Not Drinking (Alcohol) Today Podcast

From drinking alcohol for Confidence to drinking in Isolation.

February 11, 2024 Isabella Ferguson and Meg Webb Season 3 Episode 68
From drinking alcohol for Confidence to drinking in Isolation.
Not Drinking (Alcohol) Today Podcast
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Not Drinking (Alcohol) Today Podcast
From drinking alcohol for Confidence to drinking in Isolation.
Feb 11, 2024 Season 3 Episode 68
Isabella Ferguson and Meg Webb

Meg hadn't realised how her drinking at social events to ease her anxiety, was going to eventually turn  into a secretive habit. In a heartfelt conversation, Meg opens up about how her drinking evolved into a coping mechanism for social anxiety. What started as a way to ease into social situations gradually became a reliance on alcohol for solitude, revealing the often-hidden story of concealed drinking. Her journey sheds light on the slippery slope into isolation and dependency, addressing both the physical and mental challenges of managing a trembling condition in the public eye.

This episode also celebrates her sobriety journey and highlights the transformative process of rediscovery. After two years of living alcohol-free, Meg credits Annie Grace for guiding her through layers of shame toward self-trust. For those who relate to her experiences, she offers hope and emphasises the availability of resources to support an alcohol free life. It's an honest exploration of the journey to recovery, aiming to connect with and empower those seeking to break free from addiction and reclaim their true selves.

MEG

Megan Webb: https://glassfulfilled.com.au
Instagram: @glassfulfilled
Unwined Bookclub: https://www.alcoholfreedom.com.au/unwinedbookclub
Sober Socialising workshop at Seadrift Distillery: https://www.eventbrite.com.au/e/confident-and-cozy-alcohol-free-socialising-for-winter-tickets-934198341387?aff=oddtdtcreator

BELLA

Isabella Ferguson: https://isabellaferguson.com.au
Instagram: @alcoholandstresswithisabella
Free 5-Day DO I HAVE A DRINKING PROBLEM? Clarify and focus series: https://resources.isabellaferguson.com.au/doIhaveadrinkingproblemwithisabellaferguson
Alcohol Freedom Small Group Challenge - Register here: https://resources.isabellaferguson.com.au/alcoholfreedomchallenge
The Alcohol Revolution 6-Week Program (Online or Podcast): ...

Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Meg hadn't realised how her drinking at social events to ease her anxiety, was going to eventually turn  into a secretive habit. In a heartfelt conversation, Meg opens up about how her drinking evolved into a coping mechanism for social anxiety. What started as a way to ease into social situations gradually became a reliance on alcohol for solitude, revealing the often-hidden story of concealed drinking. Her journey sheds light on the slippery slope into isolation and dependency, addressing both the physical and mental challenges of managing a trembling condition in the public eye.

This episode also celebrates her sobriety journey and highlights the transformative process of rediscovery. After two years of living alcohol-free, Meg credits Annie Grace for guiding her through layers of shame toward self-trust. For those who relate to her experiences, she offers hope and emphasises the availability of resources to support an alcohol free life. It's an honest exploration of the journey to recovery, aiming to connect with and empower those seeking to break free from addiction and reclaim their true selves.

MEG

Megan Webb: https://glassfulfilled.com.au
Instagram: @glassfulfilled
Unwined Bookclub: https://www.alcoholfreedom.com.au/unwinedbookclub
Sober Socialising workshop at Seadrift Distillery: https://www.eventbrite.com.au/e/confident-and-cozy-alcohol-free-socialising-for-winter-tickets-934198341387?aff=oddtdtcreator

BELLA

Isabella Ferguson: https://isabellaferguson.com.au
Instagram: @alcoholandstresswithisabella
Free 5-Day DO I HAVE A DRINKING PROBLEM? Clarify and focus series: https://resources.isabellaferguson.com.au/doIhaveadrinkingproblemwithisabellaferguson
Alcohol Freedom Small Group Challenge - Register here: https://resources.isabellaferguson.com.au/alcoholfreedomchallenge
The Alcohol Revolution 6-Week Program (Online or Podcast): ...

Speaker 1:

Hello and welcome to the podcast guys. It's Meg here and this week I'm going to be following on from Isabella's podcast. Last week on hidden drinking, I wanted to talk about drinking and isolation and how my drinking career started out as a way to help me socialize and ended by isolating me. And I wanted to talk about this topic because it's one that is kept quiet, along with the hidden drinking, because no one wants to admit they've got into a point where they are choosing alcohol over life, friends, family and socializing. And the other thing I want to address here is how it creeps up on you and you don't see it happening. Gradually you start to say noted things because you want to be home where you can control how much you drink, how fast, what time you start and who sees you.

