I love stories of couples quitting together. Ryan and Alison decided that the time for change had come, and they went from drinking together to quitting together. Read on and get to know how This Naked Mind helped them.
Quitting Together – Our Story
My name is Ryan and I am 38 years old. Ali is my wife of 14 years and she is older than I am…ha! This is our naked story.
Monday morning, October 8th, Ali wakes me up around 10:00 in the morning. There is a large and bloody gash across my face and eye. My eye is black and swollen shut. I was also supposed to be at work three hours ago. What happened? Why is my eye like this?
Thinking in reverse now, the weekend-long binge, the Sunday night fight, the drinks, staying up all night, the fight (that was the worst one ever), more drinks…the trashed room, did the kids hear all that? What happened to my face? What happened to my life? I’ve truly lost control of my drinking. We were both drinking, so it can’t be all my fault right?
What came first? The chicken or the egg? Nobody can really answer that, but something has to change or I’m going to die…or perhaps worse.
Three days prior, I was prepping for a long weekend off from work and made the trip to the liquor store to buy fresh handles of vodka and rum. “It’s going to be a great weekend!” I remember I wanted to bring my youngest to school Friday morning, but I was too hungover and needed more sleep.
Three weeks prior, Pearl Jam tickets! It’s going to be a great night. Ali went drink-for-drink with me at the bars before the show. We left VERY early after she threw all the booze up on the floor. I was happy to get home early and do my nightly routine of several drinks and cigars in the yard.
Three weeks prior to that, Ali had been pulled over by the police and somehow passed a sobriety test, even though she blew a 1.1 after the fact. I was too drunk to pick her up.
Three months before the start of summer, the falling down was increasing, swollen ankles and swollen pride. Maybe something is wrong? Why am I dizzy just trying to cross the street or drive on the highway? Turns out, it was the drop in blood sugar…
Who I Am
Three years prior, I know I drink too much, but that is who I am! This is me and drinking helps me cope. Still though, my blood pressure is skyrocketing and now I’m on medication for it.
This Naked Mind popped up on my Facebook and, after some debate, I bought a copy and read it cover to cover. Amazing information! A whole new approach to the alcohol problem! It was so insightful. It seemed like a much better alternative to the AA program that my mother went through. I decided to try a month without booze.
I picked February because it’s a short month – surely I could handle that, but boy was I scared. I made it two weeks and had never felt better, so I decided to celebrate with a drink! I don’t remember anything else about that night. However, I can confirm a hangover the next day. After that, I didn’t bother to try being sober again – it was hopeless. I decided I was destined for a drunken life and I let it take me.
My Mom has been sober for 30 years now, but I remember some of her struggles. We come from a long line of alcohol dependence, actually. I barely drank as a teen because I was so afraid of alcohol. I started to lean on it as a crutch in my early 20’s when I started suffering from depression and anxiety. It truly is a progressive habit. Annie’s Bee to the Nectar of the Venus flower analogy is dead-on accurate. I never planned for it to take over my mind and soul – I just wanted to take the edge off.
The Cure Becomes The Poison
Over time, alcohol became the edge. It became the anxiety and it became the depression. I was drunk when Ali told me she was pregnant with our second baby. Alcohol helped me ruin that memory for the both of us. I do not remember and she would rather not.
There are far too many bad memories; words I never should have spoken; and things that shouldn’t have happened. I wish I could take back every bad memory I have or caused another to have, but of course I cannot. What I CAN do is move on, take back my life, but never forget where a life of drinking led me.
17 Years Lost
I drank for 17 years. Each year I sank a little lower on a downward spiral. Alcohol was fighting to become the main focus of my life and I was losing the strength to hold it off. What started out as Zima’s on the porch with Ali (our young romance blossoming) turned into a secret battle for the both of us to cling to normal life and not fall completely over the cliff.
One thing that sticks with me the most about that morning 7 months ago, is that my first thought upon looking in the mirror was that Ali must have hit me. That awful fight. We both could not remember if she hit me! That is really not us – we appear normal to most people, I would assume. It took the rest of that day and most of the next day to piece together what happened (I passed out behind the shed and landed on the ground somewhere around 5 a.m.) I smashed my face on a piece of wood and bled all over the cobblestone. I also tore a ligament in my thumb that took months to heal…nobody sets out with that in mind while mixing a drink.
That morning – I cried a lot, told Ali I had hit rock bottom, and that I wished I had died out in the yard. We had a heated and emotional discussion about booze, our marriage, and what happens next.
We dumped out every drop of alcohol in the house, I called in sick for the week, and detoxed. We hibernated and had truthful talks with the kids all week about what we were going through. I took This Naked Mind off the shelf and we took turns reading it again. It truly changed our lives! After everything we had been through with alcohol, This Naked Mind really pulled back the curtain for us and helped us to not only see alcohol in a new light, but life in general and the nature of addictions.
Are you quitting together or looking to see alcohol in a new light? You can start reading This Naked Mind for free today.
