by Heather King
As I type this, it’s a beautiful Saturday morning in Austin, Texas. One month ago, my back patio was in Minnesota and sitting on it was very hit and miss. Here in Austin, among other things to love, I could sit outside most days of the year, and I’m looking forward to that. I’m also looking forward to doing so without a hangover.
Yes, for years I coped with my tendency toward perfectionism and my desperation for control with alcohol. Becoming a mother showed me like nothing ever had before that it’s not about me, and there is no such thing as total control, no matter how hard a mama tries to keep it all together.
Had I been more aware of what alcoholism is, in a high functioning I’m-somehow-still-a-good-mother kind of way, I may have quit drinking sooner. I may even have never started binge drinking wine and then harder liquor secretly every night because I would have been scared of losing that control I so desperately wanted. But because I didn’t really understand this disease and how it waits for some of us to make some really unhealthy choices that we have to take responsibility for, I drank and drank and drank. I remained in denial, and I drank.
The truth is, I just didn’t allow myself to think about it all that hard. That sounds ridiculous, but you do what you have to do to do thing you don’t really want to do, you know?
Some of us drink, some of us eat too much, some of us spend way too much time on the Internet and some of us cut or binge shop or pretend to our death that we can be all things to everyone.
Three and a half years ago, I quit. Then I became more fully myself, as a mother and as a person. I was burying a lot of the mess in me and I had no idea that the mess was part of the beauty. That embracing all aspects of being human was going to set me free in ways I could not have imagined.
Letting go was the catalyst toward deeper connection with my family, my work and everything else I was fearing. Intimacy, vulnerability and trust.
To say I have all of it figured out now would be a really hilarious lie. I don’t have much figured out at all, but I’m even learning to accept and therefore embrace that. Progress, not perfection, my friends.
My alcoholism is a painful part of my story. I have memories I would REALLY rather not have. I WORK every day to stay sober. It’s not easy. There is a lot of life, for all of us, that is so not easy. Surrendering to that as a simple reality is best for me. I have been given many gifts in recovery and one of them is teaching my kids that they don’t have to be perfect either, that exactly who they are is more than enough and that telling the truth really will set you free.
Today I get to write, speak and teach about motherhood with no barrier from the whole truth roiling around in my gut. I feel enormously grateful for the relationships that are born of that, both personally and professionally.
The reality is that I would not be sitting on a porch chair in Austin, starting a brand new adventure with my husband, three kids and one dog if I had continued drinking. But even so, the reality is, it wouldn’t matter where we live….I would have been literally and figuratively curled up in shame and self-hatred (but pretending to be totally fine) and unable to see the beauty in this messy and imperfect and lovely and unpredictable life.
Hi, my name is Heather. I’m an alcoholic in long-term freeing sobriety. I’m new here. I’m so grateful to meet you.
[infopane color=”2″ icon=”0018.png”]Heather King is a Minnesota-rooted transplant to Austin, Texas. She has been writing at her award-winning blog, The Extraordinary Ordinary since 2008. She is a freelancing, three-child-juggling, works-from-home mom who moved with her family to Austin in early June. Heather is a speaker and a co-manager of BlogHer conference’s yearly Serenity Suite. She loves words and people the most.[/infopane]