If you want some insight into the reality of cutting back on your drinking, you’re in the right place. This week, I’m joined by one of my previous clients, and we’re discussing the wisdom and experience she’s gained on her journey.
Anniston is a mindset and performance coach, and she’s sharing the red flags she saw with her drinking, some of the history behind how she got there, and how she’s living her version of a Drink Less Lifestyle.
You are listening to the Drink Less Lifestyle Podcast with Dr. Sherry Price, episode number 69.
Welcome to Drink Less Lifestyle, a podcast for successful women who want to change their relationship with alcohol. If you want to drink less, feel healthier and start loving life again you’re in the right place. Please remember that the information in this podcast does not constitute medical advice. Now, here’s your host, Dr. Sherry Price.
Well, hello my friends. I am so excited to be with you today and I have a special treat. I have one of my previous clients, Anniston, here. And I’m bringing her on the podcast because her journey, going through my program and her drinking journey, she just has a lot of wisdom, a lot of experience that I think would be so helpful to all of you who are looking to cut back. And I’m so excited to also have her on our podcast because she’s all about women empowerment, mindset and performance coach.
And she has a podcast as well which I’ll let her talk about in case you find her story really appealing and want to maybe work with her. So welcome to the show, Anniston.
Anniston: Thank you, Sherry, I am so honored and excited to be here today.
Sherry: Yes, I am as well. So I think the best place to get started was talk to our listeners about where you were with drinking, what didn’t feel good, what kind of was maybe your warning signs or red flags that you wanted things to change.
Anniston: So I think the best way to start would be to kind of go way back and in terms of really where it started for me. I started drinking socially in high school and that was the cool thing to do. And I very quickly, there was a couple of times I remember I actually got pretty intoxicated and really regretted it the next day. And I didn’t like that feeling of being out of control or not really remembering things from the night before. I certainly didn’t like the feeling of being hungover or throwing up the next day.
And so thankfully for me I decided I didn’t want to do that but I did drink a lot. I just didn’t let myself drink to the point where I was out of control. When I went to college that just continued on. But it was mostly a Thursday through Saturday night kind of thing. It was never anything that poured into the rest of my week and I was obviously very functional. In my early 20s I left corporate America to go work as part of the cruise industry. And when you work on a cruise the saying is, “Every day is a Saturday.”
And it became this thing where when your shift was over, and for me that was usually around 8:00 or 8:30 in the evening. You eat, sleep, breathe everywhere on the ship. And everyone that you’re around is celebrating, they’re on vacation. And so I would meet up with my friends or fellow officers onboard and we would go and have a couple of glasses of wine before we went to bed. It really was the signal of end of day and on a cruise ship too because you legally cannot have any alcohol if you’re on shift or you’re working.
So it truly was end of day. And a celebration of a long day and then ready to go the next day. And it was seven days a week, you didn’t really have a traditional weekend. So you needed to find your downtime where you could and you were limited with what your choices were with living on a ship, if you weren’t in port and you were onboard. And so for me that’s where I feel I would say my wine drinking habit, because it was really more so wine, it wasn’t so much hard alcohol or beer. It was just specifically wine that I had this association of reward, relaxation.
And so it started that seven day a week, I remember after my first contract, coming home and saying to my sister, who’s one of my best friends, I just said, “Oh my gosh, I could probably count on one hand how many days over the last six months I didn’t have alcohol.” And that was a little alarming to me in that moment but it was so common onboard and so accepted that it was just kind of part of the culture. Well, I lived and worked on ships on and off for about five years.
And so after I got off of ships and came back to land life, if you will, that pattern and habit didn’t go away. But what I realized was that a lot of the people that I were hanging out with in my late 20s, they were kind of in that same place anyway. I was still single and we would meet after work for happy hour. So I certainly found those people that I felt like only reinforced the habit, that it wasn’t unusual, it wasn’t weird.
And again I was fully functional. So it wasn’t like I was not being able to show up for work, or be successful in my job, or be a great friend and be in relationships. So it wasn’t really impacting anything in that way and I think I just started to normalize that feeling when you’d wake up in the morning and maybe feel a little edgy and not quite right because you maybe had one too many glasses of wine the next morning.
