EP #70

My Alcohol Experience 2.0

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In this episode of the Alcohol Minimalist podcast, Molly emphasizes the role of science in shattering past patterns and eliminating excuses related to drinking habits. The episode delves into Molly’s experiences growing up, including her mother’s alcoholism, and how these influenced her own relationship with alcohol. Molly reflects on her evolving mindset and the transformative journey she underwent in changing her drinking habits. The episode also previews the upcoming group coaching program, providing listeners with insights and tools to support their own journeys towards a healthier relationship with alcohol.

Hey, it’s Molly from alcohol minimalist. What do you do in this October? I would love to have you join me in my more sober October challenge. What do I mean by more sober October, it simply means that we’re going to add in more alcohol free days than you currently been doing, whether that’s one or two or 31. It’s up to you, you get to set your own goal and that’s why it’s more sober October. You can check it out and learn more at get got sunnyside.co/molly It’s totally free. I’ve got prizes, I’m going to be going live every week to announce the prize winners. And it’s just going to be an awesome event. So I would love to have you join me. You can learn more at get.sunnyside.co/molly and you can get registered today. Welcome to the alcohol minimalist podcast. I’m your host Molly watts. If you want to change your drinking habits and create a peaceful relationship with alcohol, you’re in the right place. This podcast explores the strategies I use to overcome a lifetime of family alcohol abuse, more than 30 years of anxiety and worry about my own drinking, and what felt like an unbreakable daily drinking habit. Becoming an alcohol minimalist means removing excess alcohol from your life. So it doesn’t remove you from life. It means being able to take alcohol or leave it without feeling deprived. It means to live peacefully, being able to enjoy a glass of wine without feeling guilty and without needing to finish the bottle. With Science on our side will shatter your past patterns and eliminate your excuses. Changing your relationship with alcohol is possible. I’m here to help you do it. Let’s start now. Well, hello and welcome or welcome back to the alcohol minimalist podcast with me your host Molly Watts coming to you from a gray cloudy, cold, damp Oregon. You know it’s the first week of May. Where is the sunshine? And yes, I officially do think that when the month turns from April to May, the showers are required to stop. I know I live in Oregon. I know it rains here all the time. And I still think that may is official you should get some relief, right. I was sharing in my Facebook group that one of my favorite memories of my mom is from when I was little, like probably four or five, six. She always helped me make Mayday baskets out of construction paper and ribbon. We put in some flowers, I often included a lot of white clover because they were like all over our yard. And I would hang them on neighbors doors. Not necessarily beautiful by most floral standards, but certainly sweet for their intent. And the reminiscing about my mom seems appropriate this week as we will celebrate Mother’s Day here in the US. And it is also an important part of what I want to share with you this week on the podcast. Now, before we get to this week’s episode, I want to tell you that at the end of the episode, which is kind of a long one, I will admit. But if you stick with me, I have a pretty exciting announcement. It’s been a long time coming and I’m just thrilled to be able to do something that I believe will be so valuable to people. I know it was valuable for me in my own journey with alcohol and I cannot wait to share that with some of you. So more on that later. One more thing we have a winner of some alcohol minimalist swag. If you are Kiki five Gomez, you are this week’s winner. Please email me Molly at Molly watts.com and let me know you are Kiki five Gomez, and I will send you out your alcohol minimalists swag. And thank you Kiki for your kind review on Apple podcasts. If you want to be entered into a drawing for some alcohol, minimalist swag, you can just leave a review of the podcast or the book wherever you’re listening. Wherever you’re reading, I will find you add you to the drawing. And honestly, giving a review is just one really small thing you can do to help this show reach more people and help more people. You can do your part to help someone else by sharing the show and sharing a positive review. So I hope you’ll do it. All right on to this week’s show. This week’s episode I’m calling my alcohol experience 2.0 It’s been inspired by a lot of things posts I’ve been seeing In the podcasts, I’ve been listening to a book I’m reading Atlas of the heart by Brene. Brown. If you haven’t read it yet, I highly recommend I’m actually listening to it on Audible. Brene reads it herself and I love her. I love listening to her. I love the way she reads her books very casual. And because lots of people anyways, just go listen to the book. This is I, I highly recommend it back to why, back to why I was doing this podcast in the first place. It’s because a lot of people are just discovering this podcast and may not go all the way back to Episode one in terms of learning about my alcohol experience, and even if they do, so much has happened since I first started this podcast and my relationship with