Emotional Binge Eating & Drinking
April 21, 2020 - Episode #15 - Emotional Binge Eating & Drinking - How Virginia Kerr turned her tragic story around
Emotional eating, emotional drinking. Do you have a tendency to turn to food or alcohol when you are stressed out, anxious, overwhelmed, upset, worried, fearful or feeling like your world is spinning out of control?? Today’s guest, former TV news anchor Virginia Kerr, will both shock and then inspire you with her journey. From an early age, of struggling with binge eating and drinking as a way of coping with her family trauma, her personal insecurities and her emotions to finally facing her harsh reality and overcoming her addictions. Her experience encourages us all to take a closer look and evaluate how we cope with pain and deal with stress in our lives. Insecurity, fear, pain, emotional eating and drinking. This conversation is as real and raw as it gets today on Healthy Harmony.
If this episode hits a little too close to home, I want to encourage you to seek support and help! So many struggle with emotional eating and drinking as a way of coping with stress. Binge drinking and binge eating becomes a way to numb the pain. Get the help you need. Talk to a trusted friend. Check out the resources available on the aa.org (Alcoholics Anonymous). And if you are looking for a Health Coach that is more like a friend who has got your back and will help you address emotional eating, please consider the coaching options at https://www.inspirehealthyharmony.com/coaching.html#/
Today's Guest: Virginia Kerr
Virginia is a speaker and video coach. She and I met in college where we were Phi Mu sorority sisters. Virginia was in TV news for over 20 years before moving into network marketing where she replaced her income. She is now a highly sought after video coach. Connect with her on Instagram and Tik Tok @thisisvirginakerr
I'm Jennifer Pickett, your host, your health coach and your friend. If you are done with feeling tired and uninspired. Frustrated because your health and your life feels out of control. Defeated from the diet culture. Resentful from the unrealistic expectations. If you are limited on time, resources and overwhelmed with an already too full schedule; then you have come to the right place!
As a Dietitian turned Functional Medicine Health Coach, I provide women with a strategic framework to transform their health….body, mind and soul! Are you ready for something different? Armor up, warrior!! Your health and happiness is on the line. It’s time to live confidently in intentional harmony! Check out www.inspirehealthyharmony.com.
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April 21, 2020 - Episode #15 - Emotional Binge Eating & Drinking - How Virginia Kerr turned her tragic story around
Insecurity, fear and pain leading to binge eating and binge drinking. This conversation is as real and raw as it gets. Today on Healthy Harmony. Welcome to Healthy Harmony where we help you clarify and discuss health tactics to harmonize your life. I'm your host and health coach, Jennifer Pickett. And today my guest is Virginia Kerr. Virginia is a speaker and a video coach. She and I met in college while we were Phi Mu Sorority Sisters. Then she went on to graduate at the University of Alabama. Virginia was in TV News for over 20 years before moving into network marketing where she replaced her income. Her story is a successful story that it is one of binge eating and binge drinking. So, Virginia, thank you so much for joining me today and just kinda opening up and being so real with this. How are you?
I'm just so good. I'm so excited to be on this with you.
Girl, it's been a long time. It's been a long time.
And it's gonna be so crazy because I've never talked about my story with someone who was like, with me during it all but didn't know. You know what I mean?
Oh, wow, okay, okay. Yeah, so, I mean, we met in college, you know, we were in the same pledge class for our sorority. And at the University of Montevallo, such a great university. But, yeah, so, I'm interested to kinda hear 'cause I was clueless, you know. And I think we all had our own struggles but your story is a very powerful one. So, I want us to get just right into it. You said that you started binge eating at a really young age. What prompted that?
Well, I remember it was kind of set up, I guess, when I was ballet class, when I was 13 and I remember our instructor telling us, you know, we needed to lose weight. And I had hips but I was not, by any means, overweight. So, that kinda planted a seed. And I was, you know, very aware of what I was eating and I was restricting big time. But when I look back, please know I did not put two and two together until many, many years later, when I look back it was, probably less than a year after that, that my father was diagnosed with bipolar and he had his first manic episode. And manic episode for him, meant, he was spending crazy amounts of money behind my mother's back, just up and down emotional rollercoaster and it was very confusing and obviously devastating. And I didn't know what to do with it. And at my school, I was already trying to appear to be perfect and fit in, like any 13/14 year old would. But now I had this.