So when I got married in my early 30s I remember my new husband at that time was like, “Wow. I don’t think I’ve ever drank as much as I drink with you.” And I remember kind of being a little like, “What?” Because in my mind it was so normalized. But for him that hadn’t become his pattern, even though he also came from the cruise industry and had a similar background to me. And so I remember kind of being a little defensive about that. And I was like, “What do you mean? I mean we’ve just gotten married and it’s fun to have a glass of wine together after a long day.”
So I totally enrolled him in this habit. I totally take the blame for that because that was not something that was natural to him. But he also enjoyed, if I was going to sit down and have a glass of wine after a long day and we’d just sit and talk about our day then he’s going to have one too. And so unfortunately I wasn’t the best influence on him there. And so the pattern just continued and continued. Now, now we’re into my mid-30s, the story started in my early 20s. And I had got pregnant, had two babies.
And while I was pregnant was able to stop drinking, that was fine. And I remember even thinking when I would get pregnant, I would have this moment of this is it, the habit’s going to be gone. Once I had this little baby everything will be different. I won’t even want to drink alcohol and now I’ll probably be so tired I’ll go right to bed. But it wasn’t long after having both children that that habit, it would just creep back in. It was like an old comfort blanket. And having those two, maybe three glasses of wine a night.
So fast forward to, I guess, the last year or two, especially as I’ve gotten more fully into what I would say my life purpose is. And I’m deeply spiritual. I have studied personal development and self-help for two decades. I mean I am someone who I feel really spends a lot of time in building self-awareness. And yet I had this one thing that I felt this habit, that I was becoming more and more ashamed of because it felt more and more out of alignment with who I am today. It would be like me trying to put on the same jeans I wore when I was 24. You know what I mean?
It was like this element of me that just no longer felt like it fit, yet it continued. And I would try certain things. I would do a dry month, or a dry week, or I would say, “Okay, I’m going to quit for however much time.” And while I could do it successfully the pattern would always resurface, whether it would be a stressful week, or we’re going on vacation. It was like I had no resilience to be able to redefine what my relationship with alcohol was going to be. And at no point did I feel like it was out of control.
However, it was the one thing I felt I didn’t have control over and kind of felt disempowered about. And honestly, I felt like as a coach, and as a teacher, and a healer that I would have been ashamed. And I did, I hid it, I certainly wouldn’t have just opened up to my clients and said, “Hey, this is something I’m really struggling with.” And so it was this year really that I felt like it’s time for me to get a hold of this and to redefine what that is. I wasn’t to the place where I said, “I don’t want to abstain 100%.”
But I need to feel just like I feel other things in my life that everything in moderation, it doesn’t have to be every day. And I just didn’t want to think about it anymore. So that’s really what brought me initially to you and to your program.
Sherry: Yeah. And I love that you kind of owned that because I think that sometimes owning the journey and specifically you’re spiritual, you’re also into self-help, you’re a coach, you’re into empowering people. Being that beacon of professionalism, maybe the reputation and I know that can double the shame, triple the shame. It’s like, okay, I’m helping other people heal. I’m helping other people on their journey but gosh, this feels terrible that I can’t do this for myself.
And I know what that felt like being in healthcare, I had my different flavor of shame. And I know I’ve helped women who are in the substance abuse arena, whether they’re therapists or addiction specialists. And they’re like, “Gosh, I shouldn’t have this problem because this is what I help other women or people do but yet I do.” And I think that adds, again, another level of shame. It’s like, aargh. And you kind of feel that imposter syndrome. It’s like, if I’m able to do this for others, how come I can’t do it for myself?
And I love it that that didn’t stop you from seeking help and wanting to get a handle on this. How did that look like? And what was attractive to join Drink Less Lifestyle? I’m just wondering what your mindset was then.
Anniston: So this past summer I was actually at a girl trip with all of my college girlfriends. And we were sitting around and I think I brought up the conversation. And I think I did it in a way, I think some other women who are listening might be able to relate to this. Where you’re feeling a little uneasy about something in your life, it’s very common to want to kind of bring it up with the people that you love and respect with, just to make sure you’re not alone in this.
And so I was, “Okay, so how much do you guys, do you drink every day?” Because when we get together us girls, I mean we love to drink wine together but we only see each other once a year. So I don’t really know what they are like the rest of the year. And it was one of those things where we were all kind of like, “Yeah, me too.” It was a me too moment which makes you feel really good. But it kind of left me feeling, I mean this is kind of crazy, why do I feel so guilty about this?