alcohol has continued to evolve and change and my work with the behavior map and results cycle has continued to improve and grow. So I thought the journey was worth revisiting. Yes, I said the word journey. For some reason the word journey gets a really bad rap these days. Writers consider it cliched or melodramatic. So I always have this voice in the back of my head that reminds me of that whenever I say it. And here’s what one writer said about the word journey. Overuse can turn a perfectly good word into a perfectly horrible one. One that’s currently on the road to linguistic Limited is journey. Have you noticed that suddenly everyone is on a journey, just glance at any People magazine or watch any celebrity interview and chances are you’ll learn about someone who has just completed is still on or is about to embark on some kind of journey. You can’t turn on these TV on the turn on the TV these days without hearing about these dramatic personal journeys. The subject matter doesn’t really matter as long as one has been on a journey. It suggests some sort of profound transformation to a more enlightened state of mind. It’s definitely not about the destination. It’s all about the journey. Right? So I get why people are tired of the word. But I also think that even in this writer’s exhaustion, with the word journey, she hits on something really important to what I want to convey profound transformation and a more enlightened state of mind. Sorry, but it’s true. What I’ve realized through changing my relationship with alcohol is that part of living our best lives as humans, reaching that highest level of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, self actualization and self fulfillment, we will constantly be transforming ourselves, we will never stop learning and growing and becoming better mind managers. Whether you love or hate the word journey. This thing we call life is what we’re talking about. It’s the adventure, it’s the experience, it is the journey we are on. And so I’m sharing this today, my alcohol experience 2.0 to give a little perspective, for those of you who are feeling like you’ll never figure out your drinking, for those of you who aren’t sure you want to stop drinking altogether, for those of you who hold on to a lot of crazy stories about your ability to change habits that don’t serve you. And for those of you who hold on to pain from your past about alcohol. This is where I’ve come from, where I am today, and where I’m going. So my experience with alcohol started early. I don’t think I’ve ever shared this on the podcast before but my grandparents my mom’s parents actually owned a liquor store when I was young. I don’t really know how long they owned it. But from when I was born, and during my elementary school years, it was what they did before they retired. I actually loved going to the store when I visited them. I of course had no idea what it was. But I loved going into the cooler. It had a very distinct smell. And still when I walk into a big refrigerator section in the grocery store, it stirs up those memories with my granddad. Really, I don’t think I have like positive association with alcohol from this time. But I think it’s possible that this was part of my mom’s legacy. And I wonder if some of the stories that she had about alcohol in her own brain were formed by my grandparents business, or if it made it easier for her to abuse, alcohol and implied permissiveness or acceptance from her parents. I don’t know we certainly we didn’t live near my grandparents. So it wasn’t something like they were supplying her alcohol or anything like that. From all accounts My mom never had a high tolerance for alcohol. I don’t know whether or not she had a true genetic variation. You may have heard about a ver In the ALD h2 gene, which can cause an alcohol flush reaction, and this gene contains instructions for making a protein that helps the body process alcohol. In people with this ald h2 genetic variant, this enzyme is less efficient at clearing away acetaldehyde, then in people without the variant, which can result in an alcohol flush reaction. And there’s been some studies that suggest people who have variations like that might affect their ability to get rid of the acetaldehyde, and may be more likely to develop alcohol dependence. Again, I have no way of knowing whether this was true for my mom, but I do know that she tended to flush, she never developed a high tolerance for alcohol, even though she drank a lot more over time. But really, even from one drink, even at the end, she was altered. At least that’s my observation. It’s possible that she simply hid when she was started drinking during the day, but I don’t really think so. I could always tell when she had drank even a little bit. But regardless, by the time she died, she managed large amounts of vodka. She drank some vodka daily, but would go for stretches without binging. And whenever she drank, even on those days, when it was just her, you know, her normal daily, she became altered. And of course, during the binge episodes, when she drank until she passed out, it was you know, it was it was all over. In either scenario. There was no communicating with her after she drank even her first drink, because she became someone different, illogical, dumb, incoherent. These are what I think of when I think of my mom drinking. And so my experience with alcohol was forming by the time I was in middle school. If you are a regular listener, or if you’ve read my book, you know that I was 13, when