Like many of you, I watched the segment by Maria Shriver on the Today Show regarding moms who drink too much. First and foremost, I want to commend the network for chipping away at such an important societal secret that festers just below the surface of “polite talk”. Exposing the realities of the disease and talking about the truth are just two ways we can come together to help break down the stereotype of what the “typical” alcoholic looks like.
Because I am still a black and white thinker, the idea of having any alcohol at a play date disturbs me. The notion that moderation can happen is foreign to me; therefore, I HAVE to be all or nothing. I look at people who can have a glass of wine, a beer, or God forbid a liquor-infused cocktail and switch to water mid-stream doesn’t jive with me. Why? Because I am an alcoholic. The mere thought of leaving half an inch of beer in the bottle or two swigs of wine in the glass, for that matter, seem sacrilegious. Furthermore, Matt Lauer’s suggestion that having a drink in the evening to unwind is okay, but drinking at 2:00 in the afternoon is not. I hear red flags in both of those misconceptions. And while I understand his point, many a closet drinker can go until the “acceptable” hours of alcohol consumption and still have the disease. Conversely, many who are “normal” can have a glass of wine at lunch and not be stifled by the clutches of alcoholism. Obviously, we are a nation (world) that needs further education.
I hope the exposure this story brought to the secret world of alcoholism in women becomes as eye-opening as breast cancer awareness and women and heart disease. For alcoholism is a disease just the same. I know there are people who will say, “Don’t align ME with THAT disease. Only dirty people, uneducated, low lives, people who lack ambition have alcoholism.”
Well, I beg to differ. Just as Stephanie, I am a smart, good-looking, college educated with a masters degree (4.0, I might add), mom of four, happily (now that I am sober) married professional. We spend millions of dollars annually to fight weight loss and to figure out how our body chemistry will react to pesticides, carbohydrates, probiotics- the list goes on and on. But the simple reality is many of us could lose the battle of the bulge if we got honest about our alcohol intake. Please hear me: I am NOT suggesting every woman who is overweight is an alcoholic. Rather, those of us who fight our weight and consume more than the recommended weekly alcohol intake may want to get real with ourselves. Chances are, our issues lie much deeper than the alcohol.
How many billions of dollars a year go to healthcare costs due to alcohol? How many doctors truly know their patients’ amount of alcohol consumption? If we step out of the dark and into the light, how will our mental, physical, and spiritual healing be affected?
Alcoholism in both men and women needs to be treated for what it is: a disease. But in order to get to this point, we need to be brave, to be honest with ourselves and our healthcare providers so that we can live the lives we are intended to live. Free. Healthy. Happy. Serene. Prosperous.
The Today Show captured the tip of the iceberg. I am grateful for that, but we need to keep the proverbial ball rolling. Just as my disease is a journey, a process, so too is the education that needs to take place.