Speaker 1:

When I had my first Drinking At 18, it became very quickly apparent that I had more confidence to socialize when I drank. The social phobia I had developed the year before, with symptoms like shaking hands and a shaking mouth, disappeared when I drank. So it quickly became a medicine for me when I was socializing. I'm an extroverted type of person so it wasn't natural for me to shy away. I wanted to keep socializing, but it was such a debilitating condition to have when I wanted to talk to people, to be loud and have fun. I couldn't be. I couldn't have the attention on me in case people saw me shaking. So at any social event that offered alcohol, I was going to drink, because it stopped my social anxiety. It meant I could eat and drink in front of others, I could talk, sing I did a lot of karaoke back in the day I could meet people and just have confidence. Then, in situations where I could drink, such as work, I just had to get really good at hiding my shaking and that, believe me, is incredibly exhausting, day in and day out.

Speaker 1:

Working out how to take coffee to my boss without shaking and spilling it was something most people probably never think about, but for me it affected me more than I can tell you. If there were two people in her office, I could only carry one coffee at a time, as I needed both hands to steady it. I'm sure my boss wondered why I did two trips with two coffees and, to be honest, I had no other choice. So I learnt not to worry what she thought. This was the same if I walked into a party and someone offered me a drink, I actually couldn't take it from them as I'd be shaking, so I had to work out how to get a drink in me without anyone seeing me. Sometimes I'd start with a beer in a bottle as you could hide the shaking, and then, when it worked, I could move on to a glass, and sometimes I had to wait until no one was looking and have a few sips to calm the shaking. There were many events, such as weddings, birthdays, where someone would hand me a glass and I would just be paralyzed with fear. I remember numerous times where I'd say oh, can you please place that down on the table over there? I need to run to the loo Again, like with my boss.

Speaker 1:

I'm sure people thought I was just plain odd and even though it seems like a non-traumatic crisis to have and I've been reluctant to share because it does seem so trivial to so many people understandably living my life in fear of when I'd be asked to do things that may show my hands shaking took a huge toll and it was absolutely soul destroying and deeply tiring and it changed the course of my life. Living in fight or flight mode constantly for about 20 plus years is not easy. And on top of this physical disorder, I also worried excessively about loved ones. I had numerous panic attacks over the years and I was just a very, very scared person for many years of my life. No wonder I relied on alcohol. It was the only break from myself that I got so from about the ages of 18 to 40, this is how I function most of the time, getting by when I didn't drink and drinking when it was socially acceptable to drink, and that is anywhere that had alcohol served. I only ever drank at home if we had people over, and I certainly never drank alone, but I still used alcohol as my medicine to help me socialize and also just to numb.

Speaker 1:

Then, when I hit 40, things started to change. I can't pinpoint exactly when or where, but I knew I know it was after my third child was born and I was kind of free as I knew I wasn't having any more kids. It was also a time where I had a toddler, a teenager and one in between, so quite tough, and I started feeling that I needed to relax and let my hair down more. The internet was now a thing and there were wine memes, so I didn't feel alone as a drinking mom Society was basically telling me I had to drink if I had kids. I deserved it, I needed it. I was not alone, being a 40 something, going out and partying like we were 20 again. But this is where not only was I partying more, but I started to drink at home alone.

Speaker 1:

I was probably about 40 when I started to have a drink or two at home alone, and for a year or two it stated about that, and it wasn't every night. I also had definitely started the hidden drinking like Bella talked about, and if I was going out, I was having a glass of wine before I went. I had to be careful not to have more at that point, as it meant I got drunk really quickly when I was out and so I acted really stupidly quite early on as opposed to later on in the night, and I was also then having blackouts and not remembering a lot of the night. So this progressed over the next few years and I started drinking more at home. I can clearly see how my tolerance grew and I needed more drinks to get the same effect that one drink used to have. The hidden drinking rituals began going to different bottle shops, so the staff didn't think I had a drinking problem. I mean God forbid they should think that Hiding empties using other people's beings, wrapping bottles in paper so they didn't make a noise, working out which bottles I needed to replace if I'd borrowed them from my mum who lived downstairs, it was exhausting, as hidden drinking is.

Speaker 1:

And the more I started drinking at home, the more I began to isolate. This was around the time I had a friend notice I'd gotten through a bottle of red at a restaurant we're out at one night when everyone else was still on about their second glass. I'd also had a few drinks before I'd gone out that night because my pre-drinking had gone from one glass to a few glasses by now. So I was getting drunker faster. When I was out I was more emotional. When I was drunk I was prone to falling over. It was just getting more embarrassing, more dangerous and, to be honest, just more hard work. And I was not getting younger. So you know this wasn't cool.

