"If Covid didn't happen, would you have stopped?"
I have people ask me - "Would you have stopped drinking if we didn't have a global pandemic?" I have considered this question. And ultimately, it may sound strange to say - but I am grateful for what the pandemic taught me about myself. I am grateful for what I have learned. And I know it seems strange to use the word "grateful" in the same sentence as "pandemic," considering all the loss we have endured as a country.
My drinking truly escalated over the last year and a half, being a stay at home mom with three elementary aged kids. For the beginning months, I needed to homeschool all three of them under one roof. Coupled with the fact that I used alcohol to manage my anxiety, I was destined to fail.
The fear of what was happening around us in the beginning, the unknown, and the constant anxiety overwhelmed us. All of their activities had been cancelled. They couldn't play sports or see friends. How long will we all be stuck home? When will the kids go back? Will they ever see friends this summer? When can we leave the house? When can we go to a grocery store? Will we all get sick? What happens if we get Covid?
These questions in the very early stages sat heavily on me, compounded with the fact that I had to squash any fears they were having and pretend the world wasn't slowly imploding, was a lot to handle. I had to stay strong, and I turned to my nightly glass of wine for that. I obsessed over the news, and that didn't help me either.
Zoom happy hours with friends. Zoom birthday parties. Driveway gatherings with friends around the fire pits. Zoom family parties. Walks with friends. All of these things included drinking. ALL of them.
Monotonous daily routines made entertaining and exciting by one thing only. Booze. Life became so terrifying, isolating and unknown, and I didn't know how to manage ANY of this. I wasn't able to deal my emotions or acknowledge them half the time anyway, it was always easier to numb out with a drink. I had always used alcohol to cope when I had a stressful day in normal times, so this was 100x worse. On top of that I was constantly hungover and on edge, which didn't help my stress.
The mommy wine culture had always taught me that it was okay and it was encouraged even to use wine to get through the day. To cope with a whiny child. To survive the teething phase. To get through the witching hours of the evening when they were babies. And I felt like I was back to the toddler days again, even though my kids were way older. We had regressed. They had all reverted back to tantrums and fighting, and my oldest was having the hardest time of all. He was managing his own stress, and little did I know that he was struggling deep down more than any of us knew. And I wasn't there for them, because I turned to alcohol to help me.
So, ultimately, would I have stopped drinking this last year if the Covid pandemic didn't happen? Maybe. Maybe not. But it was absolutely coming, and I know deep down that I needed to eventually. I was struggling to control how much I was drinking by the end and how many days of week I wanted to drink, so I knew that my drinking was controlling me. So thank god things happened the way they did.