Emmy took her last drink on December 8, 2019. This is her story of living alcohol free (AF).
Finding Your Better You – Odette’s weekly message.
Odette spoke about a personal and very sensitive issue: she is an Adult Child of an Alcoholic. She took charge of her recovery but recently identified some behaviors and coping mechanisms she was hoping to skip over that are rooted in her early years growing up in an alcoholic home. Odette realized she had been stuck in a pattern of self-sabotage for years in many aspects of her life, some more dangerous than others. Self-sabotage showed up in her relationships with friends, at school, and with her husband. While Odette doesn’t like the label of being an adult child of an alcoholic, she has come to realize she can’t wish the consequences away. Pain in our families makes our emotional state a bit disheveled. We live waiting for the other shoe to drop. We were guarded and untrusting. This state became our normal: the feeling that something is wrong all of the time.
Odette is focused on understanding the impact self-sabotage has on her behavior. She is practicing new behaviors. She is working on making small shifts – to see things differently.
No matter how destructive our behavior has been in the past, we can experience new ways of being.
[9:38] Odette introduces Emmy
Emmy took her last drink on December 8, 2019. She is from Fort Worth, Texas, and she is 30 years old.
Emmy is a recreational therapist who works with children and adults with various disabilities. She is single, no kids, and lives with her five-year-old dog Petey. She has fun participating in her recovery, getting to know who she is, and learning to become her own friend.
[13:06] Can you give listeners some background on your history with drinking?
Emmy said she started drinking around 16 or 17. She was at a friend’s house where somebody had brought over a bottle of alcohol mixed with Propel and thought it was cool. She remembers the first sip giving her this sort of warm feeling inside and thinking, ‘nothing bad can ever happen with this.’ She kept that routine going every weekend as a teenager. When she went to college, she found an excuse to drink every night, whether trivia night or intramural sports. She also worked in a restaurant and could drink behind the bar. Everybody was doing it, so it didn’t seem like a problem at the time.
She graduated college and worked in a nursing home by day and a restaurant by night. She was working 50-60 hours a week, which gave her another excuse to drink because she worked so hard.
[14:45] At this point, were you starting to question your relationship with alcohol, or were you thinking this is just what people do?
Emmy said she knew as a teenager; it may become a problem in the future. She saw so many people doing the same thing and thought she would have to look at it later down the road.
[15:28] Walk me through what happened afterward, how did that progress?
Emmy went to grad school, which started drinking Round 2. She thought, I’m still in school, I can still live the same lifestyle. She graduated, got a Director job in a nursing home, with more responsibility. She was not surrounded by as many people who drank as she did.
She began putting feelers out to different people, asking if she had a drinking problem. She was asking the wrong people, the people who drank as she did. She took that as validation she didn’t have a problem.
She drank regularly for a few more years. She thought it was fun. There were many examples of alcoholism in her family. Problem drinkers have a problem every time. She believed she could maintain control and continue drinking.
[17:35] Were you creating any rules for yourself, like moderation rules?
Emmy said, don’t we all? She had rules about, don’t drink on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. She would break her rules all of the time, then double down on guilt and shame.
Emmy moved to Texas, and she wasn’t around anybody she knew anymore. She started drinking alone. She could still have a glass or two of wine and feel fine the next day. She was still getting up for work and had a really good job. Nothing was taken away from her, so she didn’t think it was a problem.
[18:36] You said the word, YET, was powerful in your journey. The inner turmoil between the heart and the brain can be exhausting, were you tired mentally?
Emmy said this is what led her to admit defeat. She found herself doing the same thing over and over again. She was sick and tired of being sick and tired. She was sick of being pulled out of her life, missing amazing moments while she continued drinking.
[19:49] Did you have any people in your life who were pursuing sobriety or battling addiction?
Emmy said yes. She grew up with alcoholism in her immediate and extended family. She had little seeds planted in the past ten years by people who chose recovery.
[20:32] So what made you change your mind?
Emmy said on December 7, she was feeling unsafe and recalling a previously abusive relationship. On vacation in California, she was sneaking drinks when nobody was looking so not everyone would know how much she’d had to drink. She treated somebody pretty poorly that night. She was up all night and came out of a blackout, realizing she was yelling at someone. She looked in the mirror and told herself, you have completely lost who you are. It was an out-of-body experience, and within a few days, she reached out for help out of desperation.
