked up by another family member to go a sleepover or another fun event, of then it was time for me to head to whatever party or function I was going to. Would I put out the Ibuprofen you guys? Not an effing chance. Would I sit down and be a responsible human and eat a hearty meal before consuming alcohol? THAT’S A HELL TO THE NO. It was me, straightening my hair, slapping on some makeup, and kissing my dog Oona goodbye for the night. Physically, I’m not a large individual, so one drink on an empty stomach can get me very tipsy. So, when I’ve downed three drinks with no food at ALL in my stomach, you can imagine the effect. I was feeling pretty good. Actually, you guys, I was feeling nothing. And that’s just what I wanted during that time in my life.
The reason I am sharing this information with you is not for your sympathy nor is it for you to gawk at my shortcomings. It’s to let you know that I saw something I didn’t like happening, and I made a conscious decision to do something about it. We ALL struggle with shit. Take a step back and look at your own life and your habits. If it ain’t booze it may be binge eating, or spending meaningless hours plugged away on your phone, or not being able to create healthy boundaries. What I’m trying to remind everyone is that just because we walk around looking like we have it all together does NOT mean that I am without flaws or issues. I am so freaking flawed. BUT even though I have these hang ups and I created a negative habit, I have every opportunity to rewrite the script and change my story. Even though we have baggage and issues and shit, we are still amazing and vibrant, and so so worthy of our best lives. I have so much work to do on myself. Like, therapy for dayzzz, guys. But there’s SUCH power in reflecting on our hang ups, and then actually doing the work that needs to be done to improve ourselves and our lives.
Even though we have baggage and issues and shit, we are still amazing and vibrant, and so so worthy of our best lives.
It was after I fell asleep at a public restaurant after a whopping 2 1/2 drinks, I realized I needed to make a change. I did not like what I was doing. I did not like that this habit was starting to become an issue. And I sure as hell did NOT want it to become a problem. I made a decision to stop drinking completely for a few weeks. Here are some things that happened when I decided to put an end to my unhealthy drinking habit:
I had to deal with my anxiety and stress in different ways. After I had been without any type of alcohol for about a week, I found myself getting really in touch with my emotions. Which was stupiddd scary. I realized that, no surprise here, I was in part, using the booze to mask some really shitty emotions. I found myself feeling really angry and really sad, and that was so uncomfortable. And then…I figured out, I gotta DEAL with that stuff. And I did. I had the difficult conversations, I looked my issues in the eye, and I felt all the feels. And it helped me to make some really important decisions in my life. When I cut down on my alcohol intake, I had time and space, energy and focus, to find me.
If you find yourself reaching for that glass of wine, or that bottle opener AGAIN, (or that bag of chips, or opening IG for the umpteenth time…) I challenge you to sit with your discomfort. I ask you to take a look around your life and figure out the why behind that drink or the other unhealthy habit. Are you lonely? Are you overwhelmed? Are you bored? What can you physically do in the moment to address those things? What can you do to empower yourself? Try something different. Reach out to a friend to make plans for this weekend, research something you want to do with your kids, turn on some music and dance your ASS off in your kitchen.
I have lately become obsessed with the idea that I can take my negative emotions and energy and I can turn that energy into something different. I can take this thing that was meant to break me, and I get to decide how to respond to it. Think of THAT concept the next time you are experiencing negativity or self-doubt, girl.
I had to replace this old habit with new, healthier ones. La Croix, you guys. When I’m in the process of making dinner, I now grab a good ole can of La Croix to pop open, because, what am I, besides a basic white woman in southern California? (I legit had to train myself to like La Croix after I gave up buying Diet Coke for the house. Ugh.) Sometimes I will listen to a podcast or some music, but sometimes, you guys, I just sit with my heavy emotions, and recognize these feelings SUCK, but I am stronger than them. Sometimes you can’t distract it away, because you know what? You’ve gotta deal with your shit at one point or another. Finding those healthy habits to replace the bad habits has been key for me, but again, it goes back to dealing with the real stuff, in order to make progress and grow as an individual.
I learned to take care of myself by drinking smarter. A couple of weeks ago I went to a Quinceanera. Yea, you read that right. Before we left for the party, I made sure to sit down and eat a protein filled salad. When we got to the party, I still drank, but I didn’t get that completely-buzzed-after-one-drink feeling like I got before when I would go all day without food. No surprise here, that one decision made ALL the difference! I had a great time, dancing the night away with my other boss babes (Did you see it on my IG feed?!) And I didn’t have a gnarly hangover for the rest of the next day.
In addition to making sure I eat before I know I will be enjoying a few beverages, I’m also teaching myself to be more aware of how often I am drinking. I no longer treat myself to a beer because, hurray, I made it through another Tuesday. I use alcohol as a once-in-awhile treat in a setting where I can actually enjoy that beverage. Again, I think about the why behind my drink.
I want to tell you that so many of us walk around day after day carrying heartache and pain and stress and allllll of it. We revert to negative, self-deprecating habits to dull the pain. But I want to remind you that you are SO strong. You have endured SO much. You can sit with the pain and you can grow from it. You don’t need the booze, or the food, or whatever the hell else it is that you are using to mask your reality.
Please know that I’m right there with you, growing and crying and working through the that nasty, messy stuff, too. I want you to have an amazing week! Now, get out there and kick some serious ass, mama. Is it just me, or do you look especially empowered today?