Liz found herself in a place she never imagined she’d be – starting over after alcohol took everything from her. With the things she learned in This Naked Mind the journey has been manageable!
Now that I look back, I don’t think I ever had a relationship with alcohol that was normal. It shouldn’t shock me to be starting over after alcohol took it all. I was a bit introverted on the inside but on the outside, people would comment on how confident and outgoing I was. Probably because I always pushed myself to do things I wasn’t completely comfortable with. In high school, I was a good student. Involved in sports and extracurricular activities and in high school, if I drank, I would be kicked off the team. So, I didn’t drink.
Acquiring A Taste For Alcohol
When I first got to college, I tried alcohol and hated the taste. I thought “this is what I have been waiting for!?” But then slowly, I drank more and cared less about the taste and more of how it made me feel. For the first time, I felt like I didn’t have to play the outgoing, confident, person I just wasn’t. It was easier to meet people, date, go to college parties, etc. It gave me such confidence and I felt “normal.” My sorority had regular events where there was so much alcohol … my boyfriend at the time (my now ex-husband) was a bartender at the popular bar in College, and he was popular.
I always felt a little insecure and anxious around him. I would go up to the bar and he would give my girlfriends and me free drinks. Again, it was the first time that I felt confident in myself when I was drinking. It helped me in school too! I remember having to give a presentation and I had 4 beers before. It made it so much easier … I thought I found the magic pill and it was awesome! If I got anxious, I can drink and ever would be ok! I didn’t have to play someone I wasn’t and any type of anxiety I had would go away, both in classes and social. I became very comfortable drinking in college and it escalated quickly.
Beginning A Drinking Career
Fast forward to my second job out of college. I interviewed for a position that a friend who works at the company suggested I apply for. They interviewed me and I was so nervous and not myself. I thought for sure I wouldn’t get it. Now, if I was going to be that nervous, I would’ve drunk before the interview (like that wouldn’t be noticeable, not!). I ended up getting the job. This is the beginning of my upward and downward spiral … I had no idea I could become addicted and I did … gradually, not knowing what was ahead.
Like I said, I continue to push myself into things that were uncomfortable. Why, I don’t know. I was working with the largest consulting company in the United States now. Our particular office grew from about 100 employees to over 1,200 employees in my first 6 years. I kept getting promoted (promotions that I didn’t want but felt pressured). I was a hard worker but didn’t like to be in the spotlight as much unless I had alcohol, then I was fine. For me, I don’t do anything half-assed (hence my work and drinking)!! We started to do work in Phoenix and I was traveling and worldwide … I started to travel more. With the growth in the company, my paycheck grew, and so did my drinking. Like you, the traveling and the stress was through the roof.
Having It All
For about 2 years, my drinking escalated. It was gradual so I really didn’t realize that I needed it more and more. My sleep became a problem and became completely messed up. I was usually drinking about a bottle and a half of red wine a night. I LOVED feeling like I could finally relax after work and started drinking my wine immediately when I got home. In the morning, I would swear I wouldn’t drink that night and every night, I drank. We would have happy hours and sales meetings all across the US. At night, if we didn’t have a social event and when I was actually home, I would drink as much red wine as I would when I was out. With red wine, I thought it was a social status … even though I would drink ANY wine, $5 or $50 a bottle.
I thought I was more classy with wine and that I couldn’t get addicted. Haha! While I see it now, my friends and co-workers saw what I didn’t see. It was gradual and I thought, “It’s no big deal. I can quit when I want to!” It’s just wine. It’s classy. Not much about me was classy when drinking. Now that I look back, I can’t believe how I acted. I would talk loud, laugh loud, and slur my words, but everyone was drinking so I figure we were all doing the same thing with me. Now that I look back, I can only imagine what I probably looked like.
By this time, I was married and had my son in 2004. I was making more money than I would have ever dreamed. I was trying to balance family, work, social … drinking. In 2007, I built a half-million-dollar home. My husband bought a boat, two very nice cars, etc. My college boyfriend, who was now my husband, was seeing the early signs of destruction and he overlooked it because I was “working.” I had been drinking pretty heavily but it wasn’t affecting my work and I was functional, so it was fine.
