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“It Girl” With a Secret

No one would ever call me a failure. Not even myself.

No one would ever guess that I was hiding a problem, either. I’ve kept that to myself.

My husband of 21 years knows I like a glass of wine in the evenings.  He knows I prefer white – Sav Blanc or Pinot Grigio, Chardonnay in a pinch, red if there is nothing else in the house.

What he doesn’t realize is that I often slip to the fridge quietly to top it up – not too full, which would make to easier to notice and count the glassfuls – I like to keep it half full so it appears as if I’m nursing it – maybe even indifferent. It’s gotten easier since I started buying wine by the box, since there is no tell-tale visual of the diminishing bottle in the fridge door.

My sons – three of them, teenagers – know it is normal for a glass of wine to sit on the counter as I cook, or beside me as I watch tv.  They hate the smell of it. I hate that they think it is normal for a mother to drink every night.

You wouldn’t guess to see me – fit, healthy, successful in my field, well-known and respected in my community. A leader, a role  model.  Other women often approach me for guidance or to say that I have inspired them.  I am driven, friendly, cheerful, mostly happy, and I always look the part. 

But here’s the thing.  I jump out of bed each morning and tackle the day. I can’t wait for each new turn, each new challenge. I do love my life and give it 110%. At the end of the day, I used a glass of wine to shift gears, to signal a slow down.  It worked, at first. One glass did the trick, then two.  After a few year the numbers crept up.

My wine is my way of putting a brick on my head to slow me down at the end of the day – physically, mentally.  It’s my off-button. WAS my off button.

Until the other day, I ended each day with 3 – 5 glasses of wine. Last night was the first night of this journey. Hopefully tonight I can be just as strong.

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About UnPickled

I am learning to walk without the crutch of alcohol. As I begin I am 1 day sober. Gulp. I drank in private and hope to quit just as privately. The purpose of this blog is to help make me accountable - just by following you will give me enormous support and encouragement.

Posted on March 21, 2011, in Getting Sober. Bookmark the permalink. 33 Comments.

  1. Grateful that there are others who feel so wound up they need wine to wind down. Grateful I’m not the only one who uses boxes instead of bottles. My biggest problem in trying to quit is the feeling of not being able to sleep or feel like I’m sleeping. (ironically, I wake up with lots of energy) Does anyone have suggestions for how to relax into sleep mode?

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  2. I have tried many times to stop. I have had several “1 day sober” events. I have not been sober for more than 5 days in the last 3 years. Lately it is getting harder to just have 1 day without wine. I don’t know how I got to this point. Yesterday after a wonderfully indulgent day off of work. I had planned a massage and then a shopping trip for a new outfit. I was determined to not stop for wine on the way home. During the massage I had a mantra of being thank for all the blessings in my life. It was wonderful and I felt great. On my way home to change for my shopping trip, I didn’t stop for wine as I promised myself. However, I did stop for vodka and bloody mary mix. I went home to have a cocktail just afternoon. Well, it turned into several and I had to sleep for 3 hours. What a wasted day. I know I used to have wine during a social event, to end a stressful day, to forget any nagging problems from my past or to help me sleep. Now it is something quite different . I do not like what has happened and I want to change. I have been following your blog for awhile but this is my first post. Thanks.

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  3. I could have written this myself…everything from the three sons to the hubby not noticing me slipping away to buying boxes instead of bottles…my goodness I am glad I found you. Ten minutes ago, I finished my 4th day sober. I will be following you for sure! So glad I found you.

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  4. Hi
    I have really enjoyed reading your blog and can identify with everything about you. I am a successful realtor top 1% in my city. Big life, great kids, wonderful husband. Everything is great except the little wine habit that starts between 5 and 8 pm but ends with me drinking a bottle of it. No one would know that I drink that much as I never drink when I have to drive or during the day but never can stop at only one drink. I tried to do 30 days sober in January but still had 4 days where I did drink between 2 and 4 drinks. I really want to do this give up drinking as I feel that I am not living to my best self, feeling hungover over tired most days and struggling to get through the day…I am going to try and do 40 days of no drinking with 40 days of yoga. I love doing the Yoga but won’t do it, if drink a bottle of wine a night. Today is hopefully day 1.

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    • Hello on what I hope is your Day 2! Wow, we sound exactly the same. And we are not unusual, not at all. It is very common for successful, driven, high-achieving women to develop alcohol dependency because it starts as a tool to help us DO all the things we do, and then it morphs into something that undermines us. I highly recommend reading “Drink” by Ann Dowsett Johnston – you will see yourself in her story and gain tremendous insights on the relationship between women and alcohol. All the best to you. Hang in there!!

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  5. Today, I will try.