Yeah, now I had this going on. And so, that's when I remember it really flaring up. And so, I would come home and I would, literally, we had a walk-in pantry, I would turn the light on in the pantry and sit on the floor and just gorge on chocolate candy bars. And then however many I ate, I would count up the calories and then I would go run, trying to run off all the calories. So, that's when it first started.
Oh goodness, so you were intuitive enough to go, "Wait a minute, I know this is not good, "but I'm gonna get rid of this. "I'm going to burn off all these calories." So, you would calculate all of that as a 13 year old.
Oh, yeah. And I tried to throw up but it just never would work. I even tried some awful concoction that I heard of somewhere and thought it would induce, you know, me vomiting, it didn't work. So, exercise was how I tried to get rid of it.
So, do you feel like you really just turned to binge eating to kinda numb the pain that you were experiencing? What was going on at home at the time with your dad and how did that progress?
Absolutely, so I look back. And again, I didn't figure this out until I was, not too long ago, I mean probably in the last 10 years. But, at home, my mom worked and we didn't discuss what was going on with him, other than her yelling at him and me hearing that. I mean, it was just, it was a very chaotic lifestyle and family dynamic. And so, we just, as the oldest, I just wanted to suck it up and keep going and, again, try to maintain my perfect image at school and then make sure I was making good grades. And so, we didn’t discuss anything and I certainly wasn't telling anybody about it. So, I was basically burying my feelings with food.
Oh wow, and I can certainly relate to that. Just kinda wearing a mask. We like to put on a great front. I was actually telling my daughter the other day that growing up and even now, I'm really good at being fake. Just kinda putting on that fake smile and in certain situations, knowing what to do and knowing what to say. And I'm kinda coming to that realization of, "Wow, this goes way back." So, you're looking back and seeing that, you were doing these destructive behaviors, kinda behind the scenes but you desperately wanted to look like you had it all together, on the surface. So, how long did this pattern of binge eating continue.
Oh, for over 20 years, definitely.
Yeah, and it would go, I mean, there were seasons that maybe I would distract myself enough, or that's when, I started drinking at the age of 14. And so, maybe I would try to starve all day and then I would go out drinking that night. And so, that's how I was avoiding and numbing the pain. And so, sometimes I would lose a little bit of weight. I remember I gained a ton of weight and then my freshman year, I grew like three or four inches, so that kinda stretched me out. I mean, I was obsessed with food, every single day of my life. It was all consuming. And it went on until my early 30s.
Oh my goodness. So, what was it, during your college years, you said that you kinda had a growth spurt and then kinda evened out. But what did you start to see about yourself as you started to move into those college years?
Well, in my college years, you know, we had the sorority and so, just like at school, I brought all those insecurities, or just like high school, I brought all those insecurities with me and I was comparing myself to everybody else. You know, looking back, I never felt comfortable in large, social situations. And so, that's when my drinking really escalated. And I don't even know if you're aware of this, I would be shocked if you weren't, but I got in trouble.
Certainly, yeah. Well, I don't remember it. If I was aware of it, I certainly don't remember.
Yeah, I got in trouble for my drinking when we were in college. My eating, I can remember this. So, you know at our school, like, most people went home on the weekends, well, I had a job and so I would stay, I had three roommates, but I would stay back and I would be the only one in the apartment. And I can remember going to get Duncan Hines, tubs of icing and I would eat the entire thing in one sitting, sometimes two. So, I was binge eating in, always, behind closed doors. The only person who knew about my binge eating was my sister and she was doing the same thing. So, we literally were binge eating together. She's younger than me.
Oh my goodness.
Yeah, so, the drinking started to pick up in college but in college everybody's binge drinking, at least it seems.
It's just a way of life, you know. A very destructive way of life but it's certainly a way of life.
Right, and the difference with me was, that was really small school and so, when I got in trouble, 'cause I would blackout and do things that I don't even remember doing. Like, I remember I got called in front of our sorority standards because I like, kissed one of our sorority sisters boyfriends, in the middle of a bar, I didn't even remember doing it. And so, looking back, what my excuse was, is that, "Well, y'all are just a lame, "small little art school, like, "at a real party school, I'd be like everybody else." And so, eventually, I went to Alabama and I was right, everybody partied.
