Alcohol as Mindfulness?


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When I met my biological mom, she was wearing a bathing suit and a skirt. It was 10am and she was clearly drunk and had a beer in her purse. I had been warned that she was an alcoholic, couldn’t function without it in her system, and hadn’t held down a job forever because of the detoxing seizures and her inability to drive.

Last year my biological dad got a DUI, and felt shitty about it because I had recently told him that I was so glad that he was a ‘normal’ grandparent for Brewer. His daily drinking of a few beers was more on par with a blue collar norm than a ‘problem,’ though maybe there’s some justification going on…because anyone can have a problem once and not have an overall disease. But, I digress.

They say alcoholism is genetic.

I didn’t drink until I was 21 because of my ultra religious upbringing and my fear of the adoption unknown. I actually remember telling someone when I was younger that the reason I wouldn’t do drugs or alcohol is because I think I would like it too much. That’s deep for a tween, ya know?

All across time and space, people have been using substances to alter their experience. Beer has been around since cavemen, and has its place historically in so many ways. Little kids spin around and get dizzy, altering their experience, and we daydream or smoke pot or take peyote or chew chat or sniff poppies (yes, I know that’s not exactly how it works) to alter our experience.

And then there’s mindfulness. Meditation. To alter our experience of the moment, our relationship to the future and the past and our thoughts. It’s a mind altering way of being in the world. And one that I really intend to embrace in my life.

But can I be honest here? It’s busy season in the accounting world, and I haven’t seen my husband for close to 8 weeks because of it. He leaves at 6:30 and gets home at 8, except on Saturdays when he’s home by 6. I’m exhausted. And with only 1 kid, and a full-time(ish) job, I am often one straw away from the camel’s back breaking and crumbling all over itself.

The other day, Boof was teasing me about all the mimosas I’ve been drinking. And I got butthurt. Because it’s a sore spot for me. When I started drinking in college I had zero tolerance and would get blackout drunk. But I hated the feeling and so it only happened a handful of times. It’s been years trying to figure out how much is enough to just have a buzz and not obsess about wanting more and more and more.

His comment hit a nerve. I don’t like that I am excited to pour the OJ and champagne on a Friday morning with Potamus. I know enough about mental illness and alcoholism to know that I should be careful. And I am. I think. The nervousness and monitoring of my level of tolerance, desire, defensiveness as a coping mechanism are healthy. But it’s hard. Because alcohol is like mindfulness. There’s that sweet spot, when I haven’t overindulged, and I can focus on the present moment. I tell my students about the ‘beer goggle’ effect, and how more suicides and other issues happen under the influence, because we don’t have the ability to long-range think. But honestly, that’s kinda what I’m going for. Because I don’t want to sit on my couch watching another episode of toddler TV and think “3 more weeks of this.” That’s so fucking overwhelming to me. The fact that he was running 45 minutes late last night was so fucking overwhelming to me.

And mindfulness is good and all, but honestly, alcohol is quicker. Maybe someday I’ll be a mindful yogi who doesn’t have a glass of wine, or a few beers, at night to try and hang on for the next few hours until bedtime and daddy’s home. I know I’ve been there before. I know this is a difficult time for us as a family.

Drinking is a hot topic among the parenting community. Do you imbibe? Know others who do? What influences your decisions to drink or not?

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