I Pulled Myself Out — How I Overcame My Addiction 35 Years Ago

From Fear to Freedom
From Fear to Freedom GUIDE topaz enhance sharpen hiresDOWNLOAD GUIDE

Growing up, I had many big dreams, yet one thing kept sidetracking me.

(Take a second and write down 1 to 5 things that keep you sidetracked from moving forward. Please do it now. You'll need them for the exercise later. When you've written them down, keep reading...)

What sidetracked me for a decade?

Drinking.

I looooved to drink. I grew up in the middle of nowhere, so drinking a glass of chardonnay and sniffing the cork made me feel sophisticated and grown-up.

My first drink was at the senior tailgating party when I was 17. It was lime vodka and 7up. When I hit college, I graduated to screwdrivers and white russians. By the time I hit my first full-time job, I was downing scotch and whiskey.

And I looooooved the taste, the smell, the camaraderie, the bar hopping...

But my body didn't love it; I had blackouts on a regular basis.

Rhonda Britten's 35th soberity birthday May 4th

My boyfriends didn't love it; who likes a drunk girlfriend they have to carry out out to the car while she's slipping and sliding everywhere?

My self-esteem and self-respect begged me to stop, but I didn't see how I could. I had so many things to deny, avoid, and ignore, and drinking was the one sure distraction I could count on to keep from remembering my parents deaths, my failure to save my mother, my failed grades in college, and on it goes.

Drinking helped me forget.

But drinking also kept me spinning my wheels; I couldn't grow up, heal, and mature downing a fifth of vodka almost daily.

My friend, Bill, hinted that I may have a drinking problem.

My 3 DUIs should have been enough proof for me to quit.

But it took a conversation with Bill that freaked me out to finally put down the bottle for good. And some good ol' fashion accountability.

May 4th, 2023, is my 35th sobriety birthday. In honor of that, I want to share a story with you that I haven't shared before. This is HOW I finally quit drinking. I hope that it can inspire you to tackle your own addiction, whether that's a substance, complaining, sweets, or TikTok.

After the story below, I'll share how you can overcome your own addictions—the ones that keep you sidetracked from moving forward.

Glass of whiskey and car keys on wooden table.

I didn't want to quit. No part of me wanted to leave behind the elixir that had been my friend for the past decade.

  • The friend who kept me safe from nightmares (because I blacked out).
  • The friend who kept me in the dark about how I was the one ruining my life (God forbid, I have to face alllll my mis-takes).
  • The friend who let me blame "Life is not fair" for most of my problems. (I had a hard life, didn't I? Perfect excuse, isn't it?)

And I didn't discriminate between friends. I liked them all.

  • My friend vodka was clear and light and didn't have a problem being mixed with any and all juices.
  • My friend Merlot was rich and dark but wanted to be alone with me.
  • My friend white russian was creamy goodness and was naturally stacked with three sets of yummies.

I had an inkling I had a problem, but instead of looking for evidence that I did, I looked for evidence that I didn't.

  • I wasn't drunk alllll the time.
  • I never went out planning to get drunk. Ever.
  • How else would I be confident in social situations?

It wasn't until three friends dumped me and never talked to me again because of my antics while drinking that I seriously questioned the collateral damage of my drinking.

Then, my friend Bill, who worked alongside me at the restaurant where I waitressed five days a week, told me, in a flat-faced, deadpan tone,

"It's too bad, Rhonda, you're so talented."

"What are you talking about, Bill?"

I hoped the talented part of that comment was my acting ability.

"You're such a good actress. You're going to be famous, Rhonda, and..."

"And what, Bill?"

"It's such a bummer you're going to lose it all," he said as he wiped down the brass bartop with a fresh white bar towel while we waited for our tables to be filled with eager lunch goers.

"What do you mean I'm going to lose it all? I'm not gonna lose anything, Bill."

"No one works harder than you," I nodded at the statement. "But the more acting work you book, the more pressure you'll feel, which means you'll need to drink more to cope. And that's how you're going to lose it all."

And he went on...

"Drinking only gets worse, never better. It's a progressive disease. That's why you'll lose it all when you reach the pinnacle of your career."

Bill had drawn the curtain on a future Emmy, and I wasn't even in the union yet.