That's a big, big party school.
But looking back, I was basically battling depression and I was trying to self-medicate is what was going on.
Oh my goodness so tell me this, I've known you for a long time and I think anybody that follows you on social media would look at you and go, "There's no way "she had insecurities, like, she's so outgoing." You said that you felt a little bit insecure in social settings. And I wouldn't have guessed that in a million years. So, is that just something else that you kinda had hidden and you just kinda drank as a way of coping so that you would feel like you were more comfortable and you would fit in?
Absolutely. And now that I don't drink, I realize, I'm not an extrovert. I drink to the point of being an extrovert but I am not one. So, I can handle social settings but I don't like to spend a lot of time with a lot of people. I have to have alone time to fill back up, to recharge, if you will. And I think people see me as outgoing because I am a performer type, I'm a broadcaster, I'm very comfortable in front of the camera, I'd always been like that. But I never felt secure. I never saw me as how other people saw me. But I was a perfectionist. And I was a very high functioning drinker. So, in my later years, towards the end of my drinking career, if you will, I was hitting all the goals, reaching the top of my company, you know. I always put on the perfect face, I got everything done. You know, I was a workaholic, I mean, but that's why my drinking continued to escalate, was because it was a lot of pressure I put on myself. And I was hiding a lot of shame.
Okay, Virginia, I have to ask you, you reference being in the TV News industry, that's a tough industry to get into. So, how difficult was it to get into that industry?
It is difficult and it's a hard industry to be a part of as well, just because you do make so much sacrifice but I became interested in being in television news when I was 11. And then I became obsessed and fixated with it, as I got older, to this point that I would watch every local news program, I would show up anytime a local news anchor was speaking and try to take anything and everything away from them so that I could apply it and figure out how to be them when I grow up. I even went to a broadcast journalism camp when I was in 11th grade.
Yeah, I was obsessed. But to a fault, because I really had convinced myself, looking back, I realize this now, that I thought that once I had achieved my goals of being a broadcast journalist, I would finally find happiness and self-worth. And my first job was in Missoula, Montana and I remember going out there and I thought that I had hit it, because I was no longer binge eating, for the first few weeks, because I was so busy. And I lost weight, immediately. And then, I got stressed out and I found myself doing the same exact thing, you know, isolating myself and binge eating on ice-cream and candy. So, I was still miserable.
Just returning to those old habits.
Yeah, your brain goes with you everywhere you go.
That's a very good way to put that, yes.
Yeah, and so, I was just now an unhappy television anchor, basically. But every time I would get the opportunity to, you know, got to the next market, I told myself, "Oh, this is one, this is gonna be "the job that solves it all." And honestly it just was worse and worse. Because not only was I binge eating and clearly not addressing issues that were going on, I was also addicted to toxic relationships with me. And so, I always had a boyfriend and they never were healthy relationships, ever. And so that just made it worse. But I was addicted to the drama too.
Oh, interesting, okay, so there's so much there that I want us to unpack. So, first of all, it's kind of like that illusive search for happiness. Like, "When I get to this point. "When I break into broadcast journalism, I'll be happy. "When I have this job as a TV News anchor, I'll be happy. "And when I find this man, I'll be happy." But it sounds like you found yourself just really falling back to those very old, harmful habits. And that trauma that you had endured your whole life, that had become a part of you, never really left. So, I wanted you to kind of expand upon, you said that not only were you binge eating to deal with the stress of the industry and the job but also you found yourself really drawn to men that you should not be, just kinda taking part in those very toxic relationships. So, tell me more about that.
Yeah, well, I think that, you know, I was always looking for the dad that I didn't have. But just like we had a chaotic life at home, that's what I used to. There was drama there too. We were either on a big high and everybody was happy or I was waking up to my parents fighting and me, you know, trying to pretend like everything was okay. And that's exactly what I learnt. I learnt to expect that. And I was broken and I was attracting broken people. And, you know, the me now, if I was on the dating scene, wouldn't have dated any of those people. Because I would see clearly that they were not treating me well. And they always were big drinkers, always. So, that just made it worse. You know, 'cause we were not only broken people but we were drunk broken people, so.
