Summer was a social drinker – always imbibing to make sure others didn’t feel uncomfortable. It took reading This Naked Mind several times over the course of four years for her to finally put herself first.
Why Would Anyone Quit Drinking?
I’ll never forget the first time I overheard someone say they had quit drinking. She walked into our casting office in L.A. where I was working. The casting director remarked how good she looked. She declared proudly, “It’s because I stopped drinking alcohol.” This was in 2006. I was shocked, a bit horrified and completely in awe of her declaration. I didn’t understand – people like her who (to me) looked completely normal (whatever that meant) could just stop drinking? There was a freedom in the way she expressed it. I’ve never forgotten that, and often think about it. Of course, at the time, I also judged her because I wasn’t ready to wrap my head around it.
I was given your book four years ago by my mom when I started getting healthy and working out. At the same time I had just moved to Paris to be the Global Digital Business Director for The New York Times. I wanted to be alert and focused for this new life. I finished This Naked Mind in under a week, and at the end of the week (my first week on the job), my boss took me to dinner with other colleagues to get to know each other. When I ordered water, my boss looked directly and asked me, “You’re not pregnant, are you?” I was horrified. The last thing I wanted was my new boss to think that I had just taken this very important job, had them move me to Paris only to find out I was pregnant. I promptly ordered a glass of wine to prove that I wasn’t. (Yes, SO many things wrong with this situation). This taught me that in Paris you were not supposed to turn down wine at dinner. Thus it took me another two years to attempt to stop.
Did you find you weren’t ready to stop drinking before but you’re ready to try again? Start reading This Naked Mind for free today and learn about why alcohol gets control of us.
It was also the perfect storm. Already, I was deathly afraid that I was an imposter getting hired by The New York Times. I wanted to make sure I could fit in. And, as a people pleaser over all, the biggest reason for drinking was to make others feel more comfortable.
After two years, I finally decided to stop for three months, then picked it back up, then stopped for a month here and a month there.
No Longer A Social Drinker
This Christmas, I finally decided to stop for good. Seeing a friend blacked out drunk did it for me. I realized I had been surrounding myself with people who drank more than me to make me feel like I didn’t have a problem. There was always someone who was more drunk than I was. It helped me not face it, and living in Europe with the Expat community – well, drinking is part of what we do to avoid feeling alone. I often felt very alone, traveling, drinking, and being single.
I started drinking when I was 12 years old in Baltimore. My first time getting drunk was with my babysitter. My mom drank often at home swigging back martinis. We would just steal the alcohol from her liquor cabinet and fill it with water. She didn’t notice. The house was so volatile, drinking helped numb the volatility. I was going along with the family. But no one in my family has ever declared they were an alcoholic. We just stopped drinking if we needed to. We weren’t the labeling type.
Getting my first fake ID at 16 years old, and looking older, I could easily get into clubs or bars with it. We would go down to DC and party until 5AM in high school, then we would drive back drunk and I would make it to school the next morning.
Over The Limit
This continued into college at USC. I would often brag how I could go out all night, go to school the next day, work a part time job, have an internship, get two degrees, and star in a play all while holding straight A’s. I didn’t have a problem if I could do all this.The only wet campus west of the Mississippi. Meaning a TON of drinking on campus. Even getting roofied at a frat party from the punch bowl, finding myself face down in my own vomit on my carpet, that didn’t stop me. Running my car into the side of a barricade on the highway, blowing two tires and walking away in one piece, that didn’t stop me. Getting adult acne and a beer gut, it didn’t stop me.
Thank God I never hurt anyone or got arrested or had a DUI, and I found a personal trainer.
Social Drinker Culture
When I moved to England, drinking was even more accepted. Co-workers would often come in bragging about their hangovers. It got me excited. Finally, a place where I wasn’t judged or didn’t have to feel guilty for drinking! My English husband would drink only on the weekends to get drunk. For him, there was no point in drinking moderately. Either all or nothing. So, I began adopting more of that attitude. He didn’t like it if I had a glass of wine for dinner, so I would sometimes sneak it.
Plus, I could always stop if I needed to. Always drinking a lot of water while drinking alcohol. I rarely got too drunk where I didn’t remember anything. I was proud of being able to drink with the boys. Until one day, I realized that without alcohol, he and I had nothing to speak about. Our relationship was completely built on our social drinking lives. We split up. I drank more.
Love Hate Relationship
I loved alcohol, and I hated it. I always had bouts of going sober. Again, felt like it was under control. But when I would go sober, I would lock myself away in my apartment. It made me feel more isolated, so I started associating sobriety with loneliness.
Then, the fainting started. After a bout of sobriety, I would have a cocktail and I would faint. This happened three times in a year and a half. My body was physically reacting to it. How many signs did I need?
I didn’t want kids. I never wanted kids, so I knew I wouldn’t be able to use that as an excuse to get sober. After I left The New York Times and started working in film as I have always wanted to do, I had less and less of a routine. I would take a shot of whiskey before leaving the house. Drinking for fun during the day, but at the same time, my creative projects were taking off. Feeling like the intensity of the creative projects where I was completely sober should be rectified by letting loose and drinking. And then, the suicidal thoughts began.
Ending Being A Social Drinker
Here I was living in my dream city – Paris – finally working in my dream career – film – and I was thinking of killing myself?! But for some reason, it was Christmas Day watching a 30-something year old blacked out drunk that hit me like a ton of bricks. Waking me up. The next day, I joined your group, I joined the Sober Grid app and decided drinking was no longer for me.
I’m now 15 days in. I had one whiskey so far and it gave me the worst hangover the next day. I’m reading all your material, listening to all of your podcasts, and vowing to continue going out. I’ve gone dancing in a club sipping on water. First dates having non-alcoholic beer and coffee. I take lots of long walks.
I’m so grateful for all you do.
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