5 Years of Sobriety - The Knowing.
Updated: Mar 10
Today, March the 10th 2023, is exactly 5 years since I stopped being someone else.
09/March/2018 - the night. before I decided.
I look happy in this pic - but inside I was in turmoil. I was heading to a mates birthday, knowing I would drink more than planned, knowing I would fail at moderation, knowing I would wake up full of panic the next day.
Knowing I had to go out and pretend to be someone I wasn't. It was exhausting. I could feel change on the horizon but it was buried under a big layer of booze.
Being someone else, the girl that abandoned herself, the teen that rebelled and the mother that rewarded, had become so normal to me that I didn't even know I was missing.
It was a decision I made on my own, in a café in Sydney. After that friends party.
Until that point. I had been trying moderation. Failing every time, questioning behaviour, my will, my relationship with alcohol, my relationship with myself. Even though booze was causing anxiety every time I drank, I was still trying to force it in. Drinking because I thought I had to, because it was all I knew, because I didn’t know there was another way.
But that morning, in that café, something shifted in me.
I was sat on a high stool with a hot coffee and a book face down in front of me. I looked out of window, watching as heavy rain fell. Commuters sheltered in office doorways and people ran across the road holding newspapers or bags over their heads to stop getting drenched. I stared as rain dribbled down the window. I was wondering what to do. Going over the same old mantras. Sifting through the same constant questions that swirled around my head every time I was hungover,
Why do I keep doing this to myself?
Why can’t I just stop at one?
Why can’t I learn to be a better drinker?
I had wanted to be like everyone else. The friends that just had a couple and caught the last bus home, while I went on to the after party. The ones that posted pictures on Facebook of them doing a beach run in the morning, while I lay in bed with waves of panic crashing over my body.
Why couldn’t I just drink normally?
I held my warm coffee cupped in two hands and sighed. My exhale steamed up the window. It was one of those cool March Sydney mornings. Darker when I woke, and the tropical rain felt cool on my skin as I stepped outside my front door.
For the people around me, in the café, sitting at laptops, chatting with friends, this was a normal day. But for me, it was the most important day of my life.
It was the day the gale, that had been blowing inside my head for 25 years, passed.
I had completed 12 weeks of therapy. Armed with strong tea and soft tissues, I found out my reasons for over drinking throughout my life. I had gained the tools to change, yet, I found myself holding a beer when I went out like it was a lifeline to my personality.
Even though I was only having one drink I was still mentally obsessed with the second. The can I? can’t I? merry-go-round was ever present, spinning around in my head like a tornado.
I looked outside. A lady shaking out her umbrella, a taxi pulling up, kids huddled waiting at a bus stop. The world happening, going on around me. I wanted to be part of that world again. A place where I could just get on with life and not worry how I was going to feel or what I was going to drink.
I didn’t want to be obsessed with alcohol anymore.
I wanted my life back.
I finished my coffee. Wiped the foam from my top lip and sat up straight.
I felt it in my stomach before anywhere else. It heaved up through my body.
I bowed my head a little and whispered to myself,
‘I am never, ever, going to drink alcohol again.’
No cars screeched to stop outside the café. There were no pats on the back from strangers, no fireworks, or tight embraces. It was just me, an empty cup and the din of the heavy rain outside.
As my own words seeped into my skin I knew everything had changed.
Tears ran down my cheeks as I understood the power of my decision.
It meant I was going to be ok.
I picked up my bag and headed towards the door.
The guy behind the counter shouted in my direction
‘It looks like its slowing down – you should be ok.’
‘I’m going to just fine.’ I said,
and I knew it.
I stepped outside the café and deeply inhaled the earthy smell that came from heavy rain on concrete. I was the loveliest smell in the world.
The storm was well and truly over.
Socialising can be awkward still but I get the fuck on with it!
Taking back my life that rainy morning and choosing to never take a sip of booze ever again has been the most wonderful, life-changing decision I have ever made. It was a choice that had been simmering in my soul for many years, waiting for me to tap in, sitting dormant until I was ready.
In the café that morning I was ready.
5 years later - the genuine smile is back.
I’ve come alive since going sober. The corpse that lay in bed, hungover, paIe faced, scared of herself, is gone. I write now, I podcast, I dance, I laugh, I mother, I walk, and I rest. I am present in everything I do. I fill my life. Good or bad - I witness it, every beautiful moment.
Sobriety means I am not someone else anymore.
I’m not hiding in the bottle.
I am me.
I walked home from the city, another downpour drenching my body. My clothes stuck to my skin and my trainers filled with water. As I navigated puddles I had time to consider the impact of my choice.
I would never have a hangover again. I would never feel anxiety again. I could socialise. I would find my way. I knew it. I knew I would be ok. Why had I waited so long for this? This was choice I could have made years ago, that anyone can make at any time. I could have avoided all the mental torture. But I didn’t know sobriety was an option for someone like me -the social drinker with no off switch.
I didn’t know I was worthy of healing.
When I got home I burst through the door and kissed my kids on their soft little foreheads.
‘You’re soaked to the bone.’ My husband said as I gave him a hug.
‘I know, I just walked home, it was pouring down.’
He grabbed a towel and patted my face.
‘What are you smiling like that for?’
'Do you fancy a cuppa?’
Now here I am 4000 cups of tea later. I can’t believe how much has changed in that relatively short time. I’m quite different to the person sat on her own in a café in Sydney 1826 days ago.
I’m happier, I’m more content, I like a simple life, less chaos, more boundaries.
I drink tea instead of beer and I quite like who I am without alcohol. It wasn’t about booze in the end – it was all about finding out who I am without it.
5 years might seem like a lifetime to some of you reading this. It might seem unobtainable almost, but if I can do it …you can too.
Sobriety gives back in so many ways, health, wealth, joy and chocolate, so many wonderful side affects and repercussions. Most importantly it will give you back the one thing you didn’t even know was lost.
So, stop questioning if sobriety is right for you and start knowing. It’s the knowing that will give you freedom from alcohol. Once the decision is made, the clouds will disappear and all that’s left over is endless, glorious sunshine.
Big thanks to all those people on Cuppa, Sober Awkward and my @drunkmummysobermummy insta account that have supported me so far.
Sending you all a very long, uncomfortably awkward cuddle.
I can’t wait to see what the next 5 years bring.
If you need support just listen to the Sober Awkward Podcast on iTunes or Spotify - or visit www.soberawkward.com
or head to my free social platform, www.cuppa.community