Nicole had been living a partying and drinking lifestyle for 19 years while maintaining a successful professional and personal life. It only took one weekend and This Naked Mind for her to say enough was enough.
June 11, 2000 was my 16th birthday and the day I took my first drink. My mom took me and a few of my girlfriends to South Padre. I remember sitting in the hotel room, the balcony doors were open, I could hear the seagulls and their loud squawks. Tequila was the drink of choice. I can still remember the excitement I felt pouring it into the shot glasses and getting the salt and lime ready. Feeling so proud that this was happening, that somehow it was a rite of passage into becoming an adult. I remember how bitter it was and making faces after shooting it. Something I thought was a totally normal reaction to shots. I can’t really recall what happened after the shot. I’m sure I had fun as I would have even without the tequila. From that day until November 17, 2019, some 19 years later, I drank heavily to no end.
It would take pages to talk about the amount of drinking I did in high school, and then college, and then as an adult and then parent. The only break I took in those 19 years was the 18 months I was pregnant with my children. These years were filled with so much alcohol and drugs that it is scary to even try and reminisce on it, even though I probably couldn’t recall much anyways since so much of it was a blur or total blackout. It started with wine coolers, then beer, then hard liquor, and then the more ‘sophisticated’ red wine.
I knew in college I had a problem. Since everyone was doing it I just pushed it deep into my unconscious mind and let that problem grow and grow and grow until it finally reappeared.
Partying and Drinking
My husband and I tried unsuccessfully to cut back on our drinking habits. We knew it wasn’t good for our kids to see their parents taking shots and getting drunk every single weekend. Try as we did, it never lasted.
I was officially a high functioning alcoholic and I knew it. It didn’t bother me because I truly believed it wasn’t affecting my personal or professional life.
It probably didn’t help that the neighborhood we moved into was filled with other young couples who shared our passion of partying and drinking. This was just what we did every single weekend. Somehow it started happening during the week too. Just one glass a night of course on the weekdays. That is what is socially acceptable to help unwind from the long day…but then some nights I needed another glass and then another. Soon, I was just drinking all the time. And it wasn’t just at night. Now I needed to drink during the day too. Champagne with a splash of orange juice is acceptable in the morning so that is what I did.
Partying and Drinking All Weekend Long
There was one weekend in particular where we drank heavily Friday night, all day Saturday, and then all day Sunday day and night. Now this was unusual because usually Sunday we spent recovering from the weekend and getting ready for the week. This Sunday we decided to keep hanging out with the neighborhood friends. We were drinking and taking jello shots, on a Sunday night. Needless to say I woke up with not only a hangover but instant regret on staying up late and drinking on a Sunday.
Lesson To Learn
My Monday morning was brutal in my office and I was dreading going to class at 11 to teach. I didn’t even know what I was teaching that day and as I checked the syllabus I remember thinking, wow that is just great. I was scheduled to teach health and wellness. Dragging myself to class, I opened the PowerPoint lecture. My words were not coming out right and I was stumbling through the lecture. Whether or not my students could tell I don’t know, but I knew, I knew I was not being a good professor.
The next slide hit me like a ton of bricks. BINGE DRINKING in all caps followed by the sentence “Leading cause of PREVENTABLE death among college students.”
Now I realize I am not a college student, I am a college professor. Standing there lecturing to my students about the dangers of binge drinking and how bad alcohol – that was my wake up call. I have never felt like such a hypocrite in my entire life and I knew right then I had to change.
How To Stop Drinking
I went back to my office and started googling things like ‘how to stop drinking’, ‘how to know if you are an alcoholic’. I remember taking a quiz, I have no idea why because it was very clear that I was. For some reason I needed further validation from a google website. One click led to another click and before I knew it I had stumbled upon a book called This Naked Mind by Annie Grace. I didn’t even hesitate, I purchased the book and in a day it was delivered thanks to Amazon. Reading the book in a few days, everything was just so enlightening.
Having a background in psychology, reading about the subconscious mind and how we have been conditioned to drink alcohol was so exciting to me. I really geek out on science and psychology.
Has the partying and drinking lifestyle caught up with you? You can start reading This Naked Mind for free today to learn how to hit the pause button.
Can I Stop Partying and Drinking?
