It’s 11pm. I have just woken up from a deep sleep. For maybe a second or two I have that warm, cosy feeling, when suddenly confusion hits me. My mouth is dry and I have no idea what time or day it is. I can smell vomit and my head is pounding. That anxious feeling, that familiar dread, takes its place in the pit of my stomach and I begin to sweat. I hear my friends Lex and Corli, outside, listening to Elton John; they sound like they are having a good time but shame hits me like a sucker punch.
This is not how my night was meant to look. Right now, instead of waking up smelling like vomit with an all-body hangover, I was meant to be tucking all of our kids in to bed. The other kids were meant to come for a sleepover, to watch a movie and eat popcorn. I was meant to be the doting mum tucking them all in for the night while my friends went out for a romantic dinner. But that’s not the scene that is playing out. I flashed back to earlier that afternoon. We met up for a drink where I would take the kids home with me and they went on to have a night out. Let’s ‘we’ have a quick drink? Shall I make it a double? Why not?
God knows how many doubles later and the last thing I recall is falling out of a taxi at my house and vomiting all over my shoes and in front of the kids and my friends.
Then I guess I passed out in bed.
I do remember my daughter Sunny coming in and patting my head and her feeling bad for me because ‘I had eaten something bad’. How did this even happen?
I could cry just thinking about this. I could cry at the shame I felt when I woke up hours later and that feeling that I had let my friends down, but worst of all that my kids had seen me like that.
What was I doing to myself? What example was I setting for my kids? And what sort of friend and mother am I?
I was so sick of asking myself these same questions. The same story where I tell myself what a failure I am and how this was not going to happen again.
That was the last time I had a serious binge drink. That is the night I am so grateful for because it was the driver that got me to take the most honest look at myself and was the catalyst to taking the steps to really change. Months later I made a pact with a group of friends to take 12 months off drinking and set about on a path of self-forgiveness, self-love and discovery, and I have never looked back.
So many nights started off as a few drinks with friends and spiralled into nights of epic drunkenness ending in a blur of over-sharing, inappropriate verbal diarrhoea and behaviour.
I am an over-sharer by nature (which is something I am currently working on), and mixing that with excessive alcohol consumption always leads to some extreme cringe-worthy moments.
I would drink and tell endless stories about, well … my everything, the internal workings of my marriage, the internal workings of other people’s marriages, my deepest secrets, the state of my vagina after childbirth, my sex life, what I ate for breakfast, my opinions on what you are doing with your life. I would leave no stone unturned. No room for people to get to know me. No boundaries and certainly no air of mystery.
At the time it all seemed like a bit of fun, but that waking-up the next day and laughing it off to hide my embarrassment, or sending out apology texts, wasn’t a barrel of laughs and I knew something had to change.
A friend sent me a photo a few days ago of a particularly drunken fiasco taken when we were young and really drunk. A photo that I would have boasted and laughed about years ago, now makes me cringe and I instantly deleted it. It’s funny how sobriety changes your perspective on things. I used to own my drunken actions after the fact and tell the story that it was something I did to be funny, that it was intentional or part of my wild sense of humour. When in reality I was simply trying to justify an action that I just happened to do in a haphazard way, purely as a result of being too drunk.
One of the greatest gifts of sobriety is not waking up with that cringe factor. Sure, I am still somewhat of an over-sharer and it’s probably why I have a podcast and a blog, but I can use that as a tool to show vulnerability rather than a way to try and impress people (and who did I think was actually impressed anyway). Alcohol blurs the boundaries and slows down the activity in our prefrontal cortex. This part of the brain is what helps you to think clearly and make rational decisions. Alcohol makes it harder for the prefrontal cortex to do its thing, disrupting decision-making and rational thought. This is why alcohol can make you act without considering your actions or consequences. Not great for a chronic over-sharer.
If you are waking up with that feeling of dread in the pit of your stomach, sending apology texts, or feeling a little ‘cringey’, it might be time to take a look at your relationship with alcohol and how it is affecting the way you feel about yourself.
These days I ‘over-share’ in a much more considered fashion and I very rarely have cringe-worthy moments. My confidence has soared as I have rebuilt myself and I have become the person I intended to be. I am far from perfect but I feel good about my actions; I am a really great mum, a reliable friend and worthy enough to have healthy boundaries. While I still may not yet have an air of ‘mystery’, I am in a much happier and less cringe-worthy place thanks to sobriety.
I have now been alcohol free almost 3 years. What started as a 12-month challenge became a transformational experience. Once I had made the decision to stop, I went at it with everything I had. I journaled, I wrote gratitudes each day, I listened constantly to podcasts or books with an inspirational message. I made sure if I had a social event I was stocked-up with AF drinks and always gave a time limit. I became friends with the words ‘no thanks’ and I had a very clear vision of the sober person I wanted to be. I exercise more, I love myself, I eat good food and make great choices for myself. I still have a great time and feel more connected to people than I ever have. I am proud of who I have become and I love Sunday mornings.