Get Gutsy Podcast Transcript – Clear + Sober
On May 9, 2015, I made a decision that would change the course of my life.
And that decision was to release alcohol from my life.
It had been a long road to get to that point.
And when I did, it simply felt like the natural next step on my journey.
And yet as I say this, it still blows me away that I could and would walk the road of sobriety.
Now that I’ve marked 1 year sober, I’m reflecting back on what I’ve learned, how I’ve changed, and what life is like when you’re seeing with new eyes.
So … let’s backtrack a bit.
I had my first drink at 14 years old. I was a freshman in high school. And it was the first weekend of the school year. I was so excited to be attending a party in the woods (that’s where we partied in New Smyrna Beach, Florida where I grew up).
There was a keg at the party and a lot of people were holding plastic cups with beer and when one was offered to me, I took it. And I drank it.
While the taste was gross (it was crappy, cheap beer), the feeling it gave me was amazing.
Any nerves I felt from being at this party with a lot of older students I didn’t know started floating away as the buzz set in. I felt funnier, prettier, more “in.”
That first drink would lead to many, many more.
For many, alcohol may not be a problem, but as I learned through the years, it was an issue for me.
My body simply couldn’t tolerate it.
I could play a good game.
I could throw back drinks with the best of them.
Shots. No problem.
Funnels. No problem.
The occasional keg stand. No problem.
But the hangover? A problem.
The occasional blackout? A real, real problem.
Luckily my social drinking didn’t get in the way of my academic or leadership success in high school or college. Most certainly, I could have gone farther than I did if partying wasn’t part of my life, but I still went pretty far.
I actually was hungover the first time I took my SAT test in high school.
I took it again a few months later when I wasn’t hungover and actually scored 10 points lower. I was curious if I’d get a better score to qualify for University of Florida’s Honors Program, but fell a few points shy.
I wasn’t too bummed. Having fun and being a part of the party crowd was too important to me at that stage of the game.
My work hard / play hard energy followed me through college and into my corporate career in New York City.
My first two jobs were filled with opportunities to go out drinking with my colleagues, bosses and clients! It seemed to be a part of the job description. Fine by me!
All of my romantic relationships up to that point were rooted in partying – alcohol, pot, ecstasy … some combination of those substances primarily.
It wasn’t until I met my now husband Steven that I realized the jig was up. He wasn’t a partier damnit!
I remember going to his apartment when we were first dating and being buzzed after Happy Hour drinks. He was doing his taxes. I wanted attention as any drunk gal would he wouldn’t give it to me!
I was pissed.
I started leaving and I’m not sure how I made the decision to not sabotage yet another relationship, but I did.
As the elevator bank (we were living in NYC at the time), a voice spoke up inside of me: “Jenny, turn around and grow up.”
And with that, I started slowly releasing alcohol from my life.
Steven and I would go to concerts and only go to the bar for bottles of water. WTF? Who goes to concerts and doesn’t drink? We do.
And it was great.
I didn’t feel like shit the next day.
I felt clear.
Yes, there were times I would still drink some wine or champagne, but I was able to keep it in check. I didn’t go overboard.
But there was still that little grip a drink would have on me.
And the clarity that I would have without drinking … would go away once I had alcohol in my system.
It’s like my system would get all clunky once alcohol was involved.
And I started seeing that this was my truth.
When I was pregnant with my 3 kids it was no big deal not to drink. I didn’t miss it. I felt healthier than I ever had when I was pregnant. And I loved that feeling.
So what happened on May 9, 2015 that led me to let go of drinking?
We were headed to a gala for the kids’ school and I knew there would be “free” alcohol available. In the way, way past if there was free alcohol at an event, that could be really troublesome for me so I had gotten in the habit of planning what I would drink before I arrived.
Girl’s gotta be prepared!
And so I asked myself if I wanted to drink wine and how many glasses I would have.
And instead of having any desire to drink, I got a clear message: “YOU DON’T NEED IT, JENNY.”
The following day was Mother’s Day and the last thing I wanted to feel on Mother’s Day was hungover.
Everything just clicked into place for me right then and there: I’m done.
I realized I liked myself more sober.
My work was moving to another level.
I was about to hop on a plane that week to attend a high-level event for successful entrepreneurs.
And I realized that the alcohol and its effect on me would just hold me back from doing what I came here to do.
My mission was very clear.
And I was so committed to success.
The next step was obvious: LET GO.
It was a bit bumpy at first.
What do I tell people when they offer me a drink?
What do I do with all this space that’s opened in my life?
Will I still be fun at parties?
How will I take the edge off when it creeps up?
But I can honestly say that the past year of my life has been nothing short of remarkable.
I’ve done some deep, life-changing work with a therapist to release SO much baggage, pain and trauma.
I’ve created EPIC amounts of content and value in my business.
My family has gotten closer.
My marriage has gotten stronger.
The relationship with my mother has been repaired.
I’ve asked for what I want without apology or dancing around the truth.
I’ve stripped away unnecessary complexity.
I’ve walked away from groups and people who aren’t in alignment with where I am and where I’m going.
I see CLEARLY.
Now I will tell you that seeing clearly comes with its downsides. YOU SEE EVERYTHING. And some of what you see is painful.
And you don’t have the alcohol to numb out.
And it’s easy to numb in other ways.
So you have to check yourself.
For many, work a recovery program.
But I’ve discovered that the UPSIDES of seeing CLEARLY far outweigh the downsides.
It’s like I have laser vision for where we’re headed as a family and in my business.
I can spot opportunities and act on them without getting stuck in fear and sludge of inertia.
I pray all the time.
A wise woman gave me a great piece of advice as I got started on my recovery journey:
“First thing you do in the morning, hit your knees and pray. The last thing you do before you go to bed, hit your knees and pray.”
So I do.
Because I realized that for me the alcohol was my attempt at CONTROLLING things that felt out of control. And numbing feelings I didn’t think I could handle.
And that simply didn’t work.
What did was showing up in my work and doing the work, doing the work, and doing the work some more.
And feeling my feelings …. knowing that I have the healthy tools to deal with my feelings in a constructive, expansive, loving way.
And working it all out with God. Because I truly believe there is a gorgeous plan for my life and my talents and my passion.
I believe that my wounds are my message. And that’s why I felt compelled to share this story with you today.
Listen, I know I have many friends and fans who can easily handle alcohol. And to you I say, “Awesome! Have a margarita for me. Have a glass of wine. Have an ice cold beer. And enjoy it.”
But if you’re anything like me and know that alcohol simply doesn’t work for you. That it’s getting in the way of you being your best, just know that there is another path.
There is another way.
I call this path clear and sober.
This is Jenny Fenig sending you so much love, light and faith as you get gutsy. I’ll see you next time.
Hit me up in my FB group (join at http://GutsyGalaxy.com) or on Instagram – @jennyfenig – and tell me how this episode lands with you. I love hearing from you!
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