Our Stories: Jessica

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Drinking more than you want to is just about the most common experience a drinker can have. You are not alone.

This series shares stories of strong-ass women (and men!) who decided to stop settling for less. Inspiring a whole new generation of people that you don’t have to drink if it doesn’t make you happy.

Jessica

Meet my best friend Jessica. We grew up learning to drink together and absorbed the idea that drinking unlocked our superpowers. We tried our first beer together at Polish camp, went to high school parties, college parties, concerts, ball games, camping trips, bars, and random guy’s houses. We both had ex-boyfriends in college who were partiers and daily drinkers and showed us a new normal of consumption. Drinking was fun, and cool. We prided ourselves on being Polish and able to outdrink the guys. We both drank in the same way, to be the life of the party that was every night. Except my best friend quit drinking five years before me when she was 26. She started drinking a bit more and quickly realized this kind of life was not worth it and got sober. And here I distanced my drinking from hers and for the next five years latched on to the illusion of moderation. I had a career, a husband, a house—all I had to do was save drinking for the weekend and do it more responsibly, but I could still drink with the rest of them. Jessica never judged me for drinking—even when I totally embarrassed myself (bless her heart), but every time I saw her she breathed life! She was so happy and radiant. She glowed! She looked so much better and younger at 30 than she ever did at 23. We always thought that I was the more decisive action-oriented person while she was the dreamer and went with the flow and yet her flow was so enviable. Even though I consciously recognized this, I still thought she was the one missing out! My brain was in such cognitive dissonance because I still revered the almighty drink! I am so happy and blessed to be on the same path leading to growth and self-discovery. I once had a vision that we would always walk the path of life together. What a whole new meaning now!

Q and A with Jessica

What age did you start drinking regularly? Did you use alcohol to get out of your shell or to help socialize?

My earliest memories of drinking regularly is right after high school. Alcohol worked as a great social lubricant in many different social occasions, parties and gatherings. I believed this liquid courage helped with my crippling social anxiety and allowed me to interact with people without any real fears. Discovering the dehydrating effects of alcohol, I primarily used it as a means of treating my hyperhidrosis.

As you began your drinking life, were there other drinkers around you that negatively influenced you to drink more?

As I continued my drinking lifestyle, negative situations and certain life traumas led me to drink excessively. Our society emphasizes that it’s completely fine to self-medicate with alcohol and use it as a coping strategy. My family’s history of alcoholism always had strong influence on my consumption and kept me from hitting a real bottom. 

When you became consciously aware you were drinking too much, did you try to moderate or cut back? How did that go?

Yes, when I realize my gin-soaked ways weren't charming anymore or more like they never really had been. The hangovers were unbearable, my life was completely unmanageable, I had enough of feeling depressed, and I was miserable drinking my life away. But I wasn’t quite ready to accept a total alcohol-free lifestyle so I tried moderation, even going dry for a month to prove to myself that I didn’t have a problem. Then I stuck to only drinking on the weekends. But nothing ever really worked. Completely removing myself from my own environment was the only way for me to get sober, truly alcohol-free with no liquid temptation.

How long have you been alcohol-free?

5 years / 2,083 days of making the best decision of my life.

How did you get sober? What did you do in the first six months?

My journey into sobriety first lasted 11 months where I willingly entered a religious community located in northern Florida. A place that completely isolated me from the world to help me focus primarily on myself without life’s distractions. The first six months I struggled to accept that I was even had a problem. The hardest and most sobering revelation was seeing myself for who I really was. Stripped away from my all my friends, family, and everything that I’ve valued only to see my true self. After having all my emotions suppressed by booze and bottled up for so long, the flood gates had opened. There were moments were I felt like I couldn’t control my emotions. I was forced to feel all of them again. In many ways, I’m finally starting to understand how my mind actually works, and I see my judgments and thoughts in a way I never imagined possible.

Removing alcohol as a numbing agent leaves a whole lot of emotions on the table. How did you cope with your newfound feelings and fears?

Turning to AA help me in many ways, finding like-minded sober individuals to relate to and talking through emotions and fears. I’ve had plenty of moments of yearning for that old familiar habit but now I notice the shift in my mind that I know better. Refusing to put another drop of alcohol into my system forced me to rethink how to have fun and reinvent life. That’s when I realized how much I've have been missing all along.

What does a hangover-free life mean to you? 

Not only is being hangover-free the best physical gift of not drinking alcohol, but the diminished feeling of shame is the best psychological gift of sobriety.

Has your sense of happiness changed?

My sense of happiness has definitely changed 100% after eliminating alcohol from my old lifestyle.