I didn't want Bill to be right about me. I didn't want to be an alcoholic like my Uncle Pauly or drink in secret the way my Dad did. I wanted to be a star like Lucille Ball and Carol Burnett, the two comedy queens I watched every week like clockwork on our black and white television set.

When I looked back at Bill, he was looking right through me, or so it seemed. I felt naked, foolish even. Was I lying to myself about my drinking? I quickly brushed that thought away and instead blurted out, without thinking it through, "I'm going to prove to you, Bill, that I don't have a drinking problem."

I went to the kitchen to pick up an appetizer for a four-top. It took me a few minutes to quickly devise a sure-proof plan that would allow me to indulge in my favorite spirits yet affirm I was no alcoholic.

After I dropped the steaming bucket of clams and checked to see if the couple needed anything else, I made my way back to Bill and announced, "For thirty days, I will only have one drink a day. If I have a 'problem,' I won't be able to do it, right Bill?"

"I think the real test would be putting away the bottle for all thirty days, Rhonda," he replied as the chardonnay he was pouring hit the bottom of the glass.

"Pshaw. Take it or leave it. One drink a day. Thirty days will prove I can handle my liquor, and alcoholics can't stop with one, right Bill?" I said as I eyed the fresh mojito he was now concocting.

"Well, it's your test, Rhonda."

I indeed won that round, I thought. How clever of me to create a test I could win. Throughout the day, I gauged my desire for my customers' drinks. Gin and tonic? Nope. Screwdriver? Nope. Scotch on the rocks? Nope. Oh, this is going to be easy.

But by the time I hit day ten of my self-imposed thirty-day challenge, I was pulling out my hair, poking at my cuticles, and tapping my foot with increased frequency.

By day twenty, I had become obsessed with optimizing my one drink; what was the best time to make the most of the eight to twelve-ounce libation I could have in that twenty-four stint?

If I had it at brunch, I couldn't have it at happy hour. If I had it at happy hour, I couldn't have it at dinner. If I had it at dinner, I couldn't have it after dinner. If I had it after dinner, I couldn't have it before bed.

I had ten days to go, and my cocky, self-assured self that created this stupid test was melting like a snow castle in July.

When I hit day 30, I could no longer dismiss all the clear indications that I had a problem. My quest for alcohol ran my life. My every-present obsessive thoughts about how to get a drink occupied too many moments of those thirty days. I had to face I’d been lying about my much-needed crutch just to make it through the days. Because without a glass in my hand, who was I? How would I cope? I was petrified about what would happen next.

It took me a few days and a few stern conversations with myself to embrace that if I didn’t quit drinking, my life would never get better. There was no denying now my desire for alcohol owned me. (Replace the word alcohol with sugar, complaining, coffee, beating yourself up—whatever your “addiction” is.)

After the third rough night fighting with my thoughts, I called Bill and confessed I had to choose between me or alcohol. The line is the sand was crystal clear now. He drove over and took me to my first meeting. It was humbling (and humiliating) and, weirdly, freeing to admit, “I’m an alcoholic.”

Just because I told myself I wasn’t going to drink anymore didn’t mean my body didn’t crave it or my mind wasn’t thinking about it day after day. But eventually, with help, I found a new path, a path of sobriety.

Giving up alcohol is the most important decision I've ever made. Because without my sobriety, you and I wouldn’t be together now. I'm sure I'd be drunk somewhere complaining that life isn't fair. Instead, I get to be me.

And that's the very short version of how I quit drinking and now have 35 years of sobriety under my belt.

What did it take for me to quit?

  1. Accountability to myself and to Bill
  2. A plan that I could commit to
  3. A willingness to admit what I was discovering about myself
  4. And owning the journey by writing it down

I don't know what your "addictions" are...but you do. They are the things you beat yourself up about. Scrolling through TikTok, binging television episodes, indulging in sugar or potato chips or alcohol.

You know what you're "addicted" to...

Just like I couldn't stop drinking by myself, most folks are like me...they need someone to hold them accountable and, at the same time, be gentle and kind. And that's exactly what the Fearless Living community is here for.

PS...Check out my 35th Sobriety Birthday Chip. Happy Sober Birthday to me!

35th Sobriety Birthday Chip

From Fear to Freedom
From Fear to Freedom GUIDE topaz enhance sharpen hiresDOWNLOAD GUIDE

Growing up, I had many big dreams, yet one thing kept sidetracking me.

