Drinking Too Much – Corey’s Naked Life
There wasn’t a cataclysmic event that made Corey realize he was drinking too much. This Naked Mind is inspiring him to see what an alcohol free life can bring him.
My name is Corey. I’m a 34 year old guy living in South Louisiana with my husband Kevin and 3 cats. I just finished the last page of TNM about 10 minutes ago, and felt inspired to shoot you a quick email upon your invite to do so on the 2nd to last page of the book. A little back story, I’m born and raised here in Lafayette, LA. A medium size metro area that is the center of the Cajun culture in the US (New Orleans is technically Creole culture, not Cajun). Being Cajun is a unique identity. Surrounded by a joyous French/Francophone-infused life of music, incredible food, Southern hospitality, but also copious amounts of socially encouraged drinking. We drink for basically anything (weddings, funerals, music festivals, Baby showers, etc.). With this socially mandated drinking culture, it’s no surprise that I’ve always been surrounded by alcohol. Seeing its negative effects first-hand. Both my mother and sister are in recovery for alcohol, with 14 and 5 years sober respectively.
My journey was a lot different than my family’s when it came to drinking. I didn’t have a desire to drink when I was younger. Never drank in high school, and rarely when in college. A lot of this changed when I made the decision at 20 years old to come out as a gay man. I was very lucky to have almost immediate and universal support from family and friends. While living my new truth, and pursuing an out-and-open life, I discovered a new obstacle in my new lifestyle: the strongly woven bond of alcohol and drug usage within the gay community.
We gay guys seem to find a reason to drink for everything (boozy brunches, fabulous dinner parties, etc.). Quick weekend trips to New Orleans (only a 2 hour car ride) always ended in blackouts, unwanted and unsafe hookups, arguments, and terrible days-long hangovers. Of course I know there are analogous relationships to alcohol for straight folks as well. This association seems especially potent to we gay men.
Growing up in a heteronormative culture, most of us suffer from some form of trauma, anxiety, or depression, and group self-medicating through binge drinking has always been the prescription.
This mixed with the “joie de vivre” to imbibe in Cajun culture has proven quite potent, and nearly suffocating.
Drinking Too Much
After graduating college at 21, and leaving an abusive relationship, I met my partner/now husband, and began my first (terrible) post-College job. Think low pay, terrible hours, horrible work-culture, etc. I had a hard time adjusting to life as an adult, the existential dread of being stuck in a terrible job, etc. I’m not sure an exact date a switch flipped in me. My drinking evolved from simply a social expression/practice to something I began doing alone. I may have been about 24 when I realized something was off about how I was drinking and remember that moment vividly. I had just turned on the sink in my kitchen to drown out the sounds of me mixing what was likely my 3rd or 4th vanilla vodka/Grape Koolaid cocktail. Eventually, I found more subtle methods to adapt to my secret shame. Mixing entire pitchers of cocktails to eliminate the counting of drinks. Buying extra bottles of alcohol to hide in our bar, so it never appeared we were running low from my binge drinking. Switching from bottles to boxes of wine, etc. No one ever guessed I was drinking too much.
Not A Problem When Everyone Is Drinking Too Much
When a quick pang of shame popped into my head, I would quickly push it back down. Everyone I knew was as drunk as me, or drunker! I was fully functional, slowly building a career and relationship that I was so proud of. How could I have a problem?! In the decade since my first realization that I was drinking too much, it’s been an up-and-down roller coaster of attempts to moderate, followed by horrible binges, and even more horrible recoveries. As I entered my 30s, things seemed to take a turn for the worse. Everything in my life has become engineered for access and availability to drinking. In the last year, I think I finally hit a new low in shameful actions to drink.
I started buying baby bottles of wine to hide throughout my fridge for quick binges. Drinking in my driveway before entering the house so my husband didn’t see me drink. Using cash at the grocery store for impulsive wine buys so their was no paper trail to my purchases. Stealing wine from a friends wine cooler when house-sitting and killing the entire bottle on their patio before returning home, etc.
It’s exhausting, sad, shameful, and most of all, no longer fun. I attended a Ball/gala last weekend. I blacked out for about 4 hours, which is terrifying, despite the fact nothing BAD happened. If I didn’t get to enjoy it, or remember it, what’s the point anymore?
I’ve come to realize that I, much like yourself, am unable to moderate. Eventually I will have to live a life that is alcohol-free. I’m at the point where one bottle of wine is not enough, one cocktail turns into 4, and I’m exhausted all of the time. As I’m writing this, it’s only been 48 hours since I had a drink. We’re currently smack dab in the middle of Mardi Gras season, and I know it will present its temptations as it always has, but even stronger now that my cognitive dissonance is at an all time high. I am quite sure that most people in my life have an inkling of the fact that I have a problem.
My husband especially has seen me at my worst and sloppiest. Only once has he ever called me an alcoholic, quickly apologizing because he himself was drunk at that moment. My mother and sister have both made subtle nudging to me that they know the way I drink isn’t normal. On the other side of the equation will be my drinking buddies. I’ve had a handful also acknowledge that “Corey is a drunk,” either in a joking manner, in a way to deflect from their own habits, or through the receipt of a dozen bottles of wine on my last birthday.
One friend in particular made a shocking declaration to me when I was on one of my abstaining kicks: “I hope you don’t quit drinking for good because then we can’t be friends.”
Basically the biggest fear of any social drunk with a problem. I’ve learned through your book that this is about them, not me.
My Favorite Murder
I was referred to your book by a true crime podcast, My Favorite Murder. Georgia Hardstark, one of the hosts also enjoys the grape like me. She read TNM and found value in the message. I’m sure several other fans of that podcast (Murderinos) have also started this journey as I have. After finishing TNM, I know that I will have to experience some loss, as the world I built up around booze crumbles. While painful, some of it will be necessary.
Over the last month, I’ve slowly abstained just on work nights, but have felt incredible and powerful on the mornings I wake up sober, ready to seize the day. I am aware, this is only the beginning, and I plan to slowly ease myself into sobriety through empirical experiences of attending events and not drinking. The big win I’m celebrating is that I feel hopeful for the first time in a very long time. That I can maybe drop this habit and experience the world in all its many shades, remembering it all, and honoring the gift it is to live and feel.
Corey is counting on This Naked Mind to change his pattern of drinking too much. Start reading the first 40 pages for free today and see how it can help you!
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