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#32 My Relationship with Alcohol

From family gatherings to evenings after work as a mom, alcohol was present and, at times, a problem in various stages of my life. In yet again another vulnerable episode, I open up and discuss the impact alcohol had on my life, how I thought alcohol made me more fun, and how this sometimes led me into feeling ashamed of my actions and words.

When I wrote my break-up letter to alcohol, it only changed my life for the better. I share my journey to becoming my favorite version of myself and ultimately realizing that drinking was no longer making my life feel any better, and how this ultimately helped me to find my favorite version of me.

Since you’re ready to become your favorite version of you, book a consult to learn more about joining my group starting August 2023!

"I finally decided that I'd had enough on July 21st, 2018 ... I actually wrote a breakup letter to alcohol ... alcohol is no longer to blame. It's all on me. Sometimes that's great and other times not so much so."

What you'll learn in this episode:

  • How my life with alcohol was about numbing my feelings and escaping

  • I thought alcohol made me more fun, instead, it created feelings of shame and regret

  • How the discovery of life coaching was the turning point that helped me work on myself

  • Why I wrote a break-up letter to alcohol and how that was a pivotal moment in my life

"I wake up with clarity and zero headache. It also turns out that I'm just as funny as I was before, still completely inappropriate, and now I remember everything I say and do instead of wondering if I can take ownership over my words and my actions."

Be sure to sign up for a consult to see if joining my August group is the right fit for you. Join us on this powerful journey to become your favorite you.

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Read the full episode transcript

Hey, this is Melissa Parsons, and you are listening to the Your Favorite You Podcast. I'm a certified life coach with an advanced certification in deep dive coaching. The purpose of this podcast is to help brilliant women like you with beautiful brains create the life you've been dreaming of with intentions. My goal is to help you find your favorite version of you by teaching you how to treat yourself as your own best friend.

If this sounds incredible to you and you want practical tips on changing up how you treat yourself, then you're in the right place. Just so you know, I'm a huge fan of using all of the words available to me in the English language, so please proceed with caution if young ears are around.

Hey, everyone. Thanks for coming back to the podcast again this week.

Today, I'm going to be talking about something that has been alluded to in past episodes of Your Favorite You, but that I have not addressed directly. And I am being called to talk about this because I recognize that the more I share with you, my vulnerability, the more people reach out to me and thank me for delivering the podcast.

So, I just want to thank everybody who reached out to me especially after the episode that I did with the boys. I've gotten so many messages so many of you wishing that you could also have these conversations with your children or wishing that your parents had had these conversations with you. And I have to say, you know, I was only able to have that conversation because of all the work that I did on myself, and I don't think I would have been ready for it, and I certainly wouldn't have handled it the way that I did if I hadn't done all that work on myself.

So, I'm not sharing these with you so that you will go out and do this or, you know, have these conversations with your kids because I want you to make sure that you're in a space where it's safe for you to ask the questions and safe for you to hear the responses. And Some of you may be ready to do that, but others of you may need to do some work in introspection and make some changes before you're ready to delve into that with your kids.

So, anyway enough about that, the subject for today is actually my relationship with alcohol. And the first mention or awareness that I had around alcohol was when I was a young child. My biological paternal grandpa was an alcoholic and he died at a relatively young age from cirrhosis of the liver. I never really knew him. My paternal grandmother Ruth was badass. She was a woman before her time. She and my biological grandpa divorced before it was acceptable to divorce, and then she went on to marry the man that I always knew as my grandpa.

So, grandma Ruth and her second husband, my grandpa Clyde, who still is alive and kicking in Tennessee to this day. They married and they lived on a farm in Tennessee. And to my knowledge, neither of them drank alcohol.

Growing up in my family with all of my mom's family where we would have huge get togethers as a family, alcohol was often involved. And my grandma Peg would make huge pitchers of Manhattan's for my grandpa's brothers, Uncle Martin and Uncle Urban, so my great uncles and for my uncles to drink on the holidays. And holidays and parties typically involved alcohol, my uncles, some of my aunts, my dad enjoying cocktails, and beer.

I didn't think too much about it really. Although, as I got older, it did concern me at times when my great uncle would get into his Crown Vic after drinking a pitcher of margaritas. So, it was actually a pitcher of Manhattans. He didn't drink the whole pitcher, he had help. But looking back, it was kind of miraculous that he never got in an accident. So we got lucky in that regard.