It seems like most women I know and even men, especially after COVID, they’ll have a glass of wine or two, or drinks at the end of the day and it’s not a big deal. But it still felt like a big deal to me and one of my girlfriends whom I love dearly said to me, “Actually I really started struggling with this a lot during COVID. And to the point where I thought I probably need to do something.” And she started reading books and she actually found your podcast. And she lovingly said, “Hey, I love this podcast and you should listen to it.”
And I remember listening to your first couple of episodes which are just so amazing because you really speak into who you are and were, and what you were dealing with. And I related to it so much. I felt like you were describing my life. I was like, “This woman knows my life. She knows exactly what I want.” And you were really specific too. You said, “Listen, this is who I serve and this is how I serve them. And my goal is that you get to define what your end goal is.”
Because what wasn’t appealing to me in the moment was to label myself. I no longer drink 100% and maybe one day I’ll get there. I don’t know, but right now I was like, “I’m looking for control, I’m looking for moderation, I’m looking to take back the power.” So as you say, you can take it or leave it. And so that’s really, I think what appealed to me the most and really urged me. I felt that feeling within this is something you should look into. This is something that if you’re ready, you can’t keep trying to do the same things and get the same result.
You’re going to have to think about doing things differently. And I think it was that investment of time, investment of, just it was that just making the decision, putting the stake in the sand and saying, “Now I’m doing something different.” And I am going to invest in feeling differently because it’s not worth me waking up every morning in a guilt shame cycle when there could be something that could help me get out of that.
Sherry: Yeah. I love that. Sometimes that quote, ‘when you’re ready the teacher appears’. And so thankful that you have friends and people care about you and say, “Hey, listen to this.” And I’m loving it that this podcast is changing lives and helping women through that journey. And sometimes we just need to get on the next step.
And we don’t have to look at where we’re going all the way if sober is not on our journey quite yet. But how could we just take the next step towards wellness, and feeling better, and feeling aligned, and feeling like you do have power and you are in your control. Because you can learn those skills. So I want to highlight because something that’s a little unique to you as you came through the program, for those of you that don’t know I offer I call it a smorgasbord of things once you sign up for the program. So you can be as visible or non-visible. You can receive tons of help or not a lot of help.
And what was interesting is I didn’t see much of you on the group calls. And I would reach out and say, “Hey, do you want your personal one-on-one session?” And you’re like, “No, I’m good.” And I just think that’s really interesting because we’ll talk about the success you have and where you’re at now. But I just found that interesting that you took only the pieces of the program that worked for you and that felt aligned for you. Do you want to speak to any of that?
Anniston: Yes. And I was kind of surprised too. I didn’t know, I had never taken a program like this before which it’s funny because if anyone’s listening that’s a coach. I think sometimes we’re the last people to ask for help, that we say if you’re a coach you need to have a coach. I totally agree with that, first of all because we’re so quick to offer a hand to somebody else or to offer advice, opinions. But we’re not always the best receivers.
And so the first thing for me that really shifted and I think why I wasn’t maybe quite as visible is because it was that moment when I made the decision, I had a conversation with my husband and I said, “This is important to me.” I feel intuitively this is something I should do. And it was like that switch, that decision, sometimes I’ve heard the words like, in the transaction is the transformation sometimes. The minute the transaction goes through the transformation begins because that’s when the choice happens.
We waste a lot of energy going back and forth between will I or won’t I? Will I look at it, will I, won’t? And I think I put this habit, this pattern in the shadow. I didn’t want to look at it. I really didn’t want to look at it. And so it was through this process that you created, this really safe space and this container to look at it. And just like anything else, when you walk into a dark room, your mind can make it feel scary. There must be something hiding in a corner and your kids, and there’s a monster under the bed.
But then when you turn the light on you’re like, “This really isn’t that scary, this is really not as big of a deal as I made it to be, or it wasn’t as hard.” And so very quickly in the program I was able to, even in the first several modules of what you had presented in terms of your online courses, you so beautifully illustrated and explained why the pattern is there. And how to deal with the urges when they come. And how to decide what is your drink plan, what is your contract, what do you want that to look like.
