Changing My Relationship with Alcohol – Paola’s Naked Life

How can I be successful at changing my relationship with alcohol? That question haunted Paola during her 20-year struggle with alcohol. This Naked Mind finally allowed her to connect the dots and start reclaiming her freedom from alcohol.

changing my relationship with alcohol

Always Changing My Life to Fit Alcohol In

I started listening to this book, This Naked Mind, on my first week sober and it has helped so much, I can’t even begin to express the shift in my perspective. I’ve been drinking for 20 years since I was 15. Now I am 35. I have always been reluctant to quit drinking. It’s my curse and the reason for all my problems. Yet I cling to it with a passion. I always changed my life to fit alcohol into my life, making me a very functional alcoholic.

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My Treat, My Curse

At 15, I started binge drinking on the weekends. Graduated high school a semester early to have a party-only semester before going to college. I graduated from respiratory school at 20. I remember going into class and taking the exams hungover (sometimes I think drunk still from the night before) and still passing and graduating from the program. School was always easy for me. I felt I deserved to treat myself. In my mind binging wasn’t too bad since I was functional. I always knew I had a problem drinking but was always in denial. Changing my relationship with alcohol wasn’t even on my radar.

I got numerous DUIs, with severe consequences. Even costing me my job and medical license. I had to do jail time. This happened in 2011, I was 24 at the time. Up until now, this was the hardest thing I’ve ever gone through. Surviving lock up. I spent 5 years rebuilding my life and fixing everything I messed up when I got all the DUIs. But yet I kept drinking. Drinking wasn’t the problem. Driving was. So I stopped driving. After 5 years of rebuilding what was lost, I got my respiratory license back, I got a job at a hospital again. I felt vindicated because I was able to gain back everything I had lost. I even went back to school. Obtained my Bachelor’s. I was back on track. Yet still drinking very heavily.

Rebuilding My Life

During the 5 years of rebuilding my life, I did try AA and knew it wasn’t for me. At first, I could even fathom the first step. Powerless?? But I can accomplish anything I want. That can’t be me. But deep down I knew I was an alcoholic. The higher power part and willing to turn my life over to God?? That lost me right away. I read a lot in general, so I started reading about Buddhism and Taoism. That was something I could relate to a bit more.

It still didn’t help me curb my drinking. I just kinda started the rebuild and tried the best I could. My Bachelor’s was in Public Health and my Minor was in Health and Wellness. It is not like I am ignorant of what drinking does to the body. I read about neurochemistry and how alcohol affects it. I tried to be a sponge of information but the drinking remained unchanged for the most part. Ups and downs with it.

Overworked, Overwhelmed

I was working 2 jobs though, keeping myself as occupied as I could to stay out of trouble and drink less. In 2019 I decided to go back to school for my Master’s. I was so sick of working so much, burnt out. Every time I go back to school, I drink less than when I just work a lot. School keeps me out of trouble. And I love school and learning. My motto was always to work hard and play hard. I was a workaholic and an alcoholic. And in my twisted mind, I was proud of that. I can only shake my head at this now.

Then 2020 hit. During the pandemic, I graduated from my Master’s program in May 2020. So I was able to finish my degree just fine. But shifts at the hospital were a nightmare. Everyone was dying. Everyone was on a ventilator. Workloads were so unsafe and patients died alone without families. I didn’t notice it then, but now I realize that my drinking increased twofold.

PTSD

We all went for drinks after work to unwind and vent about the hell we experienced. Bars closed for the most part but that didn’t stop us. I live in Arizona, so laws were lenient and Covid numbers kept surging. After the pandemic’s worst subsided, I think maybe suffering from burnout or PTSD exacerbated my drinking even more. I think many of us still experience some sort of PTSD from the pandemic. We tend to joke about it and make light of it. But this was the next hardest thing I’ve done.

Changing My Relationship with Alcohol

My turning point came after running off the man I was dating for 3 years. He’d had enough of dealing with my drunken nights. I just reached a point where the alcohol caused me so much anxiety. Or my anxiety caused me to drink so much. Who knows what caused what? But I decided I can’t keep on like this. My fear wasn’t losing my job again or losing relationships. I got to a point where I thought I was going to die if I kept on like this.

changing my relationship with alcohol quote

Today is day 44 of my journey. In these 44 days, I did drink 2 times. Each time I only had 3 drinks. And I still did not feel the same. I don’t want to drink. Genuinely I’ve reached a point where I don’t see the point of picking up a drink. Now it is just about relearning life. Learning to be comfortable with my boredom. I don’t want to be a workaholic because I don’t want to be an alcoholic. My drinking habit needs to be replaced with a healthy habit. I need to run again or go to the gym.

A Different Way

During the 5 years of rebuilding my life, I built some healthy coping strategies. (I just always had alcohol by my side) . Now, I need to relearn these habits again, but while abstaining. I don’t want to feel like shit anymore. Don’t want to get another DUI. I don’t want to kill someone because I was too drunk and blacked out to remember driving home. I don’t want to die from an overdose. Addiction runs in my family. I know people who have overdosed. A life cut short just like that. This is my chance to get it right.

Coming across this book made me connect some of the dots. The info I had, but the book made me think about my relationship with alcohol more than anything. I don’t feel powerless. Or forced to stop drinking. I am thinking rationally about alcohol. Finally, I am choosing to not drink. I know I can, but do I want to deal with the hangover? Do I want the anxiety? I am not sure exactly when my perception changed. But I am grateful. And I am grateful for your book.

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