my mother confessed to me that because I asked her specifically if she thought she was an alcoholic. And I was I was catching her drinking straight vodka on the rocks, while she was ironing on a Saturday morning. Now, to put that in perspective, my mother passed away in 2012. Wow, that’s 10 years. That’s amazing. I hadn’t thought about it being that long. She was at the age of 81. And it was at the result of an alcoholic binge, when I was then in my 40s. So my mother’s alcohol abuse was really there in my life for most of my life, right. And one of the things that I realized after working on my own relationship with alcohol was that I used her alcohol abuse as a framework for what real problematic drinking looks like. And I could avoid becoming like her by not doing some of the things that she did, which I minimized really down to be two things. Number one, I should not drink hard alcohol, at least not regularly. And number two, I shouldn’t drink enough to become altered. Now, for many years, those two things were enough to keep me from believing that my alcohol experience was negative. I drank regularly every night, but just two to three beers. That is just that just is what how my brain framed it. And I would drink more on vacations, work events, parties weekends, when it felt completely normal to drink excessively. Now, you might be wondering, but I do. Because that’s, you know, obviously a lot more than just wondering, right, but I do not have the same reaction to alcohol that my mom did. So I could drink two to three beers a night and not become altered. I could drink five or six beers during the course of the big partying night. And I never reached a point of not remembering or really feeling very altered either. I really don’t like the feeling of being drunk. So when I felt that happening, I would slow down, drink some water, wait to drink a little more later. So for many years, I just didn’t believe my drinking was an issue. Now, I wasn’t an alcoholic because I wasn’t like my mom. That was my that was my rationale. Right? I didn’t get incoherent illogical or dumb when I drank and I stuck to beer and wine. I also had a pretty demanding life. I was working. Being a mom, lots of kids activities. Lots of kids. I had have had four still have them but now they’re just not my there. They’re just my kids. They’re not children, right and they’re grown. But I was really committed to not having my own kids have a relationship with me. That was like the relationship I had with my mom. And of course they didn’t. Truthfully I can say with confidence, my My boys did not perceive alcohol the same way I did from growing up with my mother, and did not see me as having a problem with it. Of course, that didn’t mean that my relationship with alcohol was peaceful, or that it was low risk, or that it was a habit that was serving me. I just didn’t have enough awareness to understand the trade offs I was making. And then I became aware. Well, technically, I became aware of the self coaching model in the fall of 2018. I’ve talked about it before on the podcast and in my book, and you can go back to episode number 11, or episode number one, which I will link in the show notes to hear that story again. But suffice it to say that learning all of my thoughts are optional, was kind of a lightbulb moment for me. Hey, everyone, just a quick break here on the show. to talk with you about sunny side. Sunny Side has partnered with me and I am super excited to share this company with you. I’ve actually had the founders on the show before and I will link that in the show notes so you can hear a little bit from them. Sunnyside is an app that helps you cut back on your drinking or simply build healthier drinking habits. I have watched the company grow over this last year and I’m so impressed. They are deeply mission driven. And they are building a service to help millions of people create a healthier relationship with alcohol. And they’re doing it without the pressure to quit or feel guilty. So of course, you know it aligns with everything I talk about here at alcohol minimalist. Think of Sunnyside as a digital coach that helps you set the plan for the week, and provides tools to track your drinks and measure your progress. All while using proven behavior change techniques to create a lasting habit change. It’s super easy to start super easy to stick to. And it includes a 15 day free trial, so you can test it out. Really, it’s worth checking out, head on over to sunnyside.co/minimalist to get started today. In February 2019, I started working with a life coach on the self coaching model. And though I didn’t share it with the coach, I began to apply the work to my drinking habit. As I finally understood that my daily drinking habit was actually causing me a lot of anxiety. In addition to learning the science of alcohol, and understanding how the alcohol itself was affecting the neurotransmitters causing a cycle of anxiety. It was not helping me reduce anxiety and stress like I had told myself for decades. And I also finally made the connection between how my thinking about alcohol was fueling my desire to drink on a daily basis with a bunch of thoughts that weren’t true. But I had believed them to be true for decades. For six months, I did self coaching. And I mean did the self coaching process, I learned it. And I made a lot of progress despite the fact that I never told my coach that drinking alcohol was something that I wanted to work on. And I sort of believed in the back of my head that I wanted