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  6. I think it may be a blessing that I stumbled across your blog tonight after a google searching ” women who drink too much wine”. I am a highly functioning heavy drinker who comes from highly functioning heavy drinkers…. Until they died while I was a teen. Drinking wasn’t the direct cause for their deaths, but most definitely contributed to their health problems. They were educated, well rounded, well travelled and beloved by the community. A drink was always in their hand each evening. Some nights more drinks than others. I learned from the best. They were always the life of the party and I strived to emulate them after their death and am acutely aware that they used alcohol for fun, but to also cope with stress. I cracked open a bottle of wine and took a shot of scotch immediately after each of their deaths. And thus the cycle continued despite a brief hiatus 15 years ago. My dad always bragged we had a high tolerance; he was right. I’ve seen friends completely wasted after two glasses of wine and I am still acting “sober” after 6 drinks or more and never seem to lose my faculties, or act crazy and have a voice of reason in the back of my head at all times that rarely let’s me act like a “drunk”. Unless I slip up (rarely) in front of a small circle of confidantes and that usually means I’m slurring a bit and start rambling about politics or how much I miss my parents all these years later. The only thing is my friends get such bad hangovers that they stop drinking for weeks. Me? I rehydrate, take vitmains, do a little workout or a steam and I’m ready to crack open my wine the next evening.

    I typically drink AT LEAST a bottle of Pinot Noir a night. Granted, I space it out from 5 until midnight or so, but I’m in my early forties and I can feel it taking it’s toll. But I am terrified of losing this crutch. I stopped smoking 5 years ago and that was so hard. I excercise, meditate, work hard and play just as hard in the privacy of my home but I know this can’t go on and yet, I am terrified and can’t believe I’m even writing these words. This is my private battle and I could never imagine showing up for some public program like AA. Like you, I feel I haven’t quit rock bottom… YET. I don’t want to go there as I know I’m smarter and better than this. So thank you for your inspiring words as I have found much comfort in knowing I’m not the only one facing this journey and I need to give myself some slack and self respect for at least searching for a better life. Thank you so much for lending me a virtual stepping stone through your inspiring message. I think I may be ready for this??

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  7. Hello,
    I’m on day two….again….I am finding each time I hit this point it is harder and harder, yesterday anxiety was through the roof, couldn’t keep food down and I felt as though my head was being tightened into a vice grip, this is about the 4th time I’ve bailed from work, starts off sick, boredom and depression kick in and a feel drinks to take the edge off turns into a 3 day bender…
    I’m at the point where my job is at jeopardy, a professional job I’ve held for 14 years, my new long distance relationship is at risk as he is struggling to understand it, I have done a pretty good job of isolating a good number of friends and family as I feel like, oh yah, here is she again, cries for attention…I still struggle to see, am I depressed because I drink or do I drink because I’m depressed. My doctor has guinea pigged me on a number of antidepressants that have proven unsuccessful always sending back to my fool proof method of self medicating. To add to it I finally got a very difficult appointment with a psychiatrist only to have to cancel, for true flu issues only to be told you snooze you lose, the social intake worker will not rebook me….our mental health care system at work, I even offered to accept someone else’s cancellation and was told no….
    I am just finding it really hard to see a light at the end of the tunnel….I am back at work Monday, terrified to deal with my boss…unfortunately having bronchitis or physically visible health problems are treated with sympathy….my boss sees it as me playing hooky…
    Please give me strength….I know a lot of this is self inflicted but to all those lacking empathy and compassion, please understand, people do not ask or achieve to end up this way….this last year has shown me that don’t muster any inner strength and self worth for myself that I will crawl out of this dark hole…
    Thanks for listening.

    L

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    • Hi Laura, I am glad you reached out. How is today? It is so so hard at first – do you have a support network? Would you consider going to a recovery group? Don’t give up! You are not alone in this.

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  8. I’m on Day 3 and I’ve been stuck here for a while. It took me a long time to admit I have a drinking problem. I still hate to think of myself as an “alcoholic!” I have a good job, cook a nutritious dinner for my family every night, and never drink and drive. But after my husband and daughter told me how much they hated my nightly habit of unwinding with a few drinks, I promised to take the 30 Day No-Drinking Challenge in January. I even hung a sticker chart on the kitchen cabinet with smiley faces for days without a drink and little red Xs for days I broke down and ran to CVS for a bottle of cheap wine. I’d get three smiley faces in a row, then an X, then two more smiley faces, then another X. I took down the sticker chart yesterday and decided to keep working on my problem quietly. I found your blog after Googling “Feel like a cocktail but trying to quit drinking.” Reading your story and the comments of other people like me has stopped me from jumping in the car right now and dashing off to the store. I hope it gets easier at some point. At least I feel like I’m not alone!

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    • You’re definitely not alone, Julie! You’re among supporters who will tell you honestly that if you can’t quit, even with a chart and stickers, you have a problem that needs attention. Once drinking gets to this point, typically it only escalates and never recedes without stopping altogether. If you find that doing it on your own isn’t working, look into one of the many recovery pathways listed at the side. You’re doing a really good thing for yourself and your family! I’m happy for you all. Please keep writing.

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      • Any insight as to how long it might take to move beyond the “drinking-wishing I could be drinking-feeling proud for not drinking” stage? It’s especially hard to get past thoughts of alcohol when my colleagues seem united in handling job stress by having a few beers or cocktails after work. I made a career change from television to teaching at an urban school a few years ago, and that’s when I started having a couple of glasses of wine to help me chill out at the end of the day. I’ve never felt so stressed nor worked with so many hard-core drinkers! I’ve checked out The Bubble Hour and started reading some of the blogs you follow. Any other advice for these first few weeks of sobriety? I’m missing those Happy Hours with my friends, but I know I can’t stop at one or two drinks.

