Molly thought that as an athlete, she could outrun addiction by being healthy. Eventually she realized that the only way to stop drinking was by living a Naked Life – free from alcohol.
Monday, December 03, 2018
This is the day something clicked inside of me and that click felt completely different than anything before. I was just SO TIRED. Not just physically tired but emotionally tired. Tired of always being hungover. Tired of all the negative talk inside my brain. Mostly, tired of running on the hamster wheel. The negative talk was so common, I didn’t really know it was happening. It just appeared in my brain automatically, ALL the time.
Alcohol had never ever been a thing for me. Growing up, I don’t have a lot of memories of the stuff. My parents had alcohol, but they didn’t drink it very much. On rare occasions, I would see my Dad pour a small glass of some brown liquid over ice or my mom would whip up a strawberry daiquiri and she would make me a “virgin” one. But those memories are few and far between.
I did not drink much in high school (outside of the occasional wine cooler or Zima…probably just to fit in), but I really didn’t like feeling out of control and I for sure did not want to drive or go home looking weird and get in trouble.
Easy and Fun
College was the usual thing – freshman year was lots of beer. I was very proud of how much of it I could drink – keep up with the boys, keg stands, etc. But by my sophomore year, I got it out of my system and didn’t drink much more. When I turned 21, it was a big party. I had started a job too, and was around lots of new people and making new friends. Going out at night and on weekends was normal and drinking was a part of it. But it was fun and so great to be out and hang with people I loved.
Cutting to the chase, alcohol became something bigger when the stress was piled on (I have come to recognize that now). The market crashed and my husband had to make the decision to either lose our house or lose the company he had started a few years back. Before this time, I know drinking was there (margaritas on the porch with our neighbor’s, wine with dinner, friends over for parties and getting tipsy off too much beer) but again, it was fun. We chose to lose the house that we had built and then we started a new branch of business to survive and make it in the economy.
The Only Way To Relax
This new branch of business involved me now, and like any new business it was hard work and long hours. I didn’t realize it at the time, but my drinking ramped up during that time. This was pre-children, so I (we) would work all day, every day and once home, would always be on my phone (my first Blackberry!). It was critical to stay in touch like this, to keep the business flowing and make money. I know now, but I had no way (or at least I didn’t understand how) to relax at the end of the day.
Wine became that answer—I could still answer e-mails and check my phone, all the while watching TV and starting to “relax”. It was for sure a nightly occurrence and, in my mind, needed. I didn’t have time to sit in a room, quiet for 30 minutes and meditate! I don’t ever recall thinking about the drinking, though or worrying about it. We just did it….needed it…. and it was no big deal.
Piling It On
Fast forward to me getting pregnant (had zero issues not drinking then – no way I was going to do that), having our daughter, and then once the breastfeeding passed (which was a disaster and thankfully I was done with that torture at 6 weeks), I could start drinking wine again. This is when I really think the drinking became something way more than it ever was. The business was growing (stress), we now had a child (stress) and I still had no way of really knowing or understanding how to relieve that stress. Running did not relieve stress like it used to, but my wine did the job just fine.
Can’t Outrun Addiction
When we had our daughter, we were in our second leased home, close to where our work was located. It was time to start thinking about where our daughter was going to head to school, which meant longer drives. It was also the time that we began to get into the sport of triathlons. My husband and I have always been runners and running half marathon races was our thing. But my husband had a friend who inspired him to do his very first half IronMan race. When he signed up for this race and started training, it was exciting. Long story short, we both got hooked and found local, shorter distance triathlon races in our hometown.
Racing Towards Addiction
The reason I am talking about this is simply because I have vivid memories of going to these local races and being hungover the morning of the race. Having that feeling of not being fresh but always laughing and saying, “well, nothing gets rid of a hangover faster than sweating it out!”. I know of at least two races where I felt heavily gross and others where it was okay. After the race, we would go eat an early lunch and have beer with that lunch.
Work Hard, Play Hard
I signed up for my very first half IronMan race with my husband. It was out of state and we treat these races like a mini vacation too—work hard, play hard. Two nights before the race, I drank heavily and we stayed up late. The day before my VERY FIRST half IronMan race, I had a massive hangover. It took all my might at breakfast NOT to puke; my head was pounding; the lights were so bright; and the music so loud. Conversations happened about how we didn’t need wine with dinner that night, because of course, the race was the next day!! But when dinner came, I drank two glasses of red wine. No big deal, it’s what I always did, why change or do anything new, right? I finished the race the next day and all was good.