needed something that was alcohol specific. So I decided to keep working on the self coaching model by myself. And then I started participating in group coaching on alcohol. I did several big groups during the balance of 2019 and 2020. Including one year no beer is 28 day program. At the time, I believe it cost $55 in 2022. It costs about 75. I’ll link all of these in the show notes, folks. I did this naked mind 100 days of lasting change. I think it cost about $100 back in 2020. I think it cost about that I can’t figure it out now. And now it costs $197 in 2022. And I did Rachel Hart’s Take a Break program for one month which at the time was $197 and still is in 2022. Now when I say I did these programs, I signed up for them, but I can’t really say I applied them. In the case of one year no beer and this naked mind. They are daily emails videos, and I was only semi compliant on watching them and implementing. Though I did learn things from both with Rachel’s program, I had been listening to her podcast all along. I had read her book so I was very obviously from doing self coaching. I was very familiar with the model and I definitely got the most out of any of these programs with hers, as it involved some live group coaching. I also read a lot of books along the way. And I in my Facebook group, I have a recommended reading list. I’ve read all of those books. I studied neuroscience, I really focused on learning about neuroplasticity, and how to rewire my brain through education and information. From the beginning of 2019, when I was drinking approximately 30 to 35 standard drinks per week, to the fall of 2020. Yes, all during the pandemic, I had reduced my weekly drinking to around back then nine to 10 standard drinks per week. So in the fall of 2020, it was about nine to 10. I did that by making a plan ahead of time teaching my brain to make decisions for alcohol with my prefrontal cortex and not the reactive in the moment limbic system. Now, it should be noted that this amount still meet the definition for heavy drinking for women, from the NIA A. But for me, it was definitely good progress from where I had come in the fall of 2020, and I’ve talked about this before on the podcast, I went away for the weekend for my birthday, and I drank about five to seven standard drinks on both nights. Just a reminder, folks that you need to account for higher alcohol by volume. I tend to like to drink IPAs, although there’s a ton of now new IPAs that are lower alcohol by volume. But we’ll we’ll um, that I’m going asides there. Anyways, I like to drink IPAs, and a typical IPA hovers around 7.0% alcohol by volume. So 4.4 pints of an IPA over the course of a night will actually add up to seven standard drinks. And so that weekend in November of 2020, on Sunday morning, when I woke up, I felt all of this rebound anxiety. And not only could I feel it, I was absolutely sure of why it was happening. I knew that it was because of all the alcohol that I had consumed over the last two days. And it was right there in the hen that I knew and I had never done this before. Even during this, you know almost two years of working on my habit. I had never had a tried to have a week long alcohol free streak. So right there, I realized I wanted to do an alcohol free mini break I called it and so I did for 12 days. And I really vowed to pay attention to how my sleep went how I felt over those 12 days. And it was really truly very powerful for me. And I knew that I was becoming someone totally different when it came to alcohol at that point. And I knew that the coaching I had started in 2019 along with Rachel Hart, her podcast book and coaching were what had helped me the most. I had started writing during 2020 during the pandemic, what would ultimately become my book in 2021. And at that time, at the end of 2020, I decided that I would start my podcast launched the book and begin this journey of helping other high said journey again show you that to help other people like myself. I got certified as a life coach at the end of 2020. Because I I actually gave it to myself as a birthday gift after that whole experience from my birthday. And in the beginning of 2021. I launched the podcast as I prepared to publish the book. I also did dry you Arey, for the first time in 2021. And my relationship with alcohol evolved even further to what it currently is. So I stick to low risk limits. Those are always linked in the show notes. No more than seven standard drinks per week for women. I include multiple alcohol free days each week. And I used to say one alcohol free weekend per quarter. I just recently decided to bump that up to one alcohol free weekend per month. It’s a recent change. Because I realized that I still need to do some I still needed to do some work on my thoughts around alcohol and the weekends. So I decided this was a good way to help me evolve that again into instead of just one alcohol free weekend per quarter. I’m doing it one alcohol free weekend per month now and I do at least one alcohol free month per year. Most importantly, I don’t drink to try to change how I am feeling and I don’t worry about turning to alcohol. When I have a lot of negative emotions. I understand my own brain, and I practice directing my thoughts to create the feelings I want to take to create the feelings. I want to take the actions I need to get the results I desire in my life. This is the work I do on myself all the time. I’m constantly working on articulating my feelings, and then finding the thoughts that are causing