[22:18] That’s a powerful moment: a self-intervention. Was the progression of your drinking a way to cope with the pain of an abusive relationship?
Emmy said, absolutely, but she doesn’t think of herself as a victim anymore. She feels empowered from the healing and counseling she has done and discovered the abusive relationship was an excuse. Self-pity became an excuse for her behaviors.
[24:48] You decided to reach out for help. What did that look like for you?
Emmy said, leading up to this day, she was drawn to a client’s mother with 30 years of sobriety. She drove her client home and walked up to the door, and just collapsed in her arms, sobbing. She was met with acceptance, told about some options, and felt safe.
She went to an AA meeting at 10 pm that night, and it was a magical moment. She felt love, acceptance, no judgment, empowerment, and she has been going to AA ever since.
[28:05] How connected are you to faith or guidance? It sounds like you were catching signs.
Emmy said she grew up in a religious home and always had God there. She believes not making him her #1 pursuit got her off track. She recently connected to the spiritual side of her program and believes God sends messages through people. Her faith has grown in the past nine months.
[32:19] Tell me about those initial months. What was it like? How did you have to adjust your daily routine?
Emmy said the first three months were just a release of emotion. She had no cravings. She was grateful to God for lifting the obsession. She was learning how to be a human, to walk soberly. She still had problems and started learning how to deal with them without alcohol.
She is getting to know God, getting to know herself. She is establishing a routine and creating stability that she never got as a little girl and felt empowered by the choice.
[34:42] What is your go for handling problems and negative emotions?
Emmy is trying to strengthen the pause, pausing before reacting. She takes 5 minutes to herself and breathes. She is working on not being impulsive. She continues to practice pausing every day.
[36:27] Tell me about your routine?
Emmy is awakened by her dog at the same time every day. They have a routine. She then does a daily devotional, journals, relaxes as her form of meditation to clear her head. She walks the dog to get outside and enjoys fresh air. Then she starts work. God and her recovery come first.
[38:51] What is your favorite part of the journey so far?
Emmy does five in-person meetings a week and talks to her sponsor when problems arise.
[39:56] What is your response when someone offers you a drink?
Emmy said it varies, and she liked to make it funny. I’m allergic. It makes me mean. No, thank you.
[40:37] Thoughts about the future (wedding, milestones)?
Emmy said she has thought about it. Will anyone come if I have a dry wedding? She is learning it’s easy to have fun without alcohol. She is learning to “stay where her feet are.” She stays in the present and is enjoying being in the present. Stay where your feet are; you are here.
[42:35] How have the relationships in your life shifted or changed?
Emmy said she feels blessed with good friends and believes she is the one that has changed. She practices being grateful for her friends, being present for them, and enjoys remembering conversations the next day. She treats people better. She feels supported and has excellent long-distance relationships.
[44:15] Where do you find inspiration from outside of your meetings?
Emmy said she loves the Recovery Elevator podcast, talking to her sponsor, prayer, and journaling.
[45:15} What do you associate with the word alcoholic?
Emmy said she doesn’t have a problem with it. She sees it as an opportunity, a relief, not a label.
[46:03] Rapid Fire Round
- What are you excited about right now? What possibilities in your life?
Helping others in recovery, giving opportunity to other people.
- What do you bring to a party when they tell you to bring your drinks?
La Croix – passion fruit
- What’s your favorite ice cream flavor?
Breyer’s chocolate truffle
- What’s a light bulb moment you’ve had in this journey?
If you don’t drink, you won’t get drunk
- What has recovery made possible for you?
- What parting piece of guidance can you give listeners who are thinking of ditching the booze?
Keep open-mindedness and willingness. Don’t be too hard on yourself. If the thought has crossed your mind, give it a try.
You may have to say Adios to booze if …
getting a drink (one drink) sounds like a waste of time
Odette’s weekly challenge:
What is in your baggage backpack that you want to get eliminate? A character defect, a challenging conversation, a task you have been avoiding. Muster the courage and go for it. You are brave and so much more capable than you realize.
If you are an Adult Child of an Alcoholic, I am with you. You are not alone and together is always better.
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