When mama ain’t happy

The other day I saw two empty pints of Smirnoff tossed by the side of the road and the sight of them made me feel nauseated. Granted, I was running and had just tackled a few hills I haven’t had to face on the treadmill this winter, but still it stood out. Generally I have an iron stomach, and I’ve never had this reaction to the sight of alcohol in sobriety.

Then I recalled the big jug of what I’m pretty sure would have been smirnoff in my parent’s brown lacquered liquor cabinet. When I was a freshman in high school, I used to sneak some into an old nail polish remover bottle I had rinsed out first. WTF. In case you ever run out of clean To-Go cups, let me tell you that rinsed nail polish remover bottles retain a surprising amount of their nail polish remover flavor. I remember standing outside a boy’s house late at night, swigging from a bottle of Cutex and screwing up the courage to go inside. It was liquid courage, but I might as well have been drinking gasoline. Still I drank it. And got sick. I think I still went inside.

Oh so grateful for these blessedly short snippets from an ugly past. They remind me how sick I got on rot gut and top shelf and everything in between. It was like poison that sometimes tasted good and sometimes just tasted like poison.

This weekend I’m solo parenting and trying to arrange plans in a loose enough way to allow flexibility for life while keeping myself on track. I am the queen of procrastination and getting sucked into mindless vortexes, but I figured something out the other day. Proscrastinating makes me bitchy. Just kidding, I’ve known that for ages, as have my children. Maybe what I figured out is that procrastinating my procrastination allows me to do things at a non-rushed/freakout pace, plus then I still get to goof off. And you know the old saying When mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy. The reverse is probably just as true.

My husband took this picture last weekend (we were all happy).
My husband took this picture of me and my girls last weekend (you can’t tell but we were all happy).

Speaking of happiness, I had some dessert this week. The thing is, it didn’t make me happy, though it wasn’t terrible either. I’d gone a month-and-a-half more or less sugar-free and I’d planned to have some birthday cake. I had the cake and also part of a rice krispie treat and some brownie and also a cupcake. This was all over the course of a week, mind you. And I realized pretty much while I was doing it that I needed to go back to not eating dessert, at least for now. And so I did. I’m a lot happier eating better, so the motivation is there. Food affects my mood more than I realized. Maybe it’s more accurate to say how I eat affects how I feel about myself.

I’m surrounded by examples of why I should do the right thing.  When I do, I feel better about myself. And I don’t need to miss out on anything. If I get my work done, I get to play very important bubble popping and candy matching games on my phone. If I don’t inhale cookies daily, maybe I can have one now and again. Maybe this is no big deal.

Moderation outside of drinking is a new concept to me. Because I associated it with continued failed attempts at moderate drinking, moderation smelled like failure to me. As long as I remember I can’t have any of this good stuff if I drink, maybe there’s more wiggle room than I realized.

5 thoughts on “When mama ain’t happy

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  1. As I stood there drinking a bottle of cutex – lololol,, haha, nice visual.
    Yes, the “all or nothing” mentality was our way of living. Very difficult to shift gears and consider moderation. I shall remain a student of this until the day I die.
    Happy parenting!


  2. It’s so funny I’ve got this image of you in my head, this really smart, lovely, well comported, kind, calm person. And the stories you tell of your boozy past just don’t fit with the version of you I get from your writing. I can’t imagine you slugging out of a nail varnish bottle..! It just doesn’t fit! How great that you have turned yourself into the person you have supposed to be. I feel like that too. Like I was trying the boozy persona out for 20-odd years and then went… ‘Actually. This is wrong. This isn’t me. This sober person is!’. Thank goodness we got it right. xxxx


  3. Funny how we get those little glimpses of our past, and wonder how it is we lived like that. I know I get them now and then, sometimes I cringe a bit, but most often I look back and think, that was the Old Me. Old Me did and said a lot of things that I couldn’t or wouldn’t today. Lots of things Old Me thought he could get away with (and often did, sometimes not), things that I couldn’t or wouldn’t try today. The nail varnish thing (I love that, by the way – such an alcoholic way of solving a problem!) is certainly something I could see myself doing in another form. WD-40 bottle? Yikes, who knows how down the scale I would have slid.

    And hey! the sugar thing…wow, I am shocked that it was anti-climatic! But, what you said reinforces what my gut has been telling me all along – I need more time away from the sugar before I can start putting my toe in the water. I get glimpses of sweet with some of my cereal or my 85% chocolate (I am treading dangerously now), and I get a little frightened about plunging. Although I am very, very tempted these days. Your post has probably given me more ammunition in not doing it right now. But glad you’re ok with it. But what you said at the end, regarding moderation…bang on. For me, moderation is something I still struggle with in other aspects of my all-or-nothing life that I still cling on to often. So perhaps there is something in there about loosening things up and realizing moderation can be a good thing, a positive thing. But just not for a few select things 🙂

    Lovely post, as usual…!!




  4. Our similarities make me laugh! The procrastination, sure, but the whole idea of recognizing what makes me happy and what doesn’t. It sounds like the most natural thing in the world, to make decisions that will lead to comfort and happiness, but it took me the longest time to realize hedonism is not happiness. Now i’m able to recognize which of my behaviors make me happy and which don’t, and i’m able to make the tough decisions to do the right thing. Funny how “moderation” usually winds up being “the right thing”. Thanks for the sweet food for thought!


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