“Wine Mum”, a term you must have heard of. You might even be in a Facebook community with similar names, like Mommy Needs Vodka (4.6M following). All those booze related memes on your feed might be amusing to you. Drinking culture is a phenomenon that is definitely here to stay. For many women, the aftermath is much more gloomy than the light-hearted jokes involving drinking too much and hangovers.
Coming out of a drinking problem
I am a certified sober coach for women. Through the years of my work I have met women from all walks of life,some very successful ones as well. But they all had one thing in common: the shame, guilt and anxiety resulting from the fact that limiting their drinking or ditching it all together was extremely challenging for them. They are great mums, valued employees, valued community members. Yet, there is this one thing that ruins everything, like a dirty secret that is so draining to maintain.
I have my own history of alcohol abuse. When I was at the peak of my drinking, my life looked better than average on the outside. I was a single mum, so what? I had a good job and was doing really well, my income was steady, my flat was spotless. Everything seemed nice and stable. No wonder even my own mother didn’t believe me when I said I had signed up for a rehab after a weekend binge in May 2011. I had been drinking from the age of 13. I got addicted on the spot.
The illusion that alcohol is the solution to all your problems
Drinking was solving many problems for me, or so it seemed. I woke up 20 years later not having much of an idea how to function without alcohol. I was scared of being rejected by my drinking buddies. With zero life skills, it practically felt like waking up in a strange woman’s body.
Often, when I speak to a client for the first time, what I hear every single time is: “I don’t even know who I am without the drink”. When the booze goes, the identity crisis can be pretty brutal. Drinking takes so much energy and space in one’s life. It’s barely possible to have interests or passions, to even know what you like or what is important to you, not to mention having clear goals or even a vague plan for the future. I know it from my own bitter experience.
When you drink too much, your self-esteem is on the floor most of the time. You’d rather keep running from yourself (with the glass in your hand, of course) than have a closer look at yourself and your life. This is exactly how the booze keeps you stuck: it creates the problem and it helps you run from it.
Alcohol abuse has been surging since COVID-19
For some women their work and the structure created by it was the one factor that kept their alcohol consumption on a level that had been constant for a while. But guess what happens when you start work from home now. The lack of normal routine, being in the office at 9 am looking and feeling civilized no longer required, the collective anxiety, the worry and the uncertainty, the undeniable impression that everyone is drinking like there’s no tomorrow…The alcohol consumption has sky rocketed for so many people in early spring 2020, since the start of COVID-19. Thousands of people are developing an addiction at this very moment.
Alcohol is in the strict top three most addictive substances on the planet. It ticks all the boxes to be classified as a hard drug. It’s a legal roofie that you can buy in a shop. It’s difficult to beat it on your own once you cross that thin line between normal drinking and a habit. What definitely doesn’t help is the common image people subconsciously have in their mind when they think of someone with a drinking problem. It’s someone who’s out of control. Someone who can’t keep a job. They probably have problems with the authorities. They look unwell. Even the women who come to me for help think like this, therefore they say: “It’s not so bad with me”.
The truth is: if you are in this vicious cycle, you are the only one who fully knows the devastation caused by it. Your mental health constantly deteriorating with the anxiety, hangovers and the ongoing conflict. “I don’t want to drink, but I want to drink”. Not being fully present. Weekends that were supposed to be filled with fun activities but you ended up spending them in bed. For me personally the worst aspect of drinking was the feeling that my life wasn’t going anywhere. Therefore the perspective of getting sober gave me hope that maybe I could find my purpose.
If you feel like this article is about you – I want to you know a few things:
- It’s not your fault. We live in a society where drinking is pushed more than we notice (you’ll see it super clearly when you get sober, trust me). Not your fault that you got hooked.
- You are not alone. There are millions of people who are in the same situation. It’s just that nobody talks about the dark side of being a “wine mum”.
- It does not have to be like this. You can change your life at any point if you only overcome the fear of living sober. I can promise you that all the good things you want are on the other side of this one decision to break free from the vicious cycle. I know that it was the case with me. Getting sober has felt like coming back home.