Today, Annie introduces Rachel from Rachel Hart Coaching. Annie and Rachel share the same passion, which is helping people find freedom from alcohol. In college, Rachel used alcohol to access the fun, confident version of herself. But it wasn’t a permanent solution – her love/hate relationship with alcohol finally had to change. Find out how she gave it up and how she is now using her experience to help others escape the grip of drinking.
I really discovered alcohol in college. In, really, that first week in college for me. It was the first college party that I went to. I was so awkward and so insecure and so uncomfortable. I remember feeling like, “Please, I would do anything to get out of this situation. Can I just run home?” Someone handed me a drink. All of a sudden, it was like, “Oh. This is how you deal with anxiety and insecurity. This is how you feel confident and outgoing and are able to approach people.”
From that moment, I mean I immediately thought like, “Oh, alcohol is fantastic. Where has it been this whole time?”
Now that was kind of my initial response to it, but of course the more that I used it in life as a way to deal with that anxiety and to feel more confident and to cope with negative emotions, the more, not only did I feel like I needed it, it felt like a crutch. But the more negative consequences were building up for me because I wasn’t actually figuring out how to feel that way on my own.
Love/Hate Relationship With Alcohol
I really, pretty early on, had a love-hate relationship with alcohol. This is how “fun Rachel” comes out. This is how I get to access this silly, funny, confident version of myself and not be caught up with that little negative critic that was pointing out all my flaws and everything I’m doing wrong. I loved that part of it, but I hated the fact that I felt like I needed it. Hated the fact that it felt like I seemed like it had more desire than other people. I certainly didn’t like the consequences of feeling like, waking up the next day and aside from the hangover just, “Why did I do that?”
Trying to piece together the night before. It was a love-hate relationship with alcohol for me for a very long time that I felt incredibly stuck and incredibly frustrated about not knowing how to even go about changing it.
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It felt like drinking was just like what you did, right? Your social life and social activities were really built around getting drunk. It wasn’t even built around drinking. It was built around getting drunk. I kept it very, very hidden. The fact that I had any stress and anxiety about it. I was so terrified of the fact that even acknowledging to myself, why do I feel like I need it? That was terrifying for me. That wasn’t something that I want to share with anyone or I wanted to talk to people about. It was something that I kind of suffered silently. It’s interesting that you talk about how a lot of people will have that kind of college experience because the more that I talk to women and work with women, the more I discovered that it can happen at any time really.
I work with so many moms who … it’s all of a sudden they had a baby and it’s coping with the stress of having a baby. I was just talking to a woman who as of a couple months ago is an empty nester. All of a sudden she’s like, “I didn’t think this was going to be an issue,” but now as an empty nester, she’s having it. I think that’s one of the big misconceptions is that oh, if alcohol’s an issue, it will have always been an issue. But people’s degree of struggle, it can really change over time and we don’t really acknowledged that widely in society.
I spent my twenties after I graduated flip flopping between drinking and not drinking. So I would constantly have these moments of, oh, why did I do that last night? Can’t believe I did this again. I can’t believe I drank too much again. Then I would like swear it off and it would last. The longest it lasted for me during that period was a year. The shortest was probably a weekend. I was constantly going back and forth because I had that love/hate relationship with alcohol. Really I didn’t know anything other than say I guess I’ll just say no. It was great because I would feel physically healthier. I wouldn’t be waking up with hangovers, but I always felt deprived. I always felt like I was missing out.
From the start, I always felt like something was wrong with me or that I had to hide or isolate. What really finally changed for me was understanding that really, really changing this habit and really changing my desire around alcohol actually didn’t have that much to do with saying yes or saying no to a drink. It actually had a lot to do with understanding that drinking was helping me. It was helping me solve how I was feeling. Helping me be more outgoing in social situations. It was helping me towards the end of my twenties and into my early thirties. Dealing with a lot of work stress and traveling on the road all the time. Feeling lonely and until I learned how to solve these problems on my own, not drinking wasn’t going to be the solution. I think that’s really what the turning point was for me.
The reason why I think I had that insight was because I flip flopped so much because I kept going back to it, I’m drinking, I’m not, I’m drinking, I’m not. I’d feel like I’m still not happy. There has to be something deeper going on here. What I ended up eventually doing is I found the work of Smart Recovery. Smart Recovery brings cognitive behavioral therapy and techniques to this issue. I said, you know what, I am going to take a break, but I’m going to do it differently this time. I’m not going to just focus on not drinking. I’m going to really focus on how can I learn how to do the things that alcohol is helping me do, but creating all these consequences?
Working On Myself
If I’m feeling really insecure in social situations, how can I transform that? If I’m feeling really lonely, or I don’t know how to deal with my stress, or I feel like I always need a reward at the end of the day, how am I going to learn how to do this on my own? That changed my whole focus because instead of just walking around saying like, no, no, I’m not having a drink, I’m not having a drink. All of a sudden I put my brain on a mission to learn how to do all these things that I never learned how to do for myself. That I think was what were the transformation really came in.
Tune in for more on how Rachel not only overcame her love/hate relationship with alcohol but how she is now helping others with it.
Special music thank you to the Kevin MacLeod Funkorama (incompetech.com)
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