"People who need help sometimes look a lot like people who don't need help." - Glennon Doyle
I. WAS. STUCK.
While the shiny exterior of my life gave the impression everything was wonderful, I was stuck. I had a great life as a stay-at-home mom then pharmaceutical sales rep: Supportive husband, happy kids, wonderful friends, great church and community, lovely house and car - I had it all!
Yet, I still felt that something was missing. Something was off and it was manifesting as this indiscernible internal tension, this rub, that made me irritable and edgy. I dismissed it for a while as a temporary feeling coming from the brutal adjustment from stay-at-home mom to full-time working mom.
A few months prior, with the last of my babes off to school all day, I was excited to finally resume my career (read: to have a diversion from the immense loneliness I felt with no one to need me during the day and a whole story for another time). I was sure it was going to be magical. I lost myself in the dream of what this new life would look like.
I’d be climbing leader boards and slaying sales goals whilst seamlessly caring for and meeting my kids' every needs as a super mom who can do it all. My working mom friends made it look so easy to be successful in both work and family - I had very high expectations. That was my first big problem. "Every unrealistic expectation is a resentment waiting to happen,” Father Richard Rohr so brilliantly states. And resent I did. Because it was HARD. Very, very hard and far from the glamorous life I had envisioned of being able to be all the things to all the people.
Around this time, my once-drink-wine-only-on-the-weekends and on the occasional moms’ nights' out routine, turned into a drink-wine-every-night habit. That nightly Sonoma Cutrer 'reward' was the thing I most looked forward to at the end of a long day.
Up until this point, when my kids were smaller and way less independent, I didn't have a chance to drink a couple glasses of wine let alone actually enjoy drinking it. If I drank wine it was 'a glass' here or there or on the occasional night out when they were home with a sitter. Occasionally, Todd and I would have a drink together after the kids were in bed. It was only in these last few years that I found more 'time' to be able to indulge in a glass (ok two or three) and that's about the same time that I started to wonder if my always-having-a-glass-of-wine-in-my-hands was affecting them. Did they even notice?
After bedtime stories and prayers, one night, I leaned in to smother my then four year-old’s sweet, tiny face in kisses, as always. To my surprise, she recoiled and very dramatically shouted, “Ew Mama! Your breath stinks like wine! No kisses tonight!”
Wait?! Did my four year old just call me out for drinking wine?!
Well of course I smelled like wine. I smelled like wine most nights these days.
Also: Mind your own business, kid. Nothing to see or smell here.
It would be a while before I could get real with myself and acknowledge the underlying sadness I felt in that moment. My four year-old not only rejected my kisses - ouch, but she could also clearly identify that the smell on my breath was wine. Double ouch.
Despite trying to block it out for months, it’s a moment that I’ll never forget.
It’s also a moment for which I’ll always be grateful.
WINE A LITTLE, YOU’LL FEEL BETTER
I used to justify my nightly wine habit by thinking, 'my wine is a gift to my husband and kids, it takes the much needed edge off. With wine in hand, Mama is happy and we can now get through the night in harmony.'
I believed I deserved this 'luxurious treat' for all my efforts of serving and pleasing others while simultaneously making sure I made it look easy...pretending like it was easy - don’t let ‘em see you sweat right, ladies?!
But eventually this 'reward' started taking more than it was giving.
My once favorite part of the day - bedtime stories and prayers with the kids - became a chore I had to get through. I was now rushing through bedtime, snippy and short, to hurry downstairs for one more glass of wine.
Some nights, I would skip bedtime routines altogether, letting the kids watch a movie instead of snuggling up with them to read, so I could enjoy just one more glass of wine.
These nights led me to mornings of deep shame. My relationship with alcohol was interfering with what I valued most - my relationships with my people. My kids, my husband, and God. I was so ashamed, but still, no matter what I tried, I couldn’t change by habit. My love affair with chardonnay won night after night.
THE SHAME HOLE
In the peak of my drinking, it wasn’t the amount of wine I was drinking in one sitting that bothered me (although maybe it should’ve been). It was the fact that my drinking had progressed and I was drinking almost every night with no relief in sight. I used to count down the days until Friday when I could open that beautiful bottle of wine but, now, I was counting down the hours to 5pm. I was drinking even on nights when I had no desire to drink. It was becoming a very bad habit (at minimum) that I couldn’t change.
It felt like there was something really wrong with me. Not being able to change this habit made me weak and broken. My shame kept me imprisoned.
Looking back, I can see that the shame of not being good enough was a theme that had been threaded throughout my whole life. This feeling of unworthiness kept me in perpetual motion and the destructive mindset of 'doing more, serving more, achieving more and being more' to prove my self-worth.
Early on, I recognized that my sensitivity and emotional vulnerability wasn’t going to cut it in this world. I’d have to adapt to survive. I became skilled in reading the mood of any room and in 'lightening the mood' with humor and witty stories. This gave me an 'in' with people and a free pass for survival.
This is also when I first became 'not me'. The 'not me' that I would continue to operate from behind for many, many years while denying my true, God-created self. I became a people-pleasing, shape-shifting, image-cultivator, focused on the needs of others and on winning others over, driven by the need to be accepted and loved. My 'I’m ok if you’re ok,' attitude served me well. I had no shortage of friends and a bustling social life and as long as I was surrounded by people (and more opportunities to win people over!) I was happy.
