Stephen took his last drink on January 24th, 2020. This is his story of living alcohol free (AF).
Odette’s weekly installment of: Finding Your Better You
“The pleasures of connecting with people are much greater than the pleasures of judging people.”- Johann Hari
If we show up genuinely, we can connect with someone. If we are pretending to listen, we will not connect. Only with actual connection can we truly see each other. In a little departure from talking about quitting drinking Odette is asking us to explore being a better listener. What would that mean? What would that look like? Listening to each other has the power to heal, however it’s also very hard to do. Can we be more curious and see how this can impact relationships?
[6:01] Odette introduces Stephen.
Stephen is 33 years old and lives in Austin, TX. He enjoys exercise, teaching tennis and using his Peloton. He’s planning to return to school in the near future.
[7:30] Can you give listeners some background on your story?
Stephen said he took his first drink at the age of 15. He was curious about it and remembers finding something that made him feel relaxed. Being so focused on tennis, alcohol was mostly a secondary thing. In 2008 he joined the military to be an Airborne Ranger, which is also where he noticed his drinking changed. He left the military in 2015 and the drinking followed him. With nothing to wake up for at 5am anymore, he was able to drink differently. After a few years he walked into an AA meeting and went all in for 7 months’ time. He began drinking again for 5 months which led him to January 2020.
[14:59] Tell me more about your being in the military and the binge drinking. Did you question your relationship with alcohol?
Stephen said he only questioned his drinking in the midst of a bad hangover. He was surrounded by so many others that drank the same way, so it was very normalized. Alcohol was a temporarily release from the stressors.
[19:07] Have you shifted your thinking from that of learning to endure to finding joy?
Stephen said he is still working on this. Coming from his sports and military background he was taught to do whatever it takes to get through something. He’s learned that only works in the short term, but the emotional impact last longer. In recovery Stephen has taught himself that it’s ok when things are easy and to go with the flow. He had to allow himself to surrender to the fact that he cannot live with alcohol in his life at all.
[22:45] What has been different this time?
Stephen said this time he had to adjust his all-in mentality. He’s more tied into recovery communities with actual people and listening to their struggles and stories. He gave up the idea of being perfect but at the same time accepted that he can’t be the best version of himself while drinking alcohol.
[25:06] Have you found anything in sobriety that makes you feel relaxed and free?
Stephen said running helps him and it’s when his body feels good and his mind is at peace. He’s working on trying to be ok with his own thoughts in his own head. Having real conversations with real people makes him feel free.
[25:57] What do you do when you have a craving?
Stephen said he eats. It’s simple and it works for him. He didn’t eat when drinking because he didn’t want to ruin his buzz. Now it’s the opposite. If that doesn’t work, he reaches out.
[26:57] Tell me about this year.
Stephen said at the beginning of COVID he was still able to be collecting a paycheck. He also went through a big breakup, which was different being sober.
[29:30] What’s your everyday routine look like?
Stephen said on a daily basis about connecting with people about his life and their life. Addressing mind, body and spirit, as well as attending therapy.
[31:14] How have the interactions with family and friends been?
Stephen said his family can now see the version of him that’s able to be present. He’s having conversations with family members who are questioning their own drinking.
[34:01] Have you figured out the why of your drinking?
Stephen said he’s been exploring a lot of deeper things with his therapist. He grew up in a home where he had to walk on eggshells. So, he thinks the drinking allowed him to be free of that. However, that led to all of his emotions being repressed and without an outlet except through drinking. Drinking allowed him to feel things and feel human.
[35:38] Have you found therapy to be helpful?
Stephen said yes. He’s an analytical person by nature and having someone to be a sounding board has been helpful. He wouldn’t have gone through a lot of the childhood trauma without his therapist.
[37:36] Has your sleep improved?
Stephen said not yet. He hopes it’s the last piece of the puzzle.
[39:49] Have you gone back to AA?
Stephen said yes, he’s working through the steps again. But he primarily focuses on a larger network for his own recovery.
[41:07] Rapid Fire Round
- What would you say to your younger self?
Stop trying to find clarity and happiness in a bottle. What happened to you as a child is not your fault
- What book are you reading right now?
- What’s your favorite ice cream flavour?
Amy’s Ice Cream: Mexican Vanilla
- What parting piece of guidance would you give to listeners thinking about ditching the booze?
There is no perfect recovery.Find your own path, don’t look back and you aren’t alone. There are so many people living a life without booze.
You may have to say adios to booze if…
you jump out of a plane drunk, because you are still drunk from the night before.
Odette’s weekly challenge:
Only you know what is best for you. Protect your energy. What works for some might not work for you. We are all here to encourage and inspire each other. We are challenging big alcohol, you are a part of this.
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