Ten years ago my band, friends, family and fans boarded a bus for our debut gig at the oldest live music venue in New York City, The Bitter End. We’d recently landed a residency at Boston's House of Blues on Lansdowne Street as their “house band”, were booked solid with a 11 day run and a full season of good bar gigs. We’d been selling out local venues and our original “Sweet Addiction” had airplay. We had stars in our eyes. I’d secretly made a pact with myself that I wouldn’t drink the glasses of wine that my wonderful fans would line the stage with while I performed this time, but I did. I planned to keep a clear head and my best voice for this important show, but I didn’t. Now don’t get me wrong, we rocked that stage! It was a GREAT night and we were invited back as soon as our set was over. But it was on that bus ride home that I first spoke out loud my gnawing suspicion. While everyone around me was basking in the glow of a big success and feeling the prospects of a great adventure on our horizon, I laid my head on my Mother’s shoulder and whispered “Mom, I think I might have a problem.” She put her arm around me, leaned in and quietly responded “I know.”
Anyone who has known me for any length of time knows that I love a good party. I’m the first to arrive and the last to leave! I love socializing! Restaurants, lounges, & local live music have always been my 2nd homes. I eventually had to walk away from music as a business because I couldn’t handle the lifestyle. Try as I did, I couldn’t separate the business from the afterparty. I remember catching my image in my mirror one morning and being stopped dead in my tracks. I turned to face myself and heard my own hushed voice say “I don’t even recognize you.” In that moment I caught a glimpse of where the path would lead if I didn’t change my gait-and I couldn’t change my gait- so I got off the path and rejoined the road my three beautiful children and my supportive hubby were travelling. It was a hard decision. My bandmates were family too, and they were committed to me and my music and they believed in us. My friends and fans had invested so much love and support into a shared vision and dream….and I cancelled everything.
I explained truthfully that I was leaving music for my family; but the deeper truth was that it wasn’t the time I was spending on my career that was the problem, it was the time I was spending drinking.
“If you lived in Europe you’d never even question how much you drink!”
“You never seem drunk to me.”
“you really don’t drink any more than most people do”
“You’re honestly fine!”
That’s what anyone to whom I confided my concerns would say. And they were mostly right. But my inner knowing felt differently. As the years past I tried the advice of friends: drink a glass of water in between every glass of wine, don’t drink on weekdays, don’t drink more than 3, 24 hours in between buzzes…you name it, I tried to do it.
2018 was the year it really tightened it's grip, after I'd inadvertently gained more control. I’d been on a super healthy food and exercise kick that year and had lost something like 60lbs, and had cut way back on alcohol. When I hit my goal weight I went right back to my old fun ways but my new healthy body rebelled against me this time. By the fall I was drinking a bottle almost nightly, sometimes more-and that was just on the nights I was home! I had a few, hmmm-“incidents”, my sleep was interrupted with anxiety attacks that would wake me up and keep me up and crawling out of my skin for hours, my weight was climbing back up, and my awesome supportive family was beginning to lose their patience with me. I was so sick of replaying the night before every morning, checking in with people to make sure no one was upset with me, sick of the self-loathing and guilt that greeted me with the rise of the sun every day. In January 2019 I had a very scary incident that spawned what’s called “instantaneous sobriety”. It was a miracle and I felt very literally as if I suddenly entered a completely different life experience. These types of revelations are too beautiful and all encompassing for description, and I’ve been blessed to have them several times in my life.
It was this incident, an answered prayer, that allowed me to finally start producing what I’ve always known to be my Divine Purpose, my reason for coming here this time. The work just poured out of me, effortlessly, as if someone let down the draw bridge. I WAS the flow of life energy.
For two blissful months.
We’re so funny. Whenever we do something to feel better, once we feel better we stop doing the thing that made us feel better.
Ugh, this whole being human thing!
When I thought it was safe, I put STRICT rules in place to keep myself in check:
I couldn’t drink in bars. I couldn’t drink with more than ONE other person. I couldn’t drink before 7pm or after 9pm. I could only drink every 28 days-SO MUCH MENTAL WORK! And almost immediately 28 days became 21, then 14 and yep, you guessed it-by summer the corks were popping and the red was flowing every single day. I drank so often and so much that a bottle of wine often didn’t even produce a buzz so I was pre-gaming before social events, leaving the house with wine in a to-go cup, drinking half a bottle just to get to normal, then drinking martinis’ to get “fun”.