Wow, that's a powerful statement. Drunk broken people. And I find it interesting that you didn't even realize you were broken, right?
No, not that I wanna sound like I'm blaming anybody because, you know, your parents only know what they know. And looking back, my parents came from extremely dysfunctional families, like worse than ours, so that's what they learnt. And so, it's past on from generation to generation. But I remember, my mom always acting like, you know, she never had a problem, my dad was the one that always needed the counseling. And she never suggested we go to counseling. So, that just never crossed my mind because I just thought you had to be crazy like my father to need to go to therapy. So, I never questioned anything. I just thought I was literally, I just thought, "You were just never meant to be happy." Like, "You aren't lucky to get that life, "you're just not meant to be happy."
My goodness. You made some powerful statements there. So, you never really sought help, because you didn't think anything was wrong. Only people with extremes, like your dad, needed help. So, you never really got help. Did you ever seek like medical attention? Or was this just part of your norm?
I mean, look, it was just my life. I didn't know anything different. Now, when I was, I believe I was 28, I went to a counselor, so, now I'm at my second TV job in Spokane, Washington, I went to a counselor because of the eating. And I only went to one visit. And I remember him saying, "It sounds like "you're an all or nothing person." Which I was like, "Yeah, I mean, of course "you go all in for anything."
Hello, yeah, that's how it's done. That's the measure of success, right, you have to
go all in, at all cost.
And but again, I didn't think I really needed the help. And I only went to one session, so that was it. When I eventually left a very dysfunctional relationship and got my job in St. Louis, the binge eating and the drinking got worse than ever. You probably would understand what was going on in my body before I would. But I remember one night, I'd gone out drinking, I came home, I drove drunk to the grocery store, got a carton of ice-cream, tons of candy bars and M&M'S, came home, ate it all, passed out. And then, I had a dog, and I lived in a high-rise apartment in St. Louis and I had to, she woke me up at 02:00 a.m. Had to go let her out, and I lived in St. Louis, okay, so just keep in mind. And in like, city limits, like within the city, St. Louis. And so, I'm by myself, 02:00 a.m. walking my dog, and I passed out, not from drinking. I passed out twice on my way, walking back into the apartment building. My dog was licking me to wake me up and keep me up.
Oh my word. Did anybody find you as you were passed out? Or did you, you came to, because your dog was licking you, to wake you up.
Yes. And then I remember there was like a security door before the main door, so there was like a little space in between the two doors, I remember passing out in there and waking up. So, I may have passed out three times. And then the doorman was there. And I don't think he ever saw that I passed out, all I remember was being embarrassed and then I went upstairs. But that really scared me. I remember thinking, am I diabetic now, what have I don't to myself. So, I would go on these crazy fasts. Backing up, the worst binge I can remember, besides that one, was in Spokane, towards the end of my stent there. And I remember I had a falling out with the guy I was dating. And I went home, I didn't keep a lot of food in my house because, you know, I didn't wanna have unhealthy food and I certainly didn't wanna have temptation. So, I remember coming home from this date and being devastated and all I had in my pantry was a box of pancake mix. I proceeded to make pancakes, didn't even let them completely cook, and I ate so many pancakes and they expanded in my stomach, that I stomach was so bloated that my skin was stretching so much. I remember laying on my little foam, Pier1 couch, looking at my bare stomach, thinking it's about to split open. It hurt so bad. And I remember the next day, not eating the entire day and I was still full, it felt like I'd just eaten a Thanksgiving dinner. I mean, that's how much I would intake.
Just the extremes, right. So, did it ever, after, you know, some of these episodes, whether it was, you know, an episode with a boyfriend and a toxic relationship or an episode where you passed out and you come to because your dog is licking you, did it cross you mind, like the next day, "Hey, I've got a problem, something's wrong here, "I've gotta get some help."
Not yet, nope, not then. And then, oh, by the way, I'd already entered another toxic relationship at that point. And it was the end all be all. But no, the voice in my head would just say, "You're disgusting." Like, "What is wrong with you?" I never thought, "You need help." I just thought, "You're a terrible, trashy person." And, "Lord help us, if anybody finds out the truth." That's the kinda stuff I would say to myself.
