First of all, tell us a bit about yourself. Where do you live? Married? Single? Age bracket? Kids? Work life?
Single. 28 years of age. One beautiful baby boy (I say baby, but he just turned 7 – will always be mommy’s baby!) I am a home loans specialist living in Pretoria
When did you start thinking you had unhealthy relationship with alcohol?
I’ve been in denial about my unhealthy relationship with alcohol for years.
My parents separated when I was 11 and my childhood wasn’t the easiest. Drunk, abusive fights, affairs and parents who weren’t present, leaving me to “raise” my brothers and just grow up a lot faster.
From the beginning of high school, I had no “rules”. (I do not blame my parents – there were a lot of tough things happening during this and life is hard.) My mom was figuring her life out and my dad was doing the same and had moved to JHB. I was doing whatever I wanted from the age of pretty much 14.
Although my unhealthy relationship with alcohol hadn’t yet begun, I was exposed to everything. When I did drink, I was completely “legless”. I would completely black out and had one or two situations where I questioned if the person lying next to me even had “consent”. By 21, I was a single mom. I have many stories I could share – and would be happy to do so with anyone who can relate and would like to share.
I couldn’t see it or admit it at the time but living by myself with my son led me to negligence and not being the best mom that I could be. My family had countless interventions but, in my mind, an “alcoholic” was someone who drank from morning till pass out on repeat – this wasn’t me?
Promiscuity, constant ER visits and 3 concussions in a space of 3 months (last one almost fatal) I knew I had to make a change.
I started a new job on the 1st of July and this was my opportunity! A fresh start!
What were your objectives when you subscribed to Tribe Sober?
Tribe Sober came up at the perfect time. I had seen it on Facebook and a family member who was aware of my start and determination for sobriety tagged me. I immediately signed up! I needed the knowledge with regards to alcoholism, to not feel alone by hearing other stories and how to cope. I just wanted to see the positivity and I am getting exactly that!
What have been the main benefits of Tribe Sober membership for you?
I absolutely love the informative emails we receive. I love how open and honest the group is. I love the encouragement, whether its been two days of sobriety or 2 years, the acknowledgment is just as great!! I have a huge passion for people and love feeling like my success helps others as others on the group have inspired me!
How long have you been Alcohol Free – and how do you feel?
I stopped drinking on the 18th of July – so I am now 100+ days alcohol free! I feel the best iv ever felt and this is only the beginning.
What made you decide to give up alcohol? If you had a “rock bottom” please describe.
Realising I was putting my life in jeopardy and adding so much stress to those who love me dearly. Also realising my new job was/is such an opportunity and one I need to truly be grateful for. My son needed/needs his mom, and I don’t want him to struggle one day from the affects my choices have had or could’ve had.
What was your first month of sobriety like?
My first month of sobriety has been incredible. I am so stuck into my job; I’m reaching goals iv spoken about doing for years but always put off. I’m focussed on my career, my family, my success and my health!
Did you have to go back to “day 1” often or did you stay firm once you had made your decision?
I went to “day 1” two weeks after my last ER visit. (Drank heavily with a concussion.) It started as a beautiful Saturday, sunshine and I craved a “vibey” atmosphere that id known for so long. I knew I couldn’t do that AND avoid alcohol. That acceptance was so overwhelming. But I caved and completely broke down and lost control.
BUT I am firm and so much stronger now. ?
What are the best things that have happened to you since you stopped drinking – and the benefits of being alcohol free?
I repeat myself, but feeling fresh, alive, positive, driven, content, loving myself without alcohols approval. Focussing on what matters.
What do you say when offered an alcoholic drink?
I have a small group of friends but have been spending a lot of time with family. We are a close-knit family and they are all so supportive and proud, so this environment helps me a lot but I know events will come up where people will offer, ask questions and remember the title I owned – Tequila Queen – that ultimately led to everyone’s entertainment but my bar fights, falling all over, and pure “common” behaviour.
If you could go back to a time when you were drinking what would you tell yourself?
It’s hard to say because during those times I didn’t see the problem. Even less as the next tequila arrived. But I wish I could’ve known that I am a funny, loving, free spirited person without alcohol and that there are other ways of coping with life and that dealing with these challenges instead of avoiding them is so much healthier than sweeping it under the rug with a binge. Also to see it from a psychological point of view that we are programmed to feel like we “earned” our glass of wine after work or we didn’t drink for the week and we “earned” a binge. Its important to find other ways to reward yourself but for now, following the “one day at a time” mentality, seeing my sober days grow is rewarding!!
What would say is keeping you on track?
Fresh Saturday mornings. My son. My job. And how much I’ve achieved during my period of sobriety – God I’m grateful to have realised this now while at a reasonably young age. I have so many things to improve on and live my best life! And deal with my issues stemmed from childhood as I truly believe this plays a huge role for all of us.
What have you learned about yourself since you gave up drinking?
I’ve learnt that I’m so much stronger than I realised and ever gave myself credit for. I’ve realised I CAN achieve goals. I’ve realised giving up is no longer an option in every aspect of my life. I do not need alcohol to be ME! My life now has meaning!
What would you recommend to newbies?
I truly had to be in the right mindset and firmly decide, with my knowledge of the affects and damaged caused. I mentally had to be set and know my reasons and how VALID they were. Of course I did it for others, but ultimately you need to make sure your powerful mind knows you are doing it for YOU!
I know that when I became aware of my problem but avoided dealing with it thinking I couldn’t without alcohol, I couldn’t yet make that decision, but write out you pros and cons. Write down your goals. If you re a visual person, make “goal boards”… Put pictures of what you want to achieve, quotes that empower you, and put this where you can see it from the second you open your eyes.
Give yourself time to adjust. Its ok to become a hermit for a bit. You will know when you are ready to socialise and don’t let anyone else make that decision for you because only YOU truly understand your own situation and how overwhelming it is – no one is the same and we definitely do not deal with things the same way.
Slowly find hobbies. This is an odd word for me to use because I’ve never really had any besides “socialising” … So, I try things like researching everything that comes to mind. Literally anything from my period to dealing with alcoholism. (Laughs.) I choose a book to read while I “tan” my legs. I nap when I’m tired. I allow myself to spend my needed time in bed feeling down and out. Make yourself aware of the symptoms and what your body will experience because this makes it so much easier to identify and deal with.
Make sure you have a good support structure. Those supporting you will help keep you out of difficult situations and can go as far as not drinking in front of you… Or ask them to do AF ?
Do what works for YOU! The only person stopping you is YOURSELF!!!!