Chris was addicted to cigarettes and booze. A Naked Life means no longer being uncomfortable in her own skin and finally living life free and happy.
I’ve had a lovely life. No drama or difficult childhood or troubled parents or hard times (with the exception of my brother as you’ll see below). I’ve been very, very blessed with a 34-year marriage to a great guy who loves me. My sons, their partners, and 2 granddaughters are the lights of my life. Wonderful—truly wonderful—jobs/careers throughout my life. Creative pursuits (mostly painting) that excite me.
That’s why my alcohol (and nicotine) addictions have been so puzzling to me. (Although I think I found the answer in the video on Sneaking Alcohol: Ways to Rebel Without Drinking. My addictions were my deep desire to be rebellious and wild while I was also trying to be perfect and “good.”) To the outside world, I’ve always been a very happy, strong, and confident person. I’ve always felt that about myself. Alcohol slowly made me feel like that was a lie.
Cigarettes and Booze
I’m 58 and have been drinking since I was 16. I always—from the very beginning—smoked cigarettes when I drank. Cigarettes and booze came and went throughout my life: sometimes a little, sometimes a lot. The only time I stopped completely was when I was pregnant. The amount I drank was hidden from everyone who knows me (easy to do when you can drink half a bottle of vodka with almost no outward effects). It wasn’t that I didn’t ever drink in front of anyone, it was that I didn’t do it often and I either drank with “drunks”, or I kept it under control when I wasn’t alone. Drinking at home became my “thing.”
Cause of Death
A few years ago, my 50-year-old brother died. The cause of death was simply: alcohol. After years of heavy, heavy drinking, he died very painfully while alone and estranged from everyone he knew, including his 4 children. It was heartbreaking, but it didn’t stop me. If anything, I probably drank more in the years following. Until about 4 months ago, I was an “every-night” drinker. As in: every night until buzzed. I didn’t really have black outs, but more like “brown outs,” where things just got kind of fuzzy for me. I could remember that I watched a particular show, but couldn’t remember exactly what happened on it (Who got voted off the island? Hell if I know.). I tried to quit cigarettes and booze a couple times a year and always went back to it after a week or 2.
Often I would go to bed and drink – then write in my journal how much I wanted to stop. I would often go to bed and plead with God to show me how. I knew—JUST KNEW—that there had to be a way to stop that would be joyful and easy.
Quitting Without Misery
It would have sounded crazy to the world and it sounded a little crazy to me, but I knew that quitting should not have to be a miserable, joyless experience requiring sacrifice and endless depressing meetings. I knew if quitting my addictions was truly something that was good for me (and I knew it would be), that the Universe wouldn’t require misery to make it happen. So I kept asking and hoping. And then I found This Naked Mind. It was, without any doubt in my mind, the direct answer to my prayer. I quit on January 14th, 2019 and have been grateful every single day since. I’m done. I’ve escaped. I’m free. And it was, for the most part, a very joyful experience. I know that some people don’t like the word “never,” but I am thrilled to say never.
I no longer want or need to drink and I don’t have to spend any mental energy on that decision ever again. I’ve also realized that I can never go back to mindless drinking. Of course I could drink again—there are multiple bottles in my house right now. What I cannot do, however, is drink “happily.” I know too much to ever go back. (insert huge gratitude here)
Interested in finally leaving the cigarettes and booze behind? You can start reading This Naked Mind for free today and learn how!
No Going Back
My husband is still a drinker. He drinks every night and has no intention of stopping. When I first quit, this was really, really hard for me. To see him pour his nightly cocktails and smell the alcohol was excruciating. Then he’d go outside for a cigarette? Wow. I could hardly stand to be in the same room as him and often avoided him. My quitting was something we never talked about. I’m sure he thought (legitimately) that I’d go back to it as I had so many times before. He has never questioned his drinking. It’s a given part of his life and he has never worried that he’s dependent or drinking too much. I was completely frustrated and angry and indignant about this when I first quit.
This Is My Journey
How DARE he keep going while I was doing this important and difficult thing?! I hear this so much in the online community, this anger and frustration with partners who still drink. And here’s what’s happened to me, after almost 4 months: it stopped bothering me. Not drinking is MY choice, not his. Would I like him to quit? Of course. But I’ve come to the realization that he’s a kind man who loves me very much and is good to me and others. A huge, unexpected bonus is that I find myself feeling much kinder towards him than I used to, and I think it’s because I like myself better without all the guilt and shame and anxiety that drinking brought. Sobriety has allowed me to relax and be more accepting.
The Opposite of Addiction is Connection
A big part of my journey has been taking part in This Naked Mind community. I was so scared to post. I really don’t like Facebook and worried that this would be similar, but these people have been my rocks and inspiration and therapists. The support and non-judgment is beyond belief. I love reading and commenting on people’s posts. It feels helpful, but it also feels like everything I’m saying to others is meant for my own ears as well. Every time I sit down and think through someone’s “issue,” it forces me to look inside myself.
Sharing Our Stories
I wanted to share my story because I think it’s still such a hidden story, with people assuming all “problem” drinkers are the same.
I just read this: “People become addicted to alcohol in order to deal with deep pain.”
That’s BS. Certainly, there are plenty of heavy drinkers who are dealing with tragic pasts, but there are also some who just fell into the trap, without a “reason” we can point to. It’s really kind of boring in many ways: no trauma or hardship or wild and dangerous drinking stories. The issue with this kind of drinking is that it’s not as obvious that it’s a problem. Why would we need help? What I know for sure is this:
Despite outward appearances, my drinking felt like it was out of my control.
It made me feel bad.
Scared of dying or being incapacitated.
Ashamed and worried.
It made me feel like I was missing out.
It made me stop trying new things. Alcohol made my mornings fuzzy and sad. It made me dislike and mistrust myself. I lost hope. Alcohol made me cry. It took pleasure from things that should have been pleasurable. Worst of all it made me think I could never have a truly good time without it. It took over my life. And nobody knew it but me.
Life Without Addiction
When I was stuck in the cycle of cigarettes and booze, I had a very vivid picture of what my life could be without my addictions. Now that vision is starting to come true. I don’t know all the details, but it feels exciting and hopeful. I’m putting one sober foot in front of the other and looking forward to seeing what each new day brings. I actually feel, at 58, that I have a new life. The fact that this could be done with joy is a miracle to me. A miracle I somehow knew could happen, even before I knew how.
With all my heart I wish this feeling for everyone who struggles.
I’ve re-written this at least 6 times because I want so much to get it right. Not because I care what anyone thinks of me—I’m anonymous anyway—but because I hope that even one person recognizes themselves and feels hope that their life can be so much better without alcohol. Because I know it can.