How To Stop Secret Drinking – Franny’s Story

Secret drinking and dealing with the consequences of our drinking is a common theme that connects so many of us. Franny found herself trapped by her ever-escalating alcohol use. This Naked Mind showed her how to stop secret drinking.

How To Stop Secret Drinking

Shameful Secret Drinking

It feels impossible to encapsulate my experience of drinking for 18 years. In a lot of ways, I’m not surprised to find myself here, breaking generational cycles. Alcohol has roots in my family tree, and we tend to reflect a common societal belief when it comes to alcohol abuse: that it’s the person to blame, not the booze. It was a dirty and shameful secret to have to go to rehab or need therapy. And while we’re keeping score, you only “needed” something like rehab if your problem got so big you could no longer handle a hangover or hold a job. I quickly learned the importance of keeping the consequences of drinking a secret. As if it was candy hidden under my pillow, always able to spoil my dinner if I had just a little too much.

Surrounded by Drinking Culture

Growing up, everywhere I found myself, drinking culture also thrived. By the time I was in my early twenties, I was drinking to celebrate, drinking to commiserate, and drinking for any reason in between. My friends loved to drink, and I’m sure on a subconscious level, I purposely attracted those kinds of people into my circle. As far as anyone knew, I just loved to have a good time. Nobody was around for the panic that would shake me awake at 3 am, a pounding heart, my sweaty hands checking my phone for evidence of how “bad” things might have been the night before. Did I say anything stupid? Did I fight with someone? Where did I spend all my money? Did I cry? (This is assuming I managed to get home with a working phone.)

Secret Drinking to Self-Soothe

Queue the same old self-soothing techniques – an apology tour, a mental pep-talk full of denial, Netflix on repeat until I can stomach some crap food. And even when my drinking had no outward consequences, I still hated how it made me feel. Even when I hadn’t done anything “wrong”, the anxiety would linger for days. A dull and constant guilt humming in the back of my mind. The only way to get the doom to retract its grip on me was the familiar clink of a bottle to a glass.

Secret Drinking

I knew it wasn’t normal to shake until your first drink. And that it wasn’t normal to have a rotation of liquor stores so that they wouldn’t refuse me service in one day. I knew that I knew better. But for some reason, that feeling wasn’t enough of a signal for me. I was committed to ignoring my inner voice. And that lack of self-trust would eventually land me in the most dangerous situation of my life.

Escaping into Alcohol

My drinking got its worst after I fled from an abusive relationship in 2019, with nothing but my cat and some clothes. At 33 years old, I felt as if my life and all of its meaning had been permanently lost. I had absolutely no faith in my ability to face the healing process. Alcohol had become my only source of coping during that trauma. I had the misconception that once that chapter was closed, I’d immediately revert back to the life I had before the abuse. I assumed that I would return to the version of me that had a glass of wine or two after work or some beers with friends on the weekend. But now I needed alcohol the way I needed to breathe.

I was both unaware and unprepared for how deeply that trauma had impacted me. Somewhere along the way, my drinking to cope had become drinking to survive and now I was in so deep. I had no idea how and where to start on the rebuilding process. The panic attacks, the flashbacks, the psychological triggers –being sober meant facing reality, but my reality felt hopeless. I had returned to such an unfamiliar type of chaos. Drinking gave me certainty, and even if the certainty was hell, it felt easier than figuring out how to move on. I drank daily, without fail.

Secret Drinking

My own emptiness pulled me into an all-consuming abyss that I welcomed with open arms. The second I would clock out of work, I would be drinking. Once I lost my job when the pandemic started, I decided to just give in. I drank whenever I was awake, at least 12 hours or more, for months. I’d sleep to forget. I lived like a ghost of my own life.

Exploring How to Stop Secret Drinking

However, throughout that whole time, I had been sober-curious. I didn’t have a name for it, of course. But there was a question without words beneath my skin; a nameless feeling gently nipping at my heels. I was doing the work. Looking up TED Talks, reading articles, checking out Quit Lit at the library, and searching up sobriety podcasts. There weren’t many. But there was one called This Naked Mind.

Annie’s take was refreshing and like nothing, I’d ever heard before. I subscribed in January 2020. In March, I lost my job. I spiraled until summer. Finally, on the morning of August 29th, I woke up and decided I couldn’t wake up feeling that way anymore. I signed up for the free experiment that Annie mentioned on her show. I figured what was one last leap of faith in myself? If I had absolutely nothing left, then I had nothing to lose. At least if I really tried, I’d know it, and that would be enough.

