Linda’s Naked Life story has such great appeal to many of us because she, like so many of us, didn’t hit rock bottom. So why did she get a Naked Life?
No Rock Bottom
I’m sitting at my desk trying to write my story and thinking, “Who really wants to hear this? What can it possibly do for anybody?”. I had no major “rock bottom” experience for anyone to relate to or dread. Some embarrassing moments maybe, some episodes of blank recollection, but on a whole, the story of my relationship with alcohol is rather innocuous. But therein lies the peril doesn’t it?
Not an Alcoholic
For so many of us, we don’t fit the bill. We aren’t the “classic alcoholic” falling head first into obvious and destructive addiction. Instead the beast slowly slithers up our legs until we nearly suffocate. We keep waiting for a rock bottom not realizing it is in the moments we are missing.
So maybe my story WILL help someone to see the possibilities for their own lives, dreams and freedom. But I’ll warn you, I’m 61 years of age so the story is a bit long.
Growing up, both my parents smoked like fiends and the ever-present blue haze of smoke in our small apartment made me want to never touch a cigarette. Everything about smoking repulsed me – and still repulses me. They also both drank to the point of spoiling almost every holiday I can remember, but unfortunately, that didn’t have the same effect on me that the cigarettes did. I grew up with alcohol as an everyday entity, it was practically a sibling.
From the time we were little, my sister and I would get tiny glasses of Manischewitz Concord wine with Thanksgiving dinner, and the local liquor store actually delivered! I can still hear my mom on the phone placing the order “a case of Horlacker, a fifth of Vo and a carton of Marlboros”. Within an hour the van would arrive and put it on their tab. Alcohol was just a part of our everyday lives. My sister and I both grew up together in that atmosphere, yet she has never had any interest in alcohol at all. She isn’t bothered in any way by, or with it. My degree of drinking on the other hand, ebbed and flowed throughout my life. Maybe that’s why rock bottom was elusive to me.
In high school I was, and still am, the quintessential introvert, so I didn’t like parties. The only memories I have of drinking then was when someone would occasionally get a bottle of Boonesfarm Apple wine, or Annie Greensprings and share it with a couple of friends. Fast forward to college…same thing, not a party girl. I don’t recall an extreme amount of alcohol use, or many hangovers. I honestly couldn’t afford it. The big splurge for my boyfriend and I would be the occasional jug of Gold Seal Pink Catawba or, we’d get a bottle of Myers rum to accompany a thrift box of KFC while watching SNL. There would be keg parties just about every Friday but they were more fun to watch than to partake in.
My parents were divorced by then. My Dad remarried. His new wife also had alcohol use issues so they went to AA together. He hated it, but stuck with it for her. I remember their wedding being really difficult, partly because it was odd to see him with this other person…but mostly because there was no booze. After the reception, my cousin and I went bar hopping and I drank way too much of way too many varieties of drinks. The next day I was almost non functional with the first full blown hangover I can truly recall. And the beast slithers quietly closer…
For every special occasion, my Mom would give the gift of alcohol. In my college days she knew I loved B&B, Drambuie and Galleano so one or the other would always be gift wrapped for whatever the event. Whenever Mom would visit, she was always armed with a case of libations. She’d bring Jug wine, vodka, scotch and all the makings for Bloody Mary’s…each and every time. Naturally, we didn’t argue with her generosity and the three of us would pour our poison and get on with the day. Having two young kids at the time, I took it fairly easy, but mom would drink until she fell asleep at the table. My husband would soon follow suit. He sadly fit the bill for the “classic alcoholic”. Getting pretty abusive, we divorced. Once I moved out, I hardly drank at all …at first. That should have been my rock bottom.
I was getting my life in order in some respects and started losing it in others. Establishing myself as a massage therapist and building my client base nicely. I bought my own house, a decent car and I could eventually afford wine, rum or what ever else was in my current taste. Everything was either a cause for a festive beverage…or need for an attitude adjustment. I was drinking at home almost every evening, but during the day my clients had the impression I was healthy, athletic and spiritual.
