Mommy Friendships with a Twist of Sobriety

Mommy Friendships with a Twist of Sobriety | Houston Moms BlogIt started in our preschool days. Overwhelmed moms standing in pick up lines, dreaming of a night out with adults :: no potty training, no bedtime routines, just a glass of wine and a conversation. This sounds like a dream come true to most exhausted young parents, but to the mom who is newly sober, this common bonding ritual is a painful reminder of her brokenness. My kids were 4 and 18-months when my sobriety journey began. No longer was the ‘relax at the end of the long day’ wine or the ‘meet at the local Mexican restaurant’ margarita the extent of my drinking. My love and hateful relationship with alcohol had spiraled to the hidden bottles, spiked McDonald’s cups and the masterful mix with painkillers that was destroying my life. One of my greatest fears as a newly sober 31 year-old was friendships. I didn’t know how to adult without a cocktail hour, celebratory toast, or sporting event beer. It was my norm. Now what? All of the fun happened bar side and I knew that I had to remove that part of my life in order to survive.

No, This is Not a Religious Thing

I spend a good amount of time at church. Being in youth ministry for a decade and being a church planter will help people assume that your teetotaling is all for Jesus. When I first began avoiding drinking circles, that was a natural and completely plausible assumption. It was however, wrong. My strict avoidance for the awkward, “What can I get you to drink?” moments was never motivated by my understanding of religious rules. More than anything, it was was the deep humiliation I felt for failing in an area of life that is assumed to be a natural staple of adulting. I have since rejoined most of these moments of social normalcy, but enough time has passed that many people assume that my decision to have water at a cocktail party is motivated by my moral code as a pastor. It’s not. But, oh how I wish I could hang the excuses on God rather than face the reality of a disease that is deeply embedded in my DNA and exacerbated by shame circles in our culture.

Opting Into Life

The past 12 years have taught me many lessons, but one of the most important ones is that I have a choice. I did not get sober, and go through the hell of early recovery, to live a miserable lonely life. On my worst days -when I feel particularly out of sorts with humanity – I start down the wormhole of self-pity that tells me that there is not a place in fun, American, middle-age mommy culture for a sober woman. I see wine tasting book clubs, Friday night happy hours, mimosas at breakfast with Santa, and Sip and Sees for new life. I am invited to split bottles of wine, just “taste” this sangria and go on brewery tours. These are the very normal excursions of very normal mommas. With enough time and the ability to know what matters, I have learned to drop the anger {most of the time} and find my people. Not just the always sober ones, but the ones that love me enough to NOT want me to drink. The ones who walk in ahead of me to dinner parties and hand me wine glasses with water to avoid awkward moments with the hostess. The ones that are not afraid to be themselves and enjoy their festive cocktail, while at the same time learning that I have my own drink language that includes fizzy fruit drinks and fancy coffee. These friends have invited me into life, not excluded me because of what I do or don’t add to the bar stock.

April of 2019 marks an important milestone in my journey. Twelve years of sobriety means that I have journeyed though preschool, the elementary years, the junior high days of hell and high school torture as a sober mom. I was recently talking with a fellow sober friend and she described the choices we make in choosing friends and social environment perfectly. She said, “I don’t mind being around drinking, but I do mind being with people that when the drinking starts, I become invisible.” There is power and purpose in this statement. I still choose not to go to every post-event party {as some are still not safe places} and I have circles of co-moms that I choose not to socialize with. These are healthy boundaries for me. But I have also intentionally trusted people that I have met in sobriety to know the back story to my non-drinking decision. From that vulnerability, I have gained strength. 

The Unexpected Gift

I recognize that I am an over-sharer about many areas that others choose to keep private. Most people in recovery don’t voluntarily wear their scarlet drunk “D” or their ‘I’m a proud addict’ pin to parties. What I can assure you is that we are everywhere. We are the pastors serving you communion. We are the teachers that love your kids. We are the moms sitting next to you in PTA and chaperoning along side you on the class field trip. I am open with my kids about my recovery. I share my story with their friends when they ask. I don’t regret the past or wish to shut the door on it. I can tell you from years of hanging around teenagers and listening to them as they define their own lives, they need people that are honest and truthful and share the real crappy days, years and experiences. I say that to encourage the moms who are on this journey with me. Don’t be ashamed of your story. Even when other adults in your life run from the messy, know that your journey in and through will be a life changing gift to someone. The number of terrified mom friends that know my journey {thanks gossip circles and mom blogs} and have come to me in painful and broken moments are countless. And in those moments, I am able to be something that I didn’t think was possible in early sobriety, a true friend. 

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One Response to Mommy Friendships with a Twist of Sobriety

  1. Avatar
    Melissa April 26, 2019 at 3:01 am #

    This is amazing & bold. Bless you!

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