(Take a second and write down 1 to 5 things that keep you sidetracked from moving forward. Please do it now. You'll need them for the exercise later. When you've written them down, keep reading...)

What sidetracked me for a decade?

Drinking.

I looooved to drink. I grew up in the middle of nowhere, so drinking a glass of chardonnay and sniffing the cork made me feel sophisticated and grown-up.

My first drink was at the senior tailgating party when I was 17. It was lime vodka and 7up. When I hit college, I graduated to screwdrivers and white russians. By the time I hit my first full-time job, I was downing scotch and whiskey.

And I looooooved the taste, the smell, the camaraderie, the bar hopping...

But my body didn't love it; I had blackouts on a regular basis.

Rhonda Britten's 35th soberity birthday May 4th

My boyfriends didn't love it; who likes a drunk girlfriend they have to carry out out to the car while she's slipping and sliding everywhere?

My self-esteem and self-respect begged me to stop, but I didn't see how I could. I had so many things to deny, avoid, and ignore, and drinking was the one sure distraction I could count on to keep from remembering my parents deaths, my failure to save my mother, my failed grades in college, and on it goes.

Drinking helped me forget.

But drinking also kept me spinning my wheels; I couldn't grow up, heal, and mature downing a fifth of vodka almost daily.

My friend, Bill, hinted that I may have a drinking problem.

My 3 DUIs should have been enough proof for me to quit.

But it took a conversation with Bill that freaked me out to finally put down the bottle for good. And some good ol' fashion accountability.

May 4th, 2023, is my 35th sobriety birthday. In honor of that, I want to share a story with you that I haven't shared before. This is HOW I finally quit drinking. I hope that it can inspire you to tackle your own addiction, whether that's a substance, complaining, sweets, or TikTok.

After the story below, I'll share how you can overcome your own addictions—the ones that keep you sidetracked from moving forward.

Glass of whiskey and car keys on wooden table.

I didn't want to quit. No part of me wanted to leave behind the elixir that had been my friend for the past decade.

  • The friend who kept me safe from nightmares (because I blacked out).
  • The friend who kept me in the dark about how I was the one ruining my life (God forbid, I have to face alllll my mis-takes).
  • The friend who let me blame "Life is not fair" for most of my problems. (I had a hard life, didn't I? Perfect excuse, isn't it?)

And I didn't discriminate between friends. I liked them all.

  • My friend vodka was clear and light and didn't have a problem being mixed with any and all juices.
  • My friend Merlot was rich and dark but wanted to be alone with me.
  • My friend white russian was creamy goodness and was naturally stacked with three sets of yummies.

I had an inkling I had a problem, but instead of looking for evidence that I did, I looked for evidence that I didn't.

  • I wasn't drunk alllll the time.
  • I never went out planning to get drunk. Ever.
  • How else would I be confident in social situations?

It wasn't until three friends dumped me and never talked to me again because of my antics while drinking that I seriously questioned the collateral damage of my drinking.

Then, my friend Bill, who worked alongside me at the restaurant where I waitressed five days a week, told me, in a flat-faced, deadpan tone,

"It's too bad, Rhonda, you're so talented."

"What are you talking about, Bill?"

I hoped the talented part of that comment was my acting ability.

"You're such a good actress. You're going to be famous, Rhonda, and..."

"And what, Bill?"

"It's such a bummer you're going to lose it all," he said as he wiped down the brass bartop with a fresh white bar towel while we waited for our tables to be filled with eager lunch goers.

"What do you mean I'm going to lose it all? I'm not gonna lose anything, Bill."

"No one works harder than you," I nodded at the statement. "But the more acting work you book, the more pressure you'll feel, which means you'll need to drink more to cope. And that's how you're going to lose it all."

And he went on...

"Drinking only gets worse, never better. It's a progressive disease. That's why you'll lose it all when you reach the pinnacle of your career."

Bill had drawn the curtain on a future Emmy, and I wasn't even in the union yet.

I didn't want Bill to be right about me. I didn't want to be an alcoholic like my Uncle Pauly or drink in secret the way my Dad did. I wanted to be a star like Lucille Ball and Carol Burnett, the two comedy queens I watched every week like clockwork on our black and white television set.

When I looked back at Bill, he was looking right through me, or so it seemed. I felt naked, foolish even. Was I lying to myself about my drinking? I quickly brushed that thought away and instead blurted out, without thinking it through, "I'm going to prove to you, Bill, that I don't have a drinking problem."

