My Drunk Life – Lisa’s Naked Life
Lisa shares how This Naked Mind took her from living a drunk life to embracing a free life.
My name is Lisa. I will be 57 years old in August of this year. I have been drinking alcohol for over 40 years. Upon the advice of a friend, I read “This Naked Mind” and immediately wanted to be sober … and free. I realized that I didn’t have to keep drinking out of habit or embarrassment or shame or fear. Breaking this addiction is the best thing I will ever do for myself. Here’s my story.
I grew up with parents who drank. Not heavily, at least not then. I was the last of the four siblings to leave home, and I was never a problem child like the others. My parents felt free to “treat me like an adult.” That meant learning to drink. My mother’s favorite drink at the time was a Whiskey Sour “neat.” That’s what she made for me — just one, of course, as I was still in high school. All that sugar made the alcohol palatable. I don’t blame them too much for that. I wish that they had set a better example. Yet I understand that I was the only one of their four children who didn’t leave home as soon as possible after years of fighting and yelling. I think they just wanted to keep me as a friend. Sharing alcohol was, sadly, an attempt to bond.
Beginning My Drunk Life
When I wasn’t hanging out with Mom and Dad, I was out drinking beer with my high school peers after church. Getting seriously drunk and passing out on sidewalks, throwing up in public bathrooms and my parents’ front yard. Also, having drunken unprotected sex in cars with guys who didn’t give a rat’s ass about me. Such was life in the Bible Belt. I knew all the local bars that didn’t bother to check IDs (things were looser back then).
Drinking was my favorite pastime at that point. My drunk life had begun.
It was my escape from everything I didn’t like about my life and myself … which was literally everything.
Learning To Take My Drinking Up A Notch
In college, I started dating a teaching assistant who was seventeen years older. He thought it was his duty not only to teach me Freshman English but also to teach me to drink red wine. I took to it quickly. (He also tried single malt scotch, but I found that disgusting.) For part of that time, I was still underage, so he was my source for booze. Shortly thereafter, I was old enough to secure my own supply of cheap magnum-size Valpolicella and drink it in my little apartment, mourning the fact that he was out cheating on me with two other women. It seemed like a good excuse to obliterate myself.
Taking My Drunk Life To Law School
After college, I went to law school, and we’ve all heard about the pressures involved in that undertaking. I spent more time drinking and partying than studying, and my grades showed it. Nevertheless, I somehow managed to graduate and even pass the bar exam, while experiencing the demise of yet another doomed relationship. My drinking increased to help — so I thought — deal with the stress. Finally, after law school, needing to clear my head and start fresh, I packed my little Ford Festiva and moved from Oklahoma to Washington, D.C. There I found a little basement apartment near Capitol Hill and got my first job practicing law in downtown D.C.
Drinking To Cope
The job, as you can imagine, proved stressful — I mean needing to buy a punching bag kind of stressful. Red wine every night was my comfort. That and a pint of Ben and Jerry’s. I had always struggled with my weight. By that time in my life, I had been on pretty much every fad diet anyone had come up with, including the dangerous Fen-Phen drug combo. I had always managed to keep my weight fairly under control. I was never thin, but I had a voluptuousness that men seemed to find pleasing. However, that started to change at this point, and I began to seriously gain weight. I was approaching 30 at that time, and my slowing metabolism and sedentary, stressful, carb-rich lifestyle were taking a toll. Of course, my weight made me feel even worse about myself, so I drank even more.
I was very young and inexperienced as a lawyer. The firm I joined was overloaded with cases, so I was immediately thrust into the courtroom, up against men twice my age with 100% more experience. My boss came to rely on me to prepare his cases too. After requiring that we work on Saturdays as a norm, he would then come over to my apartment on Sundays to review and prepare for his Monday trial. It was up to me to make a winning case. I literally never had a day off. Did I mention that it was a stressful job?
Practicing litigation means that almost everyone you work with is an adversary. You’re either arguing across a deposition table, or in the judge’s chambers, or in the courtroom. I had no colleagues. Even other attorneys in the firm were hostile competitors. However, I did manage to make a few friends amongst the firm’s support staff. They too were equally stressed by the workload and having to work for angry, overworked attorneys. Our limited free time was spent in bars and restaurants, always drinking heavily, then somehow managing to drive home. The money we spent on booze!
Where My Drunk Life Took Me
Eventually, I hooked up with a private investigator who worked for the firm and far too quickly moved to the burbs with him. I learned that he had a crack habit and a drinking problem and was incapable of caring about anyone but himself. After three painful, tumultuous years, I moved out, got my own apartment, quit practicing law, and found a job with a corporation that did large-scale litigation support for the federal government. That’s where I met my husband. Oh, happy day!
