Hello, I’m Jennifer, from Minneapolis and am looking forward to being part of my first live Alcohol Experiment. I completed the free (non-live) version a few months ago, and gained powerful, valuable insights about my drinking and the American drinking culture in general. But, other than doing daily check-ins/journaling, I wasn’t an active participant in the program, and after 30 days, my life resumed its regular drinking pace. Like so many things in life, I am learning how important being consistent is, in any practice as well as how important a supportive community is, and I am ready to integrate these concepts even deeper in my life, around the context of alcohol.
I lost my husband in 2011 to cancer; I’d say that during his 2 year health crisis is when my drinking really amped up, and has steadily increased over the years since his death, though since college, my drinking has never been “responsible.” Drink to get drunk, is how we learned it. Most of my relatives drank a lot, as do my friends; I’ve always hung out with “partiers;” my husband was in the wine industry, so our life was steeped in booze. Rarely has a week gone by since college (a good couple of decades, yikes!), where I’ve not had too much to drink at least a few times in a week. But, I’d never much thought of it as a “problem,” (and by “never though much of it,” I mean, “I conveniently ignored”) because my drinking wasn’t any different than anyone else I knew. I’m not a “get this party started!” kind of gal, I tend to not dance on tables, I have never been carried home in a drunken stupor. Even my own mom, when I revealed to her that I might have some issues with drinking, said, “You? Have drinking problem? Well, if that’s the case, then everyone I know has a drinking problem.” Neither of us, at the time, realized just how accurate her flippant comment was.
The past 8 years since Bob’s death have slowly revealed my increasing discomfort with my alcohol use; I’ve begun questioning it deeply, as it relates to my quality of life. Though I’ve never been a daily drinker, my drinking has become more frequent and the quantity has increased; I’m finding I’m choosing to stay home, which results in drinking more, more frequently, and I recognize that if this isolated state continues, it will lead to some big problems. The way I feel about how my life is being impacted by drinking is becoming less easy to ignore. So much wasted time, being wasted, and more wasted time recovering from being wasted…
I was quite certain I didn’t need to check into an in-patient treatment center, but other than going to recovery meetings, I had no clue what else to do. So, I started going to AA and Refuge Recovery meetings last fall, but felt very out of place, nothing was resonating. While I absolutely respect their work (my dad was a member and vocal proponent of AA for the last few decades of his life; it definitely worked for him, though he never seemed to be happy about his sobriety—he was always angry and resentful, still blamed everyone for everything that didn’t go right in his life; other than his kids and work, had few friends or pastimes to fill his life—the only thing that changed in his life was his drinking. If that’s the tradeoff, I’d rather keep drinking, I thought).
I couldn’t relate to the hair-raising stories I heard in the meetings. I’ve never lost a job because of my drinking, or gotten a DUI, or spent a night in jail, or ruined relationships or holiday gatherings or—I don’t say this with a holier-than-thou attitude, but rather one of exasperation: is that what has to happen? That I have to keep drinking until I hit a mythical, horrific “rock bottom” before I can find the help that I’m seeking? Why is our culture so reactive, instead of proactive, when it comes to all things concerning our health, alcohol included? And this is the answer? That I have to keep going to meetings, week after week, gritting my teeth, clenching my fists until I finally give up, or the grace of God finally grants me serenity to be sober? Or what…I just can’t hop on board with that plan, but I want to change. I also want to know why alcohol is affecting me the way it is, why do I feel so out of whack, when so many others are doing exactly what I’m doing, but seem to be functioning just fine…”maybe it is you who is flawed,” a nagging voice keeps jabbing at me. But another, quieter voice in my head is telling me “It’s not you...”
Then what is it? I kept asking back. I really want to know.
It was after one those meetings that when I got home, out of frustration and desperation, that googled something cryptic like, “are there options other than treatment or AA for alcohol use” (had no idea there was a “sober curious” movement gaining momentum around me…), and eventually made my way to Annie Grace’s This Naked Mind and AE. From her first video, I was hooked. Her program and all the info she shares has so resonated with me—no-nonsense, science-based, yet warm, supportive, mindful—I swear she covers ALL bases so well, my questions are often answered before I can even ask them! I’m at a point where I’m very curious about how much better my life can be, AF for life, hence this Live round. Already, reading through a number of posts already shared on this page, I can relate to so much of what many of you have shared. We don’t have to hit the proverbial rock bottom to decide to get off the crazy train. I’m excited to embark on this journey with all of you.
p.s.–I’ve seen that some of you added a Day 1 photo; I haven’t had a chance to look over all the videos yet, as I just joined today, but we did this for the non-live version, too, so here’s mine. I am not hung over today (only 2 glasses of wine for my quiet, at-home NYE celebration), though I spent 2 hours “forest bathing” today—yes, it’s a real thing! Google it, then try it!!! :)—and desperately need a shower. Still. I feel as tired as look nearly every day… Here’s to day 1…