Why sobriety?

Everyone you meet has a story and I feel once you start to get to know someone, it paints a picture in your mind of who you perceive them to be. I think it helps, when understanding a person to also understand their experiences and what has made them who they are.

I thought it was time I shared a little bit about myself and why I chose sobriety.

I still continually wonder how I got to the position of being 23 years of age and a recovering alcoholic. It is still a shock and is a hard thing to come to terms with, but from what I am learning the more awareness I have and the more I talk about it the easier it becomes. I have always been the ‘Straight A’ student who had only touched alcohol twice under the age of 18 to then becoming a party girl and always searching for the next big night.

At just 22, I was a recognised and medicated alcoholic. I always thought I was just young, having fun and enjoying the newfound scene. This scene which I had involved myself in gave me a sense of social validation which became apparent that was something I was lacking. However, what I didn’t realise was, which as ironic as it is, in my search for a better life I in turn began destroying my already perfect life. 

I just didn’t see it.

Through excessive drinking I became someone who was completely separate from who everyone (including myself) knew me to be. It was like an alter ego, in the worst way possible.

I made no time for anyone that mattered to me and I treated those around me as though they would be there forever, (thankfully some of them still are), many aren’t and for good reason. I considered all of my actions to be normal for an 18-year-old, but I am now realising they very much weren’t. I became consumed in self-worth issues, bad relationships and was seeking approval from people whose opinion never mattered. 

I eventually decided I was going to up and leave my cosy hometown. This would have been normal for someone seeking change and a new chapter, but this was standard behaviour for me, running from issues that were considered difficult. I left on rocky terms with my family, a lot of friends and every bar in town.

Sydney was a great move for me! I was studying again which wasn’t something I saw myself doing after leaving high school. I was working in a bar which was way out of my comfort zone pushing myself to new limits. I met some amazing people and had some great times which are very special, and I am so grateful for.

After spending 3 months in Sydney my life was turned upside down. I had never experienced grief as confronting as I did. I received a phone call telling me that a close family member had passed away by suicide, I remember the first thing I did was open that bottle of $5 trashy chardonnay. I started drinking at 7 o’clock in the morning. I then continued on to a pub crawl throughout Sydney, even when everyone else had left, I still kept going to the point where I was yet again forcibly removed from another bar.

Something changed in my life that day, in all of my family’s life, and it was something I felt responsible for. Deep down I knew it was not my fault but also knowing that I was the last of our family to see him alive was a very confronting feeling. There was constant thought in my mind of what more I could have done… How did I not see that he was in pain?

I felt as though I had let him down, I was struggling to deal with grief and that took a massive toll on me. Once again, I found myself back in self-destruction mode. I had reached the point where I had to move back home. This was the first time I acknowledged how my drinking was affecting my mental health. By this stage my drinking had gotten so out of hand plus with my mental health deteriorating rapidly, I nearly did not make it back from Sydney.

Even after returning home, it was still not enough for me to face my issues, meet sobriety or seek help.

When I got home, I was still incredibly broken, the guilt and pain was still too much to handle. By this stage I was on an extreme downward spiral. I started to bender again and found myself, once again pushing those closest to me away. I would never acknowledge any wrongdoing nor take accountability for my actions, I still at this stage was not aware of the consequences of my actions. I was not capable of making responsible decisions plus I was still in self-destruction mode, anyone who got in my way was certain to get hurt.

I had well and truly driven away my closest friends, my family and people who cared about me.  Looking back now there are many things I regret, however, for me to overcome my substance abuse I am going to have to move forward and not dwell on mistakes I have made. 

I now know that I was responsible what I was doing, and I cannot shift the blame onto anyone else. I am able to now look back and can say I have learnt a lot from my wrong doings and bad choices. I am now stronger than ever and have been able to work through and deal with some of the issues that led me down this path. I still have a long way to go. Dealing with the passing of my cousin has been a major breakthrough for me being able to go sober. I have been dealing with the grief, pain and trauma head on, swapping out the alcohol for different coping mechanisms.

This is not about making a sad story it is about bringing awareness of how easily these things can unfortunately happen, I feel that substance abuse whether it being drugs or alcohol need to be more highly recognised. I have been watching and tried to understand people’s intolerances around substance abuse, I am starting to see how little people actually know about the issue.

If there is one thing I would take away from my experience it would be to keep your friends and family close, they’re just trying to help. You may not want it or see it at the time but they are acting with your best interests at heart. 

Please, if you are or know of anyone struggling whether it be substance abuse or issues around mental health, please seek help. I am always around for a chat and am more than happy to help, offer support and give guidance.

Twenty twenty.

This is the year I have decided to make one of the most impacting and positive changes in my life…one in which I never thought I would have the strength and courage to fulfil!

For the last few years of my life, long term sobriety has been necessary but never been followed upon in my everyday life because in a world where binge drinking is seemingly normalised, it’s hard to self identify and overcome these self destructive behaviours. This time is different, this year is all about change. Making the change, being the change, experiencing the change, but most importantly, loving and embracing the journey, both physically and emotionally of all things sober.

Throughout our lives we walk through both simple and difficult times and allow each of these to shape ourselves into the people that we choose to become.

Being at a point of recognition to these negative behaviours, sitting down to write this feels deeply daunting and fearful, yet empowering all within the same space and time. Throughout the last few years of my life, my behavioural patterns, lifestyle and personality took a shift for the worst. I slowly became somebody that I didn’t recognise, who those around me didn’t recognise or want to acknowledge. I became someone who pushed so hard to find their own sense of self with a world so socially constructed that through this attempt I became completely lost and unknown to myself and others.

I found myself within a spiral of destructive lifestyle choices and this was all a result fuelled by the overconsumption of alcohol, which for someone as susceptible to addiction as myself, was detrimental for both my mental, physical and emotional health, but further worse, heartbreaking for those closest around me. The process of losing ones self, within my personal experience, I found to be completely terrifying. To find yourself in a place where you no longer recognise the person/reflection staring back at you, but also not wanting to try, is one of the lowest places I have reached. In this state of mind, I found there is nothing that anyone around you can say or do to influence you to bring yourself back. For me the only way I could manage my sense of self, would be to not at all. To drown my self in alcohol, to drink to forget any grief, anxiety and depressive feelings. For some, they will never understand or experience this and they are incredibly lucky, for it is one of the most heart wrenching and painful experiences I have ever encountered within my life. Learning your capabilities as an individual is of such high importance, as without knowing where your strengths and weaknesses lie you may become unsure of yourself and the limits you possess.

Twenty Twenty for me is about waking up and avoiding ignorance to these behaviours, I am currently almost at the 3 month mark of sobriety as I write this, which is a point I never thought I would have reached with such strength and motivation. I have never faced the issues I have within my life so full on and with such a clear and aware mindset. It is an incredibly confronting feeling, yet also one of the most fulfilling experiences I have felt in my life.

Not everyday will be easy, but everyday will be worth it because each day on this new chapter of my life is a better day and a step in the right direction to become a renewed sense of myself. Someone who I am proud to be.