And then you explain how to do that. So that was, I think what I needed most was that. Now, I did get a lot, sometimes if I was logging onto a call and being able to just listen in on some other women who were going through the same thing. That is also very calming and reassuring to know again, you’re not alone. But for me I think I had never really fully educated myself on the addictive properties of alcohol, what it does within the body and the brain. And I stopped blaming myself. And when I stopped blaming myself as much it was easier then to move forward and to create change.
Sherry: Yeah. And I love it that you did create such powerful change for your life. So I’d love for you to talk where you’re at now with drinking, if you want to come at it from this is my relationship with it or these are the skills that I’ve learned. Where have you landed now?
Anniston: Now I feel like I don’t have the, oh, it’s Monday then five o’clock, better go pour a drink. It’s not a thought that I have to really rectify with all the time. And it used to be Mondays, especially when I was like, “Okay, I’m not going to drink during the week.” And I was really trying to use my willpower to push through. It would always feel like something was being taken away from me. And I have created this space, going through the program I was able to create enough space and enough taking a break.
And I did take a bit of a break from drinking. I didn’t completely but just I said, “Okay, at least during the week.” That was my initial agreement. I was like, “For now, Monday through Friday no alcohol and on the weekends I will have but I’ll have no more than two.” Because what I didn’t want to do was – I’m okay with living a life and never feeling hungover again, so that’s one. That was one thing I was like, “I don’t need that. I don’t want that. I don’t want to ruin my day. I have too much I want to live for. I have kids, I want to show up as my best self.” So that’s one thing that I agreed to.
And then I wanted to get out of that habit of this is my reward and really see it for what it is. Because what’s interesting is now when I do have a drink during a weekday, well, it’s much easier just to stop at one. But then it makes me so tired compared to when I don’t have one that I realized all the things I really enjoy about the evenings, it doesn’t enhance, it actually diminishes.
But it took me creating that space and the awareness for it to not be scary anymore for me to do this that I realized that I had always thought drinking equaled fun and it equaled enhancement, it equaled. Now I know it to be is actually a depressant and it makes you tired, and it makes you edgy, and irritated, and I don’t want to read as long with my kids. You’ve mentioned that a lot on your podcast and I have definitely experienced that too. So I really got to renegotiate what that’s like.
And at first, yeah, it did feel a little weird because at first when you’re making a change it’s going to feel uncomfortable. It’s going to feel like, this is scary, this is different. But thankfully I have an amazing husband who was very supportive and did it with me. And he’s like, “Well, alright, so tell me what your plan is for the week. And then I’ll align my plan with yours.” He was really, really great about it and that helped me because I wasn’t going through it by myself. But it also helped to know that there were a group of women who were also doing the same.
So for now I would say I have a really good relationship with it, it doesn’t have power over me, just as Coca-Cola doesn’t have power over me, and donuts don’t have power over me. And they’re there, and it’s great every now and again but it doesn’t rule my decision-making. I don’t decide to do something because there’s going to be alcohol there or not do it because there’s not going to be alcohol there. Or if we have to go out and drive to go out to dinner, I don’t say, “No, let’s stay in because that way we can both drink and not have to worry about driving.” So I feel like my whole world just expanded.
Sherry: Yeah, that’s great. And I love how for you having your husband’s support, going through that together was a beautiful thing for you. And I know some women in the program choose to share this journey with their husband and you don’t have to. Some women go through the program and they feel safer, they feel that they don’t want the extra accountability, or pressure, or judgment or whatever they feel. And that’s fine too. Just to create that space and you only know what’s best for you in terms of when you’re ready to let others know.
Some people don’t tell their family for a while until they feel I’ve got a good handle on this. I can handle any pressure or judgment that may come from family members. But it’s so nice that you had that support right from the beginning. I want to transition to, I think people get to the destination that they want. Now where is your brain space around alcohol? Do you have peace with it? Do you feel you can take it or leave it? I hear a lot of times and I said this in my past too, there’s once I get started it’s a slippery slope or I’m on the wagon or off the wagon.
And I know for me, I’ve created, like you said, that space to really analyze is that true, did I just give my power away? So how are you feeling now? Are you at peace with your relationship with alcohol?
