What I am about to write is personal, but I hope it provides other women in particular who are in similar situations, with the awareness that: change is possible. This article intends to be authentic and tell you a small part of my story.
I fully understand what addiction is, and treatment, whether inpatient or out, is for some, the best option. I am not a doctor, and I can't tell someone what path to take; this is my experience.
I don't know what happens when you turn 40. It is like instantly, you decide for yourself that you're not as willing to settle. Settle in false friendships and relationships, settle in career, but most importantly settle on being mediocre in most avenues of your life. For me, the number 40 had very little to do with it. 40 happened to coincide with a big part of my life changing in direction. 40 is the year I decided to take action rather than have discussion.
For those of you who know me personally, I am an open book. I am naturally in tune with helping people, and I am known for my understanding of people. My ability to understand and help people didn't mean jack shit until I started to understand and help myself.
When the idea of starting a side hustle began, I had no idea what I was getting into. I was scared; and I lost much sleep, wondering if I could do it. I had no idea that I was starting a fully functioning REAL business on a variety of platforms. I took action all right, and that transcended into the most significant propellant I would experience for the overall change in my life for well over 10 years.
I was still struggling, in any case. You don't just wake up one morning and think “gee whiz, I'll open a business, and everything else doesn't matter”. Actually what I really did was shelve some of my personal concerns. I didn’t have a lot of time to focus on it, but at the same time it was lingering in the back of my mind. When I would approach quitting drinking amongst friends, I had people who would tell me to "self-limit” or “fix my emotional state." I always laugh at that one. One coincides with the other in my mind, and limiting things and using control doesn't work for 99% of the population long term.
In any case, the feelings surrounding myself and drinking were confusing, but lingered with me as I moved forward into business. I wasn't drinking every day. I wasn't dependent on alcohol, but the times I would drink would usually end up in a negative situation. Which made me realize that I deal with social anxiety. I know it sounds cliche, but it started to make sense. I was drinking in hopes of feeling more comfortable. The cognitive dissonance around that thought process was allowing me to numb myself. I wasn't my best self on many occasions, and I'm certainly not proud of those instances. I always felt worse the next day, though, so the idea of trying to make myself "feel comfortable" was less and less. It was staring at me straight in the nose, and I could no longer ignore it,
Someone on social media mentioned they too had stopped drinking. I thought, wow, that's courageous. I wish I could do that. The thing is, I knew I could do that. I was more or less struggling with the reality that fitting in was going to be a whole lot harder. When you tell someone you quit smoking, you get praise, and if you tell someone you quit hard drugs, you get even more praise. But when you tell someone you quit drinking, something different happens. The reactions of very few (unless they are genuinely close to you) somehow impact how they feel about themselves. I have no idea why people choose to take this on, but I suspect it's because many women out there are struggling with this same issue, and would rather not make the choice I did.
It wasn't a quick fix. It wasn’t two weeks later,I'm all better. I had to make some tough decisions this last year, which I'm sure some would say were entirely self-focused. That's it, though; it was self-focused. I had to focus on myself. I cut friends out, I started saying no when I meant no, and I started being honest in a general sense. Some people did not appreciate that, as it was a significant change from who I had taught people I was. Slowly, I was transitioning.
Along with social anxiety came this overwhelming feeling of inadequacy. I felt like I did not measure up. I have no idea where that comes from, as my parents certainly taught us to see value in ourselves. I can say now things are slightly different. Yes, I still feel that way at times, but the choice is clear. Drink to mask, or not drink and be yourself at all costs. I had to rewire my thinking. This re-wiring has helped me in many other avenues of my life. I am so thankful for the friend who came forward on social media to share their story. It made me feel safe and accepted and brave enough to share mine.
If you need resources, I highly recommend The Alcohol Experiment. This book has changed my perceptions of alcohol in my personal life, but also how I view it in society. You don't have to live your life wildly uncomfortable using alcohol as a mask. This book, and support site, can help you.