Nick, with 111 days sober, shares his story.
On today’s episode Paul discusses anxiety, depression and stress. “These pains you feel are messengers. Listen to them.” ~ Rumi.
Depression is when mental energies are stuck in the past, anxiety is when we are living in the future, and stress accumulates when the end goal is more important than the task at hand. Liberation from all three of these dysfunctions resides in the present moment.
There is an undeniable connection between alcohol and depression. Remove alcohol and the bulk of melancholy should be lifted within a matter of months. Anxiety levels should also return to baseline after removing alcohol from your life. When we are primarily focused on the end outcome, and not the task at hand, we experience stress. Stress can be devastating to the equanimity in the body. The most powerful remedy to depression, anxiety, and stress is to ground yourself in the moment.
[10:40] Paul introduces Nick
Nick is 32 years old and lives in Vancouver, Canada. He works in the career center at a university. He has been married for 2 years. For fun, he is still trying to figure that out in sobriety, but he enjoys having conversation and making connections with people.
[13:20] Give us a little background about your drinking.
Nick didn’t really start drinking until his early 20’s. He says he liked to drink, that there never really was a time that he did not enjoy it. He felt he could drink more than most and still be OK. And what that ended up doing was it basically normalized drinking large amounts of alcohol, because he wasn’t getting sick or waking up with a hangover. Things slowly escalated from there.
In 2010 Nick moved to Vancouver. There were a few times when he decided that he didn’t like how much he was drinking, and he would just stop for a few months at a time.
[17:00] What was the catalyst for you to decide to go a month or two without alcohol?
He went through a really messed up experience between his best friend and the person he was dating at the time. He dealt with that experience by drinking. What he came to realize was that alcohol just made him feel worse. So, he distanced himself from those 2 people and from alcohol. He went 3-4 months without drinking, not thinking he would never drink again, but more because he felt he needed a break from it.
When Nick started to drink again, the next year or two, it wasn’t that bad.
But what came back very quickly was the familiar feeling that alcohol made him feel comfortable, safe, more confident.
The thing that tipped Nick off to drinking becoming a problem was in order to feel normal or comfortable in a situation, he needed alcohol.
[20:15] When did you realize that your drinking was a problem?
It’s hard for him to pinpoint exactly when that happened. It built very slowly over time. It snowballed and it wasn’t until many years later that he realized that he had lost control.
[22:05] When was the moment that you did stop and see that alcohol was the factor that was causing that unease in your life?
Nick says there were lots of smaller moments, but when he really knew it, it was about 6 months after a good friend died from leukemia. He started isolating and drinking alone.
[25:50] Did you have a rock bottom moment? How did you finally make the push forward into sobriety?
Nick tried to moderate, which didn’t work. He then started to go to counseling on a regular basis. He was honest with his therapist about his drinking. He started journaling which helped him to see why he was drinking. He became more self-aware and was communicating better. He was still sad and grieving. Over the next year his drinking escalated.
Around September 2018 he was listening to a lot of podcasts and just knew that he had to give up drinking. He came home one day, after listening to the RE podcast, took his earbuds out, and just cried. Part of the reason he cried was because he realized that he was not alone.
[34:05] When the tears came flowing, what did it feel like to fully lean in?
Nick says it felt terrifying and he felt very vulnerable, but also so relieved. That began a long series of day ones. On December 1st he joined the Café’RE Facebook group. After drinking a lot after a staff party on December 7, he has not picked up since.
[41:30] What was the first week like, the first month? How did you do it?
The first few days were a little rough. Because of all the journaling he had done he knew the hours that he needed to keep himself busy. He changed the route he would take as he would walk home so that he would not be passing liquor stores. He got connected and reached out to others in the group.
[44:16] With 111 days what’s he biggest challenge you’ve encountered so far?
The feeling of plateauing. He’s sober and isn’t experiencing cravings, so the question of “what now”?
[45:50] What was the Recovery Elevator Nashville event like?
It was great. As soon as he heard about the Nashville event, he knew he had to try to get himself there.
[48:30] What are you going to do next in recovery?
Nick would like to work with people in addiction and recovery.
[51:20] Rapid Fire Round
- Worst memory from drinking?
Waking up and realizing that you hurt someone you care about, but you can’t remember why, is the absolute worst feeling in the world.
- Do you remember a specific ‘oh-shit’ moment?
The last night he drank. It was though the scotch he was drinking was water. It just wasn’t working anymore.
- Best advice you’ve ever received? And what advice can you give to someone who is thinking about getting sober?
Be open and vulnerable, be willing to give and receive love.
- You might be an alcoholic if…
You go to slide a wine bottle under your couch, and you hear it hit another bottle, which hits another bottle.
Bozeman Retreat – August 14-18, 2019
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