It had been 5 days since that binge drinking Sunday and I knew I wanted to change. Unfortunately, I also was deep in the craving stage. Not drinking was making me miserable. All I could think about was that next drink. We went out for a family dinner to our favorite Mexican restaurant. We decided to order just one, regular size not the usual jumbo, skinny margarita. It was good, but for the first time I realized it wasn’t great and it did absolutely nothing for me. It didn’t make me enjoy the food more, the atmosphere more, the time with my kids more, nothing. And all I had on the way home was a headache, $30 less (just from the 2 drinks), and a lot of regret. Luckily my husband was on board from day one, having his support through this has been an absolute blessing and I am so lucky to have him as my partner in life. We decided that we weren’t going to be partying and drinking for a while.
Then came Thanksgiving. We talked about it and decided that we would just have one small glass of wine with our Thanksgiving meal. I remember how excited I was to have that glass because by then it has been 5 days since I had that margarita. My husband poured me a glass and I took a sip. It was terrible!! Mostly because the wine glass my husband used had some soap residue in it which made my wine taste soapy. I poured that glass out and poured some fresh wine in a plastic cup so I wouldn’t have that issue again. That drink wasn’t much better. I took a few more sips and poured it out. That was the last drink I had. I feel like maybe I should have gone out big like full on binger with tequila and bottles of wine. But then I realized that it’s not necessary since I had been doing that for the past 19 years.
Grieving The Partying and Drinking
The hardest part out of all this is not the cravings I had in the beginning for alcohol, or the grief I felt when I stopped drinking my nightly wine. That was hard though. Wine was my friend. It was a constant in my life. I definitely grieved for that feeling, but eventually that went away too. But the true grieving process was the loss of some relationships in my life. Like I said everyone in my neighborhood drinks heavily. I am in NO way judging them, because that was me just a few weeks ago. So when I went from partying and drinking hard every single weekend to telling them I wasn’t drinking, you can imagine the reaction I received. Some laughed in my face, one asked if I was pregnant, and the rest just seemed really confused.
How Others Feel
Annie talked about this in her book, This Naked Mind. She says that when you stop drinking it makes other people confront their drinking problems. If they aren’t ready to do that it can cause a lot of issues. I’ve been trying really hard to not even talk about it in front of these people because I don’t want them to think I am judging them. That said, I have been really disappointed by the lack of support I have received from these so called friends of mine. Like I said I’m forever grateful for the support and love of my husband. If he wasn’t going through this alcohol free journey with me, I’m not sure I could do it by myself.
Testing The End of Partying and Drinking
So far I have been to 4 alcohol fueled events sober and it is quite an experience. The most difficult test was my husband’s work party. These parties are notorious for being boring so alcohol has always been a must to liven it up and actually enjoy it. Within 5 minutes of being there, we actually hadn’t even made it in the venue yet, a glass of champagne was pushed into my hand by my husband’s coworker. Of course I couldn’t refuse and I didn’t want to seem ungrateful so my husband and I said thank you, cheers, and hit glasses with everyone else.
I remember smelling the champagne and looking at it and thinking, it is just one glass, it isn’t going to hurt you.
It is crazy how our brain works and tries to trick us.
Luckily I was able to remember my reasons for wanting to stop. I walked to the restroom and poured half in the sink and walked back out with the half full glass of champagne. I carried that half full glass around all night, even on the dance floor. Not once did anyone question me about drinking it. Every time someone offered to buy me a drink I politely thanked them and said I was good while showing my half full glass of champagne. I couldn’t believe I actually enjoyed myself at this party without drinking. I talked to and met lots of new people, I danced to all my favorite songs, and felt great.
As I write this I am only 13 days alcohol free. It hasn’t been easy and there are fleeting moments of thinking about drinking and missing it. I cannot say I will never drink alcohol again. I don’t even want to put that kind of pressure on myself. But I can say that through this experience my relationship with alcohol has definitely changed. I now see it for the poison it is. It robs me of so much joy and happiness and takes away days of my life. I really hope this last. All I can do now is continue to read and fill my mind with the truths about alcohol and surround myself with like minded people. Which is why I am so happy to have the support of the This Naked Mind community! A big thank you to Annie for opening my eyes to the truth about alcohol.
Share Your Story
Do you have your own story of leaving your partying and drinking behind? Please share your stories so you can help others!