“Sobriety is hard…
Dealing with the devastating effects of alcohol is hard (broken relationships, the hangovers, the shame, the guilt, hiding alcohol, convincing yourself you don’t have a problem, wanting a drink after a difficult day, only relaxing when you have a glass of wine in your hand) ….
Choose your hard …”
These are such wise words from a wonderful woman called Mandy who comes from Cape Town and recently found her way to sobriety. It is not surprising that Mandy has been able to do this as she is a very motivated person with a penchant for helping others and achieving personal goals.
Achieving Goals for a Healthy Body and Mind
In fact, Mandy is a part-time wellness coach who runs 10-day challenges in which her clients can lose anything from 2 to 5 kilograms in that time frame. Some of her clients have lost even more than 10 kgs over a certain period of time. She is also running a boot camp twice a week in her area.
While Mandy is a fit, strong walker and runner who has completed several marathons, she had a knee op a few years ago so her dreams of running a Comrades Marathon are on hold for now. Meanwhile, she is grateful to have found the boot camp and 10-day challenge as not only is she helping herself, but she is also helping others “to feel better in their own skins” she says.
“I believe in kindness and treating people how you would like to be treated. I’ve always had a deep desire to help people but could never find a way in which I could do that professionally. I love helping people to reach their respective goals and playing a part in them transforming their lives through consistency and hard work.”
Since Mandy stopped drinking about 5 months ago, she has slowed her clock down and tuned into her own needs, therefore the needs of those around her.
“I am more present in my home life and have started appreciating the small and simple things in life, like watching a movie with the family, sitting in front of the fireplace on a Friday night or spending time in the park with the kids. I have made better and deeper connections with my family.”
Mandy has two beautiful kids with her college sweetheart and comes from a family of 4 siblings. She acknowledged that there were traumas in her childhood that caused low self-esteem issues – which many of us can identify with.
Self-Esteem and Alcohol
Plenty of research has been done into low self-esteem and according to Addiction Helper, “Many will have suffered abuse or neglect as a child and may feel unloved and unworthy as a result. Children find it difficult to understand why some adults act the way they do and will blame themselves for the neglect or abuse they suffered. The feeling of being to blame can last right up to adulthood, and it can affect many decisions they make… If an individual is constantly told that he or she is a failure or not good enough, they will start to believe it. Continual criticism growing up can affect individuals, resulting in low self-esteem. Children can find it difficult to value themselves if they do not feel valued by their parents.”
For Mandy, drinking started on the weekends when she was at college. She was one of those drinkers who drinks a lot at one time, but not every day. This is called binge drinking and can be just as bad as habitual, daily drinking, if not worse. Binge drinking is when an adult consumes 4 to 5 drinks in 2 hours, and we know that many adults drink more than this in 2 hours.
The USA National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism claims that binge drinking can cause cancer. Suppose you think about how alcohol affects virtually all tissues in the body, damaging the functioning of the immune system. In that case, you will understand that alcohol is a precursor to cancer.
“…even one episode of binge drinking can … lead to acute pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas) in individuals with underlying pancreatic damage. Alcohol misuse, including repeated episodes of binge drinking, over time contributes to liver and other chronic diseases, as well as increases in the risk of several types of cancer, including head and neck, esophageal, liver, breast, and colorectal cancers.”
For Mandy, this was not an issue, but she is aware about the damaging effects of alcohol, and she notes that when she stopped drinking in May this year, she learned that her mother had stage 1 breast cancer. “This was a huge eye opener for me as I heard how alcohol was linked to several types of cancer,” says Mandy.
About a year ago, she told her psychologist that she was concerned about her drinking habits. She had started to drink more heavily during the lockdown and when her two grannies passed away within 6 months of each other, Mandy struggled to process their deaths. Her psychologist pointed her towards Tribe Sober – so she joined.
Following Goals into Sobriety
This is how Mandy stuck to her goals and stayed sober:
I did the spring challenge last year. I listened to the daily message on how your body changes in those 66 days and I realised for the first time how dangerous alcohol really is. My hubby also listened in on the podcasts and has since also decided to stop drinking as it was also an eye-opener for him.
After a few months, I felt like I could moderate and left the Tribe at the end of last year. I soon discovered that it is better to be plugged into a community. I re-joined the Tribe in April 2022 but wasn’t ready just yet to say goodbye to alcohol.
I committed to starting on the 1st of May 2022. It was around this time that I attended the weekly zoom meetings, and was active on the WhatsApp group. I attended the monthly coffee meetings and the Saturday meetings and made connections with a few Tribe members who are still my lifelines in times of need. I also attended the Saturday workshop a few months ago.
She advises other people who want to stop drinking to:
- Stay connected to your tribe
- Use as many of the toolkits in the members’ area
- Find what works for you whether it is reading the articles, listening to podcasts, or attending the weekly meetings
- Reach out when you need help.
“I heard someone saying that addiction stands on the legs of secrecy and guilt. By showing up for yourself and sharing your struggle you are breaking the secrecy aspect and there is no place for guilt or shame in this hard journey,” concludes Mandy.
Mandy looks back on her drinking days with newfound insights. She closed the door on two friendships that were draining her and knows that this had to happen. “Sometimes life throws us these painful situations for us to learn, to grow, and to re-discover ourselves. I have felt a sense of relief since the friendships ended and made a few beautiful connections with new people that entered my life.”
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