Ashley’s Story

I had the pleasure of interviewing Ashley Coleman, a 37 year old wife and stay-at-home mom of 2 girls. Ashley lives in Coastal Georgia.

 

Ashley, thank you for taking the time to share your story. Is there anything in particular you’d like to tell us?

I am a mom. I am also an addict and alcoholic. Thank God, I celebrated 6 years of being free from alcohol and hard drugs.

Being in recovery is not always something people are so open about. The stigma that still surrounds addiction and alcoholism can make you want to hide. I spent enough time hiding. I know that I can’t hide; people are dying. I know of 3 people who have passed away in the past year from alcohol/substance use or suicide. I have to share my story.

Being a mother who doesn’t drink can be hard sometimes.
The “Mommy Wine” culture is strong. I see it all over social media, television and even t-shirts. I have so many mixed emotions about it. I get it. I understand the need to escape, to relax–especially after a rough day wrangling children. However, sometimes it seems more like minimizing dangerous drinking patterns and encouraging unhealthy coping mechanisms. At least that’s how I look at it now, after 6 years of learning about my own alcoholism and addiction.

It’s easy to make Mom Friends when you can chat over a glass of wine, be it at a bar or in one another’s homes.
I don’t participate in Happy Hours, Paint ‘n Sips or any number of other social drinking gatherings. I do not have any issues being around alcohol; I lost the desire to drink long ago. The problem comes when other moms find out I don’t drink, especially when they know why. They always apologize for drinking in front of me, even after I assure them that it does not bother me in the slightest. Sometimes I feel like other moms don’t want to hang out with the “sober mom”.

“Being a mom can feel lonely; being a mom who doesn’t drink can feel even more lonely.”

It doesn’t help that I also have severe anxiety. Even after getting sober, I didn’t understand how much my anxiety and substance use were intertwined. I know now how much the two go hand in hand. The fact is that my anxiety caused it to take several weeks to write this. I have been “putting this off” for weeks. Honestly, I overthink and over analyze every opportunity or situation I encounter. Every single one. Not to mention all of the situations I make up in my head that never manifest into reality.

 

Read on to find out more about Ashley’s story and about how therapy helped her anxiety.

Ashley talks more about having anxiety as a mother

Being a mother who has anxiety is very difficult.

Birthday party for a classmate? Terrifying.
PTA meetings? Still haven’t been to one.
Your child gets sick? *insert worst case scenario *

I am easily agitated. I yell too much. I’m overly critical of my decisions. I feel like I am constantly failing as a mother. I am also determined to break the cycle.

“Normalizing mental health discussions is one more step in breaking the cycle.”

I started seeing a therapist a few months ago. After the pandemic started, my anxiety went out of control. My marriage started to suffer, we were fighting constantly. I was snapping at my girls constantly. I was yelling, crying and felt like I was spinning out of control. I had not wanted to drink more since I stopped boozing. Drinking is not an option, so off to therapy I went.

I am learning so much and am excited about the work I still have to do. I am learning how to manage my anxiety, in a healthy way. I have started being a more present and much happier wife and mom. I am open with my 9 yo about seeing a therapist. I relate it to seeing her school counselor. Normalizing mental health discussions is one more step in breaking the cycle. I’m not trying to raise children who won’t ever need to see a therapist or go to rehab. I’m raising children who know its okay to do those things if the need arises.

Is my story unique? I don’t really think so. I think that society shames addiction and mental illness and no one talks about it. I have to talk about it. If sharing my story can help just one person, its worth it.

Thank you so much for sharing your powerful story, Ashley. For more about Ashley’s mom life and to see her creative craft ideas for kids, check out her Instagram account @coleman_party.