Every Friday for the entire 2017 calendar year, I have released a new interview + a one-of-a-kind mixed media piece of art as part of my weekly Ray of Light Interview Series: Women in Recovery. Today is the last Friday of this year-long project and I couldn't be more proud of it.
This series has featured brave, kickass, beautiful women who have chosen to embrace an alcohol-free lifestyle. The light was dimmed for these women when they were struggling with alcohol (either a little or a lot). I wished to honor them for their brave choice to ditch alcohol, rediscover themselves through sobriety + shine bright in the process. You can access links to the entire series by clicking here.
And, thank you for following along, leaving comments, sharing on your own social media feeds and witnessing each woman's story and allowing them to be both seen and heard.
What is your sobriety date?
I have different dates for different things of which I have learned to cope without using/acting out. For the purpose of my current abstinence from alcohol, the last time I had a drink was July 24, 2015. (My first date was February 28, 2009)
Do you count days, months or years connected to your sobriety?
I do count the months. For the first year I only vaguely thought of this because I was pregnant at the time that I stopped drinking (this time) but as time went on and as I processed the years that I had behind me and was finding my footing for the years ahead, I've collected these days, months, years with a great deal of intention.
What recovery modality do you use in your recovery from alcohol?
I've had some talk therapy in the past, and have also worked with an energy worker/life coach type of practitioner.
Do you identify yourself as an alcoholic?
I don't, but not coming from a place of feeling superior to that terminology. More so, I don't feel that that label is an accurate assessment of what has lead me to discontinue my use of alcohol in this life. I feel like that by saying I'm an alcoholic that in some way I'm not doing a service to myself or those who are really true alcoholics. Abstaining from alcohol is not easy for me all of the time, but for a great deal of the time, it is.
If you do not identify with the word alcoholic, what do you identify with?
I identity with a person that has come to the conclusion after much looking inward and assessing my experiences so far in life, that my true self and deep intuition is guiding me to not consume alcohol or drugs. I do like to apply humor and lightness to my reveal that I am sober, and identify as a teetotaler or sober-living person. It's important to me to convey that this is not a punishment, that I'm not deprived - this is a celebration for me. I'm happy about it.
What are your top three tools in your sobriety toolbox?
- Radical Honesty and a lot of comedy (with myself, mostly).
- One day at a time (sometimes one half-hour at a time).
- A constant dialogue with God (but I'm not religious, just being honest).
Why or how did you know or decide that you had to quit drinking?
I think that I was lucky to have a lot of space to make this choice, because I was pregnant at the time and I've never touched a drop of alcohol while pregnant or in the first year of breastfeeding my kids. For me, I had been completely sober on and off for about 5 1/2 years (8 years, now) when I decided that moving forward, I did not want to take the risk of falling into the habit of drinking the way I have in the past. My ability to make decisions once I have consumed any amount of alcohol becomes fairly uninhibited and I tend to... well, keep drinking even once my body is saturated. I was finding myself staying up way too late and drinking far too much and for no good reason, and then suffering with mental health pain by day, comforting myself with coffee until it was time to drink again. This to me, as I type it makes me feel really sad that I would spend my days that way. I still tend to stay up late most nights, and drink only tea now, but I do feel like not even having to deal with the added stress on my body that any amount of alcohol tends to place upon me, is basically one less thing to deal with in this ever-over-stimulating life of being a Mother of three and attempting to work and live a relatively happy life.
Do you feel you are more or less creative since you have stopped drinking?
I do. I think that since 2009, since I started on my path to sobriety, that a whole world of creativity and possibility has been awoken within me. It could also be that the acts of creating life (I've had three kids within this time frame) has also played a part in this awakening, but I do find that I notice a lot more. I like to say that I'm living life in a high definition without the use of anything to dull my senses. This means that the negative aspects of not self-medicating and dulling the senses exist alongside what is the ultimate gift, which is that of noticing and remembering little things that I may have missed before, that are very inspirational.
Do you feel you are more productive since you have stopped drinking?
I cannot tell, because I've had three kids and their presence I think gives the illusion to me that I never produce all that I intend to produce. But at the same time, their presence and all of our life: the beauty of our home, the fact that we have toilet paper, that we are thriving for the most part- these things are all evidence of a highly productive human, I'd say.
What has delighted you most since you quit drinking alcohol?
I'm delighted that being a sober-liver feels right and that I don't feel deprived.
Do you have any advice for those in still suffering or those in early recovery?
Listen. Listen to that voice that is guiding you home to the real you. Not the one that is telling you that you don't deserve, or that you're not good, or that you're not worth it. And if you feel a backslide, wait a day. Take a bath, put yourself to bed like your own Mother or Father lovingly would (even if that means imagining a Mother or Father that you didn't have) and wait a day before you act against yourself - listen to your intuition.
Can you recommend any books, bloggers or teachers that have helped you on this path to sobriety?
- I love the book The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz
Are you part of a tribe or a recovery community that supports your sobriety? If so, how did you figure out how to find that tribe/community. What was your path to discovering it?
I am not, but it kind of feels like you are inviting me to yours and if so, I accept.
What are you most proud of now that you live an alcohol-free life?
I am proud to give my kids the Mother that I want for them and I am proud to be becoming the person I’ve set out to be. I'm proud every time I'm in the moment and I feel a lightness about myself and the world around me. That’s when I can feel and see in such clarity all the little details that are contributing to the beauty of of life: no filters, no enhancements, no dulling, only truth and realness - in those times, sobriety feels like a super power.