#2 How’d you do that?

I know that when I was drinking, which was pretty steadily for around 40 years, I thought of stopping as a daunting, complicated, nearly impossible challenge. In recent years, I’d just resigned myself to drinking until the day I died, since it seemed I was a done deal. Without going into my extremely convoluted history around alcohol, let’s just say family and society set me up for a lifetime of drinking. You know how people brag about their ability to consume copious amounts of alcohol and still survive? It’s a danger to be so “functional.” I’m a walking miracle.
I did stop drinking for a few extended periods, once, after a humbling experience, with Rational Recovery for a few months, and then for another few, but it never stuck. And pregnancies don’t count, as they were periods of abstinence for a better cause.
I also did Scott Kiloby’s Natural Rest for Addiction intensive, read the book and did a bunch of facilitated inquires, but it seemed the process of looking at urges and images, and resting with them actually strengthened the images and sensations at that time. But, this work was very powerful and was one piece of the big puzzle of getting free, as my conscious awareness was greatly enhanced. As Shunryu Suzuki said, “Leave your front door open. Leave your back door open. Allow your thoughts to come and go. Just don’t serve them tea.” My doors were open but I was still entertaining. 🙂
Along the way I’d taken up smoking again after many years of being a non-smoker. It was like I was testing these modalities of “effortless” cessation. Before I knew it I was hooked on cigarettes again, too. The reason I mention this is that all addiction is the same. The thing you imbibe in to fill the “need” is the thing that creates the need in the first place.
A few months ago my friend Annie Grace asked for beta readers for This Naked Mind. The promise was that it would change my relationship with alcohol. The hook was: “Do you want to drink less?” For an addicted drinker, that is the perfect hook, because we can’t see our way clear to stopping altogether. I approached the book as a fellow writer helping a friend hone her book – with a deep down hope that reading it would cause a miracle to happen and I would effortlessly stop drinking. I read the book twice, marking it up with the eyes of an editor. But I didn’t miraculously stop drinking. Heck, it took 40 years to get me here, it would probably take a while to get me out. When Annie released the finished work, I downloaded it with plans to read it with new eyes as a person who wanted to change my relationship with alcohol.
Sidebar: Annie references many addiction experts and works in This Naked Mind, especially Allen Carr. She recommended his Easyway to Stop Smoking to me. I read it, and Boom! I stopped smoking effortlessly! The process just clicked like a combination lock and sprang open. So, I was on a roll, and ready to do it with alcohol.
I read This Naked Mind with eyes wide open. I’d also downloaded Allen Carr’s Stop Drinking Now. After finishing This Naked Mind, I still had not drunk my last drink. But I was getting ready. I took a few days to read Stop Drinking Now where I was really preparing to stop. By the time I finished the book, I was so ready to have that last drink that I had to force myself to do it. So, that’s what it took.
The fact that a 63 year old drinker needed to read that last book takes nothing away from the other works. In fact, I needed those others just as much as that last final blow. If I hadn’t done the work with the Living Inquiries and Natural Rest for Addiction I would not have the acute consciousness and alertness to recognize those sneaky cues (little monster) when they arise. And if I hadn’t read This Naked Mind I never would have gotten what I needed to get to get it done. So, thank you all very much. I’m free!

6 thoughts on “#2 How’d you do that?

  1. Thank you Heidi for this blog. It’s early morning for me and the next day regrets are full force. I already can anticipate the feeling of the hangover wearing off and opening my wine tonight to numb all this all over again.
    I reached out to Annie Grace and asked her how do you decide and stick with knowing today is the day? I do this every dang morning and then later feel like I am such a joke. I feel so lost and alone…but I’m not… I have both parents alive still , two college aged daughter whom I am beyond close to, and a loving 2nd husband who has given me a new lease on life through our mutual love. I am a teacher, 51 years old…super cute for my age….LOL…yet so alone….inside.
    Anyway Annie suggested I reach out to you…yes I actually received an email from Annie Grace!!
    I have read Allen Carrs book years ago, I’ve read the Naked Mind an am doing the audio now. I have been through outpatient rehab about 7 years ago and was sober for almost a year. I recently quit for 5 whole days and announced it to everyone….was waiting for support and encouragement and I know everyone wants me to quit and be healthy….so where is everyone?
    So alone…..Thanks for letting me share here….Ann

