There was no rock bottom for me
Many know the story of my journey to stop drinking alcohol. Actually it wasn’t really a story to be honest, rather a compilation of events that led me to make the decision to stop drinking alcohol for good. Deep in my gut, I always knew there would be a day I would stop, it was just a matter of when. I had to be ready and my soul knew exactly when that day was. The reason I feel called to write this is to share with others that I never hit a rock bottom. I never reached a point when I was drinking that I decided “enough is enough,” or nothing bad really happened to me from the outside looking in. I always had a career, healthy relationships, and I was pretty healthy overall. I never went to rehab or AA…not that there are anything wrong with these programs and not that they don’t help people, I just couldn’t relate to them. They weren’t for me. I am not an addict so I never truly connected with the messages they had to offer. My issue was that I used alcohol to numb out my strong feelings, my sensitivity, and my creativity. My subconscious and my consciousness were in contrast with each other. The deeper part of me wanted to evolve, to become more than I ever could be, meanwhile my mind was trying to keep me safe (as mind’s do) and cue the alcohol to numb all of this intensity out. Instead of dealing with the feelings and emotions, I chose to stall time by drinking. Also my friends and family started to know me as someone that loved her wine. I was tired of being known as that person. Can you relate? Stay with me….
It was August 2013 when I first had the idea of quitting drinking for good. I was newly married to Brett and we just moved into a new apartment and we spent the entire day unpacking boxes and putting stuff away. It was getting late and we were getting hungry so I suggested we order Chinese takeout from across the street. By that time it was also time for my nightly ritual…you guessed it: red wine! The grocery store was right across the street from our apartment and also happened to be right next to the Chinese takeout place. Of course I volunteered to go pickup the food but first swing by the store to pick up a bottle or two of wine. When I came back with a few bags in hand, Brett asked if I went out to buy wine. As I smirked, I said it was a long day of unpacking and I definitely needed something to wind down. He chuckled a little but I definitely got the impression he was a little concerned about my drinking habit. It bothered me that he was concerned and I began to wonder if alcohol had power over me. Of course I shrugged it all off as I uncorked the bottle and poured myself my first glass of red for the evening.
A couple of weeks later the lingering feeling returned. I was at a co-workers house for a party and I was chatting with a few people drinking some wine and eating appetizers. Soon enough I realized I was several glasses of wine in and slurring my words as I was talking to people. One co-worker asked if I had a ride home and like I aways did, I told her I was fine to drive home. It really bothered me that people questioned my relationship to booze. In all honesty, it bothered me because I knew I was hooked to wine. It had become my ritual in the evenings, on the weekends, at parties, my coping mechanism to numb my strong feelings. It was in that moment I had an idea. I told my friend that I wanted to see how I felt if I don’t drink for a period of time. I remember her telling me that is great but then she seemed skeptical. “Amanda do you really think you can do that….you love wine and its hard to imagine you giving that up even for a short period of time.” In that moment I got so angry and so sad that my face must have turned red too. She must have seen the hurt on my face because she quickly blurted out, “but you so got this and you have my support!” She was right. Back then I had no clue how I would even cut back on my drinking. Was moderation even possible? I was open and willing to at least explore it…
I received an email from someone I followed on Instagram: Tara Bliss and I purchased her online course and workbook, “A Party Girl’s Guide to Peace” (which I believe is now an actual book). It was a new concept and very up and coming at the time of young women discovering there is s much more to ourselves than drinking and partying. It was the perfect course for creative, soulful women that were searching for more meaning out of life than what is offered at the bottom of a wine bottle. There were a series of activities, journaling exercises, meditations and yoga to dive into. I started to spend my Friday nights with these instead of wine. It was so hard to choose these activities over drinking. Intuitively I knew it was good for me but my brain wanted to drink. I had a long week at work and I wanted something that was going to relax me. Over time though, just spending time with myself, in silence, working with my soul gave me all the relaxation I needed. I also woke up the next day feeling refreshed, well-rested without a hangover. It was the best thing in the world.
A few weeks later I of course discovered my love for wine again when Brett and I went out for happy hour one Friday after work. It was at an Italian restaurant so what is good Italian food without copious amounts of chianti and red table wine? I am a quarter Italian so it must be in my blood right…? I woke up the next morning with dizziness and dry mouth…my classic hangover symptoms. This time I also felt sick to my stomach. I was tired of doing this to myself. A whole day of feeling crappy just because I decided to drink the night before and party. I made a deal with myself that I would only stick to 3 glasses of wine when I go out and that I wouldn’t drink at all during the week. This was one of my many attempts to moderate my wine intake. Well guess what? It didn’t work that time and it never actually worked for me. I continued doing this until I decided I was going to do my own alcohol detox.
It was August 31, 2014 and I challenged myself to stop drinking alcohol for 30 days. I made it 21 days. That was huge for me because it was very hard for me to say no to wine, especially when we go out to dinner and out for drinks with friends. During this time, I had to choose to stay away from people and events that were triggering. However, on football Sunday on (September 21) we went to a party with drinks everywhere and I went back to drinking. I truly believed at the time that it would be different for me and that the period of time I detoxed from alcohol would change things for me and I would drink less this time. That was not the case at all, in fact I just drank more than I ever have. Regardless, this was a big milestone for me because it led to other periods of time without alcohol.
