Like many others, and lots without alcohol problems, I drank, at least partly, to suppress uncomfortable feelings. Ironically – as I knew even whilst I was drinking – the drinking created more uncomfortable feelings of guilt and shame.
Since I had my last alcoholic drink 12 weeks ago today, I have had to find other ways of managing anxiety, anger, frustration, fear and confusion. I can no longer get quietly drunk and forget / bury the emotions, I have to live through them
At the moment, my youngest son – who has just turned 11, is sharing with me his thoughts about my drinking. He noticed I was not drinking about 10 days in; my other sons, being older and more self absorbed probably wouldn’t have noticed if I had started wearing a temperance suit, but the youngest, still at primary school – asked me why I wasn’t drinking wine. First intensely shameful feeling. I knew that, theoretically, children absorb the way their parents behave. I knew that all the kids had observed mum coming in from work and barely stopping to say hello before opening a cold bottle of wine… I hadn’t allowed myself to really KNOW how strongly they associated the evening with Mummy drinking wine….
I told him that “I didn’t feel like it at the moment”, and the subject dropped. He didn’t mention it again until about 2 weeks ago in the Supermarket when I bought myself some Becks Blue Lemon. Then, the full extent of his observations and anxieties relating to my past behaviour started to come out. Small comments to begin with; ” You are in a much better mood now you are not drinking”; “Its better now you are not drinking” ; ” Are you going to start drinking again?” (worried voice).
Then more specific comments “Do you remember when X came round and you were drunk ?” (followed by some mildly embarrassing story about how I ordered the wrong pizza); “You have more patience and listen more when you don’t drink”; “Now you get up early with me at the weekends” Followed by “are you going to start drinking again”…
I have answered these comments, which are almost every day now, matter of factly without communicating ( I hope) to my son, any emotional weight associated with either the (not) drinking or the comments. But My goodness they cut me to the quick. The fact that my innocent, sparky, happy little boy has been worrying about what I, his mother and shield, has been drinking; that he has ‘managed’ me when I have been drunk ( and we are not talking VERY drunk here, not falling down drunk – we are talking day to day inebriation) This is so deeply shameful to me I hardly know how to face it. It is one of the most uncomfortable things I have ever had to deal with – and I have to do it without mind altering substances. I have to look myself in the mirror every day and know that I DID THIS, and it cannot be erased.
All I can do now is commit to not doing it again and hope that the memories fade. And manage the shame as best I can.
We joke about this, which is why I have included this image. But its not funny really. Drunk Mummy is unpredictable & scary. Drunk adults are slurry, boring, dis-inhibited and frightening at times.