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A Life I Don’t Want to Numb: Parenting without Alcohol

Camille Kinzler is a self-discovery coach for women in their third, fourth, and fifth decade of life. She specializes in helping women explore life without alcohol. Ninety percent of people who drink do not identify as an alcoholic.  They are “gray area drinkers”, and for some drinking has become a habit that is hard to break.

Through 1:1 and small group coaching via phone and video conferencing Camille guides women in 30-60-100 day exploration around why they drink. No reduction of alcohol is required. In addition to her private coaching practice, she is a physician assistant who has worked in urgent care and family practice for over 10 years. She draws on her medical education, as well as her training as a neuro-linguistic programming practitioner, and certified life and recovery (from all vices) coach to help women discover the root cause of their habit. She ultimately helps women create a life they don’t want to numb.

My Childhood Memories

“They got the best of him” my mom said about the staff at my dad’s office.

I loved my dad growing up (and still do). He is calm, and witty. His belly shakes and he almost chokes every time he finds something funny. I felt like we understood each other in the silence of car rides to the grocery store or walks around the park on the weekends. 

I also felt a divide when the sun would fall to indicate the end of a day. 

By 5 pm my dad would have a drink in hand when he wasn’t on call. It was his accessory of amber liquid as he sat on his throne barking orders at his humble servants, his children. We were called to answer the phone and sit up while at the dinner table. He told us not to slouch or to be too loud, to name a few.

The sparkle in his blue eyes dulled with the first sip. He instantly left us. 

My dad’s parents drank, too, and I remember some interesting Sunday dinners that devolved quickly as the porcelain plates stacked in the kitchen. Unknowingly, I absorbed all of this into the fibers of my beginning. Although I didn’t drink until I was in college, I’d been training for it all my life. 

Becoming An Adult Who Drank

Once I did start drinking, I drew a thick line in the sand that said I’d never bring alcohol into the home. I’d only drink while out with friends, or while with others. 

I married in my mid-twenties and spent free time at happy hours or  late-night parties. My husband and I traveled the globe to places like southeast Asia, Central, and South America. I dedicated many years to studying science and ultimately earning a Master’s degree in medicine. My husband and I welcomed our first boy 10 years after being together. 

All of this was punctuated with a tilt of a wine glass. 

The change from a family of two to a family of three was an abrupt one. No one can prepare you for the tangled mess where the two worlds meet. I was stuck in the middle, pulling on threads to find where I was tethered. 

Wine helped anchor the two worlds. Wine reminded me I was an independent successful career woman with an adventurous spirit and classy housewife who sipped wine while making dinner. 

Really what I was doing was numbing the feeling I wasn’t doing either well. I wasn’t loving motherhood like I “should,” nor was I able to be 100% present while at work, and after 10 years of open access to my husband, we were losing our connection as well. 

We had another boy 3 years and 4 months after the first. With each additional child, the drinking increased. Fortunately, I only had two. 

When my oldest was around 4 he called me into the bathroom while bathing asking if I’d like a beer from the “beer shop”. My stomach sank as I thought of the implications. What was he seeing and absorbing? What was I teaching him? These questions were fleeting. I mainly joked about them with my girlfriends, who were also moms, and who also drank wine. 

Awakening to What I Was Teaching My Children

Not until I quit drinking, did I understand the subconscious lessons I was teaching my boys. I was teaching them:

  • to reach for something outside of themselves for relaxation and comfort. 
  • there were two versions of me: the one before 5pm and the one after. 
  • emotions of sadness, boredom, and happiness could all be muted around the edges with alcohol.
  • life is too hard and alcohol is the reward for “getting through it.”  
  • not to ask for what they need like alone time, quiet time, space, or a hug. 
  • we pretend the world is perfect. 
  • it was okay to drink and drive (even if it was just after 1 drink).
  •  to follow the herd because “everyone else is doing it”. 

Of course, I didn’t recognize these lessons when I was still imbibing. Alcohol is insidious and pervasive in our society. The idea of taking an extended break from alcohol or “never drinking again” induced fear that I would never have fun or connect with others again. 

The fear of the unknown kept me in a cycle. The fear that I may have a problem with alcohol held me even more captive.

I was asking the wrong question all along. I was asking myself “do I have a problem with alcohol” instead of “does alcohol bring me joy?” 

When I removed alcohol I was able to see what I needed to heal internally and externally, within myself, and my family. I realized I wasn’t the problem, alcohol was.

Ultimately, I finally realized that I want to create a life I don’t want to numb. 

The Questioning 

If and when you are ready, ask yourself these simple questions, and if excitement, wonder, doubt, fear or curiosity arise, then it’s a great time to begin unraveling your relationship with alcohol.

  • What would life look like if you took a break from alcohol? Would you feel inspired to jump out of bed in the morning? Would you have more energy? Would you be healthier? Would you be more connected to your friends, family, and to yourself? Would you be more patient with your kids? Would you feel proud of yourself?
  • Does alcohol ultimately bring you joy? Joy and happiness are different. Joy is at a deeper level. The level of your inner wisdom. This question is best answered when asked before you drink, while you’re drinking, and the next day after drinking. 
  • Has alcohol become more habitual in the past few years? Alcohol is sneaky. You may not have realized that you drink more often than you did before, or more drinks in one sitting. An increase or change in your drinking patterns can give you a clue as to whether you are becoming more dependent on alcohol to achieve a certain feeling or desire. 

Going it Alone

More people than ever are questioning their relationship with alcohol. It is becoming less taboo to not drink. Removing alcohol altogether or taking a break throughout the year like in Dry January, Sober September, or Dry July are gaining popularity. Did you know millennials are drinking far less than any other generation? 

If you have ever wanted to explore your relationship with alcohol there has never been a better time in history. People are waking up and taking control of their lives, and removing alcohol is one way.  The courage to go against the grain in our society by not indulging in “mommy wine culture,” Rose All Day, is a bold and courageous stance. 

You don’t have to do it alone. Your story is your own, but not unique. We drink wine to relax, destress, alleviate boredom, to have fun and be social, but these are myths that keep us drinking.

Joining a group of likeminded, independent, hilarious, hardworking people gives you community and a hive to come back to. Start by joining the conversation in my sober curious Facebook group, grab the 7 Things to Know Before You Quit Drinking guide and follow me on Instagram. Better yet, hop on the waitlist for my next Choose Your Own Adventure: 30 day exploration around why you drink.  

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