Still Trying To Outrun Addiction
I have memories of driving to another HIM race in Florida, this time with our daughter and my parents coming as well. The drive to FL started with my taking deep breaths, because I felt so sick from drinking too much wine the night before. I even sent a text to my friend, “nothing like being hungover while driving to a our half IronMan race!”. It was like a badge of honor for me, funny as hell too. My thought process was “look at all the things that I can do and accomplish and STILL drink wine! Good for me! Amazing!”.
Our grocery store run while there in FL, of course, included plenty of bottles of wine – even the night before the race. Again, no need to break tradition or do anything different before a race, that’s what they always say! I finished the race and all was good (cementing in my mind more that there was nothing wrong with drinking alcohol while training for a race or even right before a race). I didn’t need to outrun addiction because I was doing fine.
So began the hamster wheel. Training for races, being healthy because I was exercising at least 6 days a week and pushing my distances. I deserved that treat at night, that wine. It was a gift to me after all the hard work of the day. But something was changing in my body. I wasn’t recovering as well as I used to be able to. When the bad hangovers started to happen is a blur to me, I don’t really recall. I just know that all of a sudden my usual amount of wine was giving me nasty headaches the next day. But it didn’t stop me from drinking. It usually would just make me eat more food. I’d eat more food earlier in the day, in order to prevent drinking on an empty stomach. If I couldn’t outrun addiction, I could outeat it.
The Thought Train
My usual thought process usually went like this: wake up in the morning, assess how bad I was feeling (horrible status or just okay status), say inside my head all morning how I wasn’t going to drink that night, I needed to stop this, I was so stupid. I’d have lunch (if I had a nasty feeling day, my diet would usually include Cheetos, Doritos, pizza, Diet Coke to try and make me feel better) and then about 3 pm, the urge inside my body and brain to drink alcohol that night would get very, very strong. The voice was so loud, it would make me uncomfortable physically to think about NOT drinking. All I could think and stress about from roughly 3 pm to coming home at dinner time was if wine would be involved.
I never knew if my husband would say that we needed a night off, but even when he did say that, I secretly wished when I walked in the door that I would see our 2 bottles of wine sitting on the counter. If those bottles were not there, I was crushed, angry and immediately irritated. If those bottles were on the counter, I was immediately happy and elated inside.
I never said out loud that I needed help or that something was going on. I just found myself searching for books on the subject, mainly autobiographical stories. The first book I read was Drink. I got the paperback and read it at night, in bed mainly. Ashamed, I told my husband that I’d heard about the book in a magazine and was curious about this woman’s story. Never admitting that I wanted to read about her drinking and how I wanted to be able to relate in order to solve my problem. I finished the book, but left feeling more like “wow, I am nothing like that woman, thank goodness”. Still I was fascinated and wanted to read more. In a way, I felt validated that there was no need to try to outrun addiction myself.
I then began to purchase the Kindle versions or get the audio book versions of books, so I could read on my own or listen in the car, basically hiding any evidence from my husband, because I simply did not want to explain reading a book in bed that is titled “Mommy doesn’t drink here anymore”. It was at this time that I purchased your E-version of This Naked Mind and listened for the first time. I was looking for a magic pill or a major “ah ha” moment in these stories. I related and found myself understanding and nodding my head “yes” constantly, but that big moment never came and I was frustrated. So I kept searching and continued to listen. I also continued to drink.
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Alcohol Is A Drug
Every day, I woke up assessing how I felt and that determined my inner level of sadness. I began to feel that nothing was really making me happy, but I knew that I had a perfectly good life and had zero to be sad about. This, in turn, made me feel stupid because I had no reason to feel sad, so I would want to drink more to feel better about myself. Once I began to realize this and began to listen to more stories, I was able to tell myself that alcohol was like a drug to me—I enjoyed the high that it gave me and once I had a taste of it, I wanted to keep the high going. There was no ‘one drink’ and I am done – it was drink until I am sleepy and dizzy and then be done.
I was having major conflict inside myself because I wanted so badly to talk to my husband about this, but was terrified to do so. During this time, I was having consistent hangovers (which I never told my husband about) and have vivid memories of a scary driving episode. It was the end of the day and the whole day I hadn’t felt great. I left to go get our daughter and had a massive dizzy spell while driving. The dizzy spell was so bad that I had to pull my car over to the side of the road, basically in someone’s yard. It scared me and simply made me more sad, which drove me to drink to numb anything going on inside.
