Choosing not to drink…because my life depends on it

26 Jan

4:01 pm

Literally. Having a life depends on me staying sober right now.

I’ve been seriously thinking about drinking the past few days/weeks. I mean, why not? The other night in bed, I got a text from a friend, who is 40, I guess will be 41 this year, who just popped out her second kid. As usual, I felt the wind-tunnel-in-my-gut feeling, and then, the curtain of sadness. It’s brief, and irrational–I’ve done some awesome shit in my life, right?–but…it got me thinking: I have to make some decisions.

Moreover, I have less than a year and a half; said another way, I have 16 periods left in which to get preggers.

It’s not so much that the possibility of not having kids of my own makes me sad, it’s the fact that I LET so much time pass, so many opportunities. Did I let life roll me over? Did I stay with men who were noncommittal, like me, out of fear…or was that just the way it went, was supposed to go? I mean, I am definitely of the pre-online dating generation, but that doesn’t mean I couldn’t have gotten on the bandwagon in 2005 or 2006 and like some of my friends, made a list of “to do” and “to have,” and got on with it. Like picking a career, or a place to live, or a job, should I have prioritized having kids in this way? Instead, I wasted a lot of time bouncing around in my 20s, and didn’t really pick a career (one that, of course, I’m no longer happy with!) and start on it until my 30s. How could I have both invested most of my 30s making a career for myself in journalism AND finding a man and having kids? It just seems that no matter what decisions you’ve made, you’re going to end up regretting your choices in some way(s).

I think I’ve spent the past decade, at least, drowning out the inevitable, NOT making a choice and then drinking to avoid the entire affair (not choosing, feeling bad about myself for not wanting to deal with not choosing). Now, with less than a year and a half until I turn 40, I wonder: is it really too late? Could I have made any one of the shitty relationships I was in work, back then, if I had chosen to have kids? Would I have picked different men, or more importantly, would I have stood up for myself and forced us to decide? It’s hard to tell, but one thing I do know: drinking played a major role in where I am today. It’s not that I’m unhappy to be here by any stretch, but I think if I had gotten sober earlier and stopped using wine to basically avoid these so-called “hard” and “scary” decisions… I don’t know.

I’m a biologist; I know that I’m not unique, reproductively-speaking. Every year counts, once a woman gets past 35. Past 37, every month. I don’t think I want to be childless at 50, I really don’t. I don’t know why, and I’m not sure I can even stomach the thought of giving up all the dreams I still have in order to raise kids, but… I don’t know.

What I do know is, these things can’t wait to be examined, just shy of 90 days sober or not. At 20, I remember having All These Options. In a way, I still think of myself as 20, or 25, or 30…not pushing 40! How do I reconcile the sadness of realizing that my options are vastly different now, if not limited, and the necessary acceptance of this truth? I have to accept it in order to move on, but more immediately, in order to not freak out and start drinking alcoholically again.

Happy weekend?

10 Responses to “Choosing not to drink…because my life depends on it”

  1. Belle (Tired2012) January 26, 2013 at 9:39 pm #

    dear you. i write this to you as someone who is 46, happily married, and childless. there are some women who know for sure at a very early age that they want kids (my sisters felt this way). this kind of gal has a mission, and she gives up lots of things – make lots of choices – and manages to get pregnant in lots of ways … Some women have an alarm bell that is RINGING constantly from age 25 onwards (or younger!).
    I wasn’t one of them. I wanted kids in my life, in some kind of abstract way, but they were never my first plan. When I got married (late), and then i was 40, my husband admitted that he would have kids if i wanted them, but it wasn’t his first priority. and right then i realized that i was relieved, because they weren’t my priority, either. If they were, i’d have had them already. Booze or no booze, if i had wanted ’em, i would have gotten ’em!
    I realized that if the alarm bell ISN”T ringing that says “get me a baby right now”, then it’s probably best for me NOT to have kids.
    so i guess what i’m saying is: (a) be kind to yourself, it’s *possible* that it’s all ok; (b) there are lots of children in the world who need homes, and if at 50 you decide you want children in your life you can certainly get them; (c) there’s no real no benefit in thinking that you’ve done this all wrong… You had stuff to work out about YOU, that had to be done first. And you’re doing it. Imagine if you’d had a baby when you DIDN’T have your life sorted out. that would have been truly tragic. It’s possible that you didn’t put yourself in the path of a baby because your maternal alarm wasn’t ringing. I know mine wasn’t …
    now i’ll shut up and give you some generic back-patting. you’re feeling crummy and that’s OK. it doesn’t mean that everything is wrong 🙂 It doesn’t mean that you’ve *done it all wrong* … it just means that you’re feeling crummy. And crummy is fine. it happens periodically to the best of us. wine will just make it ten times worse. and then you’d feel worse, then you’d have to start all over again. and then you might find it hard to start all over again, and then you’ll waste even more time… hold on. Run, sleep, cry. Feel crummy. Know that you are *hugged*.
    And finally, as a PS, i have a very good friend who had 5 failed in vitros and then got pregnant with twins at age 45 … cuz when that alarm bell is ringing, you’ll go to all ends to make it happen. and that said, when i watched her going through all of her procedures (for 6 years) i knew that wasn’t me …

    • Drunky Drunk Girl January 28, 2013 at 12:06 am #

      Oh, Belle, thank you is all I can say! I really appreciate this comment… I DID, actually, run yesterday–a little over 4 miles. Yes, am in pain today, but at least I didn’t drink. Today was more moping, I hate to say; sure, we went to the beach, but…I still really want to have “one glass.” Sigh.