Not Seeing I Was Losing It All To Alcohol
At home, things were going downhill and I couldn’t see it. As soon as I walked in the door in the evening, I drank. Now, I started hiding bottles (because I was drinking almost 2 bottles) and started to sneak home on my lunch hour. I had gotten a new dog so I would go home to let the dog out and as crazy as it sounds, I would drink. In this big house, we had a full bar, so it was so easy to drink. When I would go back to work, I think about the smell that was probably giving me away. No one said anything at work … no one called me out because I was very successful.
I remember signing up for a half marathon with some of the girls at work. I didn’t train like I was supposed to. In fact, the night before the race, I had my bottle and a half. I can’t believe I made it to the end! While I finished the race, it was miserable. I wasn’t taking anything seriously except for my drinking.
Convinced I’m Not Addicted
So many different areas of my life were becoming affected by drinking. My husband and I took my son to Disney World. The first night, I woke up at 2 AM not being able to sleep (this was normal) with such anxiety. How was I going to walk around Disney World being this hungover? So I got up before my husband and son got up and I had wine in the room. I was drinking it out of the bottle when my husband and son got up … both got up to see me drinking from the bottle of red wine.
Of course, the next day, while we’re supposed to be walking around Disney World and enjoying our family time, I felt like shit and everyone knew it. I thought, how could I ever do this! I still was thinking, I wasn’t addicted even though it was going that direction and I was spending more hours drunk and sober.
So I thought I was living what I thought was the American dream. By the age of 33, I had made $1 million dollars. I had the big house, nice cars, a husband who was so nice and kind. A son who was doing great in school, a dog, a boat. I thought I could stop anytime but in the back of my head, I knew things were wrong. If you don’t believe you can get addicted to alcohol, you can. Now I continued on my downward spiral.
My doctor, who did not know the extent that I was drinking, prescribed me Xanax after telling him how bad my anxiety was. I would shake and couldn’t concentrate so I started taking it. Not knowing much about Xanax it seemed to work! I now knew everything was going to be fine and this was the answer!! So at night, I would drink my wine and in the morning, I would have a Xanax to get me through the hangover and anxiety. I was a fraud. I couldn’t do what I was doing without Xanax and red wine … and I knew physically, I couldn’t stop.
If I took too much Xanax and needed my prescription early, my normal anxiety was times 100. Uggg. IT WAS HORRIBLE. There was no way that I could quit myself. I had to have the alcohol and I had to have the Xanax. There I was, trying to lead a normal life that was so far from normal. And everything I did, I was a fraud. Again, if you don’t think it could happen to you, it can.
I was waking up at 2 or 3 AM at night with the most horrible anxiety and shaking you could imagine. Laying there, I was counting the number of glasses I had the night before and trying to recall conversations and things that I said. I had no passion for anything in my life. I was dead inside with very little emotion. Again, I was trying to keep up this fraud with so many tactics, lies, and manipulation. Alcohol took up a lot of my time. I had to lie to my husband … he would find bottles hidden. I would lie about how much I was drinking and when. The lies became exhausting. I would look at my husband and he had no idea what to do. I was making him miserable. On my end, I was fine because I was drunk. I wasn’t feeling anything!
Again, I had been working during this time. One day, I was brought down to the conference room at work. I had been a good employee and they knew I wasn’t doing what I was capable of doing. They knew something was wrong. I was so mad, at them. Why would they call me out like this! Why would they do this to me? I tried to make it seem like not a big deal. Now, when I look back I can’t believe they gave me as many chances as they did.
I think part was pity and part was that I had given so much of my life and time to the company and I was throwing it all away. I was sliding down hill with no way to come back. During the intervention, I kept saying I was fine knowing in my head that I was soooo not fine. I was a mess. I had no idea I would soon be starting over after alcohol took it all away.
My company had a sales trip for the top 10% of sales employees in the company to go to Cancun. I went 8 times!!! It was four days of drinking, night and day. About a week before the trip, my husband said that he would not be going on the trip. Looking back, thank God. The trip was just a beginning. He knew, it would turn out really bad. A couple days later, after multiple years of me drinking, he said I would need to go to treatment or he would leave. I saw in his face, he was sad. He didn’t look at me in the same way and he once did. He looked at me like he was sickened and definitely didn’t seem attracted to me.
