This Naked Mind and Annie Grace welcome Tricia, the host of Recovery Happy Hour podcast. Tricia was a self-proclaimed, overachieving, co-dependent alcoholic until she finally decided that her luck was bound to run out. Tricia shares what was the hardest part of the process for her – deciding that her problem was big enough to address. After all, it’s difficult to admit you have a problem if you don’t see yourself as the “typical alcoholic”. Find out what Tricia has done to use her journey for the benefit of others, including an upcoming event called “Sober by Southwest”.
I’m just your typical garden variety high-functioning, codependent perfectionist, overachieving alcoholic. The two biggest defining factors that made it so difficult for me to come to terms with having a problem was that I grew up around somebody who was the very definition of a low-functioning addict and alcoholic. Also, I spent 20 years in the restaurant industry, which is also a very skewed look at what is normal drinking. When you’re around people that drink so much it’s hard to diagnose what your own problems should look like.
I had a sibling who was a very, very active alcoholic and drug addict. Just like a typical codependent daughter and sibling I loved to try to overcompensate for the mess that my brother was making. I was an overachiever, a perfectionist, huge people pleaser and loved to make sure that everybody else’s needs were met. How else can I calm the waters today and put my own needs aside?
Those habits started pretty young and they’re something that I’ll probably be working on forever. I will say that when I had my first drink it was actually when I first got drunk. I was pretty much always drinking to get drunk from the moment I first tried alcohol.
At 16, my very first teen love, my first serious boyfriend dumped me. I ran into him at a party and I knew that he didn’t like it when his friends drank so I thought, “Well, if he’s not going to love me then I want him to hate me”, which points out our extreme thinking. Everything is black or white.
Hardcore From The Start
I didn’t want to feel the feelings I was having and I wanted to try to control everything around me and the way that people saw me. You know, 16 … I don’t know a lot of 16 year old girls who slam three shots of whiskey at their first high school party but that’s where I started and that was kind of how I drank until I quit 20 years later.
Never was I a normal drinker. I blacked out pretty frequently. I wouldn’t say that I’m definitely a different person when I drink. Riskier behavior. I did things I normally would never do. I sort of started to feel like something was a little different in my mid-twenties. That’s when I realized I wasn’t drinking like a normal person should.
Again, when you’re around people that drink so much more than you how do you diagnose what is a problem? Especially when you’re not suffering the consequences of what the stigma shows you an alcoholic looks like.
This is what I wrestled with for years. This was the hardest part for me in quitting drinking was just deciding that my problem was big enough.
If there’s one thing that I can stress to anybody who is listening it’s that you don’t have to look at everybody else around you and judge your drinking by how much they’re drinking. You get to decide period. End of story. I wish that I had had the confidence to just bite the bullet and do it.
I would say that I kind of knew I had to quit drinking some day. That was always kind of part of the plan. After finishing three days of withdrawal, which just felt like the flu, that was awful, that scared the daylights out of me. I was like, “All right. Well, I guess we’re doing it now.” I sort of psyched myself out of it. It wasn’t this big planned, “I’m going to quit some day” or, “I’m going to quit on this day.”
It just happened. I was three days into it and I was like, “Okay. It’s go time.” Annie, I started recovering as hard as I drank. I think that most alcoholics or problematic drinkers or whatever name you want to give yourself, I think most of us have the ability to recover just as well and just as hard as we drank.
That was a little over two years ago. I leaned heavily on podcasts. Thank you for yours. Paul with Recovery Elevator was a big part of my journey. You know, I just finally came out and asked for help because I had spent my whole life doing everything myself. “No, I’m fine”, “Don’t worry about me. I’m fine”, “No, I got this. I’m fine.” If I had an autobiography it would be called, “Don’t worry about me. Everything is fine.” You know?
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I finally just decided everything was not fine. I asked for help and I took the help and I tried as hard as I could and this is the best life I’ve ever had.
Recovery Happy Hour
I started a podcast six months ago called Recovery Happy Hour. There’s so many great podcasts out there. I wanted to focus mine on what happens after you quit drinking. There’s so many great ones about quitting drinking and the stories of while you’re drinking but the fear of missing out is such a huge deterrent for people from ever even taking that first leap or even just trying it even knowing that you can still change your mind and go back.
I wanted to focus on the fear of missing out, that life doesn’t end after you quit drinking, and also what are we learning once we put the bottle down? If alcohol is but a symptom let’s get to the root of the issue. What are the real life issues that we have to focus on? Just celebrating that, hearing people’s stories, digging into this whole idea of gray area drinking, this buzzword but it’s so important to talk about.
I talk a lot about taking ownership of the fact that you can just decide to quit drinking. You don’t have to fit into one box. You don’t have to identify as an alcoholic. If you have one drink a month, and you don’t like that, you can still decide that alcohol is no longer serving you.
I dig into a lot of those topics in Recovery Happy Hour. I love to focus on the fact that life does go on. Now I actually am living my life. The irony is we think that life is over once we stop drinking but really that’s when you start living. I was drinking on my couch alone all the time and that’s boring. No one wants to hear that story.
Tune in to the complete podcast for more on how life gets better in that Recovery Happy Hour.
Special music thank you to the Kevin MacLeod Funkorama (incompetech.com)
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