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The Alcohol Experiment

The experiment was the first time I’d ever heard sobriety framed in such an empowering way: it wasn’t about admitting to failure and defeat. Annie looked happy, and I wanted a slice of that happiness. I struggled with the idea of more structured programs: I didn’t want to be sober if it meant I would feel powerless against alcohol for the rest of my life. I found the experiment to be the perfect mix of self-reflection intertwined with science. The daily videos helped me feel validated and educated. Within a few days, it was clear that I could do this. Maybe even longer than a month. (Spoiler alert: by week 3, I knew I never wanted to drink again.)

Begin your own Alcohol Experiment here!

The Power of Knowledge

It blew my mind. I learned more vital information about alcohol and its effects than I had in my entire program of studying addiction + co-occurring disorders. Yes! Fun fact: I’d once wanted to be an addictions counselor. I’ve also had a few years of CBT under my belt to treat anxiety and depression. But neither provided me with tools that were helpful for what I was facing. Looking back, I now have an immeasurable amount of empathy for all the clients I admittedly judged for “failing” their programs. When it came time to save myself, the very programs I had been referring people to weren’t enough for me.

Secret Drinking

This isn’t to say those programs aren’t amazing -I understand that for some people, they’re just as life-saving a component as This Naked Mind has been for me. I just needed a different fit. I didn’t want meetings to go to and sponsors to stay accountable for. What I wanted was to dismantle the desire for drinking completely. I wanted to excavate the very foundation it had built into my life. As Annie Grace said during her Red Table Talk, I needed to find out why. There was a time when life was full and vibrant without alcohol. Why couldn’t I get back there?

Deconstructing Beliefs to Stop Secret Drinking

Throughout my journey, I’ve deconstructed so many of the beliefs – an investigative tone set by that experiment. After those 30 days of self-reflection, I was faced with so many truths: Drinking didn’t spark creativity. Drinking didn’t relax me. Alcohol didn’t help me cope with life. Drinking didn’t make me more fun or brave. And most importantly, drinking didn’t make me feel like me. Those key factors, on top of vital connections between alcohol and poor health, are the reasons why I could never look back. Once I realized that I was a better version of myself without booze, I knew I had to continue to live a life that aligned with that truth.

secret drinking

Inspired by This Naked Mind

By 10 days in, I created an Instagram account to follow Annie and track my experience. I chose the name, “The Magic is in the Middle” because for the first time, I had faith that I could surrender to the messy unknown and embrace life without obsessing over the outcome. At the time, I had no idea that there was an entire community out there, sharing their stories of living alcohol-free lives. It’s been such an amazing experience to connect, create recovery art and motivate others to invest in themselves. Two years ago, I never would’ve believed I had the capacity to help myself, let alone inspire other people. This Naked Mind revealed a totally new world to me, and I’m so grateful to Annie for making accessible content. Those 30 days, while she metaphorically held my hand, changed the trajectory of my entire life forever.

The Life I Dreamed Of

I can’t think of anything more comparable to a quantum leap than sobriety. I’ve felt more, experienced more, and created more in the last two years than I have in the last decade of drinking combined. I didn’t just rediscover myself. I’ve connected with parts of myself that I didn’t even know existed, parts that were always waiting for me beyond my constant escapism. The very first time I heard Annie’s podcast, I was sleeping on a few sweaters as a makeshift bed on the floor. I was emotionally, financially, physically, and spiritually the lowest I’d ever been.

Within 6 months of sobriety, my life started to resemble the one I had been daydreaming about, back on that floor. Words fall short to explain how much expansion has taken place. What was just an account to journal my 30-Day Experiment, has now turned into a purposeful way to share about my journey. Eventually, I had this, “I’m a year sober, now what?” feeling, which led to the inspiration for my podcast, Saturn and Surrender. Once I felt like I had “mastered” sobriety, I wanted a place where I could dig even deeper into my recovery and up-level my mindset.

I couldn’t find exactly what I was looking for, so I created it instead. I’m three months shy of 2 years without alcohol. I continue to wake up grateful, with a sense of purpose I know I never would’ve felt if I had kept drinking. Where I had once been so lost, I now have a map back to myself.


Courageously Free

Time and time again, in big and small ways, sobriety gives me the courage to step fully into my life and take up space. I thought that sober living would be boring, but after all that despair and chaos, I see peace as a luxury. There was a lot of certainty in drinking, and once I stopped having that same, predictable routine day in and day out, I had to embrace the fact that life isn’t supposed to always feel comfortable.

Nobody has the answers. But when I think about the best way to combat the perpetual uncertainty, the existential confusion, the awareness of my own mortality, and the finite measure of time that is this beautiful life, it’s to be present. To be bold and bare in my humanness. To trust that everything I need is already within me. And to know, without a doubt, that there’s always magic in the middle.

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