Speaker 1:

So I decided it was easier to stay at home no one to count my drinks, no one to see how fast I was drinking. I could start what I wanted, have how much I wanted and do what I wanted, which was pretty much talking on the phone to other friends who were having a drink or watching TV or listening to some loud music. I can't pinpoint when this all happened, but I know it got worse in COVID because it wasn't odd to be at home every single night. So COVID really enabled me to disappear from the social scene without anyone noticing and by the time we were allowed to go out again I was a fully isolated home drinker. I had successfully isolated myself from socializing, from friends, from life, because nothing interested me anymore and of course I didn't want anyone to see my drinking.

Speaker 1:

If I was out doing something in the day, my only concern was when I'd be home to start drinking, if I had enough alcohol there, which was a laugh, because I never had any alcohol left the next day. I always bought enough and I finished it. So I suppose I was more concerned about whether I'd had time to stock up that morning or if I was going to have to stop on the way home. Very occasionally I'd run out during the night and have to go up to the bottle shop to get more. The only people even slightly aware of this were my family, but the kids didn't seem to really care, or so.

Speaker 1:

I thought I guess it was about 2021 when my daughter, who was 14 at the time, started to get really, really angry. She'd catch me out drinking when I thought the wine in a coffee cup was a great disguise, or when she could tell I was drunk, even though I was so certain no one could tell. She would text me from her bedroom yelling at me I hate you, you're ruining my life. I actually didn't need her to tell me this at that point. I was well aware I was ruining her life and the kids and mine, and I'd been telling myself that that for the last few years. I just didn't know how to make the change, as much as I knew it was going to have to happen. When I look back now, I got this voice in my head about a change, probably about 10 years ago. So once I had started to drink at home alone, I couldn't lie to myself anymore and the voice in my head just kept getting louder. This is not you. This is not the life you were meant to live. There is so much more for you. Your kids don't deserve a mum like this. You don't deserve a life like this, megan. You deserve more. To be honest.

Speaker 1:

I had been numbing everything out. I had wanted to avoid, up until that point, the constant worry over everything. I just numbed it out by drinking my kids and my worries around them. I'd numbed it out. My marriage issues Numb it out. Not having enough money Numb it out. Feeling like I've missed out on living the life I'd planned and missing out on my dreams and goals Numbed it out. Realising life hadn't turned out as I'd hoped. Numb, numb, numb. I just didn't want to acknowledge that I had abandoned my authentic self, my values, my family, my dreams, everything. It was just too much for me to face, along with traumas I'd picked up along life's journey, as we all do. And maybe I was just tired Tired from hiding myself from the world, from being scared about everything, from feeling I had to keep my whole family safe, to worry about judgement and feeling I was not worthy or good enough. I needed to numb all that. But I couldn't go on like that. I'd cut myself off from the world and it had to stop. So how did I go about making this change? Because it was big. It was really big.

Speaker 1:

The first step was research. I started looking online for information and I found quit-lit books and I started to become familiar with other people who had given up drinking. I found Rebecca Weller, mrs D, annie Grace, jill Stark and Catherine Gray, to name a few. These were some of the people who helped me stop drinking, because I listened to their stories and felt that I wasn't alone. You didn't have to have a massive rock bottom to stop drinking. You didn't need to be an alcoholic to stop drinking.

Speaker 1:

It was the first time I felt confident that it was time to finally let my own life, authentic self have a chance, to let my inner child with dreams and goals come to the forefront and live the life I was destined to live. Other people had done it and I could do it too. So I took all the energy that I had used to hide my anxiety from the world, hide my drinking and hide my true self, and I put it into finding myself. I worked out why I drank and I achieved that with the help of the amazing Annie Grace of the Snakehead Mind, who Bella and I are now alcohol recovery coaches for.

Speaker 1:

I started to really look at the beliefs I had learned about myself and where they come from. I learned to let go of shame, blame and guilt, and I learned to trust myself again. There's a quote I love by Robin Sharma sometimes we need to lose our way to find our way, and that pretty much sums me up. So two years and one month alcohol free, and I can tell you that, if you resonate with anything that I've said today, there is hope, there is help and you can make the change. If it is something you were thinking about, if you've got that voice of doubt starting in your head, please don't ignore it. Bella and I are here to help you, and there's loads of resources you can find on our separate websites, our Instagram pages, and also there's heaps of other resources on the internet. Thank you for listening.

Hidden Drinking
Authentic Self, Alcohol Recovery