It has been almost two and a half years since I stopped drinking.
I stopped for a bunch of reasons.
My body was no longer tolerating it. To be honest, my body never really tolerated alcohol well to begin with.
But I was forgetting things and portions of my night after just a couple drinks.
I’d feel hungover from three glasses of wine and it would take me half of my weekend to feel okay again.
And I wasn’t really okay with losing any of my days to feeling shitty and forgetting stuff because I drank too many glasses of wine.
My marriage is a mess, and I didn’t need to literally add fuel to the fire. It’s a lot easier for me to say really stupid things or react in a way I don’t want to when I have even just a little bit of booze in my system.
Being diagnosed with major depressive disorder in my early 30’s and coming from a long line of addicts on both sides of my family, drinking was pretty much the last thing I should have been doing for my mental health.
Alcohol was not adding to the quality of my life in any way.
And my kids were watching me.
This was a big one.
When my daughter told me she planned on drinking when she was older because she was afraid she’d miss out on something fun because that’s what you do with your friends, Mom, all I could think of was how I had set a pretty bad example for her.
And how at risk she was already.
All the kids are. They’ve got addiction on their mother’s side and their father’s side. They were born with it. It’s in their blood.
And so I started really feeling like it was my job to show them a way of life that didn’t involve something that could potentially harm them permanently. Or at least affect their health and quality of life negatively and put them in a position to have to undo years of damage.
I’ve also done A LOT of work on myself in the last ten years. And I realized that I was drinking because I was looking for booze (and other things) to fill a part of my life that shouldn’t have been empty to begin with.
Alcohol was definitely not filling the emptiness.
In fact, it was making the hole bigger.
I don’t know what my kids are going to do when they get older.
I hope they are able to live a sober life when they reach the high school and college and early adult years.
Only time will tell.
But something of significance did happen recently here at home.
Number 4 is thirteen years old, and her current obsession is Grey’s Anatomy.
She loves that show, and she will binge watch the crap out of it whenever she has the chance.
I don’t usually watch it with her, but I’m often in my office working when she is watching it, and so I hear it in the background.
I used to watch it when McSteamy was still alive so I know some of the characters still, but I haven’t seen it in quite a few years.
Number 4 noticed something which I thought was pretty interesting. And rather astute, especially for a 13-year-old.
She said to me, “Mom, the only characters on Grey’s Anatomy who don’t drink are alcoholics who quit drinking. There is nobody who just doesn’t drink.”
She has a really good point.
It got me thinking about all TV shows. I haven’t really given much thought to this, but now that she’s made me aware of it, I’m going to start paying attention.
Because I think it’s kind of a big deal.
I think it’s important.
I know Grey’s Anatomy is basically a prime time Days of Our Lives.
It’s not realistic and it’s over-the-top and from what I hear when it’s on in the background while I’m working in my office, someone is always crying (which is actually very much like real-life in my house so maybe that part isn’t so unrealistic).
Why not include a couple non drinkers in the show? Why not include a couple characters who don’t drink not because they are (former) addicts, but just because they don’t drink?
Even with the high cheese factor, Grey’s Anatomy can do better.
I suspect many other TV shows can do better, too.
We all can do better to provide a wider range of examples for our kids. A healthier range of examples.
Because my daughter is watching.
And if my kid is noticing, well… then there is a pretty good chance that your kid is, too.