    1. You’re welcome to email me if you’d like a mor private discussion. But I love having comments to blogs because they may help somebody else who is just lurking. 🙂

  2. Hi Ann – You certainly are not alone! And the void you feel is part of the human condition as far as I can tell. Addiction is such a tricky thing. The bottom line is that when you’re addicted, you are always regretting the past and looking to the future for relief, either in the bottle or in an imagined addiction-free future – tomorrow. I think the key is to become present. I recommend taking 10 minute meditations (I started with forcing myself to do 20 minutes at a time and it was very helpful) throughout the day or at least once a day, and especially if you are longing for a drink – but if you immerse yourself in the literature, pretty soon you won’t want to drink. Keep drinking and keep reading and listening until you’ve had enough.
    Of course, you need to make a plan to stop but that plan should be reading until you feel truly ready, and then follow through. Once you’ve really made up your mind there’s no turning back. It’s the being truly ready part that’s tricky, and that’s where presence and counter-brainwashing comes into play.
    I am so happy I do not drink anymore! I kept it quiet for the first 6 months or so, and only told a few trusted people because in my family there’s a bunch of codependents that would make my “problem” into a big deal when the fact is, I don’t have a problem at all! Most people want you to keep drinking so they don’t have look at their own shit. Misery loves company.
    If I were to advise you at this time, I’d say get Allen Carr’s Stop Drinking Now book, get Jason Vale’s Quit the Drink, and keep listening to and reading This Naked Mind until you have retrained your subconscious mind. Also Scott Kiloby’s Natural Rest for Addiction.
    Truth is ethanol does nothing for you. I am really enjoying the clarity. Get really conscious of all of the messages you see every day when watching TV, browsing the web, on Facebook, listening to the radio, talking to friends and family, etc. Keep a journal; you’ll be amazed! It’s all there just to keep you drinking. I’m a rebellious person, so I love becoming highly conscious of the bombardment of pro-ethanol messages that pervade our lives.
    Join This Naked Mind community http://thisnakedmindcommunity.com if you haven’t already, and even there, be aware of when you hear the monster talking. I find the language around drinking and addiction appallingly counter-productive and disease ridden, and that’s why I had to consciously change my language around it. That alone did wonders at the early stages of the process.
    We don’t have a disease, and once we’re un-addicted we are free and clear – so long as we stay conscious.
    Be gentle to yourself in the meantime, and when you’re really ready to stop, make an HSM at Hello Sunday Morning https://www.hellosundaymorning.org/, I just checked mine, and I’m 33 weeks of a 12 months HSM, feeling very successful.
    Writing has really kept me accountable. Addiction has an obsessive factor, so when I stopped, I obsessively wrote, and experimented with gourmet non-ethanol refreshments, and made sure I had yummy drinks to have and enjoy at cocktail time.
    Keep in touch. xx

  3. Hi, Heidmayo & Ann,

    I have been a binge drinker for over 30 years and even just writing that makes me cringe with shame. I have gone long periods without drinking but then the monster inside gets oh so thirsty and says I need to do this to enjoy life and not miss out on all the “fun”. It does seem like fun at first but when I sober up I know it isnt. Its a huge lie our drinking culture tells us that all social functions need booze to toast and celebrate and only alcoholics cant handle their booze.
    I know the most regretable things I have said or done in my life have been because of booze.
    I have stopped again for now, but I know I will be tempted again and it really bothers me.
    Reading Annie Grace opened my eyes to why this addiction is so strong. I want to beat it so I will because it is robbing me of good health, self-respect and my life really. I am grateful to you both and others who write about this poison and how you overcome it. It helps so much.
    I love how you call it ethanol which takes away any glamour or sophistication that advertisers
    use in their language. If you are offered a glass of ethanol would you be so quick to imbibe?
    Truth about this product is hidden and needs to be exposed for what it really is.
    It kills and destroys more relationships and lives than other drug. It needs to be fought.
    thanks and best wishes,

    James Ross

    1. Hi James – Just changing the language does the trick in so many ways, especially when talking with people who’ve known me for 40 years and just expect me to drink. I don’t need to explain anything when I choose the right words – like, “I’m so glad I don’t drink ethanol anymore!” I love being free and clear! I would never ever ever use the word “sober” or “sobriety” because those words suck, and the life I am living is full and rich and happy, and I’m not denying myself anything, as they, the brainwashed ones would like to think. If I can do it, anyone can. Cheers!

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