Making It Together
Weeks turned into months. We made it through the holidays and all its parties completely sober. Quitting together, we learned how to lean on each other. We learned how to love each other all over again. I have a scar on my face to remind me of where we have been. My thumb is still sore some days, but it is healing. Our kids are resilient and mostly happy that we are sober, though they do get disappointed when we leave parties earlier than we used to because their friends are there also, but I’m sure they will understand as they get older.
It has been seven months now.
I thought I had hit rock bottom, but I no longer believe that. I think I could have fallen further and lost everything, but we steered the ship to safer waters before that happened.
Another misconception I had is that I thought I had lost control of my drinking. Now I believe that I never had control – booze controlled me from day one.
What I’ve Learned
We feel like new people now! I feel like I’m taking back my life. I no longer have the shakes or get dizzy during the day. I know I can make it through anything without a drink because I know the truth about alcohol. Now, I don’t envy drinkers when I am around them. I actually wonder which ones are fighting a secret battle and I feel for them. My mind is sharper, my blood pressure and weight are lower, and my pride and dignity are slowly returning.
My old nightly drinking routine has been replaced with Netflix and ice cream for now, but I recently tuned up my mountain bike that I never thought I would bother to ride again. It will feel nice to just breath again! Our dog is going on more walks with us now too. It feels good to be alive – truly alive! The depression and anxiety have subsided and I believe the alcohol was creating some of the very problems I drank to relieve.
Sharing In Quitting Together
We purchased tickets to This Naked Mind Live in Denver – we flew 2,000 miles to be part of something we credit for helping us change our lives. We look forward to Annie’s daily emails that share parts of her life and always contain a reminder of why we choose to no longer poison ourselves with booze. I feel myself changing and growing the more I stay sober and I loved meeting some like-minded people in Denver!
Just as a check in, it’s been three months since I wrote those original paragraphs. Now – almost ten months sober – and I’m amazed that we keep getting stronger and stronger. We are truly operating on a higher level than ever before, and at the same time seeking out new ways to ease our unquiet minds and grow. Meditation has become something we practice and we have gained more insight into ourselves and why we would choose to numb ourselves with alcohol. It’s also helped with learning to accept not having control over every little thing in life.
For me personally, I think I started drinking to become someone other than who I am. Becoming sober has helped me embrace who I truly am and help myself grow. Living sober has been a roller coaster of suppressed emotions and personal growth. The empty void inside of me is closing just a little more with each sober milestone. I can see the day coming when I stop counting the days. Finally, I’ve made the transition from “not drinking” to “non-drinker” and it has filled me with more pride and strength than I ever thought possible!
I’d like to offer a huge “Thank You” to Annie Grace and the “This Naked Mind” staff for all the support, guidance, and knowledge shared.
I remember the weekend leading up to the worst night of our drinking lives. Ryan had a weekend full of parties to go to – parties disguised as “kid parties” but full of adult beverages. I had a concert and some tennis. At tennis, I instructed hungover or played halfway to my abilities because I drank too much. I went to a concert, came home, had too much to drink, and we had the worst fight of our lives. I can’t even remember exactly what it was about or what was said, but my memories do include picking up the pieces of glass, wondering how the piano was moved, what picture frames were shattered, and knowing the kids heard. Finally, we went to bed.
I woke up to get ready for work, hungover again. Our youngest was asking me why dad was on the couch sitting up straight with blood on his hands and face. I thought she was joking since we went to bed. By the time I got downstairs, Ryan was in the bathroom looking in the mirror at his bloody eye, an eye that looked like someone beat him up, punched him in the face, or he got in a car accident.
At first thought, did I hit him? Yea, we fought, but I would never hit him. Wait, we went to bed! We made up from our argument and went to bed. How could I have punched him? How could he have a bloody face and eye? I asked him if he got in a fight with someone else, I asked him if he drove, if he hit someone, did he hit a tree, did he get mugged, did he hurt himself, what happened after we made up and went to bed?
He said he drove to the nearest store to get cigarettes after we went to bed. Only, I didn’t hear him. The air bag must’ve gone off, he must’ve hit someone, or he must’ve been mugged at the store. I ran to the car where no air bag went off and the car was in mint condition, parked normally in the driveway. He said he remembered parking the car and then being back at home pouring another drink at 5 a.m.
This Is The End
We went downstairs and I knew he was still drunk. I knew I had to help us both, but how could I? I was hungover and smelled of booze myself. He proceeded to dump all the alcohol out in front of my eyes, saying he could never drink again, and wanted to die and cannot live this life anymore. Our youngest left a note on the top of the stairs, with cotton balls and rubbing alcohol, saying feel better dad this is for your eye and I’m sorry. We went into another room, pieced together that he must have fallen somehow, and began the path of never drinking again from that moment on. Well, for him, it was from that moment on…(for me, for a little while until he’s OK being sober). We were quitting together.
