Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards. Soren Kierkegaard
I always felt like I never had anything good to say about myself. I was very ashamed of my past and if I was being completely honest, my present too. I would want to hide in a deep hole if anyone asked me, “So what are you up to.” or “How are things going.” Both of those can be loaded questions if you were really interested in what I had to say but since these are used for small talk you must keep your answer, well, small.
I always hated small talk. I thrived more on conversations from the soul, but I was so out of touch with mine I couldn’t do that either even if I wanted to. So, the looming question. What do I do? How are things going? In what manner do I even answer this? I avoided questions like these like the plague. There was not a single part of me that wanted to engage in a “how are things going” conversation, so my answer was always “Fine.”
It was the year of the pandemic. I was a stay-at-home mom, I had no income, and my drinking was at an all-time high. All I did during this time was make sure me and my family survived the day. I had tried virtual school and when that didn’t work, I attempted to be a homeschool teacher to a nine-year-old, 5-year-old and two 2-year-olds. My oldest son was a junior at the time and he was struggling the worst, not only with school but his mental health was concerning. So, I drank. I drank because I was doing everything and nothing all at once. I was juggling all these balls but couldn’t keep any in the air. There was no more rhythm to life. Everything was chaotic and confusing.
So, I kept leaning on to the one thing that was constant in my life, alcohol. She was there for me when I was frustrated, sad and lonely. She was there for me when I felt so much guilt for screaming at my kids for the hundredth time that day because they couldn’t get along. She was there for me when I cried in the bathroom because how was I supposed to teach 3rd grade math to my son who has learning disabilities when I can’t even understand his work. She was there for me when my husband worked late and avoided coming home because I was usually so depleted, I wouldn’t even have the energy to show him attention or I would be so drunk I would pick a fight. I wouldn’t want to be near me either, so I drank. I drank to avoid being in the new reality that was set before me. I drank because I didn’t know how to fix any of this. The weight of the world was on my heart and the heaviness of my household was taking over my entire being. I didn’t know what to do, where to start or who to talk to without feeling like an absolute failure. So, I drank. All the while trying to continue to do all the things we mothers do daily.
At this point in my life, I drank so much I couldn’t even read a bedtime story to my kids without slurring to the point they had to ask several times what I was saying. I can’t tell you how many times I spilled wine on them while trying to turn the page. I finished my nights by sneaking shots of vodka to help me fall asleep after polishing off a bottle, or two, of wine. I always wanted to snuggle with my kids, but they would squirm away after a couple of minutes, and it broke my heart. Then I remembered how much I hated it when my dad would try to snuggle with me while he was intoxicated, and the deep stench of alcohol permeated his breath and body. I wanted to stay close with him but intuitively I felt uncomfortable because my father didn’t smell like himself, he smelled rotten, and I wanted no part of it. Now here I am putting my children through that same uneasy feeling. I had concluded that I was finally a full-blown alcoholic, I was just in complete denial. There was no way I could change. This was my path, and even though I felt like I was physically, emotionally, and spiritually dying, my whole family drank, so I would too.
But the shame, the shame wrapped it claws deep inside my soul and scratched at me till I couldn’t take it any longer. How did I end up here? Will I ever get out? I promised myself I wouldn’t end up like this.
At church on Sunday afternoon in January 2021 my pastor said……”Make a slave out of your body or your body will make a slave out of you. You have a choice in your circumstances.” It was at that moment I was reminded that I do have a choice. I can either continue to be a slave to alcohol or I can make my body work towards health and recovery. I didn’t have to put my children through being raised by an alcoholic. I had a choice. I didn’t have to live in victim mentality anymore. I had a choice. I didn’t have to figure out everything all at once, but I did have to figure out how to get my life back and ultimately, to get back to me.
I don’t shy away from those questions anymore. If you ask me how’s it going, I will be honest, I will allow myself to be vulnerable in saying that things get hard, but we can push though. I will be honest in letting you know that my kids have been a handful this week and I might need help this weekend. Asking for help can be a whole other blog post!!! But yes, I will be honest, because I want you to know we are not alone. We aren’t built to carry the weight of our burdens around, release them so that you can walk around a little lighter in your day. So friend, how are things going?