      I love the analogy of a “maternal alarm.” I don’t think I even have one. It’s never made a sound. What’s making more of a ruckus is this fear, I guess, of NOT having kids and then having regret for the rest of my life. I’m not sure, it’s irrational, but I feel it.

      Yup, totally can adopt. THAT is definitely an option, and it’s been on my radar for a while. Why not? There are plenty of kids in this world, why do I need to reproduce myself and add one more?

      Anyway, I don’t foresee myself going to any lengths to get preggers if I can’t, at 38, 39, or 40. Maybe I will, maybe I won’t. BUT, I do know that I worked and had fun and travelled and had a lot of amazing self-seeking experiences–that was my path and I took it because, well, I couldn’t NOT have.

      So, again, thank you. HUGS.

  2. takingovermybrain January 27, 2013 at 12:37 am #

    Hang in there! I agree with everything Belle said. There are plenty of children that need homes or you can do in vitro or get pregnant on your own. The possibilities are really endless if you put your mind to it and believe it. They told me I couldn’t have anymore babies because my tubes were scarred. They were so bad they had to remove one. They said I would never get pregnant on the one tube I had because it was so scarred and they couldn’t open it. As soon as I knew it was out of my control and knew it was out of my hands. I got pregnant. They called her my miracle baby. My point is that whatever is supposed to happen will. I believe you will have that child or children that you want one way or another. But, first you must stay sober so that you can have a child. Staying sober gives you so many different chances/ways to become a mom. Drinking won’t help, it will just make your chances slimmer. I hope you have a great weekend!

    • Drunky Drunk Girl January 28, 2013 at 4:54 am #

      Thanks so much for your inspiring comment! You’re right: staying sober is what will afford me the choice, whichever one I make!

      Hope you had a great weekend, too! xx

  3. Lilly January 28, 2013 at 12:27 am #

    “I’ve been seriously thinking about drinking the past few days/weeks. I mean, why not?”

    Ok my dear. I have to gently and lovingly remind you of something I said I’d remind you of if I heard you talking about drinking again.

    WHY NOT?

    Here’s why not:

    I know you know this and I know you’re not really planning on drinking but I do worry you may be backsliding into romanticising it a bit even that you’d say ‘why not?’. You are doing so wonderfully. Why would you want to go back there?

    On another note, the whole babies thing… I’m in a similar place. (Plus I’m single, so there’s that.) So I know how hard it can be at our age.

    But Belle’s post really struck a nerve with me as I guess it sums me up pretty well. I used to assume I’d have babies. I love some of my friend’s babies and have random moments of cluckiness and ‘oh god, will I regret it forever if I don’t because of course everyone always tells you it’s THE BEST THING THEY’VE EVER DONE’ (which is partly why Belle’s post was so refreshing).

    But that desperate womb yearning for a baby? Nup, don’t have it. And the idea of desperately hunting for a man to have babies I’m ambivalent about having and at an age where the health risks have risen… is so not appealing. When I boil it down my reasons for wanting to amount mostly to being afraid I’ll regret it if I don’t. Which just doesn’t seem like a good enough reason to go on a quest to bring a new life into the world and take on the awesome task of parenthood.

    But that is me. You may be more clear that you want to have them. However, I think Belle has given you some excellent advice here either way. You can make these decisions and you will. You are also still in the relatively early days of sobriety and, I think anyway, need to keep focusing on that and YOU for right now. Particularly if you are even flirting with the idea of drinking.

    Gigantic hugeness your way babe.

    Lilly xo

    • Drunky Drunk Girl February 3, 2013 at 5:52 am #

      Sorry this reply is so late! THANK YOU. Yes, I agree: if you don’t have a *really* good reason to have kids, I can’t see going forward with it at “all costs.”

      I’ve been struggling with the urge to drink the past few days, made worse by having to socialize without it–it just gets tiring never getting a break from feeling, well, uncomfortable. But, no, I really can’t see drinking; it’s just not an option for me right now.

      Hope you’re rocking your 3+ weeks! 🙂

  4. Lilly January 28, 2013 at 12:28 am #

    Can also recommend this book for more food for thought on the topic:

  5. Lilly January 28, 2013 at 12:29 am #

    Wow, that’s kind of impressive advertising Amazon when I just copied the link!

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