What drives us to drink

Today is a typical day for me.

I finally got up after snoozing my alarm three times and made kid lunches and sent kids off to school.

I made 4 dozen cookies for the marching band, then cleaned up all the flour and sugar and dishes.

I interviewed a lady for something I'm writing for work. I wrote some of it.

I talked to my mom and my husband.

I took the dog out and tried to avoid the spider that has taken up residence on our porch.

Photo by    Nick Reynolds   .

Photo by Nick Reynolds.

It's already 2pm, and I still need to pick up a marching band uniform from the cleaners, drop these cookies off, sign my son up to take the ACT, take the dog on a walk, finish writing this thing for work, and drive 40 minutes to Columbus to pick up my niece and nephew who I'm babysitting tonight.

And also take a shower and figure out which pants still fit because while I've made some good progress taking off the 15 pounds I gained over the spring due to stress, I still have about 8 to go.

I'm not telling you about this because I want you to feel sorry for me, or because I want to show off how busy I am.

I'm telling you this because I know your days look like this, too.

And because I think this is the kind of thing that can drive us to drink.

Not childhood trauma.

Not grief.

Not anger.

Not heartbreak.

Not that all those things can't take us to the bottom of a bottle.

But I know (from my real life) that it can be just as easy to be triggered by trying to remember to pick up tampons from CVS and move the laundry from the washer to the dryer and get money out of the ATM so your kid can buy a hot dog at the football game tonight.

Part of the deception is that it's all stuff we want to do - or at least normal stuff that has to get done.

We're parents!

We're employees!

We're responsible adults with semi-clean homes!

We're exhausted keeping up with it.

It's one way booze tricked me into thinking my drinking patterns were Ok.

Because after all that mess, who doesn't deserve some kind of reward? Who wouldn't love looking forward to sitting the hell down and blanking out that incessant mental checklist?

After getting a hold on my anger and my drinking, this is a thing that still takes effort: how to shut down after the necessary nonstop motion of the everyday.

I don't unwind with Jim Beam.

But Ben and Jerry are still close friends.

The cast of ER is still there for me episode after episode. (God, remember how we all fell in love with Dr. Ross? Relive it on Hulu right now. In reasonable consumption levels.)

And this is the way it works, I guess. The process. The slowly moving from a place of really-bad coping behaviors, to not-as-bad coping behaviors.

Remembering that I don’t need a reward for living through another day. That just being here is its own reward. That I don’t have to live in a world without ice cream, but I also don’t have to eat all the ice cream at once.