After my home was flooded and I found myself needing to rebuild and sell it, I moved on board a houseboat and lived in a marina on the Northern Chesapeake. Now I was a part of the boating world where booze flows as freely as the water under your hull. If ever a non drinker was out of place, it would be among a group of boaters. This is where the beast is able to get uglier and wrap itself tighter by camouflaging itself in a beautiful and perpetual holiday-like setting.
By now, there were no activities that didn’t involve alcohol. Even if I was going to do something semi athletic or wholesome, like go kayaking, I’d fill my thermos with a festive beverage and paddle away. The length of the trip depended on the size of the thermos and the speed with which I drank. Enter, my soon to be current husband. He built a boat in England and sailed it to the US, serendipitously landing in my marina. We met, we sailed, we drank, we married.
Out of Control
Drinking was an everyday occurrence for me. I got to the point of having a “healthy” festive beverage at happy hour, I’d drink orange seltzer and vodka because it was “so refreshing”, no calories in the seltzer and clear alcohol. Isn’t that supposed to be the lowest in calories and carbs? Then I’d have another, depending on how early happy hour started. Then, I’d switch to wine while cooking dinner, while eating dinner, then after dinner…
Until I realized there really wasn’t much of a buzz so I’d switch to rum as a before bedtime cordial. I’d fall asleep (pass out) and sleep until 3:00 a.m. when I’d wake up in a sweat and the panic and self loathing kicked in. I’d spend the sleepless wee hours trying to piece together what I might have done, eaten or said before going to bed…or even how I got to bed. Though I wanted to get a grip, the beast was still slithering upwards.
The final straw was when my daughter and son in law came down for a visit. They live 600 miles away so it was obviously a cause for celebration and an excuse to drink heartily. My daughters were following in my foot steps in their enjoyment of the drink. In this, I now see that, even though I never killed anyone or physically hurt anyone while drinking, I still caused plenty of harm. I instigated a huge fight with my husband that wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t been drinking. The next day was tense at first but bearable. We started it with Mimosas so festivity was restored. But their visit was only two days long. What a shame and a waste to have spoiled part of our valuable time together with drunken dumbness!
The Fun Ended
Drinking was no longer fun. I started really looking at it and realized, every time I recalled a time of significant drinking, those that I COULD recall, all started out fun but ended up ugly. No DUI’s, no jobs lost, no jail time, no rock bottoms. Just embarrassment, shame and decades of wasted good times, tainted by the effects of alcohol.
I wished there was something that would make me feel about alcohol the way I felt about cigarettes. I wished I simply didn’t want to drink. My wish was answered in the form of a book. I must have been googling ways to cut back on drinking and I came across This Naked Mind. Grateful for the instant availability on Kindle, I read it in one day. I wanted it so badly, and it was written in such a way as to give true hope that, by the end, I’d be able to control the beast. It took no time at all for me to realize in order to control it, I’d probably have to quit it, but I was okay with that. The next day, I decided, would be my last day of drink. That day, I read Allen Carr’s Stop Drinking Now which was referenced often in This Naked Mind. By happy hour I really didn’t want that drink, but decided I needed it to mark the end. That was 7 months ago. I haven’t had a drink since. I will if I want one, but I haven’t wanted one.
Are you ready to stop waiting for rock bottom and just stop drinking instead? Start reading a sample of This Naked Mind today get started!
Share Your Story
I was living a blessed life and I wasn’t seeing or appreciating it nearly as I should. Luckily I was spiritual enough and determined enough throughout, that I both created, and allowed this life to unfold in a glorious way. But all along the journey, alcohol was dulling the experiences and my perceptions. This was so hard to see because I never had that life altering low, I was never that crippled “alcoholic.” Instead, the beast just slithered up gradually until it stole my last breath of tolerance. I hope you can find the freedom from alcohol as well and share your story with others.