Every Friday for the entire 2017 calendar year, I release a new interview + a newly created mixed media piece of art as part of my weekly Ray of Light Interview Series: Women in Recovery. This series features 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 wish 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.
Do you remember how we first met or came to know one another?
Yes, I found you on Instagram. Your daily gratitude posts inspired me to make gratitude part of my daily journal. I watch your Instagram stories daily and am blown away by your writing and art. I look forward to the day we can meet in person.
What is your sobriety date? August 11, 2013
Do you count days, months or years connected to your sobriety?
In the first year I counted minutes, now I count years. Every now and then I will check my sobriety tracker and announce to the world the exact hour and minutes of my sober date.
Do you use an app or some other method to do this counting?
When I first quit drinking I was reading a lot on my Kindle so I downloaded an app there to keep it private. Not like anyone would see it but I didn’t want it on my phone. I still use it today, it’s called Days Clean.
What recovery modality do you use in your recovery from alcohol?
I like to refer to my first year of sobriety as the white knuckle method. I did everything and anything I could to not drink. I read, cried, journaled, and indulged in desserts! It wasn’t until April of 2015 that I joined Instagram (anonymously) and found others just like me. I was blown away by the fact that other people were talking about drinking and sobriety on social media. It inspired me and gave me the encouragement I needed to come clean about my drinking. Today, I look at my friends on Instagram and Facebook as my recovery family, they have changed my life completely.
Do you identify yourself as an alcoholic?
This is a tough one for me. I know on paper I’m an alcoholic but from the day I quit drinking I have very rarely used that label. Let me just say that the first year of sobriety I must have googled “How Do You Know You’re An Alcoholic” at least 500 times. I needed justification back then and I never got it and that is the reason why I’m sober today. I think this is what stops a lot of women from quitting drinking. If they are not an alcoholic in their eyes then why stop? I don’t want women to try and justify by labeling themselves. If you can’t control your drinking, like I couldn't, then I truly believe you should quit. Most of my friends, to this day, think I quit for health reasons only and that is okay with me.
What are your top three tools in your sobriety toolbox?
My journal. I started a journal about six months before I finally quit drinking. I didn’t realize it at the time but most of my entries were about how miserable I was in my drinking. Keeping a journal helps me hash things out and reflect on how far I’ve come.
Food and Exercise. For years I put my energy towards eating and drinking and making excuses of why I couldn’t take care of myself. Food and alcohol addiction go hand-in-hand for me. I’m continuously working on my relationship with food and overeating. Exercise is my saving grace and has helped me become both physically and mentally stronger.
Instagram and Facebook. I thank God for my virtual family daily and cannot imagine my life without them. If I'm having a down day, I go to Instagram and love on others and allow them to love on me. This has been the biggest change in my life. I think I’m almost social now!
Why or how did you know or decide that you had to quit drinking?
I lost my mom in 2009 and during her nine month battle with cancer my drinking began to spiral out of control. After she passed, I spent the next four years trying to figure out my life without her in it. I had always drank a lot, more than your average girl, but drinking while grieving was new to me. I would be happy one minute and on the bathroom floor crying uncontrollably the next. In hindsight, my rock bottom while drinking started in my twenties but, to be honest, I did not become aware of it until 2012. I had one night that was my complete rock bottom in July 2013. I quit drinking a few weeks later.
Do you feel you are more or less creative since you have stopped drinking?
Less! I used to drink champagne and chardonnay while scrapbooking. It was my favorite thing to do and when I quit drinking, I quit scrapbooking. Drinking made me uninhibited in everything I did, which included being creative. I would scrapbook all day on Sunday and wake up Monday morning to these beautiful pages that I barely remembered making. I’m in the process of tapping back into my creative side now and know that I don’t need alcohol to do that.
Do you feel you are more productive since you have stopped drinking?
Oh, yes! I realized when I was drinking my time in this life was getting shorter. My weekends were defined by alcohol and gone quickly, and my weeks were defined by the aftermath of my drinking. Today, I have a plan which includes a daily 5:00 a.m. wakeup, personal growth time, and exercise. I’m a big list-maker but I was getting down on myself for not completing most of the things on my list. I’m currently working on changing my list from “To Do’s” to “Things I’ve Done.” It helps keep the stress and disappoint away.
What has delighted you most since you quit drinking alcohol?
The freedom I feel is amazing! I feel free to say and do whatever I want without drowning myself in chardonnay. Early on in my sobriety, if I wanted to do something or go somewhere, I wouldn’t because I knew I couldn’t drink. I thought that was how it was always going to be but I was wrong. I needed to retreat during the first year, or more, but it’s not how I live today and that is the best feeling!
Do you have any advice for those in still suffering or those in early recovery?
My advice is to journal even if you are still drinking. In your journal ask yourself questions about your drinking and answer them with complete honesty. Why do you drink? It seems like a simple question but it’s tough to unravel, especially for someone who has been drinking for 30 years. Make a plan that will work for you. I chose to go it alone out of shame and if I had to do it all over again, I would seek help. We are all different when it comes to recovery, don’t feel like you need to follow one rule, make up your own rules.
Can you recommend three books, bloggers or teachers that have helped you on this path to sobriety?
I didn’t think to read blogs when I was getting sober so I searched Amazon for books. Here are my top three:
- Drinking: A Love Story by Caroline Knapp (I re-read Drinking: A Love Story at least once a year)
- Guts: The Endless Follies and Tiny Triumphs of a Giant Disaster by Kristen Johnston
- Mommy Doesn’t Drink Here Anymore: Getting Through the First Year of Sobriety by Rachael Brownell
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?
Yes, Instagram helped me discover my tribe. It means the world to me and it may sound crazy AF but social media friends have become some of my best friends. I can put a post up on Instagram or Facebook about my sobriety and my friends and family won’t like or comment. This is something that really hurt in the beginning but doesn’t anymore because of my tribe.
What are you most proud of now that you live an alcohol-free life?
My ability to live authentically in my life and be okay with being me. Alcohol was my armor and taking that armor off has been a four year journey. It’s layers upon layers and what I’m finding is that alcohol covered me completely as someone I was not. Reversing who I thought I was and uncovering the true me has been one hell of a ride! I love myself in my imperfections and I’m proud of the fact that I really know who I am at 50.