Bottled: A Mom's Guide to Early Recovery

Autor Dana Bowman
en Limba Engleză Paperback – 22 sep 2015
An unflinching and hilarious memoir about recovery as a mother of young kids, Bottled explains the perils moms face with drinking and chronicles the author’s path to recovery, from hitting bottom to the months of early sobriety—a blur of pain and chaos—to her now (in)frequent moments of peace. 
Punctuated by potent, laugh-out-loud sarcasm, Bottled offers practical suggestions on how to be a sober, present-in-the-moment mom, one day at a time, and provides much needed levity on an issue too often treated with deadly seriousness.Dana Bowman is a long-time English teacher and part-time professor in the department of English at Bethany College, Kansas. Author of the popular, she leads and presents workshops on both writing and addiction, with a special emphasis on being a woman in recovery while parenting young children.
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ISBN-13: 9781937612979
ISBN-10: 193761297X
Pagini: 264
Dimensiuni: 152 x 226 x 20 mm
Greutate: 0.32 kg
Editura: Central Recovery Press


Table of Contents



Part One: The Before

Chapter 1 Birth with a Beer Chaser
Chapter 2 I Never Danced on Tables
Chapter 3 I Fall in Love, so All My Problems Are Solved
Chapter 4 All My Problems Are Not Solved
Chapter 5 We Go to Paris and Fight the Whole Time
Chapter 6 Zombie Mom
Chapter 7 I Have Found Jesus but No Clue
Chapter 8 Pinball
Chapter 9 The Dog Dies

Part Two: The During

Chapter 10 Measuring Time 83
Chapter 11 The Big Tell, Part One 93
Chapter 12 Tattoos and Meetings 103
Chapter 13 Toddlers at 4:00 p.m. Are the Devil
Chapter 14 The Big Tell, Part Two
Chapter 15 My Children Are Older and I Am Not
Chapter 16 I Find Out I Am No Longerin Control
Chapter 17 Christopher Scott
Chapter 18 The Big Tell, Part Three
Chapter 19 Steve the Sobriety Cat
Chapter 20 I Find Out I Am Not Hot

Part Three: The Now

Chapter 21 The Big Tell, and Me
Chapter 22 How to Survive Being Happy
Chapter 23 Unwasted Grace
Chapter 24 Street Dance and Beer on My Shoes

Self-Assessment Quiz




*Bowman, Dana. Bottled: A Mom’s Guide to Early Recovery. Central Recovery. 2015. 264p. ISBN 9781937612979. pap. $16.95; ebk. ISBN 9781937612986. PSYCH
Heartbreaking, tragic (and very funny), this is a young mother’s memoir of her battle with alcohol, her arguments with her husband, her self-doubt as a mom, and her efforts to cement her career—all while drinking (and drinking some more) and promising herself she’ll stop. Bowman (English, Bethany Coll.; blogger, is a member of a faith community, and her Christian beliefs serve to enrich this work, rather than offend nonbelievers. Calling herself the “Scarlett O’Hara of alcoholism,” (“I’ll worry about that tomorrow,” she writes) Bowman finally hits bottom and details her rocky road to sobriety. Each chapter ends with top tens, such as Top Ten Annoying Recovery Slogans That Actually Work. The author includes lists of resources with organizations, blogs, and websites. VERDICT This memoir filled with hope and humor is as good as Ann Dowsett Johnston’s Drink: The Intimate Relationship Between Women and Alcohol but much lighter.—Linda Beck, Indian Valley P.L., Telford, PA

“An extremely touching journey from alcoholic mom to recovery hero, filled with brutal honesty but also a surprising amount of laughs. A must- read for anyone who can relate, knows someone who can, or just loves memoirs. Filled with helpful lists for the newly recovering and packed with laughs—I highly recommend!”--Stefanie Wilder-Taylor, Author of Sippy Cups Are Not for Chardonnay

