The Labyrinth of Social Drinking

I recently read a great article about the wine mom culture from the perspective of Nicole Slaughter Graham, a sober woman. During the early years of my kid’s school years, I was part of the wine mom culture, and tone-deaf to the sober people around me. I’d joke about itching for happy to arrive so I can relax and have a glass of wine. I’d join groups of moms who went out for happy hour. It was what we did to cope with babies, school-age children, and the pressures of balancing a busy life in a big city. Then, I started to feel like everything revolved around alcohol and the pressure to keep up with how many drinks we could have. One day, a new mom joined my group, and I kept pushing to know what kind of wine she was going to order until she nervously said that she couldn’t drink. I immediately got it. She couldn’t--not didn’t want to. All the moms had failed to tell me that this was a sober person. I was embarrassed to how insensitive I had been with someone I didn’t know. For that split second, I was jealous that she didn’t have to order a drink. It was a wake-up call. I realized I had outgrown the culture of always having wine on the mind. I was tired and couldn’t keep up and didn’t want to.

I started going to therapy to get to the root of specific issues. I realize getting to therapy and working on my root-causes wasn’t as challenging; most sober people’s battles to stop drinking are more challenging and complicated. I started reading books that made me laugh and brought joy and distraction to the stressors of now raising teenagers. I know one thing, had I kept going at the same pacemy social drinking would have become a problem. The mom who turned down the drink went to rehab months after I met her. She was struggling so much, and my tone-deaf attitude didn’t help her feel supported. I obviously know I’m not the cause for her relapse, but I do think that my actions contributed to the culture in one way or the other.

I still have a drink here or there, but it’s no longer my primary way of entertainment or way of coping. And it’s no longer the topic of conversation with others at meals or social events. I left behind some people once I started to curb the drinks and the frequency of outings, and while I’ve missed certain aspects of those friendships, I don’t miss the pressure of keeping up, feeling like I didn’t belong if I didn’t (literally) go with the flow. It was sad to see that the only thing I had in common with some people was social drinking. And now, when I meet up with friends who don’t drink, I don’t order a drink. The stages of adjustments haven’t been easy (and still work in progress,) but they have taught me to find my middle ground when it comes to social pressures and drinking. Nicole’s article was a welcomed fresh breath of air into the saturated culture of social drinking. Thanks, Nicole!

In hope...I am fearless.



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