The first time I drink was on New Year's Eve 1987 to ring in 1988. I was a freshman in high school. I went to my best friend's house and drank champagne. That was not a good decision. I will leave things to your imagination. The good thing about that experience is that I was not highly motivated to continue drinking after getting ill from it. And for most of high school, I was the designated driver. Once I got my license, you know, I was the person who did the driving and most memorably, I remember driving all of my friends to see Jimmy Buffet at Blossom Music Center every summer in my buddy, David's mom's huge white van with blue accents. It was like a huge conversion van, and I was behind the wheel.

I think at the time my desire to go to med school helped to keep me from drinking. I was really motivated to get good grades and I could see how drinking might get in the way of that. I wasn't a teetotaler in high school, but I would have a couple wine coolers if I was staying the night with a friend at her house. And, I mean, I can smell them, like, recollecting to this day. I can smell the smell of a of a wine cooler.

So this continued into college. It was pretty rare for me to drink. And if I did, it was never more than a couple of drinks. This is not to say that I did not have a fake ID in college. I did. It was really easy to change that 3 in 73 to a zero.

All my friend Jen and I needed was a little makeup and some clear contact paper. It worked and it helped me to get into the bars where all my friends were so that I could wait for my crush to show up. The anticipation of never knowing if he would walk through the door. And I think kids these days are done a disservice by never knowing the excitement of knowing whether or not your friends were going to show up because they have found my friends in Snapchat location services, but I digress. I did drink to access on my 21st birthday and got ill in my Classmate Deidre's Birkenstock’s. I will never be the same after what I did to them that night. And I probably should go back and apologize to the staff that was working at the Crystal on April 4, 1994.

For me, drinking in med school wasn't really an option very often either. Again, I had to study. I had to work hard to become a physician. It didn't come easily for me. And then you add this to the fact that Jon and I went to med school in Toledo, Ohio where the night life scene just did not exist. So I do remember toasting to Jon's and my engagement on December 18th with a nice bottle of bubbly at Alexander's with our friends.

If I had to pinpoint when my relationship with alcohol got more complicated, it would be after Jon, and I had been married for some time. I thought that I had achieved all of my dreams at this point and life in a two-physician household with two young kids wasn't very easy. And if I had to say why I started drinking more, it was definitely to numb all my feelings at the end of the day.

I found that I was much easier going with the kids after a glass of wine or two or a gin and tonic. Them crying or bickering or whining or fighting just seemed to affect me so much less after I had something to drink and it kind of allowed me to be more laid back as their mom. And I have to say alcohol also dulled the stresses of the day. It turned off the voice in my head that was critical of me. It didn't matter so much that I didn't get everything checked off my list. It didn't matter that I had a difficult interaction with the family at the office. It made me stop thinking about interactions. I was going to potentially have to have the next day at work. So just kind of turned off that voice in my head.

I want to digress here for a minute intentionally and acknowledge something that I should have said in the shitty advice I gave you as your pediatrician episode. It was episode number 15 if you haven't listened to it.

But I gave many moms and a few dads the advice to increase their alcohol intake when things were hard with the kids at home. Whether the kids were having tantrums or trouble going to bed at night, or for many other reasons, I actually gave the advice to drink more to escape the bad feelings that happen when you're parenting sometimes. And I gave that advice because it was my coping mechanism at the time. I was wrong, and I’m sorry if you were one of those people who heard those words from me. I think about it a lot and I wish I hadn't had that advice.

I also had the misperception that drinking alcohol made me more fun. If you don't know me, I'm funny as hell, completely sober. It truly is the thing that I love most about me. I have very little filter. I say whatever I'm thinking. And alcohol definitely added fuel to that fire. I said, so many inappropriate things while I was sober. So watch out after a couple glasses of pinot noir. Then I was left having to deal with the shame of what I said, what I did in public after drinking. And as you can imagine, it was a spiral. It was you know, shame for what I said, what I did, and it just wasn't pretty.

