I am a COUNTRY girl.
Born in small town Wisconsin.
My first drink was a cheap beer.
In my coming of age, I partied and chased boys in barns and fields.
I rode around in pickup trucks.
I love country music. I love to sing about getting day drunk with a cold beer in my hand, and needing my whiskey glasses to navigate my latest heartache.
I have fond memories of you and me going fishing in the dark with friends in low places, if you know what I mean. Some of it makes me cringe and plenty of it makes me smile.
When I was visiting Savannah, Georgia a drag queen sang Reba McEntire’s Fancy, and I nearly lost my mind. All I wanna do is boot, scoot, boogie.
When I first quit alcohol, I didn’t know how to reconcile my love for country music and drinking songs with my new found sobriety.
My identity was shifting from rowdy party girl to healthy sober coach.
What would I do with my beer drinking country self?
Should I put her in the rearview mirror and leave her in a cloud of dust?
Or continue to support songs and artists that praise alcohol, the exact poison that would have killed me, if I continued drinking?
Last weekend, I celebrated an early 15th birthday with my daughter. We spent the weekend in Milwaukee. We had Saturday evening tickets to a Morgan Wallen concert. On Sunday, we went to the Buck’s first NBA playoff game. This was her dream weekend. Mine too.
I’ve never been to a drinkier city than Milwaukee.
Their baseball team,The Brewer's, is literally named after beer.
The concert took place the in formerly named Miller (as in beer) Park, now American Family Field.
There’s no shortage of drinking slogans for Wisconsin.
Everywhere I turned I saw them.
Beer, brats, and jello shots anyone?
Wisconsin! Outdrinking your state since 1848.
So how could I be in this place, singing these drinking songs, surrounded by drinkers and be sober?!
I make my own rules.
You can too.
I got all gussied up in my fringes and boots. I had two pregame Gruvi Alcohol Free Sangrias in the hotel room, while we made TikTok’s. We arrived early to the concert with giddy excitement. We took pictures of everything. We people watched. We got Diet Cokes and found our awesome seats. We watched the first opening set. We get hot dogs and cheese curds after the opening act. We saw drunk people being escorted out before Morgan Wallen even started.
How sad, we both remarked.
There were three opening shows. The full fluorescent lights blinded us, coming on after each show and each set change, like a major buzzkill. We were there for nearly 4 hours before Morgan Wallen came on. I can’t imagine if I was drunk for this.
We waited, and waited, and waited, which seemed like forever.
We used the time to bond and laugh, just the two of us. We watch the sun set through the windows outside and the excitement and anticipation on the inside rise.
We recharged her phone. I went by myself to return the charger.
I maneuvered the crowds with grace and raced back to her.
On my way back, I saw more paramedics, more wheelchairs, more drunk people creating emergency situations and getting medical support. The main show hadn’t even started yet.
If I was drunk, I never would have found my seat. I knew she was counting the seconds looking for me. I returned immediately. I saw the relief in her face. There is no better sight than reuniting with my baby. I am so grateful to be sober.
I thought, "What if I was drinking?”
I would miss everything important. All I would want is a drink. And then more drinks. I would miss everything because my entire headspace would be taken up with an obsession over alcohol. There would be no room for making memories with my daughter. No joy in hearing the music. No freedom in dancing. There would only be an edgy rush of anxiety wanting more alcohol. Only desperately seeking more of my drug. Pretending I was ok. Praying to be ok. Hoping no one would notice. My mind would flip to one track. That track being to drink as much as I want. I have never had enough to drink in my whole life and this night would have been no different.
I have never felt full of drinks. I have always only wanted more. At the same time praying to God that no one would notice that I drank too much. There were party people at our hotel upon check in. By show time that would be over 6 hours of drinking. I couldn't do it. I would be a mess too. I would be escorted out. This would not be a good time for anyone. If I was a drinker, but sober for this event, I would be miserable. I would be fixated on not drinking. I would feel like I was missing out. I would negotiate in my mind if I could have one or two. I would obsess over this.
