Meet Matt, a dedicated member of the Daybreak community, who embarked on a transformative journey to embrace an alcohol-free life. His marathon began on January 1st, 2016, and it has been a remarkable ride filled with triumphs, setbacks, and profound self-discoveries. Matt’s personal story highlights the extraordinary path that helped him discover the inner strength he always knew was within him. Despite societal norms and personal challenges being against him, Matt fearlessly embraced change, fuelled by unexpected support from the Daybreak community. Get inspired by his incredible journey below.
The decision to stop drinking was a marathon that began on the morning of January 1st, 2016. I had already achieved some early milestones, like going alcohol-free for one month, two months, and three months. However, there was a lot more for me to tackle before I could make these changes last long term. This journey has been a continuous 24/7 marathon filled with challenges. There have been moments of triumph, as well as steep hills and deep valleys along the way. I’ve also stumbled into dark caves and found myself stuck for days.
Drinking away my anxiety appeared to be the customary, rational, and socially accepted way to deal with stress. I was a busy executive with a hectic schedule striving to make an impact. Drinking alcohol was how I took the edge off my intense workdays. It was a quick, convenient, and legally accessible solution for me. Even the airlines recognised this need, offering complimentary alcohol during my Melbourne to Sydney flight between 5-7. Indulging in drinks helped me relax and eased the pressures I faced.
I showed up at work and excelled each day amidst tears, and the wear and tear this lifestyle had on me. While the nature of my work did offer some motivation and inspiration, it was during the evenings when emotions came bubbling up to the surface. I convinced myself that prioritising my wellbeing was insignificant as long as I was adequately rewarded and meeting societal expectations. This distorted mindset served as a justification for my excessive drinking.
There were numerous self-reflections and the occasional pause by the ocean during my commute, but overall – I just kept pushing on. Over time, I’ve come to know that wrestling with day-to-day crippling anxiety has been my true marathon. The alcohol was my cup at the marathon water station, the hydration I needed to keep running.
I’d had a three-month and then a six-month break from alcohol, thanks to the Daybreak app. In fact, without the app, I don’t believe I would have found the headspace to take a break. My final decision to end my drinking was in June 2020, at the end of the first lockdown. With the pandemic in full swing and no end in sight, my organisation was in overdrive, trying to protect workers and clients from the relatively new virus.
I had lost hope of ever having another “1st January 2016 quit” moment. As I gazed outside during my taxi ride to work, I realised I had reached rock bottom. I felt powerless and had lost all will to say no to my next drink. I felt ashamed and very alone. It was 7:30 am on June 18, 2020, when I reached out to Daybreak, explaining that I didn’t think I could ever stop again and asked the community to sit with me, to hold some space with me. The fan base responded in seconds. “…you got this…,” “…you are amazing…,” “…forgive yourself…,” “…we are right there with you.”
My taxi driver couldn’t understand why I was crying into my phone. How does one explain that my 24/7 community had just come to my rescue? I’ve saved that message on the app to remind me of the timely, life-changing support I received from the Daybreak community.
So, I’m now coming up to three years alcohol free next month. So many changes. Amid lockdowns, breakdowns, and confronting demons, I’ve worked hard to develop a new career in academia (which I love). It’s not all roses. It’s not easy. I’ve had personal loss and grief when my partner passed away. Yet, I still remain porous, vulnerable, and open to love.
When times are tough, do I think about drinking? Absolutely. Do I want to drink? No way.
I miss the accountability and integrity of big leadership. However, I’ve discovered new ways to channel my experience. I’d be happy to live the rest of my life choral singing, dancing and travelling with friends and lovers, preferably all at once.
Life is not meant to be easy. But it is no longer a marathon. I still run today, but I’ve learned to pace myself, to know my limits, and I am no longer running away, or running from fear.