Anniston: Yes. I would say yes. Now, there will every now and again be a day where I’ll notice, I’m like, “Oh my gosh, it’s been a day”, and old behavior, old thought patterns will come up. But the difference is that I feel I become very aware of it pretty quickly. And I question it more because I’m like, “Really, or could I have a cup of tea and it would be just as relaxing probably.” And so I think that for me it was really creating that space around the behavior that I could be more of the observer.
And so what I don’t want is for people to feel if they start going on this road and they’re doing really well and then they have a day or a couple of days where they’re like, “Gosh, I feel like I’m taking 10 steps back.” That that’s okay, I think it’s just like any other habit or any other thought, habits can be limiting beliefs, they can be patterns of thinking. I mean these things were formed over decades. This was a two decade long habit for me. So of course every now and again it’s going to come up.
But the difference is I feel like I’m 100% in control of that. And before I can honestly say that I didn’t. And also really I’ve made peace to the point where I am very open about it and I don’t have shame around it anymore. Because I realized just how freaking common it is. So it’s so many people I know deal with the same thing. It might look and feel a little bit different and at different severities. Some people are really far down the road in terms of what that addiction or that habit looks like. And some it’s a little bit harder to see and a little more, I guess, under wraps.
But I think that the worst thing that we can do for each other is to hide these places that might be a really great opportunity for someone else to heal and to not feel so guilty about. And they feel like they’re the only ones who don’t have the willpower to control this, even though they might want to change. It’s like they feel like they just can’t because they’re at two different minds, they’re at constantly a battle.
Sherry: Yeah, that’s beautifully said. And I like how you even highlighted that. When we don’t understand others or just this concept around alcohol being so shameful. But yet we are so sympathetic and compassionate around other diseases or conditions, or times where we go through hard times or hard things. And we’re able to talk about other conditions, other times of our life without all the shame wrapped around it. But alcohol seems to be this different substance.
If you had battled cancer, or you have diabetes, or you have a time in your life that you’re struggling because you lost a parent. But as soon as alcohol, too much is mentioned it’s like, I can’t handle that or, I don’t know what to do about that. And I think a lot of people’s gut reaction is kind of like, you need to stop that completely. Because that’s been the mentality for so long is if you can’t handle something then you just need to give it up 100%. And maybe the person could do that and maybe they are onboard with that. But maybe there is the intermediate step.
Or maybe they just want to learn to have a little bit and moderate in their life like you mentioned. And just knowing that it’s not a one size fits all kind of approach and I love it how you talked about how you made your specific contract, as you like to call it, on where you want it to fit in your life and where you don’t. Yeah, so good. So now I’d like to pivot and talk about now that you’re at this place with your drinking and you feel empowered and in control. Has this led to any ripple effects, any other benefits that you’re noticing in your life?
Anniston: Absolutely, in so many different areas. And I really took this on, this past year for me I really ran towards, consciously ran towards those things that I felt were my greatest fears. And like it or not this was one of my greatest fears. I think my fear was that what life would look like if I did make the change. What cost that would be to me. Would it be as fun, as exciting? Would I have as many friends? Would I be as accepted? All those things, I mean I really think there’s a lot of fears that were on the lower surface of that habit that I needed to really run towards.
And so doing this and doing the program, and completing the program, for me opened up so many other areas of like, well, if I can do this what else can I do? And it also made me really hyper aware of the other areas of my life that I was still high resistance or needed to – whether it be emotional and within my relationships with overall just intimacy. I launched a podcast this year which was a big stretch for me because it requires a lot of vulnerability and just showing up, and being authentic, and being open, and being seen.
And that was a big part of, my habit was part of my hiding. There were aspects of myself that I was hiding but not anymore. It was through the process of me accepting myself, and I think that is one thing I want everyone to hear. When you tackle this issue you might initially think it’s about other people and making other people more comfortable, or you feeling you’re just more together. It’s all about you, it is 100% about you because if you’re feeling incongruent with that pattern and you feel something’s off, it’s bothering me.
I feel like I’m out of my integrity or I’m disempowered around this, then it is impacting other areas of your life too, believe me. It’s not just this one singular area. So by you addressing this and running towards it finally, instead of avoiding it like you might have been doing in the past. It’s going to enable you to see everywhere else in your life that you are out of integrity or hiding, and I would argue that this for me has been one of the most transformational years in every single way. And this was a big part of that for me.
