I sat and had lunch yesterday with a fella’ I know.
He hasn’t touched a drop of alcohol in over a year, something that his friends can still not quite believe. He and I drank in very similar ways in the not-so-distant past. Blackout moments that could have ended our lives, worry that we had caused our friends and lovers and family.
Playing small constantly.
I realised that there are more ways that our lives have mirrored each other since we became sober. He has also started his own business and is now making more money financially than he was in his previous corporate job.
However, more than anything, it’s in the emotional and personal success that I see so much growth.
My friend is now also training for something huge. World-stage huge. Huge in the way that if all goes according to plan, we will ALL know his name.
Limitlessness. Fearlessness. CLARITY.
This is what comes when you leave behind you those ‘things’ that put a fog into your life.
I have been a disordered drinker since I was 15 years old.
I was that girl you laughed at. The one who couldn’t walk or talk, or stand straight.
I would wake with no memory.
Incapacitated with sickness.
By the time I hit my mid-twenties, I had lost hundreds of days to hangovers.
I had worked at half-capacity for more than a third of each year in a tough corporate industry.
I was a functioning alcoholic and the pressure that this put on my shoulders and on my life in general was immense.
Ironically there was obviously a great strength within me that always existed, because while I was feeling broken and lost on the inside, I was able to masquerade to the rest of the world that things were okay. Doing this took a lot of energy though and left nothing for the will and love I needed to break free of my limiting behaviours.
Why was alcohol a problem for me?
I have a very inflammatory physical reaction to alcohol (actually, a lot of the population does). I also come from a long line of alcoholics.
My Mum, her sister, her father and her brother. Alcoholism doesn’t discriminate and it does run in the genes, so not only was it the physical reaction my body would go through that made drinking a ‘sport’ that never suited me, there was the genetic link as well. Add to that the ‘nurture’ effects of my growing up with alcoholism around me and statistically, there was always a very high chance that I would experience pain where alcohol was involved.
And I did.
Heading towards my thirties, I found out that I could make my own decisions about my life. I didn’t have to go where life – or rather my unconscious mind – took me. I could make a decision to do something fu*king awesome and change the trajectory of my life for the better.
Before then I had always connected with a belief that I didn’t have a choice. That life was what was given to me and that I had no power. I wallowed in this way of thinking for many years.
Then I stopped. I decided that I was no longer drinking.
For anyone with a disordered history of drinking, you’ll know that while reading that last sentence makes it sound like quitting drinking was so darn easy, it was not. I had actually been trying to drink normally for nearly 15 years and I had never accomplished it.
So that instant decision in October 2013 was actually nearly 15 years in the making with a lot of stress, anxiety, guilt and struggle behind me.
After that last drink I experienced some of the the hardest few months of my life. I was awkward, weird, clumsy, wordless, hermit-like. I felt like an elephant with 10 legs wearing stiletto’s talking backwards in Swahili and trying to make it all sound normal. I had never, since I was 14 years old, been sober. Can you even begin to imagine how unusual it would be to begin to live an entirely new life after 15 years?
Then I met someone who I had never really known as an adult.
That person I was never lucid enough to meet before.
And you know what? She was pretty cool. She still couldn’t dance, she still couldn’t hold a note, but she was an awesome mother, a loving wife, a funny friend. And damn… she was so fulfilled.
I had been ‘socially wasted’ for 15 years and had no idea how amazing life was until I began to look at every nook and cranny of it with complete clarity.
I also wrote for a few other publications sharing parts of my story and every time I shared, I was bombarded with emails and Facebook messages from women who said ‘You are telling my story’. Hundreds of them. Truly, hundreds.
Some of the women and men who wrote to me had been able to break-free from their relationship with alcohol, but many were at a really low place.
Many of these women believed that there was no place in our society to be able to be open about issues relating to alcohol. And in a way they were right, because sobriety has a stigma attached to it.
Alcoholism has a stigma attached to it.
And it’s not a good one.
What may interest some: There is an AA Chapter in every one of the swankiest, most ‘monied’ suburbs in Australia. In these meetings you will see Surgeons, GP’s, Lawyers, Accountants and CEO’s, alongside the kindy Mum’s and local librarians. Alcoholism, in all of its forms, is everywhere and as I have mentioned there is zero discrimination to who it can affect, only how we relate to it.
