Sober Women Don’t Play

If you want to know how I quit drinking and started feeling empowered and much, much happier, here’s my formula.

  • I decided to be done. I decided when I was clearheaded and took a minute to look at myself and how I felt about my life. I knew alcohol had to go.
  • I told my closest loved ones about my decision, mostly to keep me accountable to myself, but their support was nice too.
  • I made a plan for what to do during drinking times (baths, meetings, walk, whatever).
  • i sought out sober people and found a bunch. I tried all kinds of meetings to see if I there were any women I respected and enjoyed.
  • it took time, but I stuck around and found people who rocked my world in all the best ways (even when it was hard stuff) .

The last part, this amazing circle of fierce sober women, keeps me going. They just got me through a breakup. Here I was confused, sad, and fearful, and my impulse was immediately to start talking to my friends. Having a drink never even crossed my mind.

it’s about my emotional sobriety now. I need support to bolster me when I’m feeling wobbly. I learned how to ask for help, and my relationships are more real because of shared trust and vulnerability.

There’s a great many wonderful people out here. You are not alone. Reach out if you want support. We got this.

The Witching Hour

The Witching Hour

Quitting alcohol wasn’t the issue for us. We did it all the time. The problem was we kept quitting on quitting. The problem was the witching hour.

The witching hour is that time when we routinely poured the first glass of wine or cracked open the first beer. By 5pm, after another busy day of work and parenting, it was on. If there were activities or responsibilities that delayed that first drink, we were irritable and crabby.

What we personally experienced and hear from all our AF sisters is that we’d feel like we needed that drink (and the ones after) to get through the night, and we’d put off quitting for good until tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow. Those tomorrows added up to years.

There will always be an excuse today. A stressful day at work, bickering children, bad marriages, arguments, birthdays, holidays, family problems, vacations, happy hours, girls’ nights out…

We couldn’t control and enjoy our drinking anymore though. If we had to control it, we didn’t enjoy it. If we enjoyed it, we weren’t in control of it.

We decided to stop and just focus on getting through the witching hour for another day. Here are some things we tried that helped: taking a bath, going to a recovery meeting, taking long walks with the dogs, running errands outside of the house, doing sit-ups or pushups, gardening, working on a vision board, organizing the closet, and physically removing ourselves from our usual drinking zone.

We woke up sober and gave it a go the next day. And all those sober days added up to years too. We aren’t looking back. Life is so much more manageable now.

On Being Sober Mamas

On Being Sober Mamas

We sober sisters are also mamas. We have 3 teens between us, aged 14, 15 and 16. Our kids have seen us drunk. They have seen us sloppy. We wish we could erase those memories they have. We wish we had been more present for them. Our babies are the most important people in our lives and we love them so much. Still. That didn’t stop us from drinking too much around them.

The truth is, we lost control over our drinking years ago. We’d make promises to cut down, to moderate it, to drink when they weren’t around.

Then we’d drink anyway. We’d drink a lot. It’s not easy, being single working moms. There aren’t enough hours in the day. There were days we felt like we were failing at life. So we’d drink to try to calm down the anxiety and to just take a break. That’s what we told ourselves anyway. We deserved it. We needed it.

We got by, but it got harder. It was awful to work while hungover. Parenting while feeling sick was miserable. The cycle just kept on going, as we kept disappointing our kids and ourselves. The worse it got, the more the shame built up. So we’d drink to block that out too.

All of our kids showed us they were really worried about us.. We finally just couldn’t hurt our kids or ourselves for one more minute. So we stopped trying to manage drinking and decided to do whatever it took to stop drinking and STAY stopped.

We can’t erase the past. We can’t get those years back. What we can do is show our kids that they can trust us and count on us. We can be honest with them. We can also show them how we manage life without alcohol (or drugs).

We hope they never see us take another drink.

Quitting drinking didn’t take our problems away, but throwing alcohol on our problems was like tossing jet fuel on a fire. It never, never made things better.

We both found sober support groups. We work on our recovery every single day. We freed up lots of time by not having to sleep off hangovers. We sleep better, we eat better, we exercise, we show up for other people.

