Snared By The Pitcher Plant – Jenna’s Naked Life

Jenna wondered often if she would forever be snared by the pitcher plant that alcohol is. This Naked Mind helped release the trap for her.

pitcher plant


I recently finished reading This Naked Mind and could not believe the sense of freedom I felt/feel. It was as if every chapter Annie Grace wrote about spoke directly to me. I will share my story to get a sense of how and why this book has impacted me so greatly.

My first drink was at eleven or twelve years old. I had sips of my parents’ alcoholic beverages before, both being heavy drinkers themselves. However, this time I had a drink to myself. Why on earth did I have Wild Cat beer? To this day, I have no idea. If you aren’t familiar with the beer, it is a high alcohol (even for a Canadian) – terrible tasting beer. But I suppose beggars can’t be choosers. My older sister, for privacy sake I will refer to her as Karen, got her older boyfriend to buy us something alcoholic. Wild Cat is what he arrived with. When I say “us,” I am talking about my best friend since the second grade, Amy.

For years we watched my parents and their friends indulge in the consumption of alcohol. It’s also worth noting, I was raised in a wealthy household. Most things readily available to me seemed luxurious to outsiders like Amy, even alcohol. Of course, the beer tasted horrible, but we kept drinking it because we were sure the fun was coming. It’s hard to look back on that day now and not cringe. Why did we think it was fun? It turns out, for a lot of reasons that Annie Grace elegantly showed me in This Naked Mind.

The Pitcher Plant

I was a young athlete, so I did not fall into the pitcher plant too fast during high school (if you haven’t read This Naked Mind, this is a reference from it; one of many entertaining and amazingly accurate analogies Annie Grace makes). I drank at parties and sometimes at friends’ houses on the weekends. When I graduated high school and started college, drinking increased. When I turned nineteen, I got a part time job at my dad’s bar serving alcohol. It was around this time I would say I got snared into the pitcher plant. (Part of me thinks the pitcher plant snared me when I had that first beer. Forever food for thought for my brain I suppose.) My tolerance became so great I am shocked I never got alcohol poisoning for how much I consumed on a “big night out” – which there were many of. As Annie Grace illustrated, it became a distinguished part of my identity.

Jenna – weighing in at 115 pounds and being able to drink anyone under the table. I was proud of this. Until I wasn’t.

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In and Out of the Pitcher Plant

I met my partner of the last fifteen years when I was nineteen. He was the first person who ever told me I might have a problem with alcohol. I was twenty-one, we had bought a house together a few months prior. I came home early one morning, after an “all nighter” I promised I wouldn’t have, to find most of my belongings tossed in the front yard. To understand the magnitude of this, my partner is the sweetest man, avoids conflict, supports me in every way possible, and rarely calls me out on my poor behaviours. Everyone has their breaking point. I am so grateful he had his.

This was the first time I gave up alcohol. I quit for more than 100 days. Cold turkey. It was him that suggested I drink again. We often enjoyed a drink or two together in the past chalking up the experience to being “young and silly.” And thus, began my 13-year battle with being “young and silly,” in and out of the pitcher plant, or as I call it, alcohol addiction. The main problem was, no one would say I had a problem (most still won’t say I did/do). No one would call me an alcoholic. For all accounts, I seemed like a person who could “take it or leave it.” I wasn’t. I HAD to take it.

Keeping It All Together While Falling Apart

I understand why I was never questioned. I gained a college degree, bought a house young, worked hard to earn a good job in my field of study. Worked harder to get promotions, had a great attendance record at work. We married, I stayed fit – in fact I even got into distance running; how could an alcoholic run a marathon? (Oh, they do!), and ate well. I didn’t drink before “happy hour” (unless on vacation, or at Christmas, or the weekend … uh oh, see the pattern?). On the outside I wasn’t an alcoholic. But on the inside, I fought a battle every day – wanting to drink less or not at all, and the craving and desire to drink.

Cognitive Dissonance

This battle consumed me and made me feel guilty and shameful every day. I talked to my sister, Karen, about this often. Karen is two years older than me. She quit drinking alcohol at twenty-eight. Admitting she was an alcoholic and her life had become unmanageable, she started going to AA meetings. She found a small group of people who supported her during her first months/years of sobriety. Karen is still sober (almost seven years). She listens so well and never judges.

I have asked for help before and she has given me some amazing AA resources; A Women’s Way through the 12 Steps and, a great read, Russell Brand’s book, Recovery. I enjoyed the learnings and discussing my work through these steps with my sister; however, I had a hard time connecting it to my life.

For a variety of reasons, I’m sure, a few being: I had a hard time admitting my life had become unmanageable, I never fully quit for more than a few months, I didn’t go to meetings, etc.

For years, I kept complaining about my internal struggle with wanting to drink less but desiring to drink the same or more, until Karen quoted the definition of insanity again for me. We often quote it to each other when we are solving our life’s problems.

The definition of insanity is “doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.”

The Moderation Myth

Last year I stopped drinking again, for over three months, and at age thirty-four I felt like I gained some control again and decided to begin drinking moderately. HA, it took a week to fall back into old habits. Waking up saying “Ok Jenna, no alcohol today” and by noon I was thinking about what I was going to drink that evening. My new thought being “I will just have one,” but halfway through the first one I am making excuses for the second, and third.

The next morning, I’d wake up with such a sense of weakness and guilt, stacked guilt that’s really shame now. Without fail, I would say, “Ok Jenna, no alcohol today” and we know what happens next. After three weeks of this, I quit again and realized I needed something else. I noticed an add on Facebook for ‘One Year No Beer’ Challenge and investigated it. That is when I found This Naked Mind. I bought it and began a life changing journey.

Share Your Story

All my old ways of thinking were challenged, debunked, and replaced with truth, in this book. I gained wisdom in areas I fought hard on the other side of for years. Long term sobriety scared me for so many reasons – losing friends, not having fun at events, the enjoyment of the drink, etc. Now, there is not one thing that scares me. I feel free. Free knowing I don’t have to drink. Phew – what a relief. Thank you, Annie.

Did This Naked Mind free you from the pitcher plant? Please share your stories so you can help others!

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