Stuck on repeat and sure that she would lose everything, today’s guest decided she needed to make a change. Annie welcomes Shelley, who has been alcohol free for over 2 years now! But before her life-changing decision that brought her freedom, things were quickly spiraling out of control. Find out how an alcohol-dependent dad, party-prone friends, and a near-fatal accident all contributed to the life that she ultimately decided to leave behind.

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Episode Links:
The Easy Way to Quit Smoking by Allen Carr

Download EP:223 Transcript

My Story

When I graduated from undergrad, I moved to Chicago. The reason I actually went is for a boy. I followed a guy who I thought would be the answers to all my problems and again, just totally love addicted and it didn’t end up working out. But we remained pretty close friends. I had a fairly healthy relationship while I was in Chicago for a couple years, but he was ready for things that I just wasn’t ready for. So we ended up splitting up and this is when my drinking kind of took on a new form once I was living alone. So I was living all by myself in Chicago and living all by myself for the first time too. And my coworkers and I would go out for drinks after work.

The Lead Up

This was the first time I was drinking during the week as well. So going out for little strong liquor drinks after work. I’d probably have like three or four strong drinks, stumble onto the train, get off at my stop. And then I went to the corner store and I picked up more beer and more cigarettes. And I remember just thinking at the register,

“Why am I doing this? Why do I need more beer?”

Because I had already drank, I was already social with people. I should just go home and go to bed. And so, things are just starting to develop as far as my drinking and self-medicating and things like that.

I Almost Died From Drinking

The next big thing that happened for me is when I was 25. I had a really bad accident at a friend’s house. It was the summer, the person I was dating at the time, we were with a group of friends at a background barbecue and I had been drinking beer for most of the day. By the time night came, I was pretty loaded. I decided to climb this cinder block wall that was in her backyard and at the time I just felt like that was a perfectly fine idea. And it was about a nine-foot cinder block wall and once I got up there, the wall crumbled and I was very, very intoxicated. I fell in a very weird way and actually ended up shattering my C1 vertebrae. I almost died from drinking.

Ditched

Six weeks after that accident, I was back at work – neck brace and all. And here enters my drinking home alone. So instead of going out to bars, now I’m drinking at home because nobody wants to be with a girl at a bar with a neck brace. And I remember getting those tall boy PBRs. A six pack of those, which is probably the equivalent of like 10 beers. I remember drinking one of those every night on my porch and just zoning out. At that point, most of the people that I was friends with decided that I really wasn’t that fun to be around anymore. I mean, if I wasn’t at work, I was either hungover or drunk. The fact that I almost died from drinking wasn’t enough to make me stop. With that just comes a lot of like inappropriate behaviors and just all sorts of stuff. So I really don’t blame them in hindsight.

Left

But again, I had a group of friends that left me. I had a boyfriend that left me. One of those friends was my roommate, so I had to find a house. I had to find living situations, so moved out on my own again. So there’s a pattern here of alcohol is getting me in trouble and I’m losing things and so I’m running away to something else. And it was just a bleak, dark time. I did eventually get out of Chicago and over the next three years, I would move three more times. Similar type situations, establishing a somewhat of a home base, maybe a relationship, drinking too much, screwing it up and then running away. Just over and over and over again.

Finding Love

I met my current partner towards the end of 2016 and it started out as a rebound. Honestly, the relationship was set up to fail from the beginning. I just got super lucky that he ended up being a very special person, and we’re still together. He’s really shown a limelight to my behavior because he wasn’t a big drinker. So I was drinking and I was starting to lie about it. Starting to hide bottles and sneak around and I had never had to do that before because I always dated men that were just as bad or worse than I was.

Now I’m lying and I’m trying the whole moderation thing, which is just torture for me. I was spending the week obsessing about when I could drink.

Then on the weekend I was drinking anywhere from two to four bottles of wine a night. Feeling like absolute garbage probably until like Wednesday into the next week. Because as we age we don’t recover as gracefully from the hangovers.

Never Again Will I Say I Almost Died From Drinking

The last time I drank, it was October 27th, 2017.

I had a complete mental breakdown. Don’t remember really any of it. I think I had drank about four bottles of wine that night. Breaking my phone, saying a lot of mean things to my boyfriend. It was just a really bad night. I remember waking up and my partner was just devastated. This was it. I was 32 years old. My life was just this same story on repeat over and over and over again. If I don’t take alcohol out of my life, I’m going to lose everything. I’ve come so close to losing everything so many times. I’m just lucky to be here.

So I quit and I don’t know how I did it. I was so scared. Asking myself questions like, “How am I going to clean my house?” I used to drink wine when I was doing chores. It was so ingrained in everything that I did and I was just absolutely terrified.

Getting My Life Back

I had not gotten to the point where I was waking up and drinking. I’ve always kept a job. Always been successful at work and so I could get through the day pretty okay. It’s when I got home I had to be super, super intentional. When I quit drinking, I also decided to do the whole 30 meal plan things. For the first month I was super obsessed with food as well. I think that helped. It was hard, don’t get me wrong, but I think it helped in a way because it wasn’t just the alcohol. For me, it was like the first six months were really hard and really… You just feel all your feelings. I wasn’t used to sitting with uncomfortable feelings. And it’s a lot of that.

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Special music thank you to the Kevin MacLeod Funkorama (incompetech.com)
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