As Owen said a few weeks ago on the podcast, you know, after Jon and I had a few drinks, we would often fight about the dumbest stuff and end up saying things that neither of us loved. Looking back in hindsight, I can't imagine that either of us would choose that path over again if we were given the opportunity. And I have to say surprisingly that I am grateful to alcohol because if it hadn't been for once again, drinking an entire bottle of sparkling rose on Christmas Eve 2017, and then waking up at zero dark thirty to get the kids up for Santa and then to get them over to my in laws in time for Christmas morning for Christmas brunch. And then Jon and I spent that whole Christmas day sipping tequila that his brother had gotten for Christmas. If it hadn't been for those two days in that, you know, seeing myself on video after drinking tequila all day, singing karaoke with my brother-in-law, I likely would not have found the miracle that coaching is when I did.

It was really after that holiday that I decided that things needed to change, and then I needed to change. I started in Dr. Ubell Weight Loss for Doctors Only Program a few weeks after that turning point. Interestingly, I didn't give up alcohol during her program. I was able to get rid of sixty pounds without giving up alcohol entirely. I did limit myself to one drink around once a week because I found that if I drank more than just one drink, it would lower my inhibitions enough that I would just tell myself that I could eat and drink whatever I wanted. And that's not the case for me if I want to get rid of weight from my body and if I want to keep it off my body. I honestly did not miss alcohol once I started working on my mind.

It was hard for me to come up with many if any positives that came with drinking alcohol for me. It came with plenty of negatives though. By the time I was drinking very occasionally, and only one glass of wine at a sitting, I started to question if I wanted to drink at all anymore. I was getting the pleasant buzz that comes with drinking when I only had one glass. And drinking that one glass made me have to get up in the middle of the night to urinate. And I would often wake up with a slight headache the next morning, just kind of a dull ache that was present after I had had my glass of wine the night before. I finally decided that I'd had enough on July 21, 2018.

I kept a lot of journals. I still keep a journal now. So, I have my memory of that, and then I also have my journal entries that help me remember.

So, Jon and I were in New York City, he had surprised me with Bruce Springsteen tickets. So we went to see Springsteen on Broadway. It was a great show. And since we were on vacation, I had a glass and a half of wine the night of the concert. I stopped in the middle of the second glass because I already knew that it wasn't a good idea. And then I woke up in the middle of the night a couple times to pee. I woke up in the morning with a headache. I sat outside on this gorgeous garden patio, in the middle of the city, and I actually wrote a breakup letter to alcohol.

Looking back in my journal from that day, as I was drinking the second glass of wine, my brain started in with questions. Why are you doing this? You know it no longer serves you, you're going to feel bad in the morning. And it was kind of judgy for sure. In coaching, whenever we're questioning ourselves, we challenge ourselves to answer the question to the best of our ability, so this is what I wrote.

I ordered the second glass of wine and the first if I'm being honest because I think I'm more relaxed and more fun after I've been drinking. In the past, I have been able to quote unquote lighten up after drinking. Mind you, this was before I really worked on my control enthusiasm. This is way before I worked with Maggie.

So I wrote, I just need to realize that these are just thoughts that likely aren't even true. There are other things I can do to relax and to lighten up. Alcohol is not magic anymore. I'm starting to think that alcohol doesn't do a damn thing that's good for me anymore. I'm breaking up with you. It's not you alcohol. It's me.

Then I got to work at gathering evidence for myself that my life could actually be better without alcohol. It turns out I sleep so much better. I wake up in the morning feeling refreshed. I have hours back in my day, so the hours in the evening when my mind is clear instead of fuzzy, the hours in the morning when I wake up with clarity and zero headache.

It also turns out that I'm just as funny as I was before, still completely inappropriate, and now I remember everything I say and do instead of wondering if I can take ownership over my words and my actions.

Alcohol is no longer to blame. It's all on me. Sometimes that's great and other times not so much so.

The money I have saved has gone right back into investing in myself, in my brain through coaching. I've spent way more on coaching than I ever did on alcohol, and I don't regret it one minute. Now, don't get me wrong. I've had some struggles with this as well.

Jon and I used to center our lives around going out to eat and sitting at the bar, chatting it up with each other and the bar tenders, watching them at their craft. We also used to center our vacations around food and alcohol, going to amazing all-inclusive resorts to escape our everyday life.

In fact, Jon will remember this, I had an epic tantrum at the UNICO two thousand and eighty-seven Resort in the Riviera Maya, when Jon and I would travel as a couple our M.O. would be to fly early in the morning, get to the resort by lunch, and then eat and drink by the pool for several hours.

