Join us for today’s interview, where Annie sits down with Ken – who thought he had achieved spontaneous sobriety…until one relapse, which ultimately led him to find This Naked Mind. Ken was then able to do things his way, avoiding the industrialistic feel of rehab and the labels associated with AA. For Ken, this allowed him to take ownership over his journey to a naked life.
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I grew up in a time when, in the 70s, where it wasn’t uncommon to get together with the guys, get in the car, stop at the convenience store, and pick up those courts of brands of beer that are not even made anymore like Schlitz, Iron City, things like that. I grew up in West Virginia. At the time the drinking age was 18, so it was easy to fudge it a little bit and get a headstart on things.
I went to college, and the school I went to had a hard partying reputation, and I did my part to keep up with that. But you know, I got through all that in good shape. Just pretty much the normal college binge drinking and such, and then just settled into life, but moved along and probably be … I’m 60 now, so probably about 10 years ago I started to detect like I maybe maybe drinking a little more than I need to. I’m just having a beer or two each night, but then pretty soon that’s becoming a much more common thing.
By about five years ago, I’m starting to realize that I’m supplementing, shall we say, my regular drinking with a few on the side. You get done mowing the grass and you want to have a beer. Well, it won’t hurt to stick another one in the freezer there to have later. Nobody needs to know about that. You’re having more.
By about three years ago, I knew I was in a big problem. I was in that situation where you know it’s not a sustainable practice. This just can’t really continue the way it’s going on. You want to slow down, you want to moderate, you want to stop, but you’re not quite sure how to bring it out to people. You find yourself, I think because of the stigma we associate with alcoholism, it’s very difficult for people, at least it was for me, just to say, “Hey, I have a problem with I’m drinking more than I really want to.”
Is There A Problem?
You don’t know if you’re going to get hit with that brush that says, “Are you an alcoholic? Well, that’s not good. What are we going to do about that?” as opposed to like, “Wow. Well, geez, that’s a problem. It’s understandable since alcohol’s an addicting substance, and we all drink it. Yeah, let’s see what we can do to help you out.” But that’s not the way you think. You’re afraid that you’re going to be an alcoholic, and nobody wants to be that.
Probably about, well, I’ve been sober for over two years ago, so about two years and a few months back, I just finally just broke down. I had to tell my family that, “Look, I’ve got a real drinking problem. I’ve gone from having that little bit of extra beer or wine around to making those stops at the liquor store, keeping the extra vodka stashed around the house, and nipping off and having to have more,” because you couldn’t stop yourself. You’d had to keep that rush of alcohol consumption going on.
Trying A Naked Life
I came out to them and said, “Look, I’ve really got a problem. From that point, I just decided I would stop at that point. I did pretty well, but then I slipped back and was very fortunate in being outed by a friend of the family who happen to see me popping into the liquor store and knew this was a problem. I show up at home after work and there’s my wife and my grown son, he’s 25 now, sitting there waiting for me, and I was like, “Yeah, something’s going down.” At that point, I went to counseling, with them.
It was hard to do, because it’s hard to ask for help if you have an issue with alcohol.
That was really the big turning point. The first time had been a turning point for sure, when I said, “Wow, I’ve got a problem,” but that was it for me. I just realized I just can’t continue on like that, so I fessed up. “Okay, here’s what I got. Here’s my miniatures that I picked up to tide myself through the day or the night. Yeah, I’ll do what I need to do to get control of this.” Because I just didn’t want to go through that anymore. I didn’t make it for myself, and I didn’t like what I was seeing it doing to the people I love.
My family knows people in social work, so they were able to make some good recommendations on the counselors who work with this. We went in as a group, my wife, my son and I, and talked to the fellow we worked with, and he was quite good. He suggested at the time that I should look into doing outpatient rehab, and I was like, “Okay, that’s fine, I’ll do that. That’ll be great.”
Not Fitting In
Again, at this point I was on board. I wanted to like lick this problem. I didn’t want this problem to go on anymore. My first step was looking into the local rehabs and such, and then visiting a couple. I didn’t like what I saw. I felt like stepping into those I was stepping into, for lack of a better word, the rehab industrial complex. It looked like a situation designed to kind of put me on their schedule and then take my money from me.
Even though I had a relapse. I felt at the time that I was starting to do some things that were turning myself around, and I was getting on a much better place. They said, “Okay, you need to be coming in here like every night and doing all this, and that, and the other thing,” and I was like, “Wow, that’s going to stop me from like doing the things I think I’m doing now, which are helping me out.”
I looked at what rehab was going to ask me to do, and that was going to take that all away from me, because I wouldn’t have time to do it anymore. I would be going to work and then going and sitting in meetings with them. We went back to our counselor and I said, I told him basically that. I said, “I don’t like what they want me to do there.” He said, “Well, tell you what. Why don’t you try going to like AA three times a week and see how that works for you?”
I very dutifully started attending AA meetings, only to find out later that he didn’t think that was going to work for me. He thought, “Nah, nah. He’ll relapse and he’ll have to go to rehab.” But I dutifully did that, and in the meanwhile really kept looking around for other resources and other people’s writings on the issues.
I think one of the early things for me is I stumbled across the Holly Whitaker’s Hip Sobriety blogs, and I loved Holly’s attitude. She’s so rampant. She’s rampantly kind of feminist, and I liked that, her attitude, and I just liked her sort of fuck off alcohol look at things. That was good.
I liked the way she looked at saying don’t think of yourself as an alcoholic. Think of yourself as somebody who’s got a problem with alcohol. It’s a whole totally different thing. You’ve got a problem with this, and you can fix it. There’s nothing inherently wrong with you that you can’t take care of. By bumping into all that and some other things, the Reddit stop drinking subreddit was a really supportive kind of group.
Discovering A Naked Life
That’s when I kind of bumped into your book, which I found probably one of the most crucial things for me, because it had a scientifically based look at this is what’s going on in your mind. This is what’s going on in your brain. It’s much better than if you were having a bad day and thinking, “Wow, I’ve got cravings for alcohol,” to say, “Oh, I understand why I have a craving for alcohol. Not that I have defects of character that are leading me astray. The issue is that you’re pouring rocket fuel into your body and it’s really messing up your brain,” so it gives you a better place to work from to get there.
Interested in how you can start living a naked life? Start reading This Naked Mind for free today and find out!
Long story short, I did, because I promised to everybody, I did AA for a year. For six months, I did three meetings a week, then I did two of them for six months. I did two a week, and then when I got to one year I picked up my chip and that was that with them. I decided I was living a naked life instead from there out. Though I did go back to the first meeting I’d gone to on my second anniversary.
That was just a really weird eye opener, because I’d become accustomed to realizing what alcohol had done to me and how I needed to approach that, and I went into this meeting and heard all of these people saying, “Wow, I’m a really messed up person, and that’s why I’m drinking,” as opposed to like, “Wow, alcohol really messed me up. How can I stop drinking alcohol?”
Learn More About Living A Naked Life
Tune in and hear what living a naked life is like for Ken now!
Special music thank you to the Kevin MacLeod Funkorama (incompetech.com)
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