We were falling apart. I wasn’t giving him anything, emotionally, physically. I felt so empty. He looked so empty. He’d see year after year … get worse and watched me lie, sneak, physically changing (my appearance was going down too; my face was swollen, my eyes looked red and puffy). My husband did most of the things around the huge house because I made the money and he took up everything else with the house.
As I said above, I did the treatment but I didn’t understand what treatment was … I thought it would help me socially drink and moderate. I said I would only drink on weekend. When I got out of treatment, I went back to work scared of what people would think. It was my ego. I thought that this is something I finally could fix! It was called moderation!!
A couple months later, we had a boat trip because our office had done amazing that quarter in sales. Our office has grown so much! I was so excited! And I was on the right track (so I thought). Before the trip, My boss gave me the company credit card and asked me to take two other people to get as much alcohol as we would need during the day on the lake. My boss thought I was much better as I had gone to treatment … he thought I was cured. I started drinking around 8 AM, mimosas. After that, I mixed some other things with champagne, beer, and more. Around 1 PM, when no one else was as drunk as I. I made a complete fool out of myself.
To be honest, I blacked out and still don’t know what happened. A coworker took me home. My husband was there and he answered the door. I had mascara running down my face, lipstick was all over and not on my lips, hair was a complete disaster and they both looked at each other like “this can’t go on.” They looked at each other I know they were thinking … “there’s nothing more they could do.”
Alcohol Took It All
I felt like everyone was giving up on me. My husband, work, friends (who were embarrassed of me). If you don’t think you can get addicted to alcohol, you can. So after 14 years of marriage, about a week later, my husband left, took my son, and filed an order of protection. Once in my life, I was healthy, happy, honest, emotional, and so much more! Now, I was none of these. My husband left and took our son and went to his grandparents. I was devastated beyond words. He filed for divorce and I knew it was over. My soul mate.
Now, Fourth of July was happening and holidays were definitely a reason to drink. Five days straight of drinking. I dedicated all holidays to drinking. Mimosas in the morning, and wine in the afternoon (a lot of days, wine in the morning and all day). I was alone in my house. Completely alone. Alone with my wine and me. No husband, no son, no family, no work, just me. At that point, if I drank myself to death, I didn’t care. I knew I was physically addicted. I knew I couldn’t stop.
In the divorce my husband asked for full custody and I couldn’t dispute. He put the house for sale and I moved into an apartment. My house on a lake that I helped design was sold. The $300,000 we had in savings was split. This was an end of something that I didn’t want to end! I needed more time!
Seeing my addiction to this point, wouldn’t you think that you would stop drinking? No, I didn’t. If you think it can get worse, IT CAN. IF YOU THINK YOU CAN’T GET ADDICTED, YOU CAN. IT DOESN’T DISCRIMINATE.
What Helped With Starting Over After Alcohol
I did go through horrible times. I was physically, mentally, financially broken. Exhausted, lonely, sick, beaten up, and wondering how I had gotten to this point?
One day, I started listening to podcasts (not sure how I ran across the podcast. God maybe) and one of the podcasts mentioned Annie Grace. Listening to a few of them I went out and bought Annie’s book. I had tried AA and it wasn’t for me. Personally, I couldn’t get past the “never,” “forever,” “powerless,” etc. I started to have the mindset that Annie talks about in her book.
“I could go out and drink if I wanted but I don’t want to.”
Are you starting over after alcohol took it all? This Naked Mind can help! Start reading for free right now!
I started walking every day and listening to many different podcasts and resetting my conscious. That was over 4 months ago! I’ve walked everyday for over four months … each day going farther and haven’t had a drink in over 4 months. I feel I’m starting to get “Liz back!!” I’m really becoming me again and truly, I don’t want to drink. Honestly, I thank God for finding Annie and This Naked Mind! Today I am happy, rested, and healthy!!!! Thank you!!
Share Your Story
When we share our struggles and our victories – like starting over after alcohol – we can inspire and encourage others. Share your story to be featured on the blog!