Anybody looking at you would never assume these things, right. Because on the surface, you were having the time of your life in your career, you're gorgeous and you got this great personality. So, was that all a front?
Absolutely, it was a front. And I don't know if people would agree with you at that point in my life I think there are people at work that probably could see that something was off.
Did they ever say anything to you? Or was it just, this is how she is, and just kinda let it go.
No, I was a very guarded person. So, I think I just kept to myself except for what little I would want to share. And I didn't have a lot of close friends. In fact, I never had a lot of close friends. Even, you know, when we went to school together, I can't remember having a close friend, I always had a boyfriend. And the boyfriends were never great people. And I knew, I would isolate myself with them. And then when I would finally break up with them, and I'd tell the few friends that I had. Then I'd go back to the boy and then I would isolate myself again, because then I was embarrassed that I told them the things I did.
So, yeah, I didn't get help until. So, eventually I married the one that I started dating in St. Louis. And it got so bad that I finally went to counseling. And that's when I started to put two and two together. And she was helping me understand that I didn't have boundaries with my father. And so, I go to counseling with that and I think, "Oh, all of this had to do with my dad "and that's why I was eating like that." And I need to get out of this toxic relationship. And so I did, I ended up getting a divorce. And then I just basically traded in the binge eating to binge drinking. Because I dropped a ton of weight. I did finally get put on anti-depressants and that helped. But the drinking started to pick up, slowly, but it started to pick up. And then, that's when I really started to go down that path of abusing alcohol and eventually drinking up to two bottles a night, of wine.
Oh wow. So what do you think really prompted the binge drinking? And how did that play into the relationship with the boyfriend you had at the time, who was now your husband.
Okay, so I got a divorce then I didn't date for a little, I don't know you'd call that dating, I had a very self-destructive season there for a little bit and then I decided I really needed to get back with God and start really working on myself. And I was in counseling, and then I was setup on a blind date with my husband now. And I didn't want to go out with him because I thought he was really boring. And I think this is really key, because if it wasn't for my councilor at the time, I would have not pursued that relationship. And she just kept saying to me, "You're being exposed "to what respect looks like with a man "and you don't think it's exciting "because there's no drama "and you're addicted to drama. "And you need to let him treat you "the way you deserve to be treated." And she described him as a slow burn. She said, "All of your previous relationships "have been these big balls of fire, "they swept you off your feet "and they were so bright and shiny "that you didn't even see the red flags. "And then as soon as you see how toxic it is “and dysfunctional, you break it off with them "and you're out." And she said that what Jason is, is a slow burn. He treats you with respect. You don't have the ups and downs that you're used to, so give it a chance. And so I did.
That's so interesting.
I know. That she was able to word it in such a way that you were like, it was very insightful and you kinda, you saw that. So, I wanted to ask you, how did it make you feel at that time? When she said, "Hey, you're addicted to drama, "like, that's the problem." Like, what was your thought process when she used those words?
It made total sense. I don't know, if then, I realized the connection between, "Because that's what you were used to when you grew up." But I did make the connection of yeah, all these previous relationships were dramatic, you're right, that makes sense to me. Here's where I had the disconnect. Yes, I understood, I need boundaries with my father. Yes, I understood that I had gotten in a bad pattern of eating and, you know, always being in a toxic relationship. I did not understand that I had a problem with establishing boundaries in every area of my life, with everybody. I still let people mistreat me. And I also took things way too personally. Which codependent people with no boundaries tend to do. And so, I didn't know any of that stuff until I quit drinking this past year, that's when that light bulb came on, and everything changed.
My goodness, okay, so, you referenced that it was just kind of your norm to drink two bottles of wine, a day. So, when was your wake up call, that you realized, hey, this has gotten out of control, I'm binge drinking and this is a lot of wine I'm consuming? What was it, 'cause you had been through so much, what was it, and it's just been recent, that made that light turn on and make you say, I've gotta do something?
Well, the thing about drinking addiction is it's, for many people, it is a very slow progression. So, I remember the first time I drank by myself. Well, I mean, I'm sure I did it before at some point, but when I see the beginning of what happened, it was when my son was born. So, this was nine years ago. And my husband had gone on a hunting trip. And that was the first time I drank by myself, wine. And it was maybe a couple of glasses. And I thought, "Oh, this is nice way "to just take off the edge "and have something to look forward to "at the end of the day."
