Michelle needed to break the drinking cycle. It took accountability and an arsenal of knowledge, including This Naked Mind and The Alcohol Experiment, to get her there!
My drinking was ever increasing for a while now. Probably more than three years. Full disclosure – I drank pretty much every day for the last 10 years. The increase and impacts were gradual. Almost barely noticeable…at first. I have tried to quit so many times that I can’t even say. It was becoming awful. The drink, hangover, resolve, drink, hangover, resolve.
The Drinking Cycle
The cycle was unbearable at times, but I couldn’t seem to stop – even though I wanted to more than anything. About two years ago, I started researching alcohol. I read Elizabeth Vargas’ book and other sober diaries…all from women. Then I read Annie Grace’s This Naked Mind. It has absolutely changed my life. I read this last fall. Learning about exactly what alcohol is – a known poison and carcinogen, AND what it does to your brain and body…my thinking about alcohol started to change. I grew up believing that alcohol was fun, tasted good, and every event had to include it. But realizing the fact that we are all ingesting poison and killing ourselves from the inside out, started to really resonate with me. I started questioning: Was it really fun? Did it really taste good? Was I having fun the next day when I woke up sick with a hangover?
Since last Thanksgiving, I have drank a total of 18 times. It was Easter weekend when it all finally fell into place. The thought of ingesting alcohol literally turns my stomach. The further I get away from it, the more I don’t think about it. Those 18 times that I drank? My alcohol voice was telling me that I missed it and that I could moderate. I can’t moderate. Nor do I want to. That just sets off the drinking cycle. Tools that have gotten me here are the sober groups, the countless books, and the realization that I deserve better…
I deserve a clear head to live my life…
I have a little sign posted everywhere in my house: “Waking up clean and sober is the first gift of every day.” YES!!!
Physically, mentally, and just over all…my eyes don’t burn, my vision is clearer, my brain can actually think and work without the constant effort to make it do what it’s supposed to do, the sleeping part has been a long time coming. If folks go back to drinking because they can’t sleep (because most of the experts say that sleeping improves within the first 30 days)…don’t be discouraged. Keep going. Some experts say that the effects of alcohol can last up to a year. I believe that is one of the reasons why I went back to drinking. BUT, I DO sleep better now. I sleep longer and more sound. I believe that this will only continue to improve.
I am also working on my diet. Just this week, I have eliminated caffeine and sugar is also gone. There are little things and there are big things. But, since my brain is no longer being pickled, I am finally aware. Awareness to everything is a wonderful feeling. Alcohol dumbs, numbs, and obliterates all feelings. I am finally realizing just how much work and effort it is to manage a hangover -wasted energy to live with a poison.
Freedom. Free is how I feel. Every issue or problem is no longer magnified a million times. Life works so much better when not fueled with alcohol. My emotions are so much calmer. Everything used to set me off. Now, I just handle stuff. I could go on and on and on.
Especially, I want everyone to know that you are not alone. I felt so alone for so long. Like a loser and that everyone else could handle alcohol, except me. I now know that those thoughts are actually from the alcohol. That is what that evil poison does to a person. Another tool that helped was joining three sober groups on FB. That is when I realized that I wasn’t the only person struggling with alcohol and yet another Day 1.
I also reached out to my closest loved ones to include them. That was a big deal because every time I drank again, I was now disappointing others, not just me. My daughter-in-law has been especially important to me on this journey. Her love and unfailing acceptance of me despite how I saw myself…well, there really are no words.
Ending The Drinking Cycle
I participated in Annie Grace’s 30-day challenge and drank on the 34th day. I realized that for me, 30 days wasn’t long enough. So I invested money into myself instead of spending it on alcohol, and joined Annie’s 100 Days of Lasting Change. I did drink 13 days into this, but it was the last day and that brings me to today, Day 60 (otherwise it would be Day 73). But, it’s all good. That last time drinking, like I mentioned before, was Easter weekend. Easter Day 2019 was (very much hopefully) my last “Day 1”.
Has the time come for ending the drinking cycle? This Naked Mind can help you. Start reading for free today!
While I am not an advocate of AA, (although I know that the group has been helpful to so many people) I do love the mantra, “one day at a time.” I am not thinking about when I am 100 days sober (although it will be a fabulous milestone!), I am thinking about today. Living today. Today, I do not have a freaking hangover. I am going to enjoy today, no matter what the next minute or hour brings. I enjoy breathing again! It isn’t painful to breathe! That brings tears to my eyes…remember how even breathing was difficult when drinking? I want this for everyone, I truly do. Hugs!
My resources/tools were/are:
Reading. Lots of books. Lots of sober journals/diaries/blogs by women. Women metabolize alcohol differently than men, so it seemed important to me to read the experiences of other women.
Noteworthy to me are – Elizabeth Vargas, Between Breathes: A Memoir of Panic and Addiction; Catherine Grey, The Unexpected Joy of Being Sober; Annie Grace, This Naked Mind
Not to exclude the men, these books are still invaluable to me – Alan Carr, Stop Drinking Now; William Porter, Alcohol Explained; Craig Beck, Alcohol Lied to Me; Jason Vale, Kick the Drink…Easily.
There are Sober Apps to download (I can’t tell you how many times I had to reset my Day 1 date). I like Easy Quit Drinking for several reasons. It tracks your days sober, the number of drinks passed, the money saved, and I really like how it tracks your total health. 10 years sober until [maybe] the threat of alcohol-caused cancer is gone…10 YEARS! It makes me shudder.
There are many many many sober Facebook groups. The support is priceless.
My friends and family – I chose the three closest to me and finally shared my struggles. The unconditional love was like a soothing balm.
Listen to your body.
Don’t try to do too much at once. When I stopped drinking, I also wanted to eat Keto, lose the caffeine and sugar, exercise, save the world. Then I would have another Day 1. I have learned that losing the alcohol is the top priority, the number one thing that I can ever do to save my life. No amount of healthy eating and exercise will do me any good if I still ingest poison. Sober yesterday. Sober today. Sober tomorrow. That’s it. Period. The rest will come. I know it. Why? Because I am doing it. The drinking cycle has ended!
Share Your Story
Last words – cherish your sobriety, your alcohol-free life, like you would a precious gemstone, or your little newborn. Guard it. Protect it. Embrace it.
It is so nice to finally have a new normal that I am in control of. Please share your story and inspire others!