"My drinking was manageable until really two things happened. First, life got really hard!"
When MG Davis realized she had to get alcohol out of her life, she set about making it happen, and a 12-step program gave her the support she needed.
But as a Catholic, and a working mom, she wondered why it seemed there was nobody like her. Surely she couldn’t be the only Catholic woman battling this addiction!
Now that she’s two years in to her sober journey, Davis has decided to make sure others like her don’t have to feel quite as alone. We talked to her about her discoveries, and what she’s seeking to share.
You have written about your struggle with alcohol. Could you say briefly how it became an issue?
Davis: Well, I’ve always been a drinker. I started in high school, drank more regularly in college, and then was all about the happy hours and work cocktail parties once I had my first job. But while most of my friends grew out of the boozing lifestyle, I kept my attachment to it and was just as enthusiastic about a night out in my 30s with young kids at home as I had been in my early 20s.
My drinking was manageable until really two things happened. First, life got really hard! Marriage and its ups and downs, sick parents, difficult children, a stressful job, always made me feel a little frantic and worried and obsessive. I was careening toward middle age and started looking back and trying to figure out how the heck I got here. I started questioning my decisions, blaming myself for bad choices, and feeling every past hurt I’d ever experienced. Reflecting on my life made me feel trapped and disappointed and let-down by God.
And then the second thing, which really was the beginning of the end for me, is when we started to stock alcohol in our home. Like many men I know, my husband really developed a taste for bourbon. So, what do you know, I developed a taste for bourbon! And man, liquor just was an instant mind-soother. It stopped my mind from overthinking, soothed my aching heart, numbed me, and gave me the reprieve from my mundane life that I was so desperately seeking.
It kind of just snowballed from there. An after-the-kids-went-to-bed drink became an after-dinner drink. The after-dinner drink became the while-cooking-dinner drink. And then quickly my favorite moment of the day was my much anticipated, and never to be messed with, after-work drink.
For me, the earlier I started meant the more drinks I had and it started really negatively impacting my life.
Your own journey to freedom was aided by Alcoholics Anonymous. As a Catholic, how did that work out?
Davis: Man, I don’t know if anyone ever willingly goes to AA! I mean, who aspires to join Alcoholics Anonymous? It’s a pretty sobering thought. (See what I did there? Ha! I’m hilarious!) It took me a really long time to agree to try it out and I went in telling anyone and everyone in attendance, that I was only going to give it six months and then I was outta there. And that was almost two and a half years ago!
Really God started planting the seed of the 12 steps years before I ended up in a folding chair in a basement. I had a therapist who was really into the program, not just for addicts, but for everybody. The way that she spoke about it made a lot of sense to me.
If you look at the 12 steps, it really is just a path to rid us of our habitual sin and shortcomings and embrace a purposeful and holy life. You surrender your will to God, ask for His help in ridding you of all your unhealthy attachments, reflect on and identify all the ways you’ve hurt people in your life and you take accountability for your wrongs. You apologize to people that you’ve hurt and you commit yourself to helping others and service. And it never stops. It’s a lifestyle and it’s really, really, powerful.
I did almost all of my step work in front of the Blessed Sacrament in an empty church. Just me and Jesus. I did some of my steps with a priest who was familiar with the program so that I could make a good and holy confession. There are tons of books that go through the 12 steps from a Catholic perspective. I can honestly say that in all my years of retreats and religious books and spiritual experiences, it was the single most enlightening thing I have done. It’s given me a reliance on God’s will for my life that I never thought possible for me. It’s given me a different perspective on the struggles in my life and a realization of how short-sighted I am when it comes to God’s providence. Trusting in God, even though it will always be a struggle for me, really is the soil that produces a life of joy and gratitude.
And don’t get me started on the AA community! There really is nothing like hanging with a bunch of drunks who are all seeking hope and healing through God.
But now you’ve decided to start a ministry for other Catholics struggling with alcoholism. Why?
Davis: Ministry is a strong word, Kathleen … I don’t know if I’d call it that! It’s a catholicsobermom Instagram page!
My journey to sobriety is so very personal to me, and involved so much shame and embarrassment, that I really never saw myself speaking openly with people about it. When I was approached about writing an article about it, my kneejerk reaction was definitely a HARD no. NO way. I mean, I still have a lot of family and friends who don’t know I’m sober!
And then God starting throwing in my path more and more women who were trapped in the same toxic relationship with alcohol that I was in. I very quickly realized that I really wasn’t the ONLY practicing Catholic, mother of four, working mom, who found herself in a death match situation with booze. Who knew? It was such a lonely and isolating struggle for me, I never want to forget that. And I never want to forget the mercy God showed me by making clear the path to sobriety. If I can bring even one woman, lost in an angry sea of cocktails, some consolation and hope, I think it’s worth a little bit of my pride. And isn’t that one of the defects of character I’m supposed to be working on anyway? How convenient, right? Ahhhh, Jesus and his sense of humor!