Annie Grace is a 37 year old mother of two boys living in the Colorado Mountains. Until recently she held a c-level corporate role as Global Head of Marketing for Travelex Currency. She recently left her role to write her book (This Naked Mind) to help others achieve the freedom from alcohol she has found. If you are interested in buying Annie’s book it is free on Kindle for the next two days only. Oh, and check out answer number 3 of her recovery rocks interview – I think you’re going to like it.
1) Describe your ‘rock bottom.’
‘Rock Bottom’ was a moment sitting in the tunnel of the Heathrow Express. I was going home from a work trip and I’d stayed up drinking with colleagues. I had a few screwdrivers in the morning at breakfast to make myself feel better (help my hangover). I was sitting there realizing that I was drinking more than I ever intended to be drinking. I decided I wanted to step back in the drivers seat and begin to moderate my drinking. The problem with moderation is that the mental effort it takes is just not worth it. For me it felt like I was on a constant diet, an alcohol diet and it made me miserable. I didn’t understand why I had two conflicting points of view in my head – this desire to drink less with a seemingly more powerful desire to drink more. It was during this attempt to moderate that these two conflicting points of view reared their ugly heads and life became truly miserable. Full of broken promises (to myself) and a spiral of regret and self-loathing. This lasted for about 8 months and I would say that entire period – the period of hating what I was doing (drinking) but doing it anyway was my rock bottom. It was the most miserable time of my life.
2) What were your first 30 days of recovery like?
I still remember the fist month of sobriety as the most euphoric month of my life. I was free! I felt my freedom with every piece of my being. I knew I had made the right decision and that I would never go back. Everything was brighter and more vibrant. It was almost like falling in love. I did suffer withdrawals specifically night sweats (I think this was a decade of red wine purging itself from my system) and bouts of anxiety. I knew exactly why I was feeling what I was feeling (ridding myself of my mortal enemy – the bottle) and looked at the symptoms as what they were a symbol of my healing. That made them tolerable. My ‘mountain top’ experience has now leveled out but I remember the exhilaration of realizing I was forever free from the horrible addictive substance of alcohol fondly.
3) What are the best things that have happened to you since you got clean/sober?
Energy, self-respect and sex! I was on antidepressants when I was drinking – was it related? Maybe but I have been able to get off all antidepressants since and that’s resulted in a return of my libido! Which is fabulous. Combine that with the fact you feel more when you are not drinking and I have to say sex is a favorite benefit of mine.
I have more energy than I ever thought possible, I love waking up in the morning excited about the day rather than trying to piece together the night before wondering what I did / said and feeling full of regret. The energy is amazing.
Self-respect is the most important part of my sobriety, and I would go so far as to say ‘self-love’. The internal conflict of wanting to drink less but still drinking (and regretting it) was miserable. It robbed me of my ability to trust myself. It stole my self-respect and made me hate myself. I was stuck in a horrific cycle that had me wondering what was the point of being alive. I hated myself during this time and now I have come to know and care about who I am – just as I am – no alcohol required.
4) If you could go back in time to you when you were drinking/using what would you tell yourself?
Life is better without that S*h%t in your body! You don’t need to drink to have fun or relax, you only think you do. It’s not true – life really is better without drinking. Trust me – just try it out!
5) What have been the most useful things you have learnt about yourself since getting sober/clean?
When your bad days can’t be numbed by booze you need to face your stresses head on. The best part about doing that is you tend to solve the problem rather than numb the problem. And the result of solving stressors rather than ignoring them means life gets much less stressful when you aren’t drinking! It’s a beautiful thing.
I am a fun, outgoing, and funny person without a drink! I am so glad to know that my writing, my creativity and my personality were not manufactured in a bottle. They are part of who I am. What a gift!
6) Tell me about something wonderful that happened to you recently that never would have happened if you had been drinking.
It’s a small thing but since I have kids they were always asking for a drink of my drink – and I was forever saying no. My reasons they couldn’t drink the poison in my glass never stood up’ ‘it’s an adult drink’ (I mean what does that even mean!?! That adults can poison themselves but kids shouldn’t?). I knew that I was telling them to do as I say not as I do and I had a deep sense of discomfort about that – because it is not a philosophy I believe in when it comes to parenting. The best way to teach a child is to be an example. With drinking, my words were saying one thing but my actions were sending a far more powerful (and destructive) message.
The wonderful thing – that delights me to no end – now that I no longer drink is that no matter what I am drinking if they ask for a sip I say yes. It warms my heart every time.
7) What are your favorite recovery slogans?
“You are very powerful, provided you know how powerful you are.” – Yogi Bhajan
“The first step toward change is awareness. The second step is acceptance.”
– Nathaniel Branden
8) And lastly, why does ‘recovery rock?’
I could write a novel as a response to this question! Alcohol – neurologically does one thing – it slows your brains response to your senses by effecting neurotransmitters. This life was not meant to be lived with only part of our senses, it was meant to be experienced to the fullest and that is only possible when you are fully present. Alcohol, by definition, reduces every experience to the same monotonous/ drunken haze. There is nothing fun about that!