I went to the kitchen to pick up an appetizer for a four-top. It took me a few minutes to quickly devise a sure-proof plan that would allow me to indulge in my favorite spirits yet affirm I was no alcoholic.

After I dropped the steaming bucket of clams and checked to see if the couple needed anything else, I made my way back to Bill and announced, "For thirty days, I will only have one drink a day. If I have a 'problem,' I won't be able to do it, right Bill?"

"I think the real test would be putting away the bottle for all thirty days, Rhonda," he replied as the chardonnay he was pouring hit the bottom of the glass.

"Pshaw. Take it or leave it. One drink a day. Thirty days will prove I can handle my liquor, and alcoholics can't stop with one, right Bill?" I said as I eyed the fresh mojito he was now concocting.

"Well, it's your test, Rhonda."

I indeed won that round, I thought. How clever of me to create a test I could win. Throughout the day, I gauged my desire for my customers' drinks. Gin and tonic? Nope. Screwdriver? Nope. Scotch on the rocks? Nope. Oh, this is going to be easy.

But by the time I hit day ten of my self-imposed thirty-day challenge, I was pulling out my hair, poking at my cuticles, and tapping my foot with increased frequency.

By day twenty, I had become obsessed with optimizing my one drink; what was the best time to make the most of the eight to twelve-ounce libation I could have in that twenty-four stint?

If I had it at brunch, I couldn't have it at happy hour. If I had it at happy hour, I couldn't have it at dinner. If I had it at dinner, I couldn't have it after dinner. If I had it after dinner, I couldn't have it before bed.

I had ten days to go, and my cocky, self-assured self that created this stupid test was melting like a snow castle in July.

When I hit day 30, I could no longer dismiss all the clear indications that I had a problem. My quest for alcohol ran my life. My every-present obsessive thoughts about how to get a drink occupied too many moments of those thirty days. I had to face I’d been lying about my much-needed crutch just to make it through the days. Because without a glass in my hand, who was I? How would I cope? I was petrified about what would happen next.

It took me a few days and a few stern conversations with myself to embrace that if I didn’t quit drinking, my life would never get better. There was no denying now my desire for alcohol owned me. (Replace the word alcohol with sugar, complaining, coffee, beating yourself up—whatever your “addiction” is.)

After the third rough night fighting with my thoughts, I called Bill and confessed I had to choose between me or alcohol. The line is the sand was crystal clear now. He drove over and took me to my first meeting. It was humbling (and humiliating) and, weirdly, freeing to admit, “I’m an alcoholic.”

Just because I told myself I wasn’t going to drink anymore didn’t mean my body didn’t crave it or my mind wasn’t thinking about it day after day. But eventually, with help, I found a new path, a path of sobriety.

Giving up alcohol is the most important decision I've ever made. Because without my sobriety, you and I wouldn’t be together now. I'm sure I'd be drunk somewhere complaining that life isn't fair. Instead, I get to be me.

And that's the very short version of how I quit drinking and now have 35 years of sobriety under my belt.

What did it take for me to quit?

  1. Accountability to myself and to Bill
  2. A plan that I could commit to
  3. A willingness to admit what I was discovering about myself
  4. And owning the journey by writing it down

I don't know what your "addictions" are...but you do. They are the things you beat yourself up about. Scrolling through TikTok, binging television episodes, indulging in sugar or potato chips or alcohol.

You know what you're "addicted" to...

Just like I couldn't stop drinking by myself, most folks are like me...they need someone to hold them accountable and, at the same time, be gentle and kind. And that's exactly what the Fearless Living community is here for.

PS...Check out my 35th Sobriety Birthday Chip. Happy Sober Birthday to me!

35th Sobriety Birthday Chip

You May Also Like

The Reminder You Need Every Day: Why No One Can Compare to You

You need to hear this! No matter where you are in your fearless journey, you will greatly benefit from this message from Rhonda.

Read Post

5 Myths About Self-Forgiveness

In this post, I continue to dissect self-forgiveness, focusing on common myths that prevent people from truly being able to forgive themselves.

Read Post

How to Be a Better Partner in 7 Steps

Could your relationship use a tune-up? Let’s dig into what makes a good life partner and how you can become a better partner to improve your relationship.

Read Post
1 2 3 23
magnifier