On November 22, 2013, I woke up to my last hangover. It had been about a month since I left my job in the beer industry, and I had spent the previous evening drinking too much wine and celebrating my partner's birthday.
I remember staring at the ceiling of our untidy bedroom that morning, desperately trying to collect my memories of the evening before and scanning each one for careless words or poor decisions that would later require an apology. I had a routine back then (drink-sleep-shame-work-repeat), forged from years of quiet desperation, undertreated mental illness, and deep, unrelenting shame.
I would like to say that in that moment I saw all of the possibilities that my life held and was emboldened to take action. In truth, I just felt lost and terrified. At 26 years old I was deeply in debt, overweight, sitting on a pile of education with nothing to show for it, and losing the struggle with depression and alcohol abuse. Quite frankly, I was out of options.
Describing what it is to give up an addiction is tough because it is just so. many. things. It's a loss of self, in a way. It's tearing down your own life - everything that makes you feel safe and soothes your pain, however briefly - and accepting that it may take years to build a new one.
It's learning to navigate failure without turning back to the one thing that, up until now, has been a constant source of temporary comfort.
It's feeling all of the emotions that you have spent years trying to numb and willing yourself to sit with them, no matter how difficult.
It's being brave enough to let yourself fuck up without being able to blame your failures on being drunk/high/whatever.
It's not feeling brave at all and going to bed at 6 p.m. because you're afraid of what might happen if you don't.
It's waking up one day and realising that what constitutes "normal" in your life has changed and that you're ready to tackle goals you once thought were impossible.
It's looking back after another year passes and having a little cry, because you survived it all and for a while there you just weren't quite sure that you would. And it was