Submitted from one of our Bush Tribe members. Names removed or changed* for anonymity.
I am writing to you on this beautiful morning from the Bush Capital (Canberra) on what is my one year anniversary from the day I decided to stop drinking for life! It is a starkly different way of waking up these days, early in the morning, rested, recuperated and excited for what the day has to offer. This time last year, I was waking up in the afternoon when my partner (Trent)* came home from work to find that I hadn’t even made it to work and was drunk, passed out on our bed after drinking copious amounts of wine and had sucked back a disgraceful amount of cigarettes.
I remember waking up when Trent walked in, still half drunk and feeling like I was the lowest human being that ever walked this earth. I will probably never forget that look on his face. I just looked up at him and burst into tears and finally uttered the words that had needed to come out of my mouth for years and years…. “I am an alcoholic”.
I grew up on a farm in Central NSW in a remote and isolated area. Although I have fabulous memories of being a free-range kid who enjoyed a wonderful upbringing, it was here that I observed from a young age the Australian drinking culture at its “best”, whereby men and a surprising number of women would drink tremendous volumes of grog when we would come together for gatherings, the footy, picnic races or just for a beverage at the pub because it was Friday.
At the time, the farmers were all battling the drought of the 1990’s and I would suggest I was observing the culture of drinking to forget your worries, using alcohol as a coping mechanism, as a medicine to stop the worry for at least 8 hours until the sun rose again and they realised that the problems that isolation, drought and financial worries bring still remained.
My own relationship with alcohol really commenced when I started University. It was here that alcohol began to provide me with social lubrication and filled me with the self-esteem required to endure the Sydney party and clubbing scene.
Unfortunately for me, I naturally drank differently to my friends and peers. I drank fast, I drank hard, I drank anything and I was always the last one staggering at the party. I never wanted the party to stop and I never wanted to go back to the reality of life.
Personally, I was dealing with the trauma of having grown up with an alcoholic father, who had suffered horrendous depression and had taken his own life after years of suffering when I was only 23 years of age. Instead of dealing with the grief, sadness and trauma that this experience filled me with, I drank. I drank to suppress the pain, I drank to quieten the busyness in my brain and I drank to forget. I actually drank wanting to black out...
My drinking habits became less social when I moved to Canberra and I was isolated from my friends and family. I had moved here for an incredible career opportunity and rented a beautiful apartment. However, the sadness still remained deep inside me and so I began drinking at home alone. One, two or three bottles of wine accompanied with a packet of cigarettes.
I have probably known for a long time deep down that I have a problem with alcohol and that I had religiously turned to grog as a weapon of defence towards stress, overwhelm, worry and anxiety. However, when I met my partner Trent, we had a whirlwind start to our relationship where seven months in we had purchased an apartment and moved in together. It was at this point that he could see that my relationship with alcohol was not healthy and that I was self-destructing on a semi regular basis. Trent handled me in a firm but gentle manner when I was in these fragile states. However, he also displayed incredible moral courage and had the ability to articulate the pain this was bringing to him, having to watch and observe me drink and smoke and lead an exceptionally unhealthy life. My beautiful relationship with him has helped me realise how lucky I truly am as a person and through our conversations I have learnt how much I had to lose if I didn’t change my habits and didn’t address the internal issues I had suppressed for countless years.
Amazing things can occur when you finally have the courage to identify, accept and tackle the reality of being an alcoholic and all of the traumas, guilt and shame that go hand in hand with the beastly condition. Once I was finally able to say those words and acknowledge to the world that I did in fact have a terrible relationship with alcohol, the wheels quickly sped into motion and I was able to begin my journey to rehabilitation. I was so fortunate to have the incredible support from my partner, my family, my Groodle (he has been an incredible companion on this journey) and my beautiful friends.
I was also very grateful that in the lead up to the day where I decided to stop drinking I had watched your episode on Australian Story as well as the episode featuring Talitha Cummins. I truly believe this contributed immensely to my ability to muster enough strength to say no to alcohol moving forward as I no longer felt alone. I could finally see on the Television in front of me that two beautiful, strong, successful and career driven women had previously struggled with the same issues that I had, and yet they had displayed the strength and will power to come out the other side, a healthier, happier and better version of themselves. I can’t quite describe to you the hope and inspiration that this planted in my mind at the time and continually throughout the last 12 months.
I don’t think you can actually document and explain all of the benefits attributed to a sober life. You gain so much quality of life instantly, and I couldn’t recommend the decision more to anyone who is suffering in the same manner that I used to. I have gained time, calmness, happiness and I can now notice the beauty in the small things in life.
My finances are so much healthier, we are well on our way to saving for our second home, I have made my first investment in shares and have savings set aside for holidays and emergencies. I sleep!!! I actually get a healthy night’s sleep most evenings. I exercise regularly and go for amazing walks with our dog and listen to inspiring podcasts. I am kicking goals professionally and setting myself up for a successful career. My relationships are stronger, healthier and long lasting. I am kinder as a person and have time and space to be considerate of others.
Everything in my life has improved and I couldn’t be happier. And to top it off, my partner proposed to me and we are engaged to be married and spend the rest of our lives together. When we celebrated my first year of sobriety ... it was so stunning and delightful and I was able to be so present without alcohol running through my system.
Shanna and the SITC community, I would like to extend my sincere gratitude and thanks to you all for assisting me on my sober adventure! Although I am not a very active participant on the SITC socials, I am a silent observer, perusing the wisdom and encouragements. It is here that I have sought guidance, strength and motivation to stay the course.
Our HUGEST heartfelt gratitude to ''C'' for sharing her extraordinary story of hope, courage, and change. We want nothing more at SITC than to share YOUR STORIES and amplify that hope - and we edit and do the work for you, and remove your identity when required. If you would like to help, it's all here for you.