It was the perfect September weekend. The humidity was gone but it was still hot. We had just gotten our boat and we were dying to use it as much as possible before the end of summer. We invited some close friends to come spend the weekend at our little cabin. Everything was great. But it wasn’t. I had been drinking a ton that week leading up to this trip. And, if I am being honest, I had been drinking a ton for years leading up to this trip. But this week I had taken a turn for the worst.
The kids were back in school and the fall beers had just hit the market. I was waking up everyday with a hangover and blaming it on our kids for not "sleeping through the night." A hangover meant severe anxiety (combined with crazy irrational thoughts), severe body aches, and profuse sweating. Really awesome. So, the only logical solution to battle the hangover was to wait until “happy” hour and try to end the suffering. This particular week though I noticed that the suffering remained and with it came this intense anger. So “happy” hour usually consisted of me snapping at my children, yelling at my husband, and passing out by nine because I was just “so tired.”
Also, side note here. To the outside world I was kicking ass in life. I was super social, I was volunteering a ton at the kids’ school, my airbandb business was doing great, I was working out every day, cooking healthy meals for my family, hosting parties for friends, being a good daughter, giving to charity. All. The. Things. Buuuutt, I also was also getting black out drunk 2-3 (sometimes 4….ok maybe 5) nights a week.
My anxiety was affecting all of us. I was so anxious some days that I couldn’t speak. I would be unable to order a pizza or make eye contact with the mail man. I was sweating profusely all the time (gross). However, I LITERALLY did not think that it was the drinking. I thought it was motherhood, or lack of sleep, or family history of anxiety, or marriage problems, or Max starting kindergarten, or insecurity, or that I didn’t go for a run that day, or carbs! You know? The fact that I got black out drunk did not at all enter into my mind as being a factor of why I felt like garbage.
So, we drove to the lake for a fun weekend getaway! We spent the day on the boat hanging with our friends and doing what people do when they go boating…. drink and swim. I, like most times when drinking with other people, drank two beers for every one that they had. I also had “matured” my drinking habits by graduating from light lagers to high AbV IPA’s. So, while the rest of the crew had a few day drinks on the boat I had 5 IPA’s (which are high in alcohol content). Then when we got home that evening I had switched from IPA’s to yummy Pumpkin beers (9% ABV). Because, you know, they are so dark and rich and perfect for crisp nights after drinking all day (is what I said).
Only a few hours into the evening I puked. But here’s the thing, before I puked I was able to serve dinner, clean up, get the kids to bed, make sure our guests were all set, and prep breakfast for the next day. I have always been able to get.shit.done. Nevertheless, I was so terribly drunk that my body literally heaved the alcohol out to save me from myself.
I woke up wearing my swimsuit and glasses on the pull out couch with my sweet boy lying there sleeping next to me. As I type this I feel so embarrassed and sad. I found my way to Drew in the bedroom and asked him the same question I had asked him for years….Is it all ok? He knew exactly what I meant. Had I offended anyone or hurt anyone’s feelings? Did I sing outloud or dance while no one else was? Was I slurring? Do you think they could tell? Was anyone else drunk? Are the kids ok? And on and on. He was so kind and reassuring and rarely ever mad at me. In fact, maybe he made it too ok. I knew he was there and I could count on him.
He said yes, and I fell back to sleep. I woke up bright and early the next morning and did my thing. I made breakfast, cleaned the cabin, got the kids ready for the lake, packed the coolers, all the things. I felt miserable though, worse that I had since last time this happened (which was only a short month prior). My hands were shaking, the sweating was insane, I had cold chills, and I was so anxious that when I tried to smile and be friendly my mouth would literally shake and quiver. I spent the whole day (on the beautiful lake with the sounds of my children laughing and playing) in a state of pure misery. I made it through the day. Then something happened.
I woke up Monday with the same.exact.hangover. But, I hadn’t had a drink the day before. My whole body shaking, sweating, (what’s with the sweating?!?!?), my head in a place of just full on crazy thoughts, not able to really speak to anyone, and the list goes on. I could not shake the 10 or so beers that I had on Sat. and it was now Monday. This was not ok and I knew it.
I still smelled like beer and I was sooo paranoid that everyone “knew.” I had the thought like I had so many times before. I have to stop. But how? How could I possibly stop drinking?!?!?! It’s WHAT WE DO! We hang out at breweries and eat and drink locally crafted beers. We take our kids to cool festivals and drink cool beers. We travel to wine country and beer country (literally).
We drink with our friends, our parents, our neighbors, our kids teachers, your kids teachers, our bartenders, our yoga instructors, our cheese guy. We drink at the farmers market, at the fundraising event, at the church picnic, at the family reunion, at weddings, at funerals, at the pool. I mean we drink! My God we drink!
I felt the only way to stop drinking would be to dig a giant dark hole and jump into it. If I stopped drinking my life would be over.
Up to this point, I stupidly believed that people who didn’t drink fell into three categories. 1. Pentacostals. 2. Incredibly boring people who must have no sense of joy. 3. Those suffering from a deep dark addiction and who are miserable every day bc they are void of alcohol. People who were without alcohol must be terribly unhappy.
Despite my (very limiting) beliefs, my (now) 3 day hangover was getting the best of me. I decided to consider “thinking about stopping.” I mean it had already been 3 days and I still had the lingering taste of pumpkin beer in my mouth. So, I did what any modern woman my age would do, I googled “cool people who don’t drink.”
My hands are shaking right now as I type because those 5 vain and petty words blasted a path for me that will forever change who I am. A shift in perception is really all I needed. It’s all we ever need.....