Though I was infinitely happier with my husband during the following years — and still am — my drinking didn’t stop. I did drink a bit less, for a while only half a bottle a day. I thought then that I still drank because I enjoyed it and half a bottle was perfectly normal. Now I think that I still drank because I was addicted. Over the years, I did stop a few times, thinking that proved that I wasn’t addicted. Of course, I always started again, still believing that I did it for the taste. Believing that it relaxed me, and that it’s the only beverage that really goes with food, and I could control it.
I told myself that I could drink in moderation, but I would slowly creep back up to a full bottle a day, then back to the magnum.
Any time that my job stressed me out or anything else went wrong, I drank more. All the while, my weight increased.
Taking Charge of My Health
At that time, I had never had a blackout. In fact, I didn’t know what they were. I did, however, have terrible hangovers to teach me that what I was doing was not good for my body. It’s too bad that I just didn’t care.
By 2013, I weighed over 300lbs and was in complete despair. I drank even more to obliterate those thoughts and feelings. Now I was up to two bottles a day. Finally, in the summer of 2013, I decided to have gastric bypass surgery. I know that a lot of people think that surgery is absurd, but I have no regrets. I lost 175 lbs and felt on the top of the world. All the health problems that were starting to manifest — high blood pressure, high blood sugar, high cholesterol — resolved immediately. I was exercising regularly and even pretty much stopped drinking … pretty much. That was the happiest and healthiest I have ever been.
Drowning My Worries
Then something happened. In 2016, my husband got a call from his new boss, telling him that he had been “removed and replaced” in his position. My husband had been in that job for 33 years. He never failed to grow the business and make more money than the year before. No explanation was ever given for that decision, other than speculation that his boss didn’t like him and wanted to bring in a friend of his, who, by the way, knew nothing about the business and had never run a large group like that.
It was the most shockingly unfair and cruel thing that has ever happened in my life.
My husband was devastated. We assumed that the next step would be to fire him, so we immediately had to figure out what to do with two houses and an otherwise expensive lifestyle.
I have never known such anxiety in my life. Neither of us could sleep. We took walks in the middle of the night just to have something to do. My husband found the situation too upsetting to talk about, so I had to keep my outrage and worry to myself.
This is when I started upping it to 2½-3 bottles a night with mimosas (at least one bottle of champagne) on weekend mornings. Just enjoying brunch, right?
Long story short, they put my husband in a large corner office in a building that was mostly empty all the time and ignored him. They completely humiliated him and waited for him to quit so that they wouldn’t have to pay severance. He couldn’t take it, though his decision to leave cost us a great deal of money. He eventually found a job that would allow him to work from Oklahoma, so we sold our house in Virginia and then suffered through the move from hell across the country, where we started over.
Pursuing My Dream
As for my “career,” I had for some time been trying to fulfill my life-long dream of being a ceramic sculptor. I had been taking classes for a decade. In 2010, I set-up a great studio in our two-car garage in Virginia. I had just started selling my work when things went south with my husband’s job. Sadly, I had to stop working in the studio, get the Virginia house ready to sell, orchestrate the move, and set up our house in Oklahoma.
We then made the very unwise decision to remodel the house in Oklahoma, which required moving everything out of the house and into the building that was supposed to be my studio. The remodel took almost two years, then many months to set-up the house. Then, we had renovations to the studio building to make it workable. Those renovations have dragged on, waiting for me to finish a few projects, but I’ve been too wasted to find the energy or motivation to do them.
I’ve now been without a studio — or any other place to work — for over three years. It would not have been that long if I had not been drugging myself and, therefore, lacking the drive and motivation to move forward.
My Drunk Life Is Holding Me Back
Every day since then has been psychological torture, knowing that everything I need to realize my dreams is just sitting there down the hill, waiting for me to act, while I seem unable to find the motivation and confidence to do anything but drink. I drink because it makes me forget about that for a while, but, then, when I wake up in the middle of the night, having done the same thing another day, I hate myself even more.
The anxiety and guilt are breathtaking.
Lately, life has just seemed so overwhelming. My husband works half the time in Oklahoma and half the time in Virginia, so it seems like I lead two different lives. There’s life when he’s here and I have someone to talk to and watch TV with and eat with and sleep with. Then there’s the silence when he’s gone. More and more, especially when he’s gone, I fill my days with booze. I have added beer to the menu. Sometimes I have my first beer as early as 7:00 AM, because, you know, I’m thirsty, and beer is nourishing, right? Once I have that first beer, I have six or eight up to 3:00 or so, when I then switch to wine and drink the rest of the evening until I pass out in bed. Some days when he’s gone, I spend the entire day in bed, watching TV and drinking non-stop.