“Full of vulnerability, courage, and grace. Bowman shares her story with wisdom and humor, and speaks to the beautiful messiness in us all: our struggles with perfectionism, fitting in, and all the feelings. A must-read for anyone who has struggled with addiction, but also a story for every mother out there. Sit back, pour yourself a cup of (freaking) tea and be ready to laugh, cry, and feel like you’re not alone.”--Ellie Schoenberger, Author of Let Me Get This Straight

“Without glossing over the gory details, Bowman tells her story with complete vulnerability, self-awareness, and humor. Her tips on surviving recovery and motherhood will help anyone navigating the sharper edges of life. She offers what so many addicts say they need: ‘a Handbook for Life.’ Bottled is funny, captivating, comforting, and full of hope.”--May Wilkerson, Huffington Post Contributor and Former Senior Editor at

“Whatever your particular struggle, do not miss this hilarious and redemptive memoir by Dana Bowman. Bottled will make you laugh out loud, nod your head in agreement, and maybe shed a few tears as Bowman shares a page-turning account of her journey through marriage, motherhood, and recovery.”--Allison K. Flexer, Author of Truth, Lies, and the Single Woman

“Whether it’s a transition or a tragedy, we are all recovering from something, and we all need a little honesty and humor to make it through. That’s exactly what Dana provides in Bottled. She’s brutally honest about pregnancy, depression, alcoholism, triggers, parenting and, yes—recovery. Journey through the messy and drama-filled life of a recovering alcoholic, self-proclaimed ‘over-reactor’ and ‘zombie-mom.’ You’ll never look at carrot cake the same way again!”--Kasey Johnson, Author of Mom Essentials, 7 Ways to Be a S.M.A.R.T.E.R. Mom.

“Dana discusses the serious topic of alcoholism, which affects millions of people, with humor and a whole lot of grace. Her recovery is inspiring and her journey is real, but her ability to laugh though the pain is what will heal the many who read this book. Moms will no doubt relate to it, but so will daughters, sisters, wives, and all women who need a friend to walk with them in early recovery. Dana is that friend.”--Crystal Renaud, Author of Dirty Girls Come Clean

“Bottled is wildly entertaining, and provides a host of practical tips for moms going through the difficult stages of early sobriety. Dana reveals the very real and authentic struggle for moms in recovery, with humor and humility. A must-read for recovering moms, but also a wonderful book for any mom who may struggle with parenting small humans while attempting to stay sane.”
Megan Peters, Author of the blog


Chapter 1
Birth with a Beer Chaser

My darling husband is leaning over me as I rest in the hospital bed with Charlie snoozing in my arms. Brian is smiling widely, but I am distracted because his pants seem to be . . . clinking? “My darling,” he kisses me. “Here is your beer.”

I don’t like beer. An alcoholic saying she doesn’t like beer is like a doctor saying, “I’m just not that much into stethoscopes. They’re cumbersome.” But beer’s hops make my face itch, and whenever I drink it my nose twitches like a rabbit—and I sneeze a lot. I am willing to accept the irony that I really have an allergy to alcohol, as the Big Book says. But as I lie in my hospital bed, looking over at that brown bottle Brian had so proudly delivered to me from his cargo pants pockets, I thought, yes, please. Then I looked down at the adorable scrunched-up face of Charlie, mere hours old, and thought, no thank you. I’m scared. How did this happen?

I know how it happened. Really, I do. I was there for the whole process. But right then, in that hospital bed, all I wanted was to be far away. Like maybe in Toledo, Ohio, at a bar. One where there are no kids or marriages or a second floor. My house has a second floor. It seems too much to deal with—two floors is a lot of responsibility. It is all so grown-up.

