Calley never thought she’d say no more wine for her. Yet, doing just that and living a naked life has brought her the healing that eluded her until now.
I stopped drinking 152 days ago.
It all started when I stumbled upon a Ted Talk by Ann Dowsett-Johnston about women and drinking. I was intrigued and headed over to Amazon to look at her book. While looking at it, another book caught my eye called This Naked Mind. After reading several reviews, I decided to read it.
I had no intentions of quitting drinking. That sounded terrible, and I was sure I could never stop.
No More Wine
I was aware that I drank more than I wanted and that my attempts to keep track of my drinking and stay under the recommended weekly amounts were not working. I am a mother of three who began drinking more and more in my 30’s to escape the challenges of being a mother. There were so many other reasons, but they were buried deeply below the surface and I was not aware of them. All I knew was that every day around 4:00 p.m. I heard a voice suggest, “You’ve had a big day. Why not have some wine tonight?”
I fought the urge, but slowly began to drink about four to five times a week, almost a bottle each time.
Often experiencing the 3 a.m. wake up that came with dark thoughts, I felt like I was trapped and would never be able to cut back. I usually felt tired and grumpy the next day. I often vowed to only drink on weekends or for special occasions. None of my plans worked.
Not Ready To Say No More Wine
I finished the book and then read it another three times. Something was changing inside of me, but I wasn’t ready to take action yet. I found several other books and devoured them. By the end of Allen Carr’s “Easy Way to Control Your Alcohol,” my desire to drink had gone down so much that I was ready to stop and see what would happen. On October 24, 2018 I said no more wine.
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Living With No More Wine
I experienced some of life’s events without drinking for the first time in a long time. Vacations, special occasions, and holidays. Each time, I’d think “This is a birthday dinner. I should be celebrating with champagne. It feels weird not to drink.” But I’d move forward and go to dinner.
Surprisingly, I’d have fun and was always so glad to be totally sober when it was time to head home, knowing I will remember everything and sleep great.
There were a few awkward moments where I was asked point blank why I wasn’t drinking. I fumbled my way through it with a short answer about reading a book and deciding to try not drinking for a while. I didn’t want to tell people I had quit forever because I was afraid my alcohol-free life wouldn’t last.
The first 100 days with no more wine were the honeymoon period. I was so happy to be out of the alcohol trap and I couldn’t believe that my desire to drink had almost disappeared. I still heard the little voice say “have some wine,” but I would dismiss it quickly as an artifact of my old way of thinking and go on with my day.
Now, the stirring deep within me has begun. All of the reasons I thought I needed alcohol are slowly rising to the surface. A glass of water with dirt at the bottom appears clear, but once you stir, the water becomes murky and clear water is nowhere to be seen. I feel like a mess on the outside but I know I am healing inside.
I didn’t realize that the journey to escape the alcohol trap would really be a journey to self discovery and personal growth.
No More Shame
Brene Brown’s book about shame has been extremely helpful to me. Early in my life I began to believe the lie that I am defective, dark, and not valuable. I tried many things to cover my shame and prove my worth. In my teens, I strived to be the best at everything… swimming, grades, everything. As I moved into high school, I looked to boys to give me worth. If I had a boyfriend, then I was worth something. If he broke up with me, I was devastated. I continued to strive toward achievement, thinking I could fool everyone into thinking I was worth something so they would not reject me. I was a state champion swimmer with close to a 4.0 GPA, yet I struggled with friendships and I felt very alone.
I still believed the lie that I was dark, defective, and deserved to be rejected.
Covering My Shame
College was when drinking alcohol became a major part of my social life. Only on the weekends, though, because I was on the swimming team. Alcohol allowed me to not feel the bad feelings. I was able to be somebody else and quite often, boys noticed me. Hooking up became my new way of feeling worthy. The underside of this was the shame I’d feel later. The shame I was accumulating to cover my original shame was forming an onion of shame layers. In college, I was still struggling with friendships. I had a lot of trouble getting close to people. I had lots of acquaintances but I had few close friends. I began covering my shame with food and I was eventually bingeing and purging in a vicious cycle I kept hidden from everyone. Ironically, more shame enveloped me, forming yet another layer.
Throughout these years, I maintained an outward appearance of happiness and health. No one knew that any of these things were going on inside of me. I wasn’t even aware of most of it.
Journey of Healing
My eating disorder continued in my 20’s, even after getting married at age 26. After a year of marriage, I finally confessed to my husband who responded with complete grace. My journey of healing began at that point and by my early 30’s, my eating disorder had become dormant. In its absence, alcohol became my vehicle of escape and my primary goal was to numb myself. Allen Carr’s view is that alcohol does absolutely nothing for you whatsoever. But for me, it did do something. It numbed.
At this point in my journey, my most pressing question was this: Do I want to numb myself? Was I ready to feel all of the feelings?
Time to Jump
That was when I took the leap. No more wine. I began to live this new life. And every step along the way has illuminated more about myself and brought healing to the dark places I had stuffed deep within myself. I am so grateful to be awake. To be able to see. To be able to feel alive.
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