On the outside, everything looked fine; great even. I’m the spouse of a United States military officer, a stay-home-home mommy to an amazing little girl, and have lived and traveled all over the country. My family and friends deemed me as “healthy” because of my love for nutrition and exercise, and my personal social media accounts portrayed a picturesque life. I worked out five days a week, ensured my family was eating wholesome meals, and my home was always clean and organized. Furthermore, I read books and articles to learn about potential questionable and harmful ingredients in food, skincare, and household goods, especially after our diagnosis of unexplained secondary infertility.  However, our health is so much more than the foods we eat, how much we move our body, and using less-toxic products. Many of us evaluate our health based on the physical aspects, and the mental, spiritual, and social components are often brushed aside, yet they are just as crucial.  Moreover, real-life is what goes on behind closed doors; not what our curated Instagram squares portray. I was destroying all aspects of my health day in and day out but made darn sure to keep my secrets hidden—literally. More on that in a minute though.

While social media offers a plethora of benefits, there also seems to be such cognitive dissonance when it comes to alcohol, especially in the “wellness” industry. Health and fitness coaches push their workouts and meal plans but ensure their followers that there’s always room for booze because, you know, life is stressful and we gotta treat ourselves, right? “Clean beauty” advocates encourage others to use safer products (as many ingredients in conventional cosmetics have been linked to fertility issues, neurotoxicity, and even cancer), yet throw parties titled “Masks and Margs”, “Bubby and Beauty”, and “Makeup and Mimosas”. How can we persuade others to purchase less-toxic options because of possible harmful side effects while sipping on a known carcinogen?  The "clean wine" movement takes the cake though—and not the organic, low sugar version. Clean wine is nothing but a marketing ploy to lure consumers into believing that removing additives and pesticides somehow makes it healthier. Alcohol is ethanol which is a known carcinogen; there is literally no way to make it any better for us. We also see it outside of social media. Alcohol is handed out at the end of road races and even during yoga sessions. Sip and paint/canvas and cocktail parties became wildly popular, but let’s face it—any type of party is an excuse to drink. And let’s not forget about "mommy wine culture," which not only adds humor to drinking but also portrays it as the answer to dealing with the chaos of motherhood. Quite simply, it validates drinking and also hinders the mothers that feel they may actually have a problem from getting help because things can’t possibly be that bad if so many other mothers are participating in it. Right? So how does my story fit into all of this? While I’ve struggled with binge drinking since my teens, things only got worse throughout adulthood. I tried countless times to make myself become a “normal” drinker and even had a few bouts of sobriety, but there was always a means to an end when I stopped drinking for a specific amount of time. Things eventually progressed to hiding alcohol around the house, scheduling my life around days I could drink or be hungover, and lying to my husband.  The morning after I’d drink, I would dispose of my vodka water bottle stash swearing that I was done for good; it was more than just feeling physically sick- I was so ashamed and disgusted with myself. But the following day when I was feeling better, I’d dig through the garbage outside trying to recover them. How could I throw away perfectly good alcohol? I promise myself I’d be done for good after it was gone, then proceed to go cook dinner with organic ingredients, all while secretly sipping on ethanol. This went on for years, and while I know now I was in the depths of Substance Abuse Disorder, I believe that the way society normalizes alcohol, just as in the examples I shared, enabled me to stay on the hamster wheel. I fed into the deceiving information that is marketed as benefits, and I’m incredibly grateful that in the summer of 2019, I finally took off the rose-colored glasses and began seeing alcohol for what it was: a carcinogen that had taken over my life.

On September 17, 2019, I woke up hungover for the very last time and though it hasn’t been easy, it’s been incredibly freeing. I’m not anti-drinking; I’m simply pro-sobriety. I’m a proponent of living authentically and intentionally and have gone from a self-sabotaging closet drinker to living a life less toxic and truly filled with wellness, vitality, and peace. My hope is to open up an honest conversation about what alcohol is and what it is not and challenge others to ask questions such as if it aligns with the lifestyle we’re aiming for or if it’s serving us and how.

Kim Singleton is a mother and military spouse. Kim can be found @kimsingleton.solutions , where she speaks about holistic living and ending the stigmas around recovery and eating disorders. You can also find Kim on @reframe_app on Saturdays, where she hosts "Getting Candid with Kim."

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