Showing up to my life sober means I don’t have to worry about me and neither does my daughter. There was a time in our past when I took her to a concert at Red Rocks. She was 7 years old. She asked me not to drink too much because it was a long way back to the car, all down a hill, and she didn’t want me to fall. I wasn’t drinking that night because I was too hungover from the night before and I really couldn’t trust myself to not drink too much. I wanted to stay responsible and that meant not drinking on this occasion. Regardless, I always imagined the heavy weight she was carrying while she worried about me. I could be defensive about my drinking. I can also have a sharp tongue. I hate to be wrong. She had a lot of courage to speak up at age 7 and say something to me. It absolutely breaks my heart to think back to it. I have a few moments in my life that I would consider a rock bottom and this is one of them.
So here I am with the greatest do over in the world.
Our show starts and she’s watching Morgan Wallen.
She can’t take her eyes off of him.
I am watching her.
I can’t take my eyes off of her.
I am soaking up every second of making a lifetime memory with her. I am not missing out on anything by staying sober. I am gaining a front seat to her, which is everything to me.
We sing and dance through the entire show.
The people behind us ask if they can take our picture because we are such a cute duo!
We get extra loud and look at each other when our favorite lyrics blast through the microphone.
“You say I gotta get over you and get sober too…” a knowing shared between us, our eyes sparkling with love and trust.
When I finally peel my eyes off of my darling girl, I look at the stage for the country star.
Morgan Wallen seems so young to me. He is a 30 year old baby face. He’s had his share of controversy. I don’t pretend to know everything about him. What I do know is that on his latest album and One Night at a Time (odaat?) tour he is sharing his growth in recognizing how alcohol and addiction are a dangerous path he’s been on. He sings a song to his mother and another to his son. He is working to drink less. His opening acts are drinking cans of beer on stage, and he does not. He is drinking from a red solo cup. He has recently partnered with an Ryl Iced Tea Company. He wants to give his fans the best version of himself, which he has declared as mostly sober.
In the middle of the concert, I ask my daughter if remembers anything about the concert at Red Rocks and she says no. I know for a fact she’ll never forget this one. I'll never forget either.
I get tears in my eyes as we sway and sing together to the song Morgan Wallen wrote for his mom, “thought you should know all those prayers you thought you wasted on me, must’ve finally made their way on through.”
I'm thinking how happy everyone that loves me must be that I’m sober.
I'm thinking how happy I am to set this example for my daughter.
I'm thinking how I want Morgan Wallen and his mom to know I'm sober supporting them.
I love to be a country girl. I love to sing along. My whole life got better when I quit drinking. Having overcome this alcohol problem is one of the best things about me.
I am proud to be there in the crowd as someone who can help anyone else with drinking less or none at all.
The next day at the Buck’s game I ask the bartender for the biggest cup filled with club soda, light ice, and extra lime. She winks and gives it to me for free. I am obsessed with sparkling water and “I hate to tell you girl, but I’m only quitting one thing at a time.”
We get in line for a pretzel and a young guy who’s visibly drunk asks us to hold his beer so he can get another. We politely refuse. He frantically asks the cashier for more. The cashier also politely turns him down. He asks for two double shots of something. The cashier is also only able to give him one at a time. He has to chug his current drink and get back in line so he can get another one. He is anxious and shaky.
My daughter and I walked away. We run into our favorite Badger basketball player. and take pictures. We eat our hot pretzels. We are also shaking, but it's the happy excitement buzz for us. I wouldn’t choose it any other way.
I can go to those hometown venues. I can sing those songs. I can enjoy everything. Everything has new meaning to me because I am sober. I sing along knowing that alcohol was a temporary fix for my heartache too. I sing along knowing I used to be that person. I sing from the beautiful POV of the sunny sober side.
You can love country drinking songs and also be sober. We are all contradictions of everything and it’s ok to be exactly how you are. As far as alcohol, I took his number out my phone.
Drinking got you thinking? Evaluate your relationship with alcohol with my free download, 12 Sober Secrets and bonus Get Free, Stay Free mantra.