An open letter to Tanya Gold

Dear Tanya,

Sorry I pissed you off by quoting your article from the Guardian on a social media post.

But as social media is an awful forum for conducting a discussion I thought I would write you a note.

We are the Mindful Drinking Movement™. We started in 2015 with the help of a small business loan, our own savings and support from our members. We have about 10,000 members all trying to achieve their own goal in relation to alcohol. For some that means just taking a month off, for others going alcohol-free.

Our aim is to not tell people what to do but help them achieve their own goal – why, well I gave up 5 years ago and realised, once I finally managed to kick a nasty drinking habit, that this is what would have helped me in the 15 years I struggled to control my drinking. I needed a place where people could accept the stage of the journey I was on, this is what we try to do in Club Soda. No judgement.

Jussi and I are liberals. So you will see that our values reflect that ethos. Like you reflect in your article, I could have done much more with my talents, although the chances of me being an MP were hampered as much by my political party of choice as it was my drinking!

When a member shared your article on our facebook group (via the share button on the Guardian website) these were the responses from our members. I hope you are proud of the inspiration your article gave others:

“This definitely resonates with me. Every day the voice in my head tells me not to go out, not to connect, don’t try that because you’ll be rubbish at it, they don’t like you anyway. I have to remind myself that this is the voice that said I could have one drink, that it would be different this time, that I was in control. Essentially, that voice is full of shit and wants me dead. So I smile sweetly into the mirror, tell it to fuck off and go and do the things I’m afraid of!”

“I went to school with Tanya. She was this really sweet kid who was on the debating team with me: incredibly precocious and loquacious and (as she is now) completely honest.”

” I can totally relate to this the “monkey on my shoulder” has never left me and never will.”

I am passionate about sharing real role models to our members, who are all people, like we were, holding down careers whilst also drinking too much.

This is why we shared a quote from your article that is still live and public on the Guardian website as our morning inspirational posts. I find quotes from our members and real people who have ‘been-there-and-done that’ far more powerful and honest than a nice ‘saying’ imposed on a picture of the sea!

I am sorry that you did not see this as the celebration of your experience and writing that we thought it was.

Whether you like it or not your writing has made you an inspiration for others, and if that helps even one person achieve their alcohol-related goals, then I guess I will just have to put up with the fact I have pissed you off (and continue to develop my thicker skin – it was like this when I finally met Andy Bell from Erasure. A little bit of me died!)

If you are free to come and join us at our Mindful Drinking Festival on August 13th in Bermondsey Square, I will buy you a drink to say sorry.

Cheers

Laura Willoughby

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