Moms are not suppose to struggle with addiction.
It’s not a cute word, or thought, or action. But addiction is what it is. When every night ends with a glass or two or three of wine, and each weekend is begun with beers or cocktails.
For me, it began early. My addiction. I remember the first drink I ever had. It was one of those fruity, wine type “girly” drinks, and I was 17. Maybe you were too. Maybe you understand the appeal I felt at that moment.
My relationship with alcohol didn’t begin to get serious until college. I could, and would, drink just about anyone “under the table.” It became bragging rights, and I became a party spectacle. I guess I liked the attention, and I suppose it was something I was good at.
No one was calling my behavior an addiction, though. Not a single person. And I asked a lot of people. That should have been my first clue. I had a sinking, nagging feeling that my behavior was not like everyone else’s.
See, I couldn’t be an addict because I was a 4.0 student at a private university. I held multiple jobs, always paid my bills on time, and really only drank “socially.” It’s just that socially ended up being every weekend.
Maybe you understand the appeal of party life in college. Maybe it sucked you in too.
I married and began my career as a teacher when I was 24. I was officially a grown-up. Everything had come together exactly as it should. Exactly as I had planned. We were young and DINKS (Dual Income No Kids) for years. So the partying continued. My drinking continued. Late night college parties transitioned to “choir practices” and happy hours, and dinner parties. But the result was always the same. Me, having consumed far too much without intending to, and feeling grossly sick the next day.
Then I became a mom. What a wonderful and intense responsibility. I didn’t have a single drop of alcohol during my pregnancy. Sure, occasionally I missed having a glass of wine after dinner, but nothing a piece of dark chocolate couldn’t replace.
But unfortunately, having a baby didn’t take away my desire to drink. After she was born, and old enough to sleep long stretches at night, the wine or beer resumed. But this time, I knew my limits … most of the time. There were no more parties, no more happy hours, just date-nights on the couch with wine and a movie.
Maybe you’ve been there too. Where a glass of wine is the one thing you really look forward to at the very end of the day. I think some people look forward to a bath, or reading a book in the way I would look forward to that glass or two of wine. My entire body would be tense throughout the day. I could feel my jaw tighten as I read Curious George. My shoulders would be tense while I changed a diaper. The tension was always there, little helped to relieve it. Not yoga, not deep breathing, not a nap, some days not even prayer. But two glasses of wine. Two glasses of wine did the trick. I could feel my shoulders release, my forehead relax, my jaw loosen.
I think it’s important to note that wine in itself is not evil, that drinking wine is not evil or wrong or even means you have an addiction. It’s not just the drinking that made me an addict. It’s the craving inside my body that caused tension. It’s the fact that I relied on alcohol to be my place of rest. That’s what makes me an addict. Alcohol can easily become the thing that “gets away” from me. The thing that if I’m not careful, becomes habit and a part of my routine. Maybe you understand what that feels like. Maybe it can become a part of your routine too.
My addiction is mostly a heart issue, not a chemical dependence, so for me I found sobriety through prayer. I prayed every night for the Lord to take away the craving for alcohol. I know it sounds cliche “just lay your burdens at his feet,” but that is literally what I did. I would envision Jesus in the temple, and I would visualize walking through the temple with a box of my burden “addiction” and see myself lay it at His feet. I prayed every night for many nights to no longer crave wine, for it to not even be a thought in my mind.
And after awhile, I noticed I hadn’t had a glass of wine in a few days, so I bought a new bottle while grocery shopping. And then I forgot all about that bottle, even though it sat right on my kitchen counter. I wasn’t white knuckling and using my willpower to not pour a glass, this was something different. This was not of me.
The Lord has used the same itching, nagging, craving feeling in my life numerous times since I’ve stopped craving alcohol. He used it when pulling on my heart to write this piece. He used it when I felt the urge to read Romans 8 over my mother-in-law as she passed away. What was once used for destruction, He uses for good.
It’s been years since I’ve felt that nagging craving, and I’ve been able to enjoy many glasses of wine or beer since. The difference isn’t what’s in my glass, the difference is what’s in my heart.