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  9. I am on Day 20. I am currently in the “obsessed with every sober blog on the planet” stage. Tiredofthinkingaboutdrinking mentioned you in a post and with only reading a couple of your entries from your beginning, I have found so many similarities in our stories. I am 34. Married with 2 sons, beautiful home, great job and a habit of drinking 3-5 glasses of wine poured out of a Big House Pinot Grigio box so no one could tell what was really going on. Boxes are much quieter than bottles when you are recycling. I have only told 3 people about my trying to get sober. I am not sure why. I think maybe it is because i am scared of failing. What if i relapse? If I have already shouted from the rooftops ” I’m not gonna drink anymore!” and then stumble, everyone will see me as a failure. I’m not going to stumble though! I have 20 days behind me. I am not starting over!

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  10. Dear UnP,

    On day 3. I’m past the ‘I totally have control over this’ stage. I just can’t. I’m already crying anticipating the weekend knowing I won’t be drinking, and I feel like, how crazy is that? I want to cope with life on my own without having to escape once or twice a week by totally wiping myself out. I’ve been reading through your archieves today and really glad I came across your blog. So happy for you that you have achieved sobriety. x

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  11. Today is my day one. Another bad night and I’m just done. I want to walk away quietly but I honestly don’t know how. I don’t want to be grilled about it by anyone. I will definitely be reading your blog for support. I hope I can do this.

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    • You are not alone – so many others are on this same journey right along side of you. You can do this. “it’s simple but it’s not easy,” as they say. You will find that the more you can connect with others on the same path, the stronger you’ll feel. There are lots of great blogs and check out a great podcast called thebubblehour.com – the voices of those women will have you laughing, crying, and feeling less alone. It goes without saying that a meeting (AA or smart recovery) would help you beyond anything and you’d be welcomed with open arms, but if that’s not for you then better to quit alone than to keep drinking. Keep coming back and stay in touch. Remember today you’ll need lots of water and sugar and you’ll be feeling pretty awful but you’ll be DOING IT so don’t give up! Lots of love.

      Sent from my iPad

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      • Hi there! I just wanted to stop in to thank you. After I posted my first comment I started drinking again two weeks later. A couple of years after that I had many more wake up calls that proved (yet again) that I needed to stop. I came back to your blog and 200 days later I am still sober. Thank you for being so relatable, so there for us and so honest. Some days are easier than others, and its on the hard days that I feel really lonely. When I feel lonely and isolated I come here. Thank you for just being here, and keeping it real. I know it’s just the beginning and I have a long way to go, but it’s nice to finally feel a little more confident and comfortable in my sobriety. Thank you!

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  12. WOW….It’s like I’m reading my own life story. I can totally relate. I’ve wanted to stop drinking on so many occasions and like you I might make it a couple days before that nagging desire for a glass of wine or a mixed drink comes back to haunt me. I don’t have a physical addiction in that I function all day without alcohol and don’t have withdrawls when I don’t drink. It has become a mental thing for me…..a bad habit. It’s part of my end of day routine the way coffee is part of my morning routine. That wouldn’t be so bad if I was able to stop at one glass….but I end up finishing the bottle or just keep the open tap of boxed wine going and I don’t even know how much I’ve had.

    So….again…..here I am at day 1!! But this time it feels different for some reason….this is the first time I’ve ever went to the internet for help and I’m thankful that I’ve found your blog to let me know I’m not alone.

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    • You are SO not alone – there are many MANY others just like you and me! And so much information to help us through this change. I am so happy to hear that you are feeling good and willing to get off the elevator before it goes all the way down. Why wait, right??! xo, UnP

      Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Trish,

      This unpickled entry also hit home for me. I’m 8 weeks in now, and saw that you posted right about the time I was getting ready to start (quit?). Reading blogs has helped a lot. I think I’m going to like catching up on the posts here, and I like the links to some of the others too.

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  13. Hi there,
    I have stumbled on a number of your posts and they are resonating with me deeply and are so very encouraging. This is my day #2. : ) I just wanted to thank you for sharing your thoughts and journey. I am a stay home momma for two amazing young sons and have quit quietly. For them…for me. Your candidness is kindred and a blessing to me. Thanks so much. All the best to you.

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    • I can’t tell you how happy I am for you. I have tears of…what is this?…I was going to say joy but it’s different than that. The same tears I cry at weddings and when babies are born — tears for the tender sweetness of a new beginning. I wish you strength and courage, my sister. Peace in your journey. Please stay in touch.

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  14. Go Unpickled!
    You know, this reminds me of a (stupid) in-service training thing I had to do recently. They taught us what a “standard drink” is and how many are in different beverages. I was surprised to learn that there are about 5 drinks in a bottle of wine. Or 3-5 (4-6?) glasses, depending on how big a glass you pour. So… another way to look at it is that you ended each day with up to a bottle of wine!

    Like

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