Blacking Out My Life
I mentioned earlier that in years past I hadn’t had blackouts. Well, that changed. I also mentioned that I used to get terrible hangovers. Well, that also changed. There’s something about gastric bypass surgery that affected that. I think it’s because I no longer have that big, football-sized stomach to hold in the booze but, rather have a tiny pouch, which allows everything to pass quickly into the intestines. I haven’t had a hangover since the surgery, no matter how much I drink. Weird, huh?
I’m not saying that I wake up feeling refreshed, ready to face the day, but rather just parched and tired and wondering if a beer would pep me up, but no debilitating headache or nausea like pre-surgery days. However, in the last year or so, I’ve had blackouts.
Not one or two, but EVERY NIGHT. I am at the point now where I don’t remember the evening before AT ALL, EVER.
I think this too is a result of the surgery. For me, as with many other gastric bypass surgery patients, alcohol enters my bloodstream much faster than it used to. I can literally feel the first sip of wine hit my brain.
The first indication that something was different with my memory was when I started getting routine comments like, “Yeah, you told me that last night,” or “Don’t you remember, we discussed that last night?” Well, I had no recollection of the conversation, but I chalked it up to advancing age and normal forgetfulness. Then something different happened about two years ago.
I think we were celebrating my mother’s birthday, but, frankly, I don’t remember that either. Not knowing that there was anything different about that night. I got up the next morning and read that I had been tagged in a photo on Facebook. Curious to see what that was about, I pulled up the post to see myself posing in front of the window of the restaurant in a group picture with my family. My eyes were half closed, and I look completely stoned.
I had no recollection of taking that picture. It was like looking at a photo of someone else. I thought about what I did remember of the night before. I remembered the drive to the city, valet parking the car. My memories included greeting other members of my family, sitting down at the table, and having a glass or two of wine while talking and reading the menu. My memories end there.
I couldn’t recall what I ordered, getting my food, whether I had dessert. No recollection of the conversations, the group picture, the drive home, or going to bed. I was living two separate lives — the sober me (what little was left of it) and the drunk me, and I could no longer connect the two. My drunk life was taking over.
I am a highly functional drunk. Carrying on a normal evening, including cooking dinner, engaging in a lively conversation, putting away leftovers, cleaning the kitchen, and getting myself to bed. All the while seeming pretty normal and in control. But the truth is that, after the second or third glass of wine, I am not really there.
My husband and I like to binge watch TV shows. Lately, that’s been pretty frustrating, because we’ll watch several shows in an evening, then sit down the next evening to pick up where we left off. Except that I have no idea what’s going on at that point in the show. So, we spend quite a bit of time rewinding to find the last thing that I do remember. Usually, we end up re-watching most of the shows from the night before. This goes on every night now. Recently, watching a show when he was out of town, it took going back two entire seasons to find something that I remembered.
My Drunk Life Takes Over
Also, there are those terrible mornings, where I wake up to find that my husband is clearly furious with me, and I have no idea why. When I ask why he’s so angry, he invariably replies, “Seriously? You don’t remember?” Seriously, I don’t. Similarly, my sister-in-law just stayed with us for a couple of weeks. Several mornings she came in and put her hand on my shoulder asking if I was okay. The rest of the conversation went something like this: “Sure,” I said. “Why do you ask?” “Well, you were pretty upset last night.” “Was, I? Sorry, I don’t remember. What happened?”
Lately my hands have started shaking. My sister-in-law noticed it. How can I sculpt with shaking hands?
I’m so tired of missing my life, of being “upset” about something that wouldn’t normally upset me without the influence of alcohol. I am tired of destroying my body and my brain, of not having the energy or motivation to move my life forward. My life has been wasted. Worse, even, I’ve been actively destroying it with my drunk life.
Time for A Naked Life
There’s so many dreams and goals that I want to accomplish. I want to believe in myself again. To feel hopeful and confident and free. I want to have the drive and fearlessness to put myself and my work out there and learn from my successes and failures and grow and be the best that I can be. Alcohol has taken a lot away from me. I’m now on a journey to get it back … a journey of sobriety.
Is it time for you to put your drunk life behind you? Are you ready to find freedom and live the life you dream of instead? Start reading the first 40 pages of This Naked Mind for free right now.
Leaving My Drunk Life
I realize now that alcohol is not a solution for stress or anxiety. It only makes everything worse. I will experience loss — perhaps even another job loss and the financial worries that come with it. It could be that we will even have to sell this house and downsize, and I’ll have to start all over again building a new studio. My parents are aging, and my father is in poor health. I know that we don’t have much more time with them. These are life’s problems.
I don’t look forward to them, but obliterating my mind is not dealing with them, but rather is cowardly running and hiding. It is missing all the good experiences and opportunities that can come from change — even from loss. I don’t want to not remember one more evening with my husband or my parents. No, I want to live consciously and aware of every minute from now on. I want to learn to love and be proud of myself again. So, goodbye booze. We’re done. I won’t miss you. My drunk life has ended.
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