Danielle Baldino started drinking while in college and over the next few years found herself shifting from drinking with friends for fun to weekend binge drinking as a way to cope with loneliness and life as a newly married woman being at all what she expected. Danielle shares her story with Annie and describes her recovery journey where she has now been alcohol free for 6 months. Danielle has a blog about truly living life with the good, bad and ugly and she also started a meetup for women in recovery in the San Diego, CA area.
Welcome to This Naked Mind Podcast. Today I’m really excited to share a Naked Life story, and I am here with Danielle Baldino. She shares her story of drinking to cope and getting free.
My drinking started probably around 19. I didn’t drink in high school or anything like that. Honestly, I was kind of a goodie two-shoes amongst my friends. I remember getting upset at my still best friend for taking a sip of apple pucker at a party when we were 17. I thought she must be some kind of raging alcoholic. They kind of teased me for that. Around 19, 20, I was introduced to alcohol, and I would say … I feel like I had a normal experience in my early 20s, college era. It never occurred to me that I might have a problem, or I was using alcohol in any different way than anyone else.
Drinking To Cope
Around age 23 or 24 I met my now ex-husband Brian, and I think around that time my life was very hectic. I was just finishing up college and had signed the contract to join the navy as a nurse. I was supposed to be moving to North Carolina within the year, pretty much, of when I met him. We got engaged very quickly, and I moved to North Carolina on my own in about 2011. The plan was for him to follow me within the year. I think this is where I kind of pinpoint the milestone of where my drinking went from fun, friends, weekend kind of binge drinking, to I was drinking to cope.
My first week in North Carolina I discovered two things that are very important: that Walmart sells wine. Could not buy wine anywhere but a liquor store in Connecticut. It’s very accessible. And I could get a bottle of Moscato, which was very sweet and easy to drink, for less than $3. I’d never had it before. Thought that was the best thing, and I would stock up on it whenever I went to Walmart. That’s when I started this trend of drinking most nights, even week nights, and I was by myself. At the time I kind of defined it as self-care. I was 24 or 25, living alone, it was very lonesome there, I didn’t have a lot of friends, I missed my fiance.
When he moved down when my drinking really took off. It was standard for us to have wine every night with dinner. I started drinking a pretty heavy amount by myself. Marriage, I don’t know if marriage is ever what you expect, but it was definitely not what I expected. I just wasn’t prepared for how hard it would be. I was drinking to cope with that, being a new nurse and new to the military, everything was very stressful, and my only coping skill was drinking.
I was in North Carolina for three years, so my third year there, in 2014, is the first time I said, “Okay, maybe I have an alcohol problem and I need to stop drinking forever.” That’s when I found Allen Carr’s book, The Easy Way to Control Alcohol. It worked like a charm for me for like a month. I remember I finished the book, I did as he says, drink your last drink, make it something you don’t necessarily love. I had a gin and tonic, heavy on the gin, and I hate gin, and I didn’t even finish the drink, and I was like, oh my God, I must be cured, I didn’t finish a thing of alcohol.
Not Drinking Anymore
I told my husband, I remember sitting in the kitchen, I said, “I’m not going to drink any more. I think it’s forever. Can you deal with that?” I don’t know why I put so much weight in, can he deal with that, but I was like, is this going to embarrass you? A part of me wanted him to say he couldn’t deal with it so I’d have an out I guess. I don’t remember, necessarily, his reaction, but I remember mine, and I just burst into tears when I said it out loud, “I think I need to stop drinking forever.”
I remember feeling like I was mourning the loss of a best friend, alcohol, like oh my God, what am I going to do without this?
The Last Time
Last summer, so almost a year to the day, when I decided for pretty much the last time, I’ll say to start my real recovery journey, it was like June 25th,is when I really decided to make the change.
Listen to the complete podcast to hear how Danielle stopped drinking to cope and where life took her from there.
Special music thank you to the Kevin MacLeod Funkorama (incompetech.com)
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