I tried alcohol for the first time at a party in my early teen years. I remember that I found it repulsive and hard to swallow. Even so, it didn’t take long to discover its magic ability to help me maintain my fun and easygoing personality that had become so critical to my survival.
While I continued drinking through college and into my adult life, my drinking looked no different than that of my friends or family. I had no problem giving up alcohol during my pregnancies and didn’t even miss it. These would be the two 'truths' I’d rely on for years to talk me out of questioning my relationship with alcohol. Those two thoughts, unknowingly, also would keep me stuck in a brewing internal tension and a growing psychological dependency on alcohol.
THE PATH TO WHOLENESS STARTS WITH PEACE
When I share with folks that I no longer drink, they immediately perk up in the hopes of some dramatic story of a DUI or my hiding vodka in water bottles or drinking before breakfast. Or maybe showing up to the PTA meeting drunk. If they’re brave enough they’ll even ask me - what happened? I tell them the truth: There wasn’t a singular, dramatic event that scared me into living alcohol-free.
Instead, I made a powerful CHOICE to live alcohol-free, by first, disrupting the auto-pilot mode of my go-go-go mom life with many tools for self-awareness including the Enneagram.
The Enneagram is a tool that highlights patterns in how people conceptualize their world and manage their emotions. Your dominant Enneagram type helps to explain why you behave in certain ways. It's also the path to discovering who you really are before the world told you how you should be.
Once I started this game-changing self-awareness work and through a deepening faith and daily meditation and prayer practice, I started really questioning my drinking. I considered the role it might be playing in the ongoing internal tension and general unease I felt. I was living more authentically and purposely but only until 5 o'clock when I poured the wine.
Waking up from a deep sleep and finally being aware that I needed to find a new way was a great first step but it didn't solve the problem completely. I wanted to change, but how? I didn't feel like I 'qualified' for the traditional alcohol-free programs and besides living a life miserably trying not to drink sounded anything but peaceful.
Thankfully, at just the right time, I received a divine gift. A solution for change. I discovered, Annie Grace's, This Naked Mind. After reading it, I finally discovered what I had been blind to about alcohol and our alcohol-saturated culture. I learned about the subconscious brain’s powerful role in the choices we make. I discovered the key to changing an unwanted behavior. There was nothing 'wrong' with me. I was just a human being, caught in the trap of a substance that's addictive to human beings.
It illuminated for me exactly what I was doing with wine. I had an underlying subconscious belief that wine was an enhancement to my life. This led to a progressive psychological dependency on wine. Which led to missing out on what l valued most - meaningful time with my people. Which led to mornings of regret and shame. The shame then contributed to pouring wine every night starting the whole crazy cycle over, again and again.
I’d always believed there were just two categories of drinkers: The social drinkers, who can take it or leave it and the alcoholics, who can’t stop no matter how many horrible consequences alcohol leads to. Neither of these truly described me and contributed to my stuck. But when I learned that there’s actually a third category called "gray-area drinkers," as described by Jolene Park, my conflict had a name. From the outside looking in, a “gray-area drinker” doesn’t appear to have a problem with alcohol. But from the inside looking out, their drinking was a problem for them. THIS. WAS. ME.
Armed with this new knowledge and renewed by the hope that there was a better, a more peaceful way, I was able to silence the inner conflict that kept me separated from achieving the deeper connections with people I so desired. I was able to leave behind the old beliefs that show up as 'truths,' that kept me constrained, depressed, anxious and imprisoned by shame, despite the appearance of 'having it all together.'
THE MISSING PEACE
My decision to live alcohol-free and the work I did to make that happen wasn’t the result of some rock bottom event. Instead, I gained freedom and choice when I found my missing peace. That divine peace finally came after thirty-nine years, as I awoke from a deep slumber and replaced survival-mode living with living in the moment, fully-awake, fully-conscious, with EYES WIDE OPEN.
For thirty-nine years, I had been dependent on two things for survival: First, I had depended on others telling me who/what/how they needed me to be instead of showing up as my authentic self, my God-created self. Someone with deep feelings and needs and the knowledge that love doesn’t have to be earned. I’m no longer dependent on the validation of others affirming my worth. I’m worthy of love for just being ME. The second was a dependence on alcohol that I believed allowed me to more easily be what others needed me to be: fun, easygoing, and light. The psychological dependence I had on wine stemmed from deeply-rooted, conditioned beliefs that wine was beneficial and necessary to my life, not from a weakness or flaw in me!
This Naked Mind taught me that thoughts create beliefs and beliefs lead to outcomes. I thought and eventually truly believed that I needed alcohol to make me lovable. I believed wine was a reward and a treat for my hard work, with it's magic ability to quiet my anxiety and stress. Turns out, it was the very thing responsible for my anxiety and stress. Thanks to the science and facts This Naked Mind gifted me, I no longer have those beliefs.
The gratitude I have for receiving this life-breathing gift, with the discovery of my missing peace, led me to leave my unfulfilling career and answer the call to give back by helping others like me, discover their missing peace.
In our coaching relationship, we will explore the relationship you have with the thing(s) - alcohol (food, social media, online shopping etc) that are preventing you from experiencing the joy you deserve.
Through abundant grace and compassion, and with practical and effective tools for change, I can help you shed your limiting beliefs and the accompanying shame that keeps you stuck.
Once you find your own 'missing peace,' you will be FREE to be the truest, most authentic version of yourself empowered to show up in the world joyfully and lovingly; awake, authentic and fully ALIVE.
""My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style."
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