Our kids are proud of us. Alcoholism goes back generations in our family. We’re breaking the cycle and we will never take it for granted.

Do it Today

Do it Today

I drank for many years after knowing I shouldn’t. Alcohol slowly started strangling everything important to me, like a creeping, sinister vine. I let it take my self esteem, my work ethic, my sense of responsibility, my hobbies, my peace and my joy. For a few years, I could somewhat control my alcohol use. I’d go weeks without drinking. But once I took the first sip, I couldn’t control how much I drank.

The crazy part? The days I woke up without a hangover were the best days. I started the day with a little energy, not feeling so sick, and proud of myself for not drinking. I’d be productive and active. But the obsession to drink would come back and eventually win out. And I’d be thrown back into chaos and shame.

My sister and I talked today about what it was like when we were in that purgatory state with alcohol-hating it and being disgusted and ashamed…. and then still drinking. The absolute worst. I quipped, “It’s like picking at a scab.” (These things just roll off my tongue. It’s a blessing and a curse.)

I used my body like a science experiment for decades. Decades. And my behavior like a sociological study. My insane thinking was for the neurologists and psychiatrists to dissect. It’s like I was detached from myself, like I was just watching someone else go through life. Like I wasn’t real.

And I kind of wasn’t real. I was a walking, talking, smiling mannequin, somehow miraculously human-like, but something’s just not quite right.

I have known all of this for years and been so scared of what it meant that I drank more to try to protect myself. I tried detaching enough, medicating enough, to not fall apart.

Then the drinking caused most of the crises but the only coping skill I had left was drinking. This could have gone on forever until one day I made a decision, one I shared with loved ones, that there could be no more empty promises of “tomorrow.”

If I were reading this while still drinking, I would indignantly think, “This is bullocks. This is the WORST time to quit drinking because [every excuse in the book].”

It is ALWAYS the worst time to quit drinking for people with drinking problems. Which, when you think about it, makes you realize it’s the best time of all. Or even the only time.

If you want to stop drinking, do it today. If you’re a heavy daily drinker, get to a medially supervised hospital detox. If you’re a problem drinker who doesn’t get significant withdrawal symptoms, dump it down the drain (if there’s any left). And go get the rest of the hidden stash too. And even the emergency stash. This is the hard part: after all that, DO NOT BUY MORE. And stay away from it until you feel stronger. That’s how I had to do it, anyway.

Always Have an Exit Plan

Always Have an Exit Plan

Tonight I could be celebrating an old bestie’s milestone birthday at the cutest getaway cabin, with women I’ve know going on 17 years. But instead, I’m staying home. I’ll go to a recovery meeting, do regular mundane mom kind of stuff, baby my dog who has a little injury. I’ll work, getting my business ready to reopen in a pandemic. I have a mammogram.

I could have ditched it all for a reunion. For sure. But I’ve been trained in sobriety to check my motives before making any decision. This celebration was going to be just girls, in a cute cabin far from home, getting shitfaced. That’s just the kind of situation my alcoholic brain craves. I love these girls, but watching people get loaded isn’t fun. Plus the addict in me could easily cave-who would know? Just this once. No big deal. And there goes years of sobriety, circling the drain. “Staying stopped” is WAY easier than starting over.

I ALWAYS need an exit plan. Sure I’ll go out to a birthday dinner, have a piece of cake, support and love my friends. And then I’ll go on home, sobriety and dignity intact. Any time I go where there’s alcohol, I think it through, and decide if there’s a valid reason to go. And I plan my exit IN ADVANCE. The FOMO will pass. And I’ll be here, strong and serene.

Show a Little Class

Show a Little Class

My sister and I have been talking about how we would like to show more class and grace. Kindness and manners are always in style. That doesn’t mean you won’t hear the F bomb drop from our lips on occasion. Sometimes it’s just called for.

What isn’t called for is getting fall down drunk. It’s really not cute at any age, but it’s just a ridiculous state of affairs for professional moms with teen kids. I mean, REALLY. Ladies. Come on.

