Alcohol and Sobriety,  Motherhood

Eight Years

I have been sober eight years. That is long enough that now I have to count to figure it out. How many years has it been? Well, how old is the cat? She was born between then and my sister’s wedding, so… Sometimes I count on my fingers.

I don’t go to meetings anymore. I stopped a few days before the baby was born last year, and just haven’t been back. This wasn’t a conscious decision. My precious little free time doesn’t seem to land when I have the freedom to go, and anyways, drinking sounds like the last thing I want to do. I don’t want to have to start all that shit over again. I still remember how many months it took to believe I could live without alcohol. How many years it took to be in a room with alcohol and not feel like I was about to shake myself out of my skin. How many more years it took to be okay at a bar. The almost decade it took to be okay having alcohol in the house. I don’t know if I could do it all again, the slow slog of getting clean, so I won’t even try. I have sober friends, and I know I can talk to them if I need to. That’s enough for now.

Though a cliché of working motherhood, it’s true: I have no time. That’s why I’m writing this a month and change late. I piece together fragments of time and call it good, but it’s not enough for writing beyond cryptic notes on my phone’s note app. A sm post come to life. This was a season of moths. Writing. Sigh. This I miss more than the meetings.

But in spite of this, I did mark the day’s passing. On September 30th, I ate an ice cream sandwich. It doesn’t sound like much, but it tasted heavenly. I stopped eating ice cream when nursing, as the baby had a dairy allergy, and I never got around to eating it again. This September 30th we were camping, and there wasn’t much I could do to treat myself. So chipwich it was. That was enough. The sounds of the ocean’s smoothly rolling static and the smell of the lightly salted air were enough. I have a lovely boy. A lovely husband. A family who cares about me. This is enough.

I don’t ever want Amico to know me that way—the way I was when I was drunk. I want my sobriety to be a fact of his everyday life, each and every day until the end. Never a need to check closets for empty bottles, or to furtively catch a whiff of my breath, or to even ask the question. Is she…?

This me, this sober me, is the real me. I want to be real every day from now on. Real me stumbles over my words. Real me isn’t that confident, but I’m becoming more so every day, tiny bit by tiny bit. Real me is not very cool, but that’s absolutely fine. Real me gets really big feelings, and sometimes explodes with them. I wasted so much time pretending, trying to hide. The emotions got stuffed down, hidden at the bottom of a sea of vodka and red wine. Having a child makes me want to waste approximately zero more days—no more hiding, ever.

I got sober for me. But if there was any motivation to stay sober, it comes in the form of a wavy-haired, bouncy little boy who holds my heart in his tiny hands and the future in his deep brown eyes.


  • Shailaja Vishwanath

    Oh my dear dear Natalie. How I have missed your writing. How I have missed that gracious ebb and flow of words. Your sobriety is a testament to so much but most of all it is a testament to the largeness of your heart and what it can hold.

    Hugs and kudos on this journey!

  • Deb

    Hi Natalie! Happy 8th! I wasn’t too far behind you on 10/18. I remember those early days for both of us, with your mom being a supporter for both of us.
    As far as meetings, since moving to Texas I no longer go much at all. It’s not the same as my SoCal AA family. I’m still in touch with many of them, and I know that I am a phone call away if I need them, or they need me.
    For me I am totally content and happy. My happiness comes from knowing my granddaughters won’t ever see a drunk Grammy. I also have a great job, and an amazing relationship with my three kids. THAT’S what keeps me sober.
    Luc Ya! Deb

  • Kay

    Congratulations on over 8 years!

    I’m with you on cryptic phone notes often being the only writing I do. No matter how long it takes, though, it’s always worth the struggle and the stitched-together minutes of writing here and there to create a post like this. The difficulty and reward of both your sobriety and writing while working/momming come through beautifully.

  • Stephanie

    I’m a little late so now it’s almost 9 years, but congratulations! I relate to this post from the child of an alcoholic perspective and it touches me deeply.

  • Coalition Recovery

    Love reading stories like this! Congratulations! These are the stories I love sharing at our treatment center because it inspires hope for so many people. It takes a lot of courage and vulnerability to write a piece like this. Thank you!

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