Need To Outrun Addiction
I have vivid memories of another horrible spell. A hurricane was coming our way a couple of years ago and our area declared a mandatory evacuation. I did not realize it at the time, but I was so scared and so stressed out, that drinking wine was for sure needed- a lot of it and quickly. The night before we left town, I drank lots of wine but also drank a lot of water before heading to bed. When I awoke in the morning, I for sure did not feel good. I barely made it out of town when I stopped for a Diet Coke. As soon as I took a sip, I almost threw up.
During the drive, I found myself at a new low. On the side of Interstate 95, spitting in the grass beside my car with my daughter looking out the window at me and cars whizzing by so fast, I could feel the wind blowing on me. Pulling over a total of 4 times during the drive, I ended up pulling into a gas station parking lot, where I threw up in a box in my lap in my car.
By the time I got to my parents’ house, I texted my Mom that I had a sick headache and needed to go straight to bed. My sweet, loving mother knows all about migraine headaches, so she rushed home to give me some relief, so I could rest. There was no way I was going to admit that this was simply from drinking too much the night before. A migraine would have to do. Skip one night of drinking and the rest of the nights that I was there, I was drinking. I was so stressed out, watching the weather constantly and checking in with my husband constantly too. Drinking was there to comfort me and make me feel better.
Facing My Addiction
Not long after this, I was able to get up the courage to finally text my husband that I needed to stop drinking and I needed to talk to him that night about it. Before I started the conversation later that night with him, I was a mess. Sweating. Super nervous. I cried while talking to him about what was going on with me and I could see shock on his face about some of the things that I said, which now that I look back on it, made me feel really, really bad.
After this time, I stopped drinking for a bit, but we had a trip planned (just the two of us) to go to NYC for a long weekend. Leading up to this trip, I was a mess. How was I going to be able to go on a trip and NOT drink? What was I going to do at night? How was I going to eat at a nice restaurant in NYC and NOT drink really nice wine?
I know now, but I was setting myself up for failure and gave wine way too much credit and held it in a high place in my mind, even though I had stopped for a short while. My husband and I talked about it some and the first night at dinner, he told me “Just have a glass of wine and stop at that. Don’t go crazy with it, you will be fine.” I had wine that night and as the three nights progressed, the drinking ramped up more each night. On the airplane ride taxied back in our hometown, I was trying not to throw up and in panic mode because I would not be able to get to the bathroom fast enough. I was back in it and feeling like crap inside.
Can’t Moderate Addiction
It was after this trip that I told my husband what happened (how I ramped up in NYC and how I couldn’t just have one drink) and started a process of trying to moderate. This actually led to me eyeing my wine glass more, looking at how much was left in the bottle, how much did my husband have vs what I had, my husband eyeing my glass closely and me, telling me not to have anymore and making me angry. Almost jumping into the territory of drinking in secret. Then he would not see me drinking more than I was supposed to. Thank goodness that never happened, but I scared myself because that thought actually came into my brain. After realizing moderation was a no-go, I stopped. I don’t really recall how or why I stopped, but it felt different and it felt okay. Maybe I could outrun addiction.
I’ve Got This
Looking back on it now, I still had some questions in the back of my mind, but overall, thought I was okay. I do recall however, thinking to myself at that time “I got this. I totally have this figured out and why didn’t I get this before?”. That thought process was not good. A few months after I stopped drinking, we went on a Disney Cruise with 2 other couples and our children. Internally, worrying but thinking everything was under control (but still a tad bit worried). Dinner was the loudest chatter inside my brain. Sitting in a huge dining hall at a table full of adults that were ALL drinking wine and kids that were not listening and were whining and crying. I was just drinking water.
Each night the chatter got progressively louder but during the day the voice was quiet. The very last night of our trip, the voice was so loud in my head, that I had 2 glasses of wine. The gates were open and I was back in the game, like nothing had even happened.
Addiction Runs Over Me
Hangovers that were debilitating were getting to be more normal. Headaches so bad that the slightest noise or light would be painful; nausea, at times actually throwing up; laying in bed all day or at least half of the day – this was a weekly theme. Me, a grown ass woman, with a career, a husband, a daughter, a house, lying in bed all day long due to a hangover. Most of the time the hangover was doable, but even still, I would be sick to my stomach and the only way it seemed to make me feel better was stuffing my face full of nasty food and drinks. All the while still training for races and thinking I have my shit together. Though really the self talk inside of me was starting to realize that this training thing was a joke. I couldn’t outrun addiction, it was running over me.
