My journey to being a sober mom

My journey to being a sober mom

My journey to being a sober mom

Written by Jena Hunt

“Mommy Needs Wine”

“Mommy’s Sippy Cup”

“They Whine So I Wine”

These are the cute catchphrases that give a lot of moms permission to indulge in a couple of drinks here and there. And for many moms, that is what it is: a couple of drinks. But what about the mom who has a mimosa or two at the Saturday morning play date, and when all the moms and their kiddos leave, that turns into a few hard seltzers in the afternoon, is a shift to wine at dinner, and by 2 am, Mama has been drinking since 10 am and is wasted? I was that mom. Maybe you are too.

What It Was Like

I grew up as an awkward kid with the persistent sense that I did not belong. I
perceived that the other girls were prettier, had better clothes, had better toys, and certainly had better families. I grew up in a dysfunctional family with constant fighting, and my escape was playing Barbies for hours on end. Creating stories that were better than my own. My parents divorced when I was in fifth grade, and I remember looking up from my Barbies to causally say goodbye to my dad as he walked away from our family. I felt relief that maybe the fighting would end. It did not. Add a couple of new stepparent figures, and by sixth grade, I found something better than Barbies: booze.

My first drink

I blacked out on my first experience with heavy drinking at the age of 11. From that point until I was 35 years old, alcohol was my solution. And even though I was still different as a child drinking in this way, and later becoming the drunkest one at the parties as a teenager, alcohol changed the way I felt. And I welcomed the change. In high school, my GPA went down as my blood alcohol level went up. I became the party hostess. As my body vomited in rejecting the extreme amounts of booze, I learned the art of replacing the lost content with more alcohol.

Despite stunted emotional growth, missed opportunities, plenty of dysfunctional relationships, and a lot of chaos, I managed to become a registered nurse, get married, and carry on this way of life until age 30. At that time, my mom died of breast cancer after I had been her caretaker for four years. I developed severe anxiety and insomnia, and I began using alcohol to treat both conditions. But this was no party. This was late-night drinking in the dark by myself. I needed help, and I managed to get some therapy and dry out for a bit. I thought I was doing well, and my husband and I decided to have a baby. We welcomed a little girl in 2015. After 18 months of postpartum emotional distress, I chose to self-medicate with alcohol once again.


The switch

In July of 2018, I was standing in my kitchen at 8 am trying to put a lunch together for my two-and-a-half-year-old when my husband told me I would not be taking her to daycare because I had stopped drinking only two hours before. By 10 am, I had to cancel my 11 am appointment with my therapist because I was still too drunk to drive. And by then, those were my only two jobs in life: drop off and pick up my child at daycare and attend therapy appointments. Sometime that afternoon, I sat in the McDonald’s parking lot eating a Quarter Pounder with cheese trying to piece together the fight that I had in the midst of a blackout with my only remaining friend the night before. And I knew at that moment that I needed help with my drinking. I googled a 12-step program.


The denial

What I did not know was just how far down the scale I had gone. After all, I lived in a beautiful home, had a nice car, I was taking care of a child (kind of), and I had a husband. Surely, an alcoholic does not have these things. And moreover, I did not even drink daily! I mean, sure I was emotionally bankrupt and wanted to die, the only semblance of manageability was provided by my spouse, I had no job while my kid was in daycare, I was driving my kid drunk, there was no money in my name, and most people had grown exhausted by me, but a real alcoholic who needed to give up alcohol entirely? That seemed extreme. And the kind, recovering alcoholics I met in the 12-step program told me that I should try some controlled drinking if I was not sure if I truly had this thing. So, I went to my therapist and presented my case: “Even these alcoholics do not say I am an alcoholic. They told me to try some controlled drinking.” Her face dropped, and she said, “You have been on a harm reduction plan for a year. It includes drinking Thursday, Friday, and Saturday only from 6 pm-10 pm with no more than four drinks. You created that plan, and you have not had success with that plan for even one week. Maybe these people cannot tell you if you are an alcoholic, but I can. You are an alcoholic, and you are going to die, and when you do, who is going to raise your daughter?”

That was enough.

On September 3, 2018, I experienced 24 hours of sobriety, and I have not found it necessary to pick up a drink ever since.

What It Is Like Now

I have since learned about the disease of alcoholism. I know now that if when
you drink, you find that you cannot stop, that is a very good indicator that there is a problem. If you obsess about drinking, that is not normal. If you are emotionally and spiritually wrecked and trying to get better on self-will, you might need some help. That is what alcoholism is, and the consequences you have or have not faced do not determine whether you have this disease.

I belong to a 12-step program. It is a group of people from all walks of life who
come together and work a program based on spiritual principles. We surrender, we turn our lives over to an unspecified Power greater than ourselves, we make amends to the people we have hurt, and we help other alcoholics.


This sober life has provided

  • A relationship with a God of my understanding who is just full of love and
  •  A life I am proud of
  • A healthy child who depends on me for all her basic needs in addition to
    Disney trips, beach time, ice cream runs, birthday parties, cheerleading
    events, homework, and Halloween costumes
  • The chance to advance my degree to a master’s level to earn the
    opportunity to work as a psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner
  • Healthy relationships with family and friends
  • A network of women who mentor one another and walk together
    through all of life’s circumstances
  • A peaceful divorce where we each freed one another from the past
  • A remarkable co-parenting relationship
  • A well-managed home
  • Freedom from guilt and shame
  • A desire to be alive
  • The opportunity to carry this message of hope to other suffering
    alcoholics through service in detox units, hospitals, rehabilitative
    programs, jails, and intimate conversations
  • The opportunity to help you if you need help


The Chance to Tell You One Thing

No matter how heavy a heart you are carrying, you are loveable and loved and are capable of, and deserve, a life worth living that is free from the abuse of alcohol.

Xx, Jena

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