Sherry: Yeah. And now I’m just reflecting about my journey. And I hid in the drinking as well. And I love how you beautifully explained that because I didn’t see it as hiding. I saw it as coping. And I talked about it was a coping strategy. But now I have more clarity around it, it was hiding. I was hiding because I didn’t think I could be the mom my daughter needed me to be. I got emotional talking about her condition and watching people ask her about it, or just feeling so angry. Why do we have to have this discussion? Why can’t you just accept her for who she is?
And so I realized I was using it partly to hide as well. And you’re right, when this layer comes off, you have to deal with the deeper fears, the deeper things that come up that you’re able though to work on. And what I find beautiful is solve it, meaning learn how to use that and learn from it to make the changes in your life that you truly want, that you’ve been kind of avoiding, or maybe you didn’t know how. But showing up and saying, “Okay, this is something I really want to work on. What are my fears?” And running for that.
And yeah, starting a podcast and putting yourself out there, kudos to you. I know going through that I had a lot of stuff come up for me. I’m like, “Oh no, can I share my journey? Oh my gosh, what are the people going to think and what are they going to say?” And it’s really beautiful when you can be yourself in the world and accept yourself no matter what happens, no matter what the people say. And learning to trust yourself again is a beautiful thing. And that is a skill. It just doesn’t fall out of the air or pixie dust.
It’s actually something you work towards. And I want women to always think about that and hear that. It is something you work on. And you develop skill by taking the next step.
Anniston: Yeah. On the other side of the drinking habit for me was learning how to communicate my needs, learning how to vocalize when I was stressed, anxious and not just grab a glass of wine and down it and just repress. And so on the other side of that was a stronger relationship with my husband, a deeper connection with my children. And more honest communication with my family and friends.
And because for me that was that feeling of not only hiding but also it was – we talked about this when you came on one of my podcasts, which was this idea of belonging. And I, when I was young felt always if I had a drink in my hand I belonged in the group that I never really felt like I belonged in. And that just perpetuated itself throughout the rest of my life. And so I would urge anyone listening to really question because I think it’ll be different for every person, but what does that drink symbolize for you? What is it really about and where did it start?
And not that you have to know where it started to heal, but I think for me it was really pivotal for me to understand why it started in the first place because if you don’t question it then it still has power over you. But then you realize, you’re like, oh my gosh, this pattern has just been perpetuating and would continue, I believe, to perpetuate my entire life if hadn’t have taken the time to really investigate it.
Sherry: Yeah, that’s so good because that’s really what it’s about, getting to the root of why we do the behavior. The behavior is one thing and we don’t need to judge the behavior. Yes, a lot of us judge our drinking. We’re mad when we overdrink. We feel upset with ourselves. We feel disappointed but I think the deeper question really comes from why does the behavior exist? What am I getting out of this behavior?
And really seeing how we can remove that or change that so that we change the relationship with alcohol, we change the relationship with the behavior of drinking. Beautifully said. Anniston, it has been so awesome to have you on the podcast. I really appreciate you sharing your experience going through your journey with drinking. And just it’s a beautiful thing to be able to share that without shame and get to this place where you have peace with it, that’s a beautiful thing. As we close, Anniston, any parting comments or how can my listeners find you and what’s the name of your podcast?
Anniston: Well, thank you and thank you again for having me on. In terms of closing comments, I would just say if you’re listening to this and there is that voice inside of you that is saying, oh my gosh, me too, oh my gosh, I really relate to this story. That I cannot urge you enough to really make this the year, make this the time that you really get real with it and deal with it and see what’s on the other side of it.
Because I can guarantee you what’s on the other side of it is a much broader, more expansive life experience. And it will be the you that knows that you are always in control and that this never really had control over you. And in terms of finding me, my husband and I, our coaching company is called InPower University, and our podcast is the InPowered Life. And we would love to connect with you at any time.
Sherry: That’s awesome. And we’ll put links in the show notes for you to be able to click on there and check their podcast out, and their materials, and their website. Anniston, thank you again so much for coming on the podcast.
Alright, listeners, it’s been great to be with you and I will see you next week.
Thanks for listening to the Drink Less Lifestyle. If you’re ready to change your relationship with alcohol, check out my free guide, How to Effectively Break the Overdrinking Habit at sherryprice.com/startnow. That’s sherryprice.com/startnow. I’ll see you next week.