Back at the house with all those stairs, we have a chest of drawers that never opens or shuts properly. We banished it to the guest room on the second floor, of course. I’d bought it at a garage sale back when I was a single girl, and I wasn’t getting rid of it because I’m too cheap. But it doesn’t work. One drawer is wonky and has to be pulled in just a certain way if you want to access what’s inside, and it won’t shut without a lot of shimmying and sometimes a bit of terse language. I had, of course, allotted these drawers for my husband’s underwear. Not that this makes sense. He needs underwear on a daily basis, and yet every day we deal with it, the slamming and the negotiation. The chest of drawers didn’t fit in our lives.

It occurred to me that I should just move the underwear to a drawer that works. This idea was so practical that I knew it wouldn’t see fruition for at least another year or so.

That drawer is exactly how I am feeling now, in that hospital bed, with my beloved Charlie in my arms. I don’t fit. I really want to, and I know I am going to be so very needed. On a daily basis, I imagine. I hear babies are needy that way. But there’s a lot of slamming and rather rough shoving going on in my head that sounds like this:

This is the most precious moment of your life. Just enjoy it. And then I breathe and try to eat some Jell-O, and Brian takes another picture of me eating Jell-O. No, now this is the most precious moment. Your husband is so ecstatic he is taking pictures of hospital Jell-O. Would you please just enjoy this?

And I smile and wobble the Jell-O for him, and think, If he takes another picture, I am going to kill him. I am going to get up out of this bed, leaking all over the place, and hobble over there and smother him with my gigantic leaky body. I hate him.

And finally, I shove myself in place with a solid, What is wrong with you? Just fit. Mothers are happy when they have babies. Would you please, please just enjoy this?

So, you know, the beer kind of helped. I cracked it open and drank it down—nausea and all—while staring out of my large picture window. It was dusk, and I had a lovely view of a gray asphalt roof and a vent.

Charlie’s birth had been difficult, which is sort of like saying World War II was tiresome. The entire pregnancy had been a challenge for me. When my husband and I married, we were what some would call “middle aged.” I was ancient at thirty-six, and my betrothed was nearly dead at thirty-seven. I was blessed with a husband who thought of children as something that must come in multipacks. He was from a large, loud family that had reunions all the time. They really liked each other, the Bowmans; therefore, they kept having more of themselves—all over the place.

One of our first dates was at yet another family reunion, where aunties, cousins, and nephews repeatedly informed me, “You know, he’s never brought a girl to one of these things before!” Then they would look at me with such wonder and hope I was flummoxed. So I would blurt, “Well, here I am! And I’m a girl!” and smile at the group of eighty or so Bowmans all eating barbecue and enjoying the heck out of each other.

By contrast, I came from a small family—small in every sense of the word. We are all short and don’t hang out much. I never knew that family reunions were things that actually happened; they sounded like something goofy and wholesome, like something from The Waltons.

When babies were discussed after we married, I thought of it as some far off thing, like world peace—or the Royals winning the World Series. But, as sometimes happens in marriage, my husband had a completely different view. “We should have lots of kids! Lots of ‘em! Like twelve!” I don’t know how he came up with the number twelve. Perhaps because he has a thing for eggs—or the apostles. I don’t know, but I do remember gently disagreeing with him by saying something like, “Good God, man, over my dead body.”

Charlie decided to come into the world exactly on his due date. This is precisely how my son likes to operate. It was in writing, so he was there. Brian and I headed into the hospital at around 1:00 a.m. My water broke around midnight, and it felt like the baby was tap dancing on my nether regions about every thirty minutes.

I am actually in labor, I thought, as I peered out the window into the darkness surrounding our car. Here I am, in labor. I tested out the next sentence. And after labor, there will be a baby. Amazing how much I’d retained from those sex-ed classes. And that baby will be ours. Like, we’ll bring it home. I felt very disenchanted with the whole idea. I kind of wanted to have the baby, yes. I was huge and tired and it felt like my vagina was permanently dislodged about three feet below where it should be. But taking a baby and putting it in our house? Couldn’t we just . . . check it out every once in a while and then return it?

As usual, when things get overwhelming, I hummed listlessly and revisited my favorite monologue about my husband’s inability to accelerate politely. “You’re revving the engine!” I scolded. “It’s not the Indianapolis 500, dear. It’s just labor.”

