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Sober Nation

Putting Recovery On The Map

05-26-20 | By

Wine is Not Self-Care: A Wife’s Perspective on Alcoholism

For me, wine is not self-care.

It holds no value for me. It is not soothing or relaxing. It is entirely unnecessary. It is not the silencer of my anxious thoughts or the soothing balm to my insecurities.

It unravels a completely different story for me. Alcohol has the power to destroy my life, my marriage, and my family.

My husband is an alcoholic and I witnessed firsthand how drinking was the symptom of a much greater problem. It was the self-prescribed medication to the hole he had inside. It caused us arguments, discord, disaster, accidents, chaos, violence, and incredible instability in our home.

The Point of Entry to Dysfunction

See, in our house it was never just one glass of wine. It wasn’t even a bottle. It was a bottomless, endless, compulsive, all-consuming frenzy.

It was never about the wine, but rather the disease of addiction that was much more cunning and powerful than I could imagine just by looking at that innocent bottle of Kendall Jackson Chardonnay sitting empty by our kitchen sink.

That bottle was masquerading as self-care: a way to “relax, unwind, and let loose.” It was the reward for a long day of work, a bad day, a celebration of any kind, the weekend, or just a random Tuesday. Drinking was socially acceptable, encouraged, glorified. But no one outside of our home knew what alcohol was doing to our family. How could they? We denied, we hide, we pretended, we wore masks.

This disease wanted to steal it all: our marriage, our family, our sanity, our health. It patiently and insidiously attempted to devour my beloved’s life. Miraculously it didn’t. My husband, by the grace of God, got sober. I gave up alcohol as well.

It Took More From Me Than It Ever Gave.

Ironically, the personality changes caused by his alcoholism were mirrored in me. I became all the things I accused him of being: manipulative, angry, resentful, a liar, isolated, unforgiving, irrational, obsessive. I became as obsessed with his drinking as he was obsessed about his next drink. 

I poured through his phone records, searched the house for bottles, lied to everyone about our home life, covered up for him, called in sick to work for him, blew up his phone when he didn’t come home. I tried everything to get him to quit, threatened him, gave him ultimatums, called him names, and kept meticulous track of the ways he’d wronged me.

We fought constantly. I rode him about how much he drank and he blamed our fighting on everything but the drinking. The drinking worsened and the consequences kept building, until we had no choice to stare down the demon we were trying to run from.

It took years to piece our world back together. Treatment, jail, meetings, counseling, journaling, amends, sponsors, prayer, new habits, relearning how to argue, how to forgive. It was slow, painstaking, soul-crushing, brutal, rewarding, transformational, life-changing work.

I cannot look at alcohol any other way now. I don’t see it as a casual comfort but rather a cunning enemy that if given the chance again will kill the person I love most in this world.

A simple glass of wine is the catalyst for utter devastation. The end of life as we know it is just one sip away.

One. Sip.

There is nothing relaxing to me about wine. I find no solace in it. I only see the chaos it induces. I have no desire to revisit the past.

I only want to live in the present. Today we are both in programs of recovery. Every day we strive to recover from the effects of this baffling and progressive disease. We read daily devotions, regularly attend church, keep in close contact with our support group, and attend weekly meetings. We are healing, one day at a time.

Self-care is not about altering my state of mind. I cherish a clear and healthy mind, free from fog, disorientation, buzzes, blackouts, and hangovers. I nurture my body and soul in ways that make me more aware, not less. More centered, more calm, more in control.

I meditate, pray, hike, write, draw, take a bath, encourage a friend, laugh with my kids, have deep conversations with my husband, read the Bible, do yoga, listen to the birds, take pictures, travel, have adventures with my dog.

None of My Contentment or Inner Joy Requires Alcohol. 

The answer to caring for myself will never be found in a glass, and calm doesn’t come in a can. It only happens by filling up my spirit. My body becomes incredibly balanced when my physical, emotional, and spiritual needs are nourished, not depleted. 

Against all odds, alcoholism in my family caused me to become the best, most authentic version of myself. 

That is the ultimate testament of sobriety and self-care: a fulfilled life.

One moment, one hour, one day at a time.

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