I firmly believe that no one on Earth needs a few healthy vices more than a mom. We spend so much of our time and energy keeping our behavior in check in front of the kids, modeling what it means to be a polite member of society with a well-balanced diet (snort!), that our real selves tend to get lost. I’m pretty sure my real self got snuffed out beneath an endless pile of mildewing towels and washcloths years ago.
For a long time, I considered my vices to be coffee, alcohol, and prescription drugs. Spoiler alert! My vices weren’t necessarily “healthy.” No one knew about the medications I was taking—that was a secret—but I was completely open about the alcohol and caffeine. Those two things, I would tell everyone, sustained me in my role as a stay-at-home mom of three small kids. I managed to keep up with my life in a high-functioning manner for years, doing God knows how much damage to my body in the process, until it all came tumbling down around me. It often happens that way with addiction: The addict believes she has everything under control when clearly she does not, and everyone around her is collateral damage.
That was me.
Since I entered recovery in 2017, I’ve had to look for new vices. So, what does a 38-year-old mother of three turn to when she can’t have alcohol (or weed, or speed, or anything else that falls into this category) anymore? Well, let me tell you, I haven’t found anything that works quite as well as alcohol to numb the intensity of my own emotions, but I have managed to find a few passable replacements.
Coffee. My therapist suggested that I give it up. “That’s speed, baby,” she told me in our second session together. Um, no. Maybe one day, I’ll consider it. Not now, though, when I have to help a four-, six-, and nine-year-old with homework every afternoon. I grip my latte with the strength of a woman who knows she is greatly outnumbered. Coffee gives me LIFE.
Social media. Social media gets a bad rap. Like, I know I should log off and make eye contact with real-life people, okay? And I will! I do! But also, I have to have a break from peopling, and sometimes that break comes in the form of Instagram. When real-life people are too much for me to bear as a recovering alcoholic, I have no choice but to mentally clock out. Or Snapchat someone. It’s called survival.
Gossip. Celebrity gossip sites are my favorite way to pass the time. I have a select few that I visit every day (The Daily Mail, Crazy Days And Nights, Page Six). I’m pretty sure I love them because reading about the train wreck lives of other people makes me feel better about my own fender-bendered life. Plus, it’s free entertainment.
Sex. I’ve developed a newfound interest in having sex with my husband. First, though, I had to overcome the ridiculous level of awkward that was sober sex. I’m glad I persevered.
DIY projects. Is this even a vice? It’s really more of a thing I do because I realized I can. Before I got sober, any kind of do-it-yourself home project scared the shit out of me. I didn’t know how to do anything, and I was afraid to learn how. Now, I feel like I can do almost anything with the help of YouTube and a drop cloth.
The dermatologist. My latest vice that I never tell anyone about is skin stuff. I recently went to the dermatologist for the first time ever, and I’m pretty sure now I’m addicted to having stuff done to my skin to make it glowy. Next up? Some kind of fancy laser.
I know my list is lame, but I’m leaning into that lameness with the knowledge that I’m not going to hurt myself or anyone else by participating in my new hobbies. Unless I break my husband’s penis during sex. But that’s not likely to happen—right? Right.