those feelings. I’m choosing thoughts that helped me feel motivated to take actions that are moving me forward toward my long term goals. I am compassionate and curious with myself. When I misstep, I’ve used what I’ve learned from breaking an unbreakable habit to help me keep growing and evolving. I’m sharing my alcohol experience 2.0 with you so that you can see that this did not happen overnight. It didn’t happen without support, it didn’t happen without investment of both time and money. And when you add up the coaching courses and books I calculate, it’s probably around $3,000 that I spent over approximately two years. Now it’s the best time and money that I feel like I’ve ever spent in my life. And here’s why. For me, my alcohol experience from being a child of an alcoholic to creating my own disordered use of it has always been the hardest, most painful, most embarrassing, most maddening, most humiliating, and scary part of my life. The moments when my mom’s drunkenness was dangerous, and I was the one called upon to take care of her, I still have flashback memories of that. How often I had hoped for a different outcome when she relapsed after every treatment, and how I yearned for a relationship with her. That was like the relationship other women I knew had with their moms. And then my own drinking, I never thought much about it. When I was younger, my dreaming, my drinking seemed normal, it seemed to be the same as my friends. I thought everyone I knew drank like I did. It turns out of course, while some did many didn’t. And no matter what anyone else was doing. What I finally had to admit to myself in the fall of 2018 was that it didn’t matter that I wasn’t an alcoholic, like my mom. My relationship with alcohol was keeping me from living my best life. I was drinking too much drinking for the wrong reasons. And actually, I was making any anxiety that I would have naturally been feeling exponentially worse. What I came to understand was that I had simply trained my brain to desire alcohol more to desire it on a nightly basis, because that’s what brains do. That’s how habits work. It and it was exactly what our brilliant human brains are designed to do. It wasn’t because I had an alcoholic gene. It was neuroscience. But it was a psychological dependence that I had the power to change with my own brain. I also learned the power of my own thinking when it came to the past, my mother’s drinking all the stories that I held on to that about it that weren’t serving me. They were just one version of the truth. And I had the choice in how I wanted the past to show up today. The past only exists in how we think about it today. I choose to view it now with compassion, with gratitude, with curiosity. Now you can do the same thing. Whatever your experience, your journey, your Odyssey adventure, your transformation your life, you can make it exactly what you want it to be. And changing your relationship with alcohol is just the beginning. Now I mentioned that I had an announcement, I am opening up my schedule to provide one on one coaching for people who want that extra support, who want to create this peaceful relationship with alcohol in a more direct way, and who want to learn how to use and the skills and the behavior map results cycle to apply it to any area of your life that you want to get better. I’m calling it proof positive, just like my group coaching was in January, but this is going to be a little bit different. This will provide both one on one coaching calls, small group coaching calls and and the chance to really just interact in a very personal way with me. It is high touch, and guaranteed to get you the results that you are looking for. Now, I know this offer isn’t for everyone, quite honestly, I don’t have time in my life, to be able to offer it to everyone that I would want to. And I hope that for many of you, you continue to just listen to the podcast, read the book, engage with the Facebook group. And that’s exactly where you know where you are at and what you need. And I feel very good about the the free content that I have for people that helps you support you. And so if that’s working for you, then awesome. If you would like to learn more about this dedicated group that’s going to start in June, then please go to www dot Molly watts.com/work. With me, you can sign up for an informational call, and we’ll decide together if this is the best fit for you. Proof positive, like I said is going to be small by design. It isn’t for everyone. And so it’s but it’s definitely what I wish I would have done back in 2019. At the very beginning, I think I’ve tried to structure it in a way that I think is what would have been most advantageous to me. And I hope so anyway, I will put the link in the show notes. You can read more about it at WWW dot Molly watts.com/work with me. All right, my friends. For those of you fellow moms out there, I wish you a very Happy Mother’s Day to the 2022 Gonzaga University Bulldog graduates. I hope you have a fantastic commencement ceremony on Mother’s Day and I will see you there. Until next time, my friends choose peace. Thank you for listening to the alcohol minimalist podcast. This podcast is dedicated to helping you change your drinking habits and to create a peaceful relationship with alcohol. Use something you learned in today’s episode and apply it to your life this week. Transformation is possible you have the power to change your relationship with alcohol now, for more information, please visit me at www dot Molly watts.com