July 27, 2023

The Wake-Up Call that made me Stop Drinking.

I don’t know when or why wine became my quintessence of gratification—but somewhere along the way, it did.

It became a staple in my home, likened to milk and eggs in the refrigerator; there on my kitchen counter was always a box of red wine.

Once upon a time, drinking was only on weekends and special outings with friends. Granted, admittedly, it was every weekend, but I digress. Weekday drinking wasn’t a thing until it was.

Sedation suddenly became a steady stream of wine under the bridge from there.

I could unquestionably stand here in indignation and prosecute the pandemic; after all, that is when the pours became their heaviest—but it was my hand holding the glass. It was I who began buying the boxes in lieu of the bottle of my beloved elixir of escape.

I could in indignation incriminate our culture, which has institutionalized inebriation, insidiously indoctrinating it as the “cure” for the inevitable un-comfiness of life, a way to cushion it all, even motherhood—appalling as it is.

Ironically, the booze burglarized the beauty of it all—at least from me and my experiences.

“Her day starts with a coffee and ends with a wine”—the message is laid on thick, limitlessly in lyrics.

Mommy Juice” is printed playfully on T-shirts and wine goblets.

There isn’t a sitcom streaming that is spiritless.

Everywhere alcohol is being advertised as advantageous. It’s acceptable and makes everything awesome…and I ate it up.

Boy, was I bamboozled.

Five years I spent lost in the lie. Five years I spent wading in wine, wasted, and doing nothing except wasting precious time; and for what?

I was stagnant on the sauce. Stuck in the stickiness and drowning in the drink—and no one knew the difference because, well, who wasn’t? And who would have listened anyway? Surely not I.

Never, not once, did a single soul suggest slowing it down, especially myself. Rather, we all sang along to “pour me something tall and strong” and carried on.

Why is it like this?

If my vice had been the poison in the pills or the sin in the syringe, my escaping would never have been tolerated. But because it was the drink’s damnation, I was easily able to disappear, undetected.

What made me stop? What was my wake-up call?

An employee at the wine store.

I would habitually make bi-weekly stops at the local Liquor and Wine Store. See, I live behind the Zion Curtain, a rebel amongst the righteous in Utah. Here, one must go to a special store for sinners to purchase anything other than beer.

One particular day last year, the familiar face at the register, much to my surprise and dismay, knew my name. He didn’t know my name because I am one to make small talk with people—quite the opposite actually. He knew my name for one reason and one reason only—because of the incessant ID checks he had done whilst ringing up my beloved box of fermented grapes, week after week after week.

I left the store that day confused. Was I irked? Was I uncomfortable? Yes. But…why?

Shame. I was ashamed. This didn’t stop me, however. I continued to go and smiled each and every time he greeted me by name. Disillusioned in my dependency, I ignored the ickiness of my new label of what I can only imagine as being the “local lush.”

Then, on some afternoon in early December, the same guy added more to our brief bi-weekly encounter. “You don’t come in nearly as often as you use to” he quipped as he handed me my receipt. I have no recollection of what my response was to that—but I know what I felt, and I knew I never wanted to feel like that ever again.

So, this lush decided to do “Dry January.” However, in preparation for this sober stint, my body decided on a whim to reject its regular serving of red wine and from that day forth, continued to refuse it. On December 22, 2022, I had my last glass of vino after spending the next morning cemented beside the commode, pleading and dealing with any deity who would listen that I would never drink again.

In my sobriety, some days have hurt like hell. And some days, I have found myself way up high in the sky, sitting pretty on those proverbial “pink clouds” of sobriety. Each are every bit as necessary as the other. I am discovering, day by day, to appreciate whatever wave it is I find myself riding. Knowing, in time, calmer and kinder seas are ahead.

I am still in the thick of grief and shame. I am mad as hell at no one but me—but I cannot help from being sickened by society and its acceptance of the sauce.


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