The first time I tried alcohol I was in eighth grade. I snuck out after my parents were asleep and walked around the pond to a neighbor’s house. For the next couple of hours, I proceeded to drink vodka mixed with something I can’t remember and then stumbled back home. 

I loved it so much, I went back the next night to do it again.

I should have known at that moment my relationship with alcohol would be a complicated, reckless, and potentially dangerous one.

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Alcohol is something that has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. I come from a long line of professional drinkers who are always up for a good time. Was my childhood like an episode of ABC Afterschool Special? Far from it. But let’s just say, when my family would get together with other family members, or friends, the mission was always fun with a capital F.

Everyone around me drank, and I assumed when you grow up, that’s what you do. You drink. And I guess at some point I decided grown-up meant eighth grade.

From the moment I had my first sip, there was something about it that drew me in.

Maybe it was losing my inhibitions? Or just the feeling that comes with drinking one too many?

I was the wild and crazy girl who used to hop on stage with the band at the bar. The complete life of the party. And in some waysI still am this way.

I was also the girl who was responsible and involved. Who signed up for things and tried to help others. And I’m still this way, too.

When I was in high school, I was the picture-perfect, All-American teenager. I took honors classes, was captain of the cross-country team, a class officer, student council member, in art club, honor society, cheerleader, track runner, and more. I ironically even started a chapter of SADD with some friends. And while I was doing all of these things that looked so good on the outside, I also found myself drinking and dancing with friends every Friday and Saturday night. I didn’t think anything of it. It was just what I did.

After I really started to live for Jesus, I took a long break from alcohol. I would drink on occasion but not often.

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Then after my children were a little older, I allowed alcohol to come back into my life a little more regularly. We would hang out with neighbors while the kids played, enjoy a meal and some drinks. 

And I began to realize this relationship that started off with a bang and fizzled into nearly nothing is still complicated, and one that needs to be kept in check.

Unlike most people who drink and don’t think much of it, my alcohol antennae always seems to be up. I allow myself to drink but realize because of my genetics and propensity for unbridled fun, I always need to be aware of how much I’m consuming. If I begin to have a drink nightly, then I’m probably not in a good place.

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We live in a culture where alcohol is celebrated. We see the shirts and the mugs talking about “Mommy’s sippy cup,” “They whine, I wine,” “Rose all day,” and “Blame champagne,” to name a few. It is understood and accepted that moms are stressed and the solution to this has become to unwind, relax, and let your hair down with a glass of wine.

But is this healthy?

In this time when we find ourselves at home, I really believe we will need to keep our propensities for any addictions in check.

Alcohol, food, idleness, social mediaif we aren’t careful, we may find ourselves trying to escape our current situations with these things that provide temporary enjoyment but can ultimately lead down a rabbit hole of self-destruction.

Last week, I allowed myself to drink more than I usually would. It was spring break, and we were supposed to be in Florida but due to circumstances decided to stay home. After the kids were in bed, I poured myself a glass of wine and lay on the couch watching television and attempting to relax.

I realized one night as I was lying there, that I need to be careful that this doesn’t become my new norm.

Friends, this is a unique time. A time when we are at home with our loved ones with nowhere to go and nobody to see. It’s a time when anxieties can be heightened, and we can let things go that we otherwise wouldn’t.

It’s a time when, if we aren’t careful, addictions can rear their ugly heads in the form of comfort, self-medication, and self-help.

I am thankful that God brought this to my attention last week.

I pray for all of you who have addictive personalities. I pray God removes those chains and you find the strength to persevere during this time of social isolation and uncertainty.

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Let’s be sure to check on each other. And encourage one another toward health and wellness.

Do you want to enjoy a glass of wine? Go ahead. But maybe not the entire bottle.

Feel like a cookie? Have at it. But maybe not the entire sleeve.

Want to watch Netflix? Enjoy. But maybe not for hours and hours and days and days on end.

Let’s give ourselves grace during this time.

I realize I may have one more glass of wine than normal, or a few more cookies, or a little more TVbut I need to be aware if it becomes a pattern. Or if it becomes something I feel like I have to do to relax, or cope, or get through the day.

We will get through this, friends. One day at a time. Together.

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Let’s encourage one another. Let’s spur one another on. Let’s pray for each other. Let’s hold each other accountable. Let’s be sure to still connect with those we love through FaceTime, Skype, Voxer, Zoom, or one of the many other apps available to us.

And let’s be honest about our struggles and shortcomings.

Because we all have them.

Sometimes all someone needs to know is that other people are struggling, too. That someone is there for you. And that, regardless of what you are going through, you aren’t alone. 

Jennifer Thompson

Jennifer Thompson is a freelance writer, preschool art teacher and mother of four with a heart for Jesus. Her work can be found on a number of blogs and parenting publications. Recently relocated from Indianapolis to Nashville, Tennessee. She is a passionate storyteller and believes every person has an important story to tell. We grow when we share. And even more when we listen.