Today, it is considered relatively ‘normal’ for a/the youth to be pissed from Friday night to Sunday night. When we see that 21 year old girl stumbling out of the club on a Saturday night, we have a giggle. What we don’t even realise that this girl may well be in that same state on a Monday, Wednesday and a Thursday too. By herself though. In her own house. And due to peer pressure relationships, she feels she can’t talk to anybody about it.
I know that young girl. She was me.
What happens when a young woman, or a young man, says ‘I have a drinking problem’?
Somebody laughs at them.
I know that personally too.
Since I am now a mother and into my thirties, I am somewhat more distanced from that girl, however now I see that there is a new and much more ‘well-hidden’ version of her who needs help, support, or simply a safe place to come home to herself.
Maybe she has kids at home like me and has a few too many wine’s in the evening because, well, kids are bloody exhausting and can be tiring and a woman can feel a little like she’s lost herself in motherhood so she finds solace and comfort and a relationship with the ‘red’.
Perhaps she’s at work and the Thursday or Friday drinks flow for hours until she stumbles into a cab.
Or she get’s home and opens a bottle of wine to ease the stresses of the day. Every single day.
Maybe she drinks only (?) 2 glasses of wine a night… but she has been doing that for 5 years in a row and can’t imagine life without it.
She could be that girl looking like a super-model in her stiletto’s at every party who feels empty the next day wondering whether ‘this is it’.
Alcohol reliance comes in many forms and at many levels, yet there is still little support for women who feel like they need help or simply want to put the glass down for a while. Because we
may do get judged immediately. We get laughed at.
Sometimes by others who feel triggered by what this concern must say about them and their own patterns of behaviour. A lot of the times these are our best friends.
Peer pressure still exists well into adulthood.
People automatically make light of what can be a life destroying habit.
Worse, women can and do walk through their entire life with a disordered relationship to alcohol and never ever find out how truly magical and how alive they could really feel without it.
That is what concerns me most. That there are tens and thousands of us women going through life doing ourselves a huge disservice. Like we get a second chance huh?
When I speak or write about alcohol I get told I should create a guide, write a book, hold events or share this message on the stage in a much more public manner. However I have chosen not to. I am still hurt and healing from events in my childhood, teen years and early adulthood and while I am learning to make peace with them, I don’t want to invite that into my work on a day to day basis. It’s heavy on me.
Last year though, a woman named Rebecca Weller reached out to me to see if I would be interviewed for an online course she was creating called ‘Sexy Sobriety’. I got to know through Bex and others who eventually took her course, that it was amazing. Here was a woman who was not only embracing herself and all that she was without the glass of champa’s in her hand, but she was creating a safe space for all women who would like to do the same thing. A place they could go and be supported in.
Which is something that was and is desperately needed.
Where I can still get caught up in some of my darkness surrounding becoming sober, Bex is a light. She has an energy about her that is not only contagious, but is exactly what is needed to help women realise there is a fabulously amazing life outside of the 3am kebab’s, the falling asleep in the back of cabs, the memory blanks, the guilt and shame and the loss of self that can come with a wonky relationship with booze.
I am honoured that now I can share a resource unlike any other in the market today when it comes to helping women break free from this pattern of life. Which is why I wanted to share the details for Bex’ online home of ‘Sexy Sobriety’.
I am now the most proud partner of Sexy Sobriety with Bex and am honoured to be able to share her message with you.
If you want to be a part of the ‘Sexy Sobriety’ community then I recommend that you head on over the the website now and jump on board. There’s not many things that I can recommend in life more, having been through the experience of living a half-lived life to one that lights me up.
If it wasn’t for quitting drinking there is no way I would be in such a magical place in my life.
I would love to ask you a question if you can give me a moment in the comments section:
What does sobriety mean to you and how does alcohol show up in your life today?
For those of you who are struggling with alcoholism, please seek help through a GP, Alcoholics Anonymous or through counselling. You are not alone and you deserve to feel wonderful in your life. Alcoholism can take away your life however you can gain it all back again. You are worthy of being able to open up and have support. My mother has been a sober alcoholic now for more than twenty years and she is the light of my daughters lives. Sending you all my love and support.
disclaimer: As a partner of Sexy Sobriety, I receive a commission for any person that signs up to the course through my link. Please know that this course is one that I recommend fully and with all my heart. Not only am I in the course itself, but I wish that there was something like this available when I was struggling with alcohol most in my life.