I’d been home from rehab for about a week or so when my daughter posed this question to me: “Mom, does this mean you can never have a beer again?” I responded with a firm, “Yes.” Her response, after a few seconds of thinking, “Why? You’re not like those Moms on Oprah!”….[insert awkward pause].
Isn’t that sweet? Her Mother, the drunk, wasn’t as bad as “those” other Moms. Nobody wants to admit they or someone they love has a problem with alcohol. I think about that a lot. Why? The stigma is too great. Social events are surrounded by alcohol — at least in my world. Going out to eat? Have a drink. Going to a bonfire? Bring the beer. Having a few friends over for movie night? Stock the fridge.
I remember watching Oprah and Dr. Phil (kind of strange, but I used to watch those shows religiously and now I haven’t seen either program in 8 months) and when the episode was about Moms that drink or drug, I was glued to the television set. Most people with a drinking problem would probably turn the station to avoid the topic — no, not me! I watched them to make sure I wasn’t a drunk. I mean, who drinks Listerine when they run out of Vodka? NOT ME! Who hides Whiskey bottles in the dirty laundry? NOT ME! Who runs out of money to buy booze? NOT ME! Who goes to different liquor stores to make it look like they are a normy? NOT ME!
The thought of drinking Listerine when my beer ran out, never crossed my mind because if I really needed to drink more, I’d break into my husband’s hard liquor stash or open a bottle of wine. I didn’t need to hide Whiskey bottles because I could just throw my beer cans in the recycling with the rest of the cans — we drank a lot of beer in our house. I didn’t run out of money to buy booze because I have an excellent job that pays quite well and I managed to stay employed — I was hung over everyday for four months, but I made it to work, damn it! I didn’t need to avoid the liquor store because the guy that owns the liquor store by my house is a family friend that likes to party — sweet!
So, because on the outside I could go to work, raise my kids without many mistakes (it wasn’t until the last few months of my drinking that my husband could not rely on me for anything anymore — and, damn it, it was about time he did something for his kids!), drink socially when necessary, got to my liquor store of choice without judgment — I, clearly, wasn’t one of those Moms.
My name is Kristi, and I’m an alcoholic. I am also a mother, ex-wife, sister, daughter, and friend to many amazing mothers. I have been a professor at Minnesota State University Mankato for nine years. For the past two years I have served as Chair for the Department of Communication Studies. I have one year of sobriety. Over the past 15 years my research has centered in pedagogy, race, and communication. My current interests include exploring the experiences of motherhood and alcoholism.
Additional Reading: Calorie counts and drinking
Information on Alcoholics Anonymous