Fast forward to New Years Day 2015. I was trying out the Paleo diet so I figured I may as well cut out alcohol too. This time I went 45 days without alcohol. I was so proud of myself and I literally couldn’t believe it. During this time I felt like I was able to accomplish a lot more with my time since I wasn’t drinking and I had so much more energy. My body felt lighter. I was just grateful to had made it that far too. Brett took me out to dinner for Valentine’s Day and as our server was going over the wine specials for the evening, my eyes immediately sparkled with excitement. Brett asked me if I really wanted wine and of course I said yes. I looked at that moment with pride since I made it so far and I viewed wine as a celebratory thing in that moment. Although I recognized many payoffs not drinking alcohol for 45 days brought me, I still believed the payoffs I got from drinking wine were better.
So I went back to drinking regularly again of course. My inner critic got louder and she said all different kinds of things to me..
Why do you keep doing this to yourself? Why can’t you just drink moderately like the other people around you?? See they can keep wine in the house, why can’t you? And here you are again, waking up with yet another hangover..when will you learn? Why did you say those mean things to Brett when you were drinking? You look like shit. See what alcohol is doing to your skin and your body?
Then at the same time, that same inner critic also said…
Oh its just a little wine, everyone drinks. This is normal! You had a rough day, just go get a bottle of red at the store and relax this evening….you deserve it. Drinking makes you more interesting. There is no shame in drinking….we all do it can be a part of your healthy lifestyle. Drinking is so fun and exciting!
And the list goes on! Each time I quit and went back to drinking, the inner critic got more mean then I would just drink more to feel better….and guess what? That never truly felt better about myself. The summer of 2015 was filled with weddings and adventures. I was standing up in a former friend’s wedding and we spent the summer getting ready for it, partying every weekend, and drinking a ton at her bachelorette party weekend and at the wedding. It was probably the drunkest I’ve ever been and that’s when I really knew I could’t allow it to go on for much longer. I was 29 years old and I was partying like I was 19 again. Intuitively I knew that summer would be the last summer of drinking.
Brett and I spent our anniversary weekend in Galena that summer and as we were riding horses together in the rain, I told him I wanted to stop drinking again. I remember him telling me I can totally do it. Then he asked if I can go a longer period without it. I thought about it and I still wasn’t sure. This time I did 22 days without alcohol. We had a few friends over at our apartment for Labor Day weekend and they bought wine and mojitos. It was a very hot day and we were all hanging out on the balcony. I told myself it would just be one mojito. Well that one mojito turned into a few glasses of wine, then some shots, and then back to the wine. It ended up being a drunk fest all around. I felt ashamed of myself as I woke up the next morning with my head spinning. My inner critic began again. Ugh. I asked God for help because I couldn’t keep doing this to myself. It was pure torture when my soul was asking me to stop drinking and I literally would not allow it. I wanted to live a life of freedom, joy, creativity, love and excitement. I wanted all of that and alcohol was doing nothing but robbing me of all of those things I truly wanted for myself. Then I woke up one morning in October 2015 and I decided. My intuition whispered to me, its time to stop for good honey.
I felt free knowing that I made the decision for myself. Keep in mind I decided in October I was going to quit drinking on January 1. I wanted to make it easy for myself in the beginning and I find that when I make big changes in the winter, I am more likely to be successful. Plus I had a cruise coming up to Puerto Rico and the Caribbean that November and the holidays were after that of course. I knew there would always be “something” but making it easy for myself in the beginning was probably one of the best things I did for myself and my sobriety.
I began telling other people about my plans. Many were supportive and some even doubted me. I just smiled because I already knew what I was capable of accomplishing. On December 31 I literally toasted to myself. I knew it was the last night I would ever drink again and as I dumped the last bottle of red down my kitchen sink as the clock struck midnight welcoming in 2016, I never looked back.
Today I am almost 3 1/2 years sober and life is amazing. I would have never believed that years ago but it is the truth. The God honest truth, I promise. So if you are struggling with drinking, or if you are thinking about sobriety, my message for you is you are in the right place, my friend. I was you a few years ago. I never hit “rock bottom".” I never had a DUI, hurt someone, or lost my job because of my drinking, I just believed in my heart that there was a better way to live my life. All I wanted to do was find someone that understood me. I wanted to find a deeper level of support beyond AA and addiction programs. I was fortunate to find a sobriety coach for the first three months of my journey and her support and love were immeasurable. She helped me get through those first few tough months and beyond. I am so grateful I found her. Maybe you are in a similar place I was and you found me for the same reason. If you did, I am committed to helping you find a way to the other side. Feel free to message me directly or drop a comment below! I am including pictures of my sober milestones. If you are on the journey like me, NEVER give up on yourself. There is a beautiful world found in sobriety, TRUST ME :) In case you need to hear it today from someone, I believe in you!!!!