“I’m merging with traffic, dear,” he countered grimly.

“You’re merging like Mario Andretti,” I offered. “And, this is a monologue. No heckling.”

I’d had nine months to plan for this, to pray for it, and praise God for it. And here I was, feeling like I was in a movie, one with a funny heroine who was suckered into this whole pregnancy thing, with the hapless lover in tow, and a very short baby-birthing scene to follow. Once the baby was born, I’d be glistening with sweat and cuteness, and my sweet man would lean over to kiss me while I cuddled a non-slimy child. There would be a soundtrack from a John Hughes movie, and I would look into Charlie’s eyes and be forever changed.
It didn’t work out that way.

The actual birth with the dilation and the pushing was a tangled blur. I listened to that heart monitor slow down, and start up again, and then agonizingly slow down again. I rolled over like an accommodating whale that wanted to get a round of applause on this having-a-baby procedure. As the hours passed, Charlie just could not seem to keep up his heart rate.

One half of an epidural later—the local anesthetic had only taken on my left side, which I thought was normal—I was listening so hard to tiny erratic heartbeats that I felt my whole body pulsing with each faint beat. Charlie had no rhythm. Then something changed in the room when the doctor quit being jovial and said, “We need to do a C. Right now.” The room froze. I was hustled down a hall staring at the ceiling while whoever was pushing me ran the gurney into at least three walls and maybe a person or two. I couldn’t find Brian. I thought the lights were terribly bright. This too seemed like a movie but not a happy one.

Later, I woozily told a nurse that I had a half-price epidural. “Could you please make sure my epidural is the sale price on the bill?”

I could tell you the whole story about the C-section and explain how traumatizing and invasive it feels. Because it does feels very, very wrong to have someone pulling around at your insides while you’re awake for the show. Like that scene in Jaws where the geeky scientist cuts open a shark and starts throwing out all the innards from the stomach: a boot, some fish, a license plate, and general disgustingness. You know, after all that? I really felt for that shark.

The problem is that C-sections aren’t all that new to modern medicine. I guess they’ve been around since, well, Caesar. And as much as I’d like to corner the sympathy market on how awful it was, I did just fine. Charlie did, too. We all got out of there alive, with innards smushed back in and intact. As my doctor, Dr. Boo, cheerfully put it, “Everything below your bellybutton is all jacked up”—thanks to the double whammy of long labor and then surgery. Dr. Boo was a great obstetrician, but he also lived up to his name. He freaked me out a bit. Still, the end result was a gorgeous little boy.

After Charlie’s birth Dr. Boo announced, “It sure is a good thing for modern medicine! Without it you both would have been dead!” He grinned and mentioned the beer idea for breastfeeding. I stared at him blankly, and Brian patted my hand, realizing that this news might be a bit upsetting to a woman who just had her uterus placed outside of her body, where no right thinking uterus should be. I just nodded, yes, and then thought, What did you say about beer? Bedside manner was not my doctor’s forte, so I did my usual upon hearing upsetting news: I pretended I didn’t hear it and then filed it away to freak out about later. But I did hold on to that beer advice like it was a life preserver.

So I had a baby—despite myself. As I lay in that bed and contemplated the gloom descending outside, I couldn’t help but wonder. How in the world am I going to pull this off? There was simply no way I could really do this whole mom business.

Once, when I was a freshman, the hottest fraternity at our college invited me to a large party. Their parties were epic. Their boys were of a bronze hue, so muscular and smart they were a walking Ralph Lauren ad. And here I was, being asked to mingle with them. The party was an invitation-only deal, and I still wonder how I managed to get the golden ticket for this one. I wasn’t in a sorority, and I wore flannel a lot.

Notă biografică


Humorist Dana Bowman chronicles her struggle with alcoholism—and subsequent recovery—through the prism of early motherhood and its challenges.