***Submitted by Jo
I’ve been coming here for a while. I can’t remember how I found you but I’m glad that I did. I’ve wanted to comment lots of times but felt that it was inappropriate because I hadn’t shared my story or introduced myself.
I’ve wanted to write down my journey for a while but always shied away. Firstly because I’m not a very good writer, my grammar is pretty bad (always hated it at school) I write how I speak and then hate how it reads. So I’ll apologise in advance. But the main reason I haven’t written is because if I write it down and put it out ‘there’ then that makes it real.
I’m a 48 year old Mum of three (17, 13 and 9) living in Australia. I’ve been drinking for approx 30 years, not always heavily but never just socially. I’m a binge drinker. I drink to get drunk, no other reason. I did stop drinking with my first two pregnancies but drank through my third. I worried the whole time that I was pregnant; I knew what I was doing was wrong but I still did it. My son is fine, he has no health issues or development issues. We’re a very lucky family, no allergies or development problems with any of the kids. But in the back of my mind is the question of what will the future hold for him. Will he have a problem with alcohol too? He had alcohol all the time he was in the womb and I breastfed him for 15mths..... still binge drinking every three to four days. He already has a few strikes against him. My grandfather was an alcoholic, my father was an alcoholic, my mother drinks too much and so does my brother and so do I. Will the alcohol I fed him when he was growing trigger something in him when he gets older and tries alcohol himself? I don’t know.
Whew, I’ve written down two shameful secrets there, truths I rarely face. I have a lot more shameful secrets. Driving whilst dunk, driving drunk with my kids in the car and worst of all driving drunk with other peoples kids in the car. Not falling down drunk but over the limit just the same. Each time I’d feel so ashamed but a few days later I’d drink again. There’s a song by an Aussie guy, Paul Kelly, called ‘Dumb Things’ part of the lyrics are “I’ve lost my shirt, I’ve pawned my rings. I’ve done all the dumb things”. I’ve done all the dumb things that you do when you drink too much.
On the outside my life looks pretty good. I’ve been with my husband for 33 years. We dated for 4 years, lived together for 12 and have been married for 17. We aren’t rich but we don’t struggle either. Our kids are good, they go to school, play sport, have good manners etc etc.
But on the inside is a family at the crossroads.
I had always thought that I’d hit a rock bottom and then I’d clean up my act but that rock bottom never came. What did come was something very strange. On the eve of my daughters 16th birthday I had been drinking for quite a few hours when she came home with her boy friend. It was obvious they had both been drinking too. We sat and chatted for a while, I was still drinking but they weren’t, and at some stage my pissed brain thought “This is just sooooo wrong” I had to be up early the next day for my son’s soccer and was standing in the freezing cold, hungover and alone. DD’s friend had walked up to the soccer fields (hungover) while the rest of the house slept. I don’t know what clicked with me but I looked at him and thought ‘I can’t be the Mum who sits and drinks with her kids friends’
I stopped drinking for 22 weeks, then my Mum came to visit. She was here two weeks and drank every day. I drank with her twice and felt so crappy afterwards. Since then I’ve mostly stayed dry. I fall off the wagon every few months but not badly. It’s been a year since I really decided to really look at myself and alcohol.
My biggest problem is that I get no support. My husband drinks daily and sees nothing wrong with it, he doesn’t think that I have a problem. In his mind drinking is just a social thing that he does but I think he has a drinking problem too. I’ve been thinking for a while that I can’t be sober and be with him. I like me when I don’t drink. My kids like me when I don’t drink....... My husband doesn’t like me when I don’t drink.
I’ve really liked what stopping drinking has bought into my life. I’ve lost 12 kg, I have energy to burn, I sleep like I log and I feel no shame. That’s the best part, not feeling shameful. I’m more ‘present’ with my kids. I love what life has to offer us when I’m sober. I just wish that my husband would come with us. ‘Cause I have to keep moving forward.
Thanks for listening and thanks for being here.
Mind how you go.