It's seems so innocent, doesn't it?
Absolutely, yeah. And then it just kept going, kept going. My eating was, not that I was restricting, but I was not binge eating. I wouldn't eat a lot for dinner so, you know, a couple of glasses of wine would hit me pretty hard. But eventually your tolerance, you know, goes up.
It does, it does.
And then I kept adding on, I was also in debt, so, again, binger, I was a binge spender too. So, I was in all this debt too and so that was weighing on my marriage. And that's when I started my network marketing. Well, I don't know how much I should be telling you. But basically the pattern is, when bad things happen to me, I brushed them aside and I did not handle them. So, I had a lot of miscarriages and my miscarriages, I would just toss aside. You know, like, "Oh, it's okay, I can handle it." And I would just keep moving, like I had always done. But I was drinking to numb myself from all of that stuff. And the two glasses of wine a night, nine years ago, that slowly turned into two bottles of wine. And my perfectionism was at an all-time high. I replaced my income, I paid off all of my debt, all these great things I could brag about.
You had a lot of success when you switched from the TV News industry and you said that you made that decision to go into network marketing 'cause you wanted to get out of debt. Is that right?
And then I realized, the potential with it, was tremendous. So, I was like, I wasn't happy with my job and so I decided to replace my income and so that's what I did. You know, I was all or nothing. I was either, you know, full throttle going towards the goal or it didn't interest me at all, and I had, you know, nothing to do with it, no part of it.
Yeah, so, to answer your question, the guilt and shame was starting to build, just like it did when I was binge eating and telling myself those awful things. When I was binge eating, the very first thing I thought off, I mean, the second my eyes opened was, "What did you eat "before you went to sleep?" And then I would bash myself, "Why did you do that? "That's disgusting, you're not eating the rest of the day." Those same thoughts started coming with the drinking. And they weren't consistent enough for me to quit drinking, even though all the red flags were there. I didn't get a DUI but I should have. I mean, there were times that I'm like, "Man, God was saving me for something, "'cause I don't know how I survived that." But you have these, when you are struggling with drinking, you have these rules. And I had rules, like, I would never drive my son buzzed, I would only have a certain amount of glasses of wine out in public. Most of my drinking was done behind closed doors, just like the binging. So, my binge eating, my husband was the only person who really knew how much I was drinking and even he didn't know exactly how much. He's not a wine drinker so he has, to this day, doesn't understand that my wine was way more powerful that his beer. And so, it was November, 3rd of last year, and keep in mind I tried to quit a thousand times before, and I woke up and 03:00 a.m. because that's when I always woke up with those voices in my head, but the voices were getting nastier and nastier. When they say that drinking addiction, you know, is a slow suicide, I totally get it, because I was starting to have the beginnings of those thoughts. Like, "You're disgusting, you don't deserve "the family that you have. "You're probably gonna die of cancer "because of the way that you are treating your body "and you deserve it anyway. "Your family deserves better." I mean, it was just sick.
Let me stop you right there, 'cause that's an interesting statement. You said that drinking is a slow suicide. So, is it because of those thought processes? Explain that a little bit more.
Well, drinking addiction, I'm not saying everybody has this problem if they're drinking. But, yeah, I know, one of the ways I got sober was to understand what alcohol does to your brain. And your brain starts to become dependent on it, so much. But it's also a depressant. And so you're, even though I was on an anti-depressant, who knows if it was really working because I was taking a depressant every single day. And you get the point where your drinking is not even that fun anymore, it's just that you can't not drink. You think you can go a day and then immediately, all of a sudden, you're jonesing for that drink and you don't understand why 'cause you told yourself that day, you weren't gonna do it, just like I did with binge eating. But your brain is chemically wired to expect it. So, even though consciously you don't want it, subconsciously, your brain just assumes that, that's what we're gonna do now. Even now, it's one the ways I was able to stay sober, is, for instance, when I went home to Alabama to visit my family, I'd never been sober there, I always got wasted, each night there.
Oh, goodness, yeah. And so, not too long ago.
How did you cope?
