A quote from “Drinking: A love Story” by Caroline Knapp sums up the theme for today's podcast:
“Early sobriety has the quality of vigorous exercise, as though each repetition of a painful moment gone without a drink serves to build up emotional muscle.”
Life will happen. We can't control what challenges life will send our way but we can control how we respond. Each passing trial is an opportunity to build one's sobriety muscles, which get stronger over time as healthy habits and ways of thinking become more deeply ingrained.
Quitting drinking is difficult because not only is alcohol physically addicting, but we often turn to alcohol to help us cope with life's many challenges. In sobriety, we find an opportunity to learn new coping skills and rewire our brain to handle difficult times without turning to alcohol for help.
Samantha, with 18 days since her last drink, shares her story...
[7:20] Paul Introduces Samantha.
Samantha is 27 years old, from Louisiana. She has a girlfriend and a cat, works at a lawfirm, likes music, travel, reading and listens to podcasts. She's a geography student, returning to school to finish her degree.
[8:30] When did you first notice that you had a problem with drinking?
In her early 20s. She used alcohol to deal with her anxiety. She thinks alcohol is a big part of society in Louisiana. She has family members that struggle with alcohol. An abusive relationship drove her to drinking more than normal. All of her friends seemed to drink a lot.
[12:35] What did drinking a lot look like for you?
Mostly just wine, and eventually whiskey, which became her alcohol of choice.
[13:07] Did you ever put any rules into place to try and control your drinking?
Yes, she would buy smaller bottles or only drink on weekends.
[13:50] What was your rock bottom moment? Why did you decide to quit?
Sick and tired of being sick and tired mostly. A therapist refused to see her while she was drinking. She was angry. She refused the rehab and kept drinking. A different time she had written in her journal about quitting drinking, only to go out later that night and black out again.
[18:34] What was it like to break that promise to yourself?
She woke up and felt terrible, shameful, embarrassed.
[19:55] How has sobriety affected your borderline personality disorder?
Her emotions are normally intense and fleeting. Alcohol helped her maintain an even keel. Without alcohol, she's switched to Zoloft. It's difficult to deal with strong emotions without alcohol. She's now optimistic about her future and has decided to go back to school, realizing that alcohol was getting in her way.
[23:40] How has your behavior changed since you've quit?
She goes to bars less. She is looking for more things to do at home. She's trying to fill the void left by alcohol with healthy activities.
[24:40] Is your partner trying to get sober?
No, she wants to stop but she is continuing. It's difficult to see her continue, not because it makes her want to drink, but because she sees the effect alcohol is having on her.
[27:06] What benefits are you getting from quitting?
Her skin cleared up. She's lost weight. Her emotions are easier to handle. She's now able to see that one drink may start well but it will lead to a terrible conclusion.
[30:27] Have you lost anything to alcohol?
She feels like she lost her dignity. Various memories from drinking make her feel shameful or embarrassed.
[32:30] What advice would you give to your younger self?
Not to smoke or drink ever! She received info about substances while in school, but feels like it had no impact. She would tell herself to love herself. She thinks loving oneself is the root of many of the decisions we make.
[35:04] What is your proudest moment so far in sobriety?
She was told that she was a great student by an old professor. Also, she went to a bar and didn't have any drinks.
[36:30] Rapid Fire Round
Resources mentioned in this episode:
Sober Selfies! - Send your Sober Selfie and your Success Story to firstname.lastname@example.org
“We took the elevator down, we gotta take the stairs back up, we can do this!”