Take a nap, then eat and drink again until bedtime. So when it came time for us to go on the strip that we had planned before I had changed my relationship with food and alcohol, I definitely was grieving that former version of me.

And Jon and I got into an argument because I was acting like a brat basically. I was pouting as he ate and drank whatever he wanted, telling myself that I was missing out on all the fun. It was a turning point for me really.

I decided after that argument and after taking a nap that I was going to allow myself to have an attitude adjustment. I was going to own my decision to change my relationship with food and alcohol. For me, this meant that I would have to change my normal routine on these vacations.

So, I started waking up before sunrise, sneaking out onto the lanai to meditate as the sun came up. I participated in the stand-up paddle board yoga class in the pool. I spent lots of time reading and journaling, getting to know myself better instead of escaping from myself. I went to bed early so that I could wake up and do it all over again. It was an adjustment period, but I'm so grateful to my past self for figuring it out.

Now, I plan vacations that involve adventure. Kayaking, white-water rafting, slap canyon hikes, axe throwing, which I'm surprisingly good at. I also love playing games and sports against my family who've been drinking. It's the only time I'm better than them at say paddle ball or can jam. I rock these games when I'm sober.

Another thing that I was worried about with giving up drinking was how this would be perceived and handled by my friends and family as unsurprisingly their habits did not change along with mine. I have zero problem ordering a Pellegrino or a tea when out with friends.

At first, some people didn't understand but once I told them that I had broken up with alcohol, those that love me let it drop and didn't try to goat me into joining them. Some were more understanding than others, and some will just never understand. That's okay. I know and love my reasons. And I no longer need anyone else to understand me because I know and understand me.

Like I said, many of my family and friends still drink. I don't have a problem if they drink around me. I don't feel weird about it at all. I will be completely honest though and admit that I get a bit judgy about it. At times, especially if I hear that they're drinking and driving.

There should be zero reason for that with all the options of Ubers and Lyfts that are available at the touch of your fingertips to your phone. But I can see how this might happen. Because when I drank too much, I mistakenly thought I could get away with anything too, so I see how it happens.

I must say that I have zero regrets around giving up alcohol. It truly was having zero benefit for me. There were no positives. I can't believe this, but I'm actually coming up on my five-year anniversary of abstaining from alcohol. Though in complete transparency, I did have three glasses of wine during the week that Jon and I were on the Amalfi Coast for our twentieth anniversary in 2019. But other than that one week I have not even been tempted to drink. The people in my life who always loved me for me are still here I love my life without alcohol right now. I can't see a reason to start up again.

I'm intrigued by all the recent reports of studies that show that no amount of alcohol is healthy. I have to say I'm not surprised. I didn't need these studies to tell me how much better I feel in my life and my body without alcohol, but it is fun to have the science to back it up. Also, it's not lost on me that I got lucky, especially with the history of alcoholism in my family that I didn't become an alcoholic, and I'm grateful for that. I'm also grateful that I didn't buy into the belief that though my relationship with alcohol did not reach what would be considered alcoholism that I did not have plenty of reasons to stop drinking.

I know that my story is not available to some of you because you actually do qualify as someone who has alcohol use disorder or alcohol abuse disorder or alcohol dependence disorder. I would encourage you that if this is you, to please seek help from your medical provider and get the assistance you deserve.

Know that if I know you and love you in my personal life, and the person you can reach out to help you find these resources, I would be honored to do that. I hope you all come back to the podcast again next week.

Thank you for listening to the podcast and loving on me all the time. Although the doors are closed for the inaugural group of women wanting to become their favorite versions of themselves. No worries. You still have the opportunity to work with me in a group setting. This group is for you since you are listening to my podcast, you will get amazing coaching plus the beauty of a community of other women who are interested in thriving as much as they can, and you also will want you to succeed at becoming your favorite you.

There is benefit that is undeniable from watching another woman being coached on an issue you've had in the past, or one that you're currently having. Our brains just see so much more possibility when we are not the ones in the hot seat. You'll also have the ability to come every week and share your vulnerability and watch others share their vulnerability.

We know that shame only grows in silence. There is power in being held by other incredible humans who are often caught in some of the same traps that you are with your thinking.

Please go right now to and schedule a consult with me so that I can hear how I can help you, and we can decide together if you are a great fit to join the group.

You'll need to join the waitlist. We start in August. Please join us. You will not regret it.

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