Picture this: September 2012. Onscreen, my life looks like an afterschool special. I am 30 years old. I leave corporate America in Boston to pursue my dream career as a life coach in New York City. I find my ideal single bedroom apartment on the Upper West Side. I’m swiping for love. I look fit and happy. Things couldn’t be better…at least on the outside.
Problem was, IT was a lie. Scratch that, I was a liar.
Inside, my mind was a disaster. Picture Bravo, a late night spot. I constantly berated myself. The script ran something like this:
- Why did you do that, Alyssa?
- You’re not moving fast enough, Alyssa.
- Fill-in-the-Blank is passing you by.
- You should have done it differently, Alyssa.
- What’s wrong with you, Alyssa?!
Yikes! I kept a scorecard in my mind and, according to me, I was never measuring up. How did I deal with it, you wonder? I found solace in my vices: undereating, over-working out, spending money, and drinking alcohol. Alcohol was my favorite one.
Now, at this point you might rightfully be thinking “wait; you’re a vice-ridden coach? How did you get away with that?!”
Here’s how: on paper and based on what came out of my mouth, I looked like I was managing my cavity prone areas. For most areas in my life, I’m a goody two shoes, so no one would ever really doubt me. I made promises to myself and to my coach about food, sugar, exercise, working hours, and yes, booze. When I broke a promise, I paid my consequence. I was so honest about my dishonesty, I was impressive. The end.
But it wasn’t the end or even the beginning of the whole truth. Here’s the slippery slope I slalomed:
The truth is that I didn’t want anyone to know what I was really thinking. If you stuck a ticker tape in my mind, you would have heard that I was wildly obsessed with these areas. I was constantly counting calories, managing the number on the scale, and plotting how to cram two workouts into my day. My mind was busiest and most cunning about my plans for alcohol. There were times, unbeknownst to anyone, I designed my entire week around my drinks. If I planned to drink on the weekend, it meant eating “cleanly” all week, working non-stop, all to “earn” my weekend alcohol allotment. I would often, to myself, over-dramatize my week and get myself into such a mood that in turn, I “deserved” those very drinks my mind was plotting. Sometimes I kept my promises, and sometimes I broke my promise and binge drank, only to pay my consequences, and start the whole process again on Monday.
I tried many variations of alcohol promises over the years (2 drinks max, 4 drinks max, water in between drinks, etc.) The only promise that consistently worked was the one that I least liked – no drinks. I went through several periods of long sobriety and after each one victoriously drank, celebrating the end of sobriety and proving to myself and more importantly to others (see: snakey) that I could live without alcohol.
I created enough diversions by working hard, staying crazy busy, and keeping most of my ever-changing promises that, no matter how wise the people in my life were, no one, not even my own coach, could see that my self-importance, guilt, and my busyness were actually diversions and tactics to drink. Because no one knew the ticker tape I was hiding in my mind and as I was unwilling to tell anyone about it, I was stuck alone with my dark thoughts. And given that our thoughts create our reality…create they did. Eventually, the pressure of managing all of my lies became unmanageable and my results started to match my personal mayhem; clients complained and colleagues raised concerns.
In the summer of 2015, my life imploded.
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I got fired. I lost my dream apartment. I found myself in almost 10K of debt. Outwardly, I acted confused, outraged, shocked. Inside, I wasn’t even slightly surprised. “The jig is up,” I thought, “I can’t fake it anymore.”
Enter Lauren Zander.
Lauren could see there was a disconnect between what I was saying to everyone and what was actually happening, my results. You see, we humans are definitely tricksters, but we’re not that tricky. She asked me to write down all of my lies and there, in black and white, was the truth I could no longer ignore: I lied about alcohol.
Here is a mere snippet from my MUCH longer, liquor-based lie list:
- One night, I went out drinking, blacked out and needed to be taken home in a cab by a friend
- Another time, I missed my flight home from Italy because I went out the night before, drank, and slept through my alarm clock the next day
- On my birthday, I blew my 2 drink/max drinking promise and had 4 drinks (2 margaritas and 2 glasses of wine) before falling asleep at a Broadway show, walking home in a black out, and waking up with a pound bag of peanut M&Ms next to my bed.
You get the idea.
Now, for those of you that leave half full glasses of wine in tact, you might not relate, but replace alcohol with the vice you use to “unwind” from your day (and thoughts!): sex, gambling, social media, food, porn.
Fill in YOUR blank.
“You’re an alcoholic,” Lauren said. “I am so NOT an alcoholic,” said my disease. I had justification for all of it of course, but the truth is, I lied for alcohol, as only an alcoholic could do. Lauren gave me an ultimatum to clean up my life. One, I wisely took.
Here are the steps I took:
- I gave up drinking and went into a 12-step program
- I made and, better yet, KEPT promises around food and money that honor my dreams
- I logged (and still do) my negative inner dialogue and lies nightly! And report anything I don’t want to say to my coach
- I made amends to anyone I hurt or lied to and continue to clean house on a daily basis
Today my life inside and out is an afterschool special. Onscreen, it’s had a face-lift; an affordable AND better apartment, and a very full roster of clients. I’m leading workshops, dating, and living out my dream as a coach.
Take a look. What vice is talking to YOU? No matter how many rounds it takes, do your higher self a favor, hire a vice squad. You can get yourself HONESTLY happy, too. I promise.
P.S. Inner.U is a 12 session online course that gives you the tools to hack into your own life, hone your dreams, and have every last thing you want in the areas that matter most to you: CAREER, MONEY, LOVE, TIME, FAMILY, and HEALTH. Do this life thing better from wherever, whenever.