I cringed reading my friend’s Facebook post the other day. Her day had gone about as bad as possible. Complete with public toddler meltdowns and one kid making a run for it through a parking lot.
Gah. I’ve been there. And there was nothing I wanted more after reading that post than to offer my friend some comfort. Some empathy.
Just as I scrolled down the comments to post something to cheer her up, I paused at the comments already posted. The four comments before me all made reference to her needing wine. And while one or two of them joked about a glass of wine, one suggested significant wine. Like “let’s get you drunk” amounts.
I’m no saint, you guys. I used to do this, too. And for a long time, wine WAS my solution to stress. Wine after a hard day was my go-to for self-medicating. And maybe if it stopped at one glass, it wouldn’t have mattered much. But for me? It never stopped at one.
I’ve been sober for a little over a year. I think the biggest change in me is my reduced anxiety overall. I’m sure you’ve probably heard that alcohol is a depressant. So then why, after an especially tough day, are we encouraging our friends and ourselves to consume a depressant on top of how they already feel?
It’s become a cultural norm to suggest alcohol for just about anything—bad days, good days, boredom, celebration, even made up holidays like “National Wine Day”? And all of these suggestions? They’re not harmless.
For me, someone who could not stop at just one drink, they were triggers. They were justification to pop the cork. They were excuses to temporarily numb the strain in a way that would cause more harm when the buzz waned and I felt the pangs of withdrawal through headaches, shakes and a foggy brain.
But what if we changed the narrative? What if, instead of encouraging moms after a rough day with the kids to drink, we suggest something uplifting? Sunshine is a well-known natural lift. Exercise? Hello! And hiking or a nice walk is a beautiful combo of the two. I know it’s not as sexy as the hot chicks in the alcohol commercials. I know rappers never talk about getting lit from a great hike. But it’s a healthy, positive way to self-medicate when times are hard.
I know it seems inconsequential, and for many of you, I’m a total buzzkill because for you it seems like a harmless little joke. But for people like me, it’s a trigger. And it can be dangerous.
When I have a rough day with the kids, I don’t need wine. It’s probably the worst, most self-sabotaging thing I could do for myself, in fact. Please consider this the next time you encourage your friends to drink a “glass or three” when they cry out for help or sympathy.
Let’s change the narrative together.
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