God, I was getting SO sick of this.
As these past holidays approached I was filled with dread. I was so fucking tired of this battle in my head! I was worried about my health, what in the world must my liver look like?? I skipped a holiday event because I was afraid I’d make a fool of myself. Sometimes I wondered if I was subconsciously punishing myself, if there was something inside of me that wanted me to be sick, to fail.
All this time I was a VERY spiritual being, knowing full well the TRUTH of who I am, and understanding that I’m having a human experience. I’ve been at this a long time. The divide between my Inner Self and my “other self” was becoming unbearable. It was if there were two different, and totally authentic expressions of myself fully realized that were playing out on my reality screen at the same time and because they vibrationally oppose each other, I knew they could not exist simultaneously much longer. I was SO aware, spiritually growing every day intentionally. My True Inner Self was coming into the world and becoming more and more “who I was being” while at the same time I was feeding the self-destructive self who in turn was becoming more and more powerful over my life. At one point I felt that they were equal in their strength and they were in a battle to win. I was at a crossroad. I knew with certainty that very soon if I didn't choose on purpose, i wouldnt have a choice to make; but for now the choice remained: I would either have to let that expression of me go for good, or give up on ever fully becoming my truth, the Divine expressing through me, as me.
In November a friend of mine casually mentioned on a FB post that she’d been alcohol free for 60 days.
She’d also casually mentioned to me in the past (very much like I’d casually mentioned to my friends in the past) that she was trying to “cut down”, so I intuitively understood that 60 days was a BIG deal. I reached out to her privately and she told me about a book and a program that shifted the way she thought about alcohol and that she no longer felt the same way about it as she used to. The name of the book was “This Naked Mind” by Annie Grace.
I found it sitting on my bookshelf the very next morning! 😉
My December trip to Miss America was the last straw for me. I’d only been to the pageant once since I competed as Miss Massachusetts in 1993 and I was SO excited about this “vacation” with so many dear friends who are more like family, and I was determined to look my best and feel my best and have the best time!
For weeks I prepared! New dresses, new makeup, new haircut, and I carefully planned my drinking approach. I promised myself I wouldn’t party the first night we arrived because I really wanted to look my best for the pageant the next night. I’d party after the pageant-sigh, and like a broken record, at the first opportunity, automatically ordered a drink.
I woke up the next morning at dawn and immediately burst into tears. Hysterically, I sobbed uncontrollably for hours. I cried like I’ve never cried before. I’ve never been so disappointed in myself. I realized that my personal integrity was completely compromised and I couldn’t trust myself anymore.
I surrendered in that moment and knew that I had absolutely no control.
Beautifully, the Universe did this in a full circle just to add an exclamation point to the revelation: The Miss America Pageant changed my course and saved me from a life of self-destruction when I discovered it in 1989, and upon returning to it in 2019, it saved me again.
I came home and dug into “This Naked Mind”. My thinking shifted-BIGTIME-just as it had for my friend.
In another post soon I will share some of the information I learned that really rocked my world and woke me up, the steps and exercises that absolutely changed my way of thinking and made my transition on January 1st one of total ease and grace. Today, I just wanted to share some of my story and celebrate 100 days that took me 10 years to achieve. For now, though, if my story feels a lot like your story, get Annie’s book.
I do not struggle anymore, and I haven’t since I took my last sip on New Year’s Eve.
Happy 100 Days to Me!
I’m SO much better over here.
My Inner True Self won. Thank God (and do I ever).
***Elle Gallo is a Personal Transformation Life Coach & Spiritual Teacher with an emphasis on The Laws of The Universe and The Curriculum for Conscious Living, and a Reiki Master & Sound/Energy Practitioner specializing in Chakra Medicine. Her personal purpose to become her Godself on earth in this lifetime and her mission is to help others awaken to their truth, and create & live an inner and outer life they are in love with.. Learn more at www.ellegallo.com***