Over two months ago I posted the most personal blog yet detailing my relationship with booze and the negative impact it was having on my life, my relationship, my children, my bank balance. The response to the blog was overwhelming. I received hundreds of emails, literally (I stopped counting after 230) from other women (and a few men). All of them called me brave (or ‘brace’ thanks to auto-correct), some thanked me for writing their story, some were grateful that I’d held a mirror up to their own drinking habits, some just wanted to say, “Me too. I’m here.” None, zero, absolutely not one of the emails was negative.
In this day and age where the internet trolls are as common (and as awful) as verrucas, it’s shocking that nearly 20,000 people read that blog and not one of them felt the need to pen me an email about what a terrible parent I was. Not one felt the need to chastise me for my irresponsible behaviour, for putting my children at risk, my marriage on the line, my drinking above the safety of myself.
Remember folks, these are people who are happy to spend a whole day abusing me on Twitter because I happened to mention that sleep training had worked for me. There was a lady who, for a whole 24 hours, constantly used Twitter to call me an ‘abusive parent’, ‘a neglectful parent’ because I had left my baby for 3-10 minutes to cry at a time without any comfort – for a total of 49 minutes. I get it – that’s not everyone’s cup of tea – but I’m pretty sure I don’t deserve to be arrested?
I can’t tell you why I didn’t receive one negative email, comment, response, reply. All I can think is that maybe this is a problem that’s more pervasive in motherhood that we think. Perhaps all of us, or at least most of us, can, when forced, cast a critical eye over our own habits and admit (to ourselves at least) that perhaps we need to scale it back. Perhaps, for the first time in the history of the internet, we all silently acknowledged our glass houses and put our stones down.
So, what’s new since I spilled my own proverbial guts over the internet? Well, I’m gently, gently getting back on the booze. During my two months of abstinence, I spent a lot of time thinking about why I drink, when I drink, what my habits around drinking are. In an ideal world, I don’t want to be tee-total if I don’t have to be. I was never a 24/7 drinker; what I am is an inappropriate drinker. I have a problem with alcohol – of that there is no question – and I need to know if this is a problem that I can acknowledge and control or a problem that, sooner or later, will floor me again.
I scared myself sufficiently to really confront my demons. I’ve discussed it in my therapy sessions, I’ve chatted it out with friends, I haven’t made it a secret, an issue or something to be ashamed of. At times like this, I’m delighted that my filter is absent and my boundaries are extensive. I received a lot of emails from people who had been in a similar position and had since cut back dramatically on the booze. It made me consider that it is possible for some people and maybe I’m one of those people. Maybe I’m not but I won’t know if I don’t try.
It would be remiss of me to leave this without saying an enormous thank you to all the wonderful, wonderful internet people who took the time to email and message and reply and comment. Some of you told me things you had never told another human being. Some of you reached out despite differences that we’d had. Some of you just wanted to let me know you were there.
And then there were my people in real life. My husband was initially unclear as to why I had to talk so publicly about my alcohol problem. He’s a private person but he respected my inclination to deal with things in a different way to him. He has been nothing but supportive – not an ounce of judgement has come my way despite my drinking affecting him, my relationship and our kids. Then there was my friends – I won’t name you all individually – but all of you need to know that every kind word, offer of support and ‘whoop whoop’ was not just appreciated but important to me in a way you’ll never know.
If anyone out there is struggling or think they may be struggling speak out. Do it now. There is nothing to be ashamed of. You don’t have to write a blog about it, but take yourself to a meeting, sit at the back, hang out, think and take back control. I don’t have the answers but I’m on a journey that I hope will help me figure them out, or at least some of them.
Main image source: interestingthings.info