Welcome back to Shea’s story. Last we heard from Shea, he was about to embark on the challenging Hello Sunday Morning Moonlight Kozi Trek. But did he make it to the top? In this second part of Shea’s story, we witness how his decision to open up about being sober curious and how talking about the loss of his mother on social media lead to unexpected positive outcomes. Through the Moonlight Kozi challenge, Shea found solace in connecting with like-minded individuals, leading to a life-changing experience at the summit of Mt. Kosciuszko. Join us as we explore Shea’s journey of resilience and the light bulb moment which allowed him to process his relationship with his mum.
Trigger Warning: This week’s blog will focus on the impact of a loved one’s drinking on a family. If you have lost a loved one due to alcohol or are currently going through it, we suggest you may want to skip this blog.
Signing up to the Moonlight Kozi challenge was one thing. Making myself vulnerable by announcing it to the world, and specifically the reasons why, was a bigger leap to take. Up until this point I had not posted anything about my Mum’s passing, in part because I wasn’t a big social media user. However, I did realise it could aid both my fundraising efforts for Hello Sunday Morning, and increasing awareness on the cost that alcohol dependence can have.
It took a month after registering for the challenge before I finally felt ready to post about Mum’s passing, her dependency on alcohol, and my own sober journey.
I was anxious about what the response would be and how people would react to this news.
The response I did receive after posting, was overwhelming. Donations poured in, even from people I hadn’t spoken to in years, and the messages of support were incredibly heart-warming. But what really moved me was the number of people who privately shared their own stories of struggles with alcohol in their families and amongst their friends. Knowing that I had created a safe space for others to open up about their deeply personal experiences was truly significant.
Late to the challenge, I missed out on e-meeting most of the other participants in 2022. Luckily there was another late addition to the group, who also hailed from Melbourne. Despite our partners’ initial concerns about meeting a stranger in the early hours, we arranged a training walk together in the Dandenongs at the 1000 steps. It went well, as we shared stories of our lives and our evolving relationship with alcohol. Another rigorous training walk followed, helping me feel physically prepared for what lay ahead.
The week of the trek however, brought increased anxiety: family logistics, meeting new trekkers, the possibility of rain without proper gear and how I would cope emotionally, were all on my mind. The result was very little sleep and a brutal 2am wake-up on the morning of the trek.
"I needn’t have worried, as the trek turned out to be one of the best experiences of my life."
I met an inspiring group of fellow trekkers, including parents who had changed their drinking habits for their children. I even had the chance to meet two of Hello Sunday Morning’s team members, and to learn about their journey in the organisation. The trek itself was brilliant. I thoroughly enjoyed the physical challenge of getting up to Australia’s highest peak, and the 22km we covered in total through the magnificent Snowy Mountains.
Importantly, in the lead up to sunrise at the summit of Mt. Kosciuszko, I found a quiet place for reflection. I said some words, shed some tears and spread some of Mum’s ashes there. It will now forever be a place of connection to my mum, one I plan to return there with my family in the future.
"The benefits from this experience to my own healing process continued after."
While listening to The Imperfects podcast on the drive home, guest Samuel Johnson spoke about choosing not to blame himself for a past trauma. I had a moment of realisation that I myself still held guilt with regards to my mum. The nagging thoughts of had I done enough to help her? Could I have done things differently? I had these thoughts a lot over the years during her decline, and while I knew they were illogical, I still couldn’t shake them. This was the lightbulb moment I needed to let those feelings of guilt go, and I immediately felt a weight lift.
Since getting back I’ve taken great pride in telling people about the Moonlight Kozi Trek and challenge and I’m so thankful to Hello Sunday Morning and Inspired Adventures for making this experience possible. I feel like we all have done something remarkable, and I certainly hope the money raised can have a positive impact in the HSM community. I also can’t thank my beautiful family enough for their support. Seeing my wife Nat and daughter Evie waiting for me at the finish line with a “Well done Daddy!” sign was as good as it gets 😍 . And to all those who have supported me on this journey and donated, from the bottom of my heart thank you 💛
Haven’t read Part 1 of Shea’ inspiring journey? Don’t worry, you can catch up by clicking the link.