Last month, Laura met Africa on the tube home. They talked about Club Soda and sober journeys. Africa has been sober for over six months. This guest article by her tracks her journey as she attempts to find clarity of self-expression and discover freedom without alcohol.
Every action requires that first step, for me this is just one of many to come. For a long time I’ve found myself feeling discontented and dissatisfied, unable to understand why I behaved or reacted the way I did, baffled by my own being. These confusions are part of a bigger picture which I will soon paint, but bottom line is, today I choose to embrace the woman I am becoming, I choose to nurture and value the vulnerable girl inside. I made the decision to take charge of my existence, to live a full life with no vapid interruptions. I am nowhere near perfection nor seeking it, I am simply looking to attain personal freedom.
I have always found comfort in writing, art, and everything music. As I got older I gradually shelved all those things, deciding it best not to give myself a title or commit to anything (enter commitment issues #2), this was all driven by fear and low self-esteem, disguised as protection from failure. I started to find false comfort and confidence in other things, mainly vices that deterred me even further. The realisation that none of these temporary joys were serving me, brings me here. I want to unearth the creative girl I once knew.
It has been such a painful process, but it’s just that. A process. It will take time, there’s no overnight fix, it is a journey of ups and inevitable downs and I have a bloody long way to go. Through all this its a must that I remain aware that I am injecting something beautiful back into my life. Clarity.
When I was buzzed or drunk, I felt more desirable, sociable, wittier…more ‘me’. The ritual of drinking itself was also something that sparkled in my eyes. The moment of bonding when someone offers you a drink and you accept or hands you one without you even having to ask, the ‘deep’ transparent conversations after a bottle or few or other party favours, the declarations of love and compliments in abundance. Feeding the myth that you need to have alcohol/drugs in your system or in your hand to get a conversation going. Fast forward to the present day, to then have to readjust and remove all those beliefs, to remove the habits I’ve carelessly acquired over a very long period of time, and replace them with new ones. It can be so daunting, but I’ve made it my goal to normalise this new way of living, one day at a time.
I truly believe that the concept of ‘one day at a time’ applies to so much more than just alcohol abuse/drug addiction etc. To me it means taking the little steps necessary in taking control of your life. Those little moments of staying power add up to something wonderful! Just get through those first uncomfortable 24 hrs and you’ve already mastered something great. The trouble is that we assume tomorrow is promised to us so we tend to postpone things and avoid taking the first steps, but you only have this moment, right now, today! However many words we speak and the things we say we are going to do, it’s no use if there is no action to follow it. Life-changes will make you feel discomfort, awkwardness and even pain, but on the other side of that lies the gifts of perseverance.
Today I am 6 months sober (6 f*cking months! How did this happen, I am so thankful honestly) so I wanted to check back in and share my story thus far, I also wanted to make it clear that this is hard work! Some people assume its easy but that’s because we work so hard to make it look easy. Please remember social media is a fickle place where we mainly share our ups and success stories and not enough of our downs and cries for help (although I always try to document my experience as accurately as possible on my sobriety instagram). I’ve cried till I couldn’t cry anymore, I’ve hated myself for having this ‘abnormal’ issue, I’ve fallen into deep depression many times, I’ve nearly relapsed, and have ended up turning to therapy to get help with some underlying issues that have floated to the surface since I gave up drinking. All the scary stuff aside, it’s undoubtedly been the most beautiful, rewarding 6 months of my entire life. I’ve never felt more alive + present. I have GOT SHIT DONE and got in touch with my spiritual side a lot more, which is another path I’ve always been drawn to. In all this, I have simultaneously become a better daughter, sister, girlfriend, friend and generally a better human being.
Thanks to Africa for allowing us to share her writing! You can read more at her blog here.