My Every Thought
At night, it was becoming all consuming. My patience was running out at night. I’d find myself going back and forth while my daughter was taking a shower and chugging wine. When it was time for her to go to sleep, I would get frustrated if she did not go to sleep fast enough. Many times when I was reading to my daughter, I would be dizzy. Couldn’t see the words clearly in the books and slurring. Typing this right now makes me very sad and might be the worst of all that has happened. Knowing that in my head, I was somehow putting this drink first, even though I would never admit it. Many nights of not remembering what I read to my daughter. I just couldn’t outrun addiction.
Not remembering conversations I had with my husband. Staying up late, drinking more wine alone, while watching some TV show or movie (and seeing a double screen). Stumbling to bed. Waking up about 3 or 4 to go to the bathroom and assess how I feel. Feeling depressed while drunk and dizzy, alone on the couch. I have no idea how long all of this lasted—was this a year? Was this for two years? The time is a blur for sure.
I felt like I had read all the books I could read, but I listened to your book at least 3 times. I also got Jason Vale’s book and Allen Carr. Allen Carr I listened to, in parts, what felt like half a dozen times. I could not move past certain parts. My brain was stuck and it wasn’t letting me move forward! Not giving up, still reading, still listening, enjoying every time I got a ding that you had a new podcast episode.
On Monday, December 03 I woke up, assessed that yes indeed, it was bad. Feeling like shit, but figuring a cup of coffee should get me through work. I realized instead that there was no way I could go to work. Instead, I went right back to bed. I said nothing to anyone and went right back to bed, rolling out of bed a few hours later still feeling horrible. I picked up my phone like usual to stare on social media and read a meme that someone shared. So many people share inspirational quotes but even if I agree with them, they never really sink in or do anything. This time was different, this meme meant something in this horrible moment for me.
You can rise up from anything.
You can completely recreate yourself.
You’re not stuck.
You have choices.
You can think new thoughts.
Nothing is permanent.
You can learn something new.
You can create new habits.
All that matters is that you decide today and never look back.
While cooking something to eat, I was listening to your podcast as well. The combination of your podcast (which I had been listening to for months) and these words changed everything. Suddenly my brain clicked and everything made sense. The more I listened to what you were saying, the more the fear went away.
Can’t Outrun Addiction But I Can Stop
The “Ah Ha” moment hit and I felt the boulder lifted off of my shoulders. I opened up to my husband and was able to make clear to him that this time was different. I had a very unhealthy relationship with alcohol and I needed to stop. Stop for good. His face was different, his tone was different, and I could tell that he really understood and we were 100% on the same page. The fear was gone. I was no longer scared, I was simply just—HAPPY.
Relieved. The sadness had lifted and I was waking up every morning with a new sense of happiness. I was able to come home after work and actually feel my feelings and then think about those feelings and asses them. Instead of numbing what was going on inside of me with wine, I could actually feel them, understand them and then take action on them. When my brain tells me I need wine, I step back and ask myself “Why do I think I need wine?”. And I was able to answer the question, pour myself a sparkling water in a wine glass and then move on.
It’s now March and this is still a process. I do not want to stop reading or listening. I got your new book and am still reading it, slowly going through everything and marking things. I’m still listening to your podcasts and soaking up all the knowledge I can. Going through a few social occasions and being able to really understand why I would chug alcohol in these moments has been helpful. Some of these social occasions have been super uncomfortable, but I know 100% that alcohol would not make it better.
I have gone on two vacations and not needed alcohol. But again, this is still a process for me. The last vacation I found myself having pretty big urges for wine, but I was able to really think about my feelings and see WHY I was having that urge. It didn’t make it easier but I feel smarter and I feel like I am going in the right direction trying to figure myself out.
Along with your books and podcasts, my eyes are open so much more to the alcohol advertising and I now notice how it is everywhere and ever present!! I just completed a marathon and more and more, alcohol is ever present at these events. Two drink tickets on your race bib, so after the race you can get your beer fix. At packet pick up, you go down the line to get your stuff and at the end of the line, there’s a beer called 26.2 with salt in it to replenish your salt after a big sweat session. They were a main sponsor. But it’s BEER! The first thing restaurants want is your drink order (which they really mean, what alcohol do you want). I have ordered a sparkly something and seen the look of sadness and disappointment on the server’s face. More and more while out, alcohol is in everyone’s hands it seems.
Share Your Story
On the flip side, I am enjoying being not normal and standing out because I DON’T drink. I have confidence when ordering something non-alcoholic. I am happy waking up feeling like myself. The sadness has lifted and it feels great. It’s still a process, but I like this process and I am happy.
Did you use This Naked Mind or The Alcohol Experiment to outrun addiction? Please share your story and help others!