I thought it was important to write about an issue that is oftentimes brushed under the rug, but extremely important, especially during the holidays. I’m talking about divorce and drinking, a subject I can write about firsthand.
When I was first separated, I began drinking wine. Every time my kids were with their dad, I would break open a bottle and have a glass. One glass turned into two sometimes. Sometimes even three. More and more often, I began drinking 3 or 4 instead of one.
I drank with friends and I also drank by myself. If I was by myself, I would drink until I felt buzzed, and then I would call my friends to talk or I would just cry and fall asleep. I also started going out to bars with friends every chance I got, and looked forward to drinking.
This went on for a couple months until something really huge happened that made me realize my drinking was getting out of control. I got pulled over after having a few drinks, and was let go. I will never know if I would have passed the breathalyzer but since that time, I have never, ever drank more than one drink and drove. I can’t even imagine where I would be today if I would have gotten a DUI (or even worse, gotten into a car accident) during a time when I was formulating my parenting agreement in the courts. I could have lost custody of my kids.
When someone is newly separated, alcohol is a common go-to to soothe pain, anxiety and other emotions that come with the situation. While very understandable and even OK to have a drink now and again to take the edge, escape, forget about your problems temporarily, and not feel that raw pain for a few hours, drinking regularly can easily turn into an addiction. It is much more common than you might think.
Everyone has coping mechanisms for things that happen to them in life. There are good coping mechanisms and bad coping mechanisms. Good ones include:
*Calling friends and family to talk
*diving into a passion—a hobby, volunteer work, your job
*Writing/journaling (which was mine during and after the drinking phase)
The bad ones can include:
*jumping into a serious romantic relationship
*having sex with multiple partners
The thing is, I can’t count the number of women I know who have a glass of wine every night around 5 or 6pm, maybe while preparing dinner or having dinner. Putting aside the fact that I don’t think people should drink around their children repeatedly, drinking every day is both physically and emotionally harmful to your health. We have all read studies showing that one glass of red wine a night is actually good for your health, but let’s be honest, there aren’t too many people who can stop at one glass if they are drinking every single night.
I’m not here to judge anyone for excessive drinking, only to help. So, if you think your nightly glasses of wine are becoming an issue for you, in other words, you can’t stop at one glass or you feel you need it every night, you owe it to yourself and your children to get help. Talk to a therapist or make a phone call to an addiction center and go to a meeting to find out if you have a problem. You might not. But, you might. Going to a meeting will give you your answer.
I have a friend who went to an AA meeting with his daughter to offer support. While he was at the meeting, he realized he was an alcoholic, too, and he hasn’t had a drink in over 20 years.
The bottom line is, like most women, I enjoy my glass/glasses of wine immensely. But, I don’t drink every day and I stop after one or two glasses. Ask yourself if you can say the same.
Remember that as a newly separated person, you aren’t you. No one is. You can become someone you barely recognize, someone who acts crazy, who is insecure, who is mean, who is a total mess. The good thing is, that person is only here temporarily. He or she eventually leaves and you go back to being your real self. The problem with alcohol is, if you become addicted, that doesn’t leave. You are then left with a drinking problem, even after the dust of your divorce has settled. No one wants or needs that.
Like this blog? Check out my article: “Newly Separated? Don’t Do Anything Stupid.”