How do we drink with class? We drink water and sparkling water and coffee and an occasional tea. Maybe we throw a splash of juice in the seltzer when we’re feeling sassy. Because, make no mistake, we are no ladies with an alcoholic beverage. That one drink is gone in about 1/2 second, so fast either one of us easily could say, “Oh, I believe you forgot to pour my drink.” I can confidently say neither one of us has ever been satisfied with just one. Our motto was always, “Why waste the calories?”

We retired our drinking career, choosing to treat our bodies as the temples of our lovely spirits. We still aren’t exactly models of decorum, but fuck it. It’s a start.

The Peril of Being “High Functioning”

The Peril of Being “High Functioning”

I’m what a lot of people would call a high functioning alcoholic. Like, my family didn’t worry about my. There were no staged interventions. When I brought up my drinking to friends and family, like, “maybe do I drink too much?,” I always got back an emphatic NO!

Mind you, it’s not like I told anyone the truth about how much I drank alone. More like, I wanted to know if I was getting away with it. And I pretty much did. I was there at all my son’s little league games and my daughter’s theater performances and got them to the doctor and dentist and playdates. I was involved in the schools. I knew all the teachers and their friend’s parents. I hung out at school pickup with the other mamas.

I never missed work because of a hangover. I worked hard. I got through a very challenging 4 year graduate school, with excellent grades, then right away started a business and grew it and have staff and serve people in my community.

I have friends. I volunteer in my community. When invited to social events, I showed up, with a hostess gift or an appetizer. My house was clean-ish. I paid my bills.

What’s remarkable is the incredible resilience of the human brain and body. Like, I routinely poured ethanol down my throat and my body kept going.

It’s a trap, being a drunk who still pulls off the show. If I had been confronted by those close to me, I might have sought help sooner. Not necessarily for myself, but because I care about my reputation so much and would be ashamed to look people in the eye if I knew THEY knew I was a drunk. Plus, our culture pretty much revolves around alcohol. So if everyone in my circle drinks, they’re going to be more comfortable if I do, too.

Getting away with it helped me ignore the problem, rather than looking beyond my reputation to how I was treating myself. I was sick and tired ALL THE TIME. I was always trying to control my drinking. My diet sucked. Exercise was erratic. My mood was awful. I lied about my drinking. I wasn’t proud of myself. I stopped feeling pleasure from everyday things. I suspected I’d be happier not poisoning yourself. I’m so glad I gave sobriety a chance ❤️

Show Yourself Some Love ❤️

Hey sisters!

I was just thinking about how giving up drinking was a huge gesture of self love. And that can be so hard, loving myself. My inner critic can be mean. And unforgiving. This was especially true in the pergatory I found myself in- when I KNEW I had an escalating drinking problem and made a decision to stop drinking. A promise I made made single day. And then I failed to stop, over and over again.

So how did I finally succeed? In 2015, I had an alcohol-related disaster that snapped me right out of denial and right into a 12-step program. I stayed sober for a couple years, then convinced myself that circumstances were stacked against me, that my drinking problem was a result of medicating over truly hard life problems. So I drank again. Never mind that drinking always made things worse overall, it still obliterated the pain temporarily. Then I just had to suffer extra when I wasn’t drinking. With real hangovers. And emotional hangovers. And shame.

In early 2018 my kids called me out on acting drunk the night before. And that gave me the push I needed to stop again.

The trick is staying stopped. I’ve quit hundreds of times! But I value my life and what I can contribute to my family and community nowadays. I love myself sober. Until I got to this place, I realized I had to be brave enough to tell someone I needed help. Once it came without having to say it. On account of crashing the car.

There’s a lot of practice and planning and lying that goes into living a double life. For me, it was a relief to finally tell the truth. It helps keep me accountable. I tell the people in my life that I can’t and won’t drink. So that’s the first part. Admitting to myself and other people there’s a problem I can’t fix and I need help.

The next part is just get through another day without a drink and keep up honest relationships. I had to want to do this for me, but I really wanted to do it for my people too, especially my kids.

Even the bad days are much better now. Because if I get through a day sober, that’s something to be proud of.

💋 Nicole