When I met my husband Neal, we met at a bar. This was just fine. That is what people do. They meet somewhere to get to know one another. Some people meet for coffee during the day and some people get together at night for a beer. No problem. This was a meeting. Nothing more, nothing less to see – do we have a chemistry and can we find something to talk about. We had a ton to talk about. We talked for 3 hours. I believe we only had 2 beers. It wasn’t time to demonstrate our drinking gymnastics.
One thing led to another and we did move in together. I believe at the beginning, my drinking was well in control of where I left it. I didn’t go out as much with work people, conferences were still absolute blow-outs and my significant other and I didn’t really drink much together. The great thing was he didn’t drink much at all. Neal made a choice at a younger age. He grew up in a boozy family and recognized early on that the occasional beer was good enough for him. If he hit the devil’s juice (harder stuff) he was off to the races so he just toned it down and fast. He did this rather young so he knew how to build his normalized approach to drinking. He was lucky.
What was also tempting for me with live-in boyfriend is I could drink while he was working. Being with someone who worked shifts gave me a few nights a week to continue living as I was in my “alone time” state. I could go to a bar and have a nice meal with some “wines.” I could then go home and hit a bottle and then hide that bottle on the way to work. Any trash barrel at any gas station would do. I hid my bottles because I didn’t want him to KNOW what I did while he was gone. SHAME sneaking in?
So, even though I thought things were in control, I was functioning as an alcoholic. This high functioning category surfaces as most prevalent in this stage. I wasn’t getting keys taken away, I wasn’t throwing up at the office and I was getting married. What problem did I have?
How did that wedding go by the way? I’d say I was pretty lit up but not sloppy until the end. All those nerves built up had to go somewhere right? It was my damn wedding she says with a smirk. My dress was amaaaazing. It really was a beautiful wedding.
Fast forward to the most beautiful thing in my life. My son. I got pregnant within a months time of being married. Being now 35 years old, I was so lucky. I always tell people how much I prayed for a little boy and I got him and everything bargained for. He is a spitting image of his dad with my big blue eyes. He also acts like a tiny crazy person. He has more energy than the Hadron Collider.
Things that happened to me when I got pregnant:
- I stopped drinking immediately. (thankfully found out early)
- No drinking didn’t bother me at all
- I felt better than I ever remember feeling in my life
- I ate brownies and milk every day
- I had no reservations until the baby came out and it was like, when can I have a drink?
Now, I don’t think this is the case for everyone. I know plenty of women who were given the green light to have life saving sips of wine. That is OK too. It is medically OK but ask your doctor. My sister for example had high blood pressure and she pretty much had a sip or two towards the end to calm her nerves – much safer for her and baby. Not everyone can do that so again, doctors orders.
Then, Alex was here and something very bad happened. I went from AMAZING to miserable. I tried to breast feed and got a horrible breast abscess that went undiagnosed for a bit causing me a lot of pain. Bi-weekly ultrasounds and lots of fear. I was convinced it was an aggressive form of cancer and I was going to die leaving my son alone.
I also tried to do everything like before. Back to the gym, back to work, buy a new house, deal with a husband who hated his job. It was all too much. Top that off with post-pardum depression and you have a recipe for alcohol.
Moving into a new neighborhood changed everything. I could no longer hide my accelerating dis-ease. This is the time when the sneaking, the shame and the booze grabbed a hold of me and latched on for dear life.
This is what happened:
- Wine nightly while working in the kitchen while cooking, taking care of baby and still climbing that corporate ladder
- Weekends were like bulls-eye targets, if there was a party to be at I would eventually have to go somewhere and pass out (usually my house)
- No neighborhood party was immune to my drunken behavior. Yes there were other culprits but sloppy Jen was likely super annoying.
- I embarrassed my husband. He’d hide from me. He’d also be angry. So angry.
- I would be angry too. Who dares challenge my behavior? I was bringing in paychecks and taking care of the child and providing a clean home, WTF? I will fuck with your mind with my high functioning alcoholism.
- Sundays, when could I start drinking? Usually making Sunday dinner was my excuse and I would look for recipes with wine in them to get the party started.
- Neal still working shifts, no problem drink up.
- Have a little one? Bring with. He goes everywhere I go. He was my sidekick and drinking partner. Hey Alex, here is some whole milk and a tv – enjoy. Makes me so sad and I also know he will be ok.
- Hiding stuff. Do you know how big those recycle bins are? HUGE. You can hide a lot of bottles in there.
This goes on and on. You get the picture. This concludes my series of experience. I know I will learn a lot more when I find my sponsor and work the 12-steps. My bottom happened over 100 days ago and I am a grateful recovering alcoholic.