For Ally life was all about control, she was a rule follower growing up. This eventually led to an eating disorder – the first sign of a control issue and anxiety. Next came the realization that her drinking was out of control. Read how This Naked Mind helped Ally find control in a healthy way.
I was an anxious child. My mom and dad divorced when I was 4. My mom raised me by herself. Worried I would cause her stress I tried tirelessly to be her perfect child. By the time I hit my teen years, being the perfect child was so ingrained in my personality that I didn’t rebel in the typical ways (i.e., seeking drugs and alcohol) instead I became severely anorexic. I spent the last couple of years of high school in and out of eating disorder rehabilitation. Putting in the work to recover from my eating disorder was hard but it propelled me into the next chapter of my life—leaving my mom and going to college.
I moved 3 hours from home and it was scary but exciting. I went to college with a friend who I met during treatment. She was my safety net and helped me adjust to my new independence. During those first few years, we navigated recovery together.
Out of Control Drinking
Over time I shed the part of my identity that revolved around my eating disorder. There is no doubt this was in part because of my newfound addiction – alcohol. I never saw the appeal of drinking in high school. Not only did it have too many calories but none of my close high school friends drank. However, that all changed in college when I met new people. Introduced to fun drinks like UV blue vodka and lemonade, scooby snack shots, and espresso martinis. I felt so grown up and more importantly, I felt great drinking! Drinking I felt more confident and less anxious. Believing wholeheartedly that I was finally able to loosen up and have fun. My new friend, alcohol even helped me talk to the ever-elusive opposite sex.
Because of Alcohol
Every weekend my gal pals and I would get dolled up and head downtown and it was so fun. I don’t regret any of it, I was having fun with my friends and the alcohol didn’t really matter to me, I could take it or leave it. Then something happened, I noticed that I genuinely felt I couldn’t forgo alcohol if I was talking to a guy I was interested in. Alcohol gave me confidence, something I had been sorely lacking most of my life.
Firmly believing alcohol gave me the confidence to finally talk to the cute guy I had been seeing around town over the years. We also had mutual friends so it was easy enough to encourage them to invite him out for a drink! Soon we became drinking friends and at the end of an alcohol-fueled night, we hooked up. We began spending almost every night together, drinking ourselves silly and enjoying every minute of it.
For 9 years and 11 months.
From Out of Control Drinking to Out of Control Fighting
We moved in together after dating for 5 years and drank every night. We would get home from work and crack a beer and then another beer and then another. Before we knew it, we were both just plastered on the couch by 8 pm on a Tuesday night. I somehow managed to obtain a Master’s degree being drunk and hungover damn near every day. I didn’t escape this time completely unscathed, I started fighting with my boyfriend when I was drinking, I was extremely verbally aggressive towards him. Like many people struggling with alcohol, I would wake up the next morning feeling guilty and with a foggy idea of what we fought about. Most of the time I didn’t remember a thing I said. This went on for years.
There’s a Problem Here
The first inkling I had that I might have a drinking problem came during the aftermath of one of these alcohol-fueled fights. I woke up feeling like I had so many mornings before. Fearing what I had said to my boyfriend the night before. I also had a massive headache worse than any I recalled having before. I touched my head and felt a huge bump. My boyfriend has never once laid a hand on me and I knew he didn’t this time either. When I asked him why I might have gotten a bump on my head he told me that the night before I was yelling at him, was mad, and trying to get to bed. I stumbled, fell, and hit my head really hard against the wall.
At that moment, I was convinced he would leave me. In fact, he told me he would if I didn’t change. I cut down on drinking. Things settled down for a while and we got engaged.
Here We Go Again
Then my old drinking patterns crept back in and before I knew it, I was drinking daily again. Since my head injury, I had been telling myself moderation was key to keeping my emotions in check and reducing the intensity of my hangovers. I held the following pattern: I would only allow myself 1 beer at night but after that 1 beer a second didn’t sound like a bad idea, so I inevitably had a second beer. I started saying only 2 beers a night but it didn’t take long for me to say only 3 beers a night. 3 beers almost always caused me to be emotionally liable and it was only a matter of time before verbal aggression crept back into our drunken dialogue.
Things had started to change in my now-husband. He started to respond with verbal aggression, if you can’t beat ’em join ’em, right? Since we were now married, I think he felt like he had better join me! This resulted in verbal aggression matches, most of which I don’t remember. Our verbal duels only happened occasionally when we were drinking but we couldn’t see that they were slowly escalating in frequency, duration, and intensity.
This Has To End
It came to a head one night in early February 2021. We had just gotten a poodle puppy. Feeling stressed trying to figure out all the things that come with a new pup. Because we were stressed, we had been drinking and fighting more. As so many times before, the last night I drank, I don’t remember anything. The next day, my husband told me per usual that we both yelled at each other and said things neither of us truly meant.
He also said something else, he told me that if we didn’t get help with our relationship, we couldn’t raise a family in this environment. He was right, we absolutely did not want to raise children (or our puppy) in a verbally aggressive home. Professionally, we both work with troubled families and have seen firsthand how alcohol and aggression can affect children’s mental health and wellbeing. I knew I had to stop my out of control drinking and I did that same day, 2/11/2021.
Ending The Out of Control Drinking
The first day was easy with my hangover. The second and third days were hard. I was fighting those cravings to drink and numb out the guilt I was feeling about my actions. Of interest to me was wanting to drink to numb the guilt I felt about what I did when drinking. I would later come to find out that was my unconscious and conscious brain fighting. I joined a subreddit group (r/stopdrinking) and saw repeated recommendations to read Annie Grace’s book, This Naked Mind. Immediately, I bought it and began reading it. It validated everything I had been quietly thinking. My resolve to stay sober made even stronger. Every day that I fought the cravings and didn’t drink was truly confidence-building.
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Better Without It
By the end of the first 5 days, I felt on top of the world! I avoided all our drinking friends the first couple of weeks but with every passing day the concerns I had about them softening my resolve and getting me to drink, lessened. I began to realize I didn’t need to drink to be around these people. In fact, over the years I had said many dumb things to them too (sometimes aggressive things but usually just gossip). I am honestly a much better person without alcohol and I know that wholeheartedly. My husband has decided to cut back but ultimately has not decided to join me in my sober journey. I hope he does someday but for now, I have solace in knowing that he was never the aggressor, that was me.
I never understood why I was fighting the man that I loved so much. He has never been anything by truly supportive, kind, and loving. I hated myself every morning when he’d say I was aggressive towards him the night before. I didn’t like who I was and I was sick of feeling that way. Now I know that alcohol affected my ability to think and process things rationally which resulted in my acting out. Since I’ve quit drinking my husband reports that I am much more pleasant overall. I believe this is largely due to the fact that I don’t wake up feeling guilty every day, I wake up feeling excited for the day which makes for a better mood overall! I don’t know what tomorrow will bring but I know that alcohol will not help me face it.
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