Religion and alcohol can be an interesting topic of discussion, especially for those raised in the Mormon faith – where alcohol is strictly forbidden. Today, Annie chats it up with Brittany, a young mom of three and a former Mormon. Find out how Brittany separated from her faith, but quickly got entangled in the drinking culture. Learn how she was able to get back out with the help of This Naked Mind.
Are you looking to connect with like-minded people? Sometimes maybe you feel like you have all this information from doing This Naked Mind or The Alcohol Experiment, but you’re living in a world where people don’t speak your language.
That is why I created The Exchange. The Exchange from This Naked Mind is an online community where we meet face to face, live with video calls multiple times a week with people from all over the world just to connect and have somewhere that you are seen, you are heard, and you feel less alone. A place where you can really give back and get the support you need. If this sounds great to you, check it out at www.thisnakedmind.com/exchange.
And as always, rate, review, and subscribe to this podcast, as it truly helps the message reach somebody who might need to hear it today.
Alcohol and Religion
Back in the beginning of our relationship, we had never touched alcohol. We both grew up as adherent followers of the Mormon faith. No drugs, no alcohol. Not caring to get involved in the party scene with only a few close friends in high school. For us, alcohol and religion are polar opposites. I worked on the weekends at a local restaurant which took most all my weekend nights. I had goals in life and lived under the umbrella of getting in big trouble if I was caught with booze.
After graduating I went to the University of Utah for school with aspirations of becoming a nurse. There I met my charming and intelligent husband the first week of my freshman year. Dating right off the bat, engaged the following summer and married the very end of 2002. We were all in, religion-wise. Faithful and living the standards set by the faith. No coffee or tea. It was drilled into us that alcohol and religion do not complement each other. No alcohol or drugs and many other lifestyle markers of living a faithful life.
3 days after getting married we were moving to Southern California. As newlyweds, we used our faith community as our main social avenue. It was the center point of how we lived our lives, who we associated with. After 8 months, my husband took a job in Boston. Having put school on hold for a bit when we got to Boston I re-enrolled in a nursing program. Friends at school would go out, but I kept to myself and my church-going routine. I held a slightly ‘holier than thou / self-righteousness’ air about my drinking friends. Now, I never made comments to them, just listened to their drinking stories and laughed half heartedly at them.
Leaving Our Religion
My husband worked and I did school. Then we switched roles and I worked while he got his MBA. At this time we socialized during his MBA stint and alcohol was certainly there but I never gave thought to it. Learning how to be comfortable meeting many new people, getting out of my shy bubble. Finding myself pregnant with our first kid, my husband graduated, and took another job. Then baby number two came along. We then had the opportunity to move back west to Washington.
Right before this move, my husband dropped a bombshell of a revelation: he no longer believed in our Mormon faith for several reasons I could not contemplate or understand at the time. We then packed up and moved west, moved into my devout Mormon parents’ home while searching for a home.
I told my parents and they just said pray harder. Read your scriptures more. Try to do away with those doubts because you don’t want to entertain those too much. It came to a point where my husband and I kind of hit this rock bottom of is our marriage going to survive this crisis, basically.
At that point, I felt like I needed to choose between God and my family, or the church and my family and I chose my family.
I said okay, I’m willing to open my mind to the possibility that I might be wrong. I don’t have all the answers about faith and God and all these things. It was hard. It was hard to question everything I had known my whole life. That itself is part of the catalyst towards drinking. Up until that point, still believing that alcohol and religion were separate entities never to be combined.
Discovering Alcohol While Losing Religion
He stopped attending church in the spring of 2012. That spring I felt like everything I thought I knew from a belief standpoint in my religion was shattered. Left with a broken glass house I needed to rebuild. With all that pain and hurt also came the opportunity to be open to experimenting with alcohol. We invited a new neighbor over and he left a 6 pack of beer with a few left in it. we didn’t drink it while he was there, but he left it there and so my first sip of alcohol was an Elysian Men’s Room Beer. I remember the packaging and everything. I was like oh my gosh, why does anyone ever drink this stuff? It’s so gross. Now I know why our body responds to it that way. I was like that’s gross.
We live in a very tight neighborhood. Lots of little kids, lots of parents with very young kids, total mommy wine culture/drinking because well we can’t really go anywhere. If we go anywhere we’re going to have to get a babysitter and we don’t really want to have to do that so we’re just going to drink on the weekends, all weekend, get the baby monitor, we’re heading to the neighbors like the kids are asleep. It was a little ridiculous. I’ve always been a little cautious about stepping into new things and I was cautious about alcohol.
My husband’s side of the family has a history of alcoholism, and I shared these boundaries and concerns from the very beginning. Toss those out the window. We’re just trying to survive here post church, post three kids, move, house, all this stuff. A way to escape on the weekends and feel like we were accepted into this new community. We didn’t really have that anymore, so our neighbors became that replacement community for us.
Back To Work
I went back to work and got my dream job of being a labor and delivery nurse. At that point for my own drinking I worked nights and so drinking really messes you up with sleep and all of that, so does working night shift. I kind of toned it back and didn’t drink quite as much.
Tried to slow it down because I was getting sick a lot and I know alcohol does nothing for your immune system and neither does sleep deprivation.
Trying to tone it back, but I also felt the pull of the social aspect of my neighborhood and drinking with my neighbors. At that point, I didn’t go into work until 10:30 at night. I was like well, I can probably have a few before I go to work. Which is not the smartest thing to do. I hate to admit that I probably went to work buzzed a couple of times, still. Which is not something I’m proud of and could get me in big trouble with my license.
Making poor decisions was becoming normal – like driving our neighbor from downtown back home. I was like, “Well, I’m the only responsible one here”, since I didn’t drink as much as everybody else, “Sure, I can drive.”
I definitely made some poor decisions on my own part regarding drinking.
This continued to happen. Some of our friends moved away, so some of the drinking after the Summer of 2015 kind of waned a little bit because people started moving out, people started going different directions. My husband was also really unhappy with his job. I thought maybe a lot of his drinking was related to that. It was like we should see a counselor. We had kind of done counseling a little bit individually through our faith transition just because of all the stuff we needed to deal with personally with that. He kind of went back to counseling for that, but really didn’t want to face his drinking at that point, either.
Time For Changes
In 2018, my husband, I just kind of got fed up to the point where I was just like I need to give him an ultimatum. I’m kind of done with him not taking this seriously. I was like you need to get help. Serious help with it, which was a really difficult conversation. He reached out to a friend that had been sober for a little while. She gave us the resources of This Naked Mind and a few other podcasts and books and stuff to read. That day, that night that we had this blow up. We don’t really fight. I mean, we’ve been through so much together. We haven’t really fought and I’ve tried to be patient with a lot of the things that had gone on with drinking and stuff like that.
Read about Alcohol and Religion
Did you grow up thinking alcohol and religion don’t mix? Wondering how we get caught up in the drinking lifestyle so easily? Find out when you start reading This Naked Mind. Download the first 40 pages today!
Tune in to hear what happens once Brittany starts reading This Naked Mind and how she learned to coincide alcohol and religion!
Special music thank you to the Kevin MacLeod Funkorama (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License