Penny Brand is one of our amazing Cuppa members and has written this piece about how quitting alcohol gave her the life she could only dream of. You can follow her journey on Instagram @pennybrandwriter
Thank you Penny for sharing your story. If you would like to write a guest blog just email it to me firstname.lastname@example.org
'The Life I could Only Dream Of'
When I was four-years-old I had to have my stomach pumped after I managed to wolf down an entire bottle of fluoride tablets. My brother found me under the dining room table begging him not to tell my parents.
Mum said I’d pushed the kitchen table over to the bench, stacked a chair atop of the table, and climbed all the way up to the family medical dispensary, helping myself to every last one of the delicious, sugary-enclosed “tic tacs”.
I still have traumatic memories of begging the doctors not to put tubes down my throat, and clinging to my mother’s lap for dear life. You would think that incident alone might have put a medical red flag against my name as a potential future addiction specialist.
So, it’s no surprise then that the common thread in my life has been to drown all life upsets in whatever dopamine-filled shiny “treasures” I could find in a bid to fill up my happy cup.
Alcohol, which quickly became my favourite mood booster, was the toxic friend I never knew I needed, and was always there to numb the pain of a bad break up or give me the star quality confidence in awkward social settings.
This form of medicinal therapy meant sitting down at the end of a draining, kid-wrangling day, with a red wine and some quality ‘80s rock music. Instead of deep breaths, yoga and mindful meditation it was belting out “this is the power of love!” somewhere between drunk cleaning the house and cooking up song-soaked family dinners.
The problem with this kind of quick-fix approach is that sometimes I didn’t even make it to dinner, and I’d end up fast asleep well before the nightly bed time routine, resulting in two puzzled small children and a neighbour waking me up.
Admittedly, life as a single mum has been tough. In the past seven years, I’ve faced a relentless uphill battle of family court, extreme physical pain from a spinal surgery, and a fistful of horrible break ups. Not to mention the actual being a mum part which consisted of very limited sleep, countless medical adventures, waking up with legs in my ribs, and continual demands for food, water, and entertainment echoing in the background.
It’s no wonder that each time I fell into the rooms of an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting I was borderline suffering a nervous breakdown.
Usually, you end up in the hallowed halls of AA after a series of very serious near misses with death. And being the responsible mum I’m ever striving to be, I knew it was time to hang up the glittery dance floor shoes and put down the larrikin juice for good, so I could focus on my kids and give them the calm and less-chaotic childhood they deserved.
The first time I got sober I noticed a huge improvement in my health. I was competitive swimming again for the first time since I was at school, cooking delicious healthy meals from an actual recipe book (instead of just mindlessly winging myself through anther tacos kit) and had my kid’s extra-curricular schedule down to a fine art.
I still remember jumping in the pool to play with the kids during that sober hiatus, while all the other frazzled parents looked on with drinks in their hands, and thinking “who am I?”
I was suddenly the hands-on, attentive mum. I was tanned, slim and fit. But most of all I was alive – and not buried six feet below, or worse still, in jail, after another booze-induced night.
Life beyond liquor was being kind to me. Who would have thought that trading anxiety-filled Sundays (dedicated to too-much couch time and Uber-delivered, salty cuisine), with a good night’s sleep and loads of sun-soaked activity, could turn a “just-surviving” household into an “ever-thriving” one, full of happiness, laughter and meaningful memories.
A friend of mine reported a DUI got him out of the car and into the sunshine, uniting him with the community he had long lost a connection with. While a family member said her brush with authorities, via a drunken accident which saw her flying down a set of stairs and into an ambulance while her kids watched on in horror, had landed her a lifetime of sobriety which ultimately gave her back her health, happiness, and best of all, her sanity.
Life without the intense highs and lows which alcohol brought, was now calm and content.
This is my second stab at abstinence, and I’m so glad for the chance to hit reset on my life again. It’s like wiping the slate clean, and giving yourself a fresh new start at being your best person.
If you think your drinking is getting in the way of you living your best life, I implore you to consider a sober life or drinking in moderation. It doesn’t have to mean a life sentence of boredom, no good-times, and sexless interactions in the bedroom.
Truth be told, sex usually becomes even more sensual and gratifying, and your work life might even pick up, with sober promotions a common occurrence. Your family time will be cherished and stored in your memory bank of joy-filled occasions, with brilliant core memories sure to last a lifetime, instead of waking up with no recollection of the night before.
Your friendships and family connections will blossom and so will you.
In fact, you might even get the life you’ve always dreamed of.