Quitting Together…For Now
He committed to never drinking again, even though he still had alcohol in his system. I committed to it also – for a little period of time. We went into isolation, trying to piece together what happened that night. We talked through what sobriety meant and tried to figure out how we might get through it. We explained it all to the kids, what we had done, what we will do, and what we envisioned. We avoided parties, alcohol, people, and we embraced ice cream and talking. We talked endlessly, or didn’t talk much at all at times. We read books. We read This Naked Mind…and were blown away.
How could this other life have been right in front of our eyes, a sober life, and we not tap into it?
A Naked Life
We read the book a few times, passing it back and forth, sharing memories – good and bad. We pieced together our fateful evening, Ryan found blood by the shed where he fell, broke a ligament in this thumb, passed out for hours, and created his bloody scarred eye. I kept telling myself, I will stay sober for him. But three weeks in, I pieced together my own history.
I spent 8 years in my 20’s bulimic and anorexic. For many years, I would numb with alcohol, black out style alcohol, social alcohol, moderated alcohol, binge drinking alcohol…you name it, I covered it. I spent time pretending to be a tennis instructor, trying to hide the hangovers and pass off the lack of motivation. I went on week-long binges, blacked out, and woke up not knowing what happened. I got pulled over for the second time, just barely escaping a DUI, but really being drunk well beyond the legal limit. Ryan was too drunk to pick me up.
I enjoyed my friends and alcohol – until I turned on everyone and didn’t enjoy much of anything. I had a fantastic martini, until I got that evil look in my eye. The look where I wanted to fight over nothing, or cry over everything – maybe even die. I never had just one – always two, three, four. I was in the process of estrangement with my parents and sister due to a dysfunctional relationship, so what better to avoid these problems than with alcohol?
My battle with alcohol was the same battle I had with bulimia and anorexia. I couldn’t simply just drink a little here and there, no more than I could simply just throw up my food on occasion. I couldn’t numb away family estrangements, insecurities, self-doubt or fear. Nothing is made better by my addictions to things that hurt me.
More Harm Than Help
The voids I created would never be filled with misusing alcohol. The love and attention I craved didn’t smell like a martini and taste like a vodka-soaked olive. As much as I wanted the answer to be in the numbing alcohol gave me, I knew all my addictions lead me down the path to that scary night. I knew all future interactions with alcohol would lead down the very same path…or worse.
Really Quitting Together Now
Let’s face it – that night, that fateful night, my husband was lucky enough to survive and I was now sober FOREVER – for him and MYSELF. I convinced myself it was for him, but really it was for both of us. This Naked Mind was the first time I realized I’m not alone – this alcohol is POISON for us, and there is a better life. Quitting together is that better life.
A New Life
Everything in my life was now better, based off our sobriety. Our love for each other was enhanced, our ability to help the kids, to deal with life, to enjoy things again is significantly better thanks to a new, sober approach on life. This Naked Mind helped me realize alcohol was poison to me, and what I craved I would never find at the bottom of the empty glass.
Learning What Fulfills
My craving was before I took a sip. I enjoyed our hibernation mode. Ryan and I got a chance to communicate again, to look forward to other things, to enlighten the kids to our journey together. We began family meetings, daily, where we joke around and discuss issues, or even have nothing to talk about. My life is significantly better and this wouldn’t be the first time my husband and I have saved each other in more ways than I can explain. Our lives are not perfect. The daily stress is still there, but we can handle it all better now without our poison.
Sobriety has been one of the best choices I have ever made and I am excited to have been helped by This Naked Mind.
The book we passed back and forth was life changing for us in our first days without alcohol. The approach to life without the poison of alcohol and what we are led to think of alcohol, was mind blowing for me. When I had tried to remain sober for weeks, months at a time prior to our final days, I was always unsuccessful. I’m convinced Ryan and I quitting together was instrumental in us succeeding.
I am thankful every day for our sobriety and the path I’ve chosen as an individual, a spouse, and within our family system.
It Never Helped
Now, I realize I kept trying to find myself after a glass or two of alcohol. Figuring it would give me the courage that I lacked to try and be centered and grounded and confident. Instead it induced my anger and highlighted my voids, giving me the courage to be someone I am not – the confidence to be someone I wasn’t proud of. It ensured me a one-way, non-stop ticket to something bad. Heightening my rage. Bringing out all the qualities I didn’t like. The ones I liked were short-lived and over-exaggerated.
No More Dead Ends
Alcohol drove me down a path where it was a dead end on finding the best version of myself. After 10 months of sobriety, I am more centered and more grounded than I ever have been. I feel more connected to my family, to friends, and more confident within myself. What Ryan and I experience is different, the same, complex and simple…and it is all valuable leading down this great path.
Sharing Our Story of Quitting Together
We are excited to share our new journey in life and its greatness with anyone we know. As Coco Chanel said, “Beauty begins the moment you decide to be yourself.” Alcohol would not allow for us to see our own beauty and prevented us finding ourselves. The path we’ve chosen without alcohol is something I am proud of sharing with our family and expressing to the world who we are in our sober selves. I hope more and more people read This Naked Mind, hear stories of success from people like us, and are awakened into a whole new existence.