In today’s episode, Annie welcomes Christine. Despite having a family history of alcoholism, Christine took a “take-it-or-leave-it” attitude when it came to alcohol for most of her life. However, when boredom led to over-eating and drinks starting at noon, she began to slide down that slippery slope where alcohol was trying to take control. Today, though – she’s recovered! Totally recovered. Find out how she found her way to a naked life.
I’m so excited you guys, because we are just about to start another live alcohol experiment. If you do not know about the alcohol experiment, you need to literally drop everything right now and go to thisnakedmind.com/lae. That’s L-A-E for Live Alcohol Experiment. And here’s the thing, this 30 day challenge is designed to interrupt your patterns and put you back in touch with the best version of you. You’ll know it’s that version that’s living the most joyful life. That version that doesn’t need alcohol to relax or have a good time. And that version that’s having more fun and is more peaceful than ever. Again, it’s a 30 day challenge. It’s live. It’s starting on the 1st so hurry up, go to thisnakedmind.com/lae.
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.
Take It or Leave It
I had a take it or leave it attitude about alcohol all my life. I had a false belief that if you had the alcoholic gene, which I don’t believe in anymore, but if you have that gene it’ll appear right away. If you drink for any period of time or any length of time it’s going to get you. My grandfather had it – He played pro baseball in the ’20s and was kicked off the team because of drinking and consequences of that. My younger brother just died in May of complications with drinking and pills. I actually told myself, “Well you know, I don’t take pills so I’m okay.”
We keep justifying what we’re doing because we don’t want to face the fact that I might have a problem and what having a problem would mean. That I’d have to label myself an alcoholic. I knew I could control alcohol. I couldn’t bear thinking I’d be stuck in recovery the rest of my life. I’ve been a counselor so I know what that’s like and the doom people feel to be trapped forever recovering. Never really having joy in your life and always abstaining and keeping away from people, places, things that are going to trigger you.
Happiness Is A Choice
In 1997 I read a book called Happiness Is A Choice by Barry Neil Kaufman, whose wife Samahria and he started the Option Institute in Massachusetts. I read the book and I remember finding it in the library saying, “What idiot wrote this? If happiness is a choice, we’d all be happy.” It was a little book. So I said, “All right, I’m going to read this and laugh my way through it.” Well I read it and I was amazed. He gives very short little shortcuts that you can do.
So I started practicing them. Like being present, being authentic, gratitude. Letting go of judgments was a huge one. I grew up in a very dysfunctional family. Lots of sarcasm and wittiness. And when you’re funny and people tell you how funny you are, you just lock it in. And I realized, but sarcasm is not really what I want to do.
In the book I realized that if I was unhappy, it was my beliefs that were making me feel that way and not my situation or my past or other people. So the idea of stimulus, response, outcome. They interject a little thing in there. In between stimulus and response it’s beliefs. So you had an event, a stimulus, something that happens and then unconsciously, which is what your book totally talks about, unconsciously a belief is kicked in. Or more than one. And it’s operating in the background and suddenly we have desires to respond a certain way, and then we behave a certain way.
In 2009 my husband and I moved with my son Ethan to Oregon, where I live now. I was doing social science research as an assistant and I traveled quite a bit. When I wanted to relax in the evenings at the hotel room, it’s hectic traveling and all this, I’d get a glass of wine or two. But then the next day I’d be working and busy doing things and so it wasn’t really a problem to me yet. I could still control alcohol. I continued to work in a gym.
In 2016 my husband and I moved to our property now. We have five acres that’s rural. In addition, I had a job in town in a gym. When I worked at the gym I became dissatisfied after a while because I just wasn’t happy with the focus that a lot of the older people had on intensity still. I had done crossfit training, all kinds of weight training and things for years and I knew that as you get older you need to kind of listen to your body. Listen to your instincts of what it’s telling you. But I saw the gym atmosphere just wasn’t what I wanted anymore, this pressure. So I quit.
During that year I also drank more. When you’re not working anymore and you have time on your hands, the drinking can start earlier. So it was at noon when I would have my first glass of wine. Having been a counselor I knew all the criteria in the DSM-IV for alcohol problems and one of them is drinking often before noon.
So I told myself, “I don’t drink before noon so I can’t have a problem.”
And I was able to at least wait until noon, and then I would end up finishing off a bottle by the time my husband got home from work about 5:30. That was my way of proving I could control alcohol use.
I just realized that it’s increasing, my drinking. The reason I was drinking during the day, I realized, was because I wanted to soften the edges of my small life.
Need To Stop
The dissonance inside me where I knew I had a problem, I wanted to quit but couldn’t, I ended up drinking that bottle of wine that I’d buy from the store in one day. I knew I was right back to square one. Although I was accepting where I was with my drinking, I didn’t know how to stop.
That’s when I shared with my husband, who I’d kept it kind of secret from before. He still drank a beer sometimes at night once in a while and he’d also have NA beer, which he enjoyed. Because he didn’t like how beer affected him. He’d be tired and kind of lazy and not want to do anything at night. So he would every once in a while have a real beer, but most of the time NA beer. I just didn’t want him looking at me with judgment.
Spiritually I knew who I was and all that meaning of life, all that stuff. So I didn’t really need the higher power stuff and all that. I already knew that I believed that source energy is my higher power. I didn’t need to find something that I’d turn over to. What I wanted to know was why can’t I stop when I want to? So Nate, my husband, bought your book. The way he found it is he’s an avid reader of The New Yorker. There was a review of your book in there. This was I think July or so.
He saw the book and the thing that stood out to him is when you said, “You will continue to drink while you read the book.” The reason he loved that is because he said, “Now I know that Chris isn’t going to now think I’m judging her if I give her a book that says she can drink while she’s reading it.” So he gave it to me in Kindle form. And honestly the first time I looked at it Annie, I thought, “Oh god, here we go. A book.”
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Special music thank you to the Kevin MacLeod Funkorama (incompetech.com)
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