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The Women Who Empowered me to Walk Away from Wine o' Clock
I celebrated four years sober in March but it wasn't long ago that I couldn't imagine life without wine. Women of my generation have been sold daily drinking as a fashionable pastime with little negative consequence. With all of the fruit flavored vodkas and mommy wines, with the diet conscious cocktails and pink gin, we've been encouraged to see habitual drinking as a harmless activity. Drinking often and often drinking too much is normalized. Assuming that you can control how drunk, how often, how blacked out, how lost you become, habitual binge drinking is normalized. We defend our right to drink as self-care and self-affirmation and as empowerment, but drinking brought this woman to my knees.
I might still be stuck in a nightly black-out, binge drinking routine, if I hadn't found a few crucial books and blogs written by women like me. The first book I picked up was by Lucy Rocca and titled How to lead a happier, healthier, and alcohol-free life: The Rise of the Soberista. In many ways reading Lucy's story was like reading my own and she led me to the blogs Unpickled, Sober at Sixty, and Tired of Thinking About Drinking, all written by women who had broken the cycle that I was stuck in. Reading their stories day by day from the first day they stopped drinking, showed me that I could do it too. Not only could I do it, I could do it without shame. These women were telling me that sobriety would be a liberation, not the prison I'd always assumed.
In reading their stories, for the first time I felt enabled by other women to STOP drinking and feel good about the choice rather than feeling "odd man out" as the only one in the room who "couldn't handle it" anymore. I started reading women's stories voraciously.
I read Drink by Ann Dowsett Johnston and related to much of her addiction profile. Her analysis of why so many women in our generation, and our daughters' generation, are dangerously addicted to alcohol resonated with me. I was inspired by Ann's recovery through Alcoholics Anonymous and learned much from her telling of the experience even though I have never attended a meeting.
I read Ann's book alongside Gabrielle Glaser's Her Best Kept Secret . The two books are opposite in many ways. Ann talks glowingly of her experience with AA, while Gabrielle encourages alternative paths to sobriety, or controlled drinking, and brings harsh criticism down on what she sees as the unhealthy dynamic in the rooms of AA.
But it was the combination of these two books, these two different perspectives, and eventually many others, that helped me understand that I did not HAVE to drink to be whole. It was reading many stories, and individual experiences, that lead me to the understanding that stopping drinking had nothing at all to do with following someone else's voice and everything to do with finding my own.
Sacha Scoblic's sense of humor
Sarah Hepola's searing honesty
Caroline Knapp's beautifully rendered expression of the "Love Story" between my brain and the liquid in the bottle, Rachael Brownell's perspective as a boozy mom with young children and Tamy Roth's perspective as a super high functioning woman with a bottomless thirst, all carried me through my first sober weeks with an understanding that I was not alone. That I was actually surrounded by other intelligent, compassionate, high functioning women who had found it necessary to stop the wine o' clock routine and were happier, healthier and MORE empowered for it.
I ultimately wrote my way sober in a community that I stumbled over on the internet while searching Sobriety Blogs. It was a diverse community, not just women and not just people trying to stop drinking but people trying to redefine their relationship with alcohol by writing it out and sharing it anonymously. Writing a sentence, writing a paragraph, writing a page or writing a poem, but writing out the problem and finding the answers each as individuals in a community that worked together. A community that worked together to take back control of their lives and their health whether that meant simply taking a break from the booze or stopping all together.
I'm not sure exactly what the statistics are on achieving and sustaining sobriety by those who try, but what I’ve seen reported is usually abysmal. Stopping drinking can be a difficult fight when everywhere you turn people are encouraging you to drink. Many people see sobriety as a loss rather than a gain. Most people see sobriety as the punishment for having lost control, as a defeat rather than a triumph.
But I have found that sobriety is not about fear it's about hope. It's not about weakness it's about empowerment. It's breaking out of the status quo and forging my own path.
With love and in sincere gratitude to those who helped me through my first months sober I started a community blog and opened a private community forum to reach back.
We are not here to judge, or to compete, or to impress each other.
We are simply here to support and inspire each other in working through a difficult but tremendously rewarding process. The process of reclaiming ourselves.
Each of our wonderful, unique, multi-dimensional selves.
Tell us your story. Ask a question. Offer a resource. Share your experience.
Rediscover your voice One Word at a Time.That's Why We're Here.
Reach out and we'll grab your hand.
Rethink the Drink
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