Well, so, I mean, I have lots of hacks that I, you know, do when that happens. But one of the things that I know is that I didn't have enough experiences, in my memory, my subconscious mind, to not associate drinking with going home. So, the first time I went home sober, we always go to this Mexican restaurant and I just all of a sudden, overwhelmingly wanted to drink. And it's because my brain associated drinking at that Mexican restaurant. So, I needed to go to that Mexican restaurant and not drink a few times, so that I could almost replace those memories, so I wouldn't have those triggers and those urges anymore.
Just kinda that rewiring of your brain. So, go back to, you said that you were being awoken in the middle of night. You would wake up with these horrendous thoughts about yourself. How did that lead to you making a decision that enough is enough?
So, in October of last year, I was hosting a leadership day for my team. And I had hired a business coach to come in. And she had us do this exercise where we just freestyle wrote whatever came to our mind, if we could do anything in the world and we knew it wouldn't fail, what would we do. And I didn't even think, I just wrote. And I wrote down that I was gonna help women, I don't know why this is making me cry now, I was gonna help women with depression and anxiety and I was gonna be a public speaker, which was really funny because that was my biggest fear. That was the biggest fear when I joined network marketing was having to speak in front of people. Because in front of a camera, is nothing to me. Like, that's one person, is how I see it.
Okay, so the camera was not a big deal but speaking in front others is a whole nother ballgame.
Yes, but I was so, again, when I get fixated on a goal, nothing's gonna stop me, so I'll do whatever I have to do. And so, I forced myself to get okay with speaking in rooms full of people about my business. But this was a whole new ballgame that I had put on paper. Like, I was saying, I was basically gonna be, in some way, a motivational speaker. And I'm like, "What did I just write down?" And that's when it happened. I really felt God say, "I have really big plans for you. "But I can't use you with this drinking." And I had felt him tapping me on my shoulder for years but it just wasn't worth me trying to figure out if he really would be there for me and help me. So, that was mid to late October, of last year. And then it was November, 3rd when I woke up and I'm just like, "I'm done, "this has to work, I have to stop."
Your words, simply just kinda take my breath away. And I find myself at a loss. 'Cause I can hear the pain in your voice. And I know that your words are really gonna resonate. I think, so many of us, we turn to alcohol, we turn to food, as a means of coping, as a means of just kinda numbing that pain. And so, you're recognition of that and your recognition of how God wanted to use you, but that you needed to give up the alcohol. So, you have been without alcohol now, for a year. And I wanna know what that process has looked like.
Well, the great thing is, you can use all of the things that got you where you are, to get you out. And so, like I said, when I go all in, I go all in. And I did the same thing I did to get into television. I did the same thing that I did to get to the top of my company, in network marketing. And that is, I became extremely coachable, I found the people who had done it and I studied them like I was, you know, about to take the test of my life. And also, I found people in my network that I could, even if I didn't know them well, I just, I reached out to them, because they had shared their story. And I knew that I needed someone who had been there done that.
So, you asked for help, you truly got into this very proactive mode. And I love that word coachable, 'cause I think it's so very important, we don't have to figure it all out on our own, but we can look to others. So, you reached out to others for their help as well.
I did, and you have to have that. Because just because you say you're all in doesn't mean you're not going to have moments of weakness where you decide that you're gonna throw it all out the window. So, the first thing I did was, I reached out to them. But I ordered books. I ordered like, I think I started out with three books. And the first book that I read was called, A Happier Hour. And that was basically a woman who documented her entire journey and what she did. And one of the things that she did was she got a fresh journal and she wrote down in very specific detail, the type of person she wanted to be. Or in her words, she was. And she wrote down what she could see her life feeling like and looking like. And this is the kinda stuff I would do when I was trying to replace my income. You know, I needed to picture myself having that lifestyle I wanted. You know, even though I didn't have the income quite yet, with my side gig. And so, same thing, except I wanted to feel like the mother that I knew I was without alcohol. I wanted to feel and be the person, I knew I was, as a friend without alcohol. And so, I really focused on what I was gaining and becoming and not what I was losing and leaving behind. I also was really intentional about focusing on gratitude. And so, every morning, I couldn't even get out of bed until I thought of three things that I was grateful for. And they were always the same three when I first quit drinking, and that was, I'm not hungover, I didn't drink last night, I don't feel guilty. But you have to remember those.
Powerful statements for where you were at that time.
Yeah, and you have to remember those. When you quit drinking, you have to be preparing at the early hours of the day when you're not tempted, so that when you get tempted during the witching hour, you've already prepped yourself and set yourself up for success.
And you have a plan.
Yes, and so I did. Because, you know, I would drink until I passed out. So, I had a really hard time sleeping in the first couple weeks. So, I would read a ton. I did a thousand piece puzzle by myself. Anything and everything to keep myself occupied. I mean, I must have read 15/20 books. And I think it was because in my way, I was, 'cause now, I just finished reading a book last night, and I hadn't read one in a while, like that. And it was a very different experience. The old me, I like to call them drinker logs, that's the part of the book where it's all about them getting wasted. And I just loved it. It was almost like I was drinking with them. Like, I was experiencing it with them. And then they would get to the part where they got sober and I'm like, you know, that's boring. Now, it's the opposite. Now, I'm like, oh, my gosh, get sober already. So, it's just really interesting. But it was almost like they were my AA meetings in a way. 'Cause I didn't go to AA meetings or, you know, recovery meetings, I just would read about what they did. And then the other thing that was really key, is I got into podcasts, which is why I eventually started one.
Oh that's awesome.
But I listen to a podcast called The Bubble Hour. And there were some days, I would listen to that podcast, like six or seven episodes. Because I needed to hear people's regret and what happened when they relapsed. On the days that I really wanted to drink, I needed to hear what was going to happen if I did that.
Oh, that's so fascinating. That was your journey and it was just all about that just determined nature. And that you weren't depending on a meeting but you were truly digging in yourself and studying and learning and being coachable. It's just an extraordinary thing that you've done. But I know it took such a huge, big step to get there. So, I am unbelievably sad that our time is just drawing to a close. But, as we wrap up, I wanna ask you another question. How would you encourage somebody who is thinking, "You know what, I relate to her. "This is painful to listen to "because I know exactly what she's saying." And they feel like they've become too dependent on alcohol, what should they do?
Well, what I love now, is that I get to speak with women all the time, who maybe they relate to what I say, but it's not because of the drinking. It's like what you said, it's food or shopping or it's work. They're numbing in some way. And focus on the person you were designed to be. And maybe you don't even know who that person is. But the first think you have to do is tell yourself that you deserve to be happy. This is thing, honestly, Jennifer, it's like another toxic relationship. Chardonnay was that bitch BFF who was so much fun to hang out with and then she slowly turned on me and basically convinced me that I was not fun without her, that I wasn't likable without her, I wasn't funny without her. She started to take me from my child, my husband. You know, more and more I just wanted to, you know, get my son to sleep so I could go start my nightly drinking. She takes your life away. It's so scary and sad that so many people don't see it or they don't feel like they have it in them to quit. So, the first thing you have to do, is know that there's something better on the other side and then you've gotta go find somebody who's been there, done that. You have to.
Most definitely, most definitely. This has been the most eye opening conversation that I've had in a long time. So, I just wanna thank you for being so real and so raw with us. And just, so vulnerable. I know this, it stirs up such a great deal of emotion and heartache, as you look back on what you've experienced in your life. But what I hear is a tremendous amount of hope and encouragement. And I hope that our listeners really get that. That they see what you've overcome. And that there's hope there at the end of the day. So, guys, I want to make sure you know how to get in touch with Virginia, if you have related to this in any way shape or form. So, Virginia, tell us where people can connect with you.
I am on Instagram @thisisvirginiakerr and I also have a podcast called This Is Your Life. And so, I talk a lot about my journey and how I was able to get to the other side. And I know I sound really sad, 'cause I got really emotional today, but I am honestly, I'm not saying life if perfect, but I'm having so much fun, not overthinking everything and trying to be perfect and please everybody else. It's so freeing.
It's very freeing.
Yeah. I love how we said that in unison. There's just so much freedom in that.
Well, I cannot thank you enough. Guys, also remember to subscribe to us on your favorite platform of choice. Like us on Facebook, on Instagram @inspirehealthyharmony. You can also join in the discussion, How Destructive Is Alcohol, on our Facebook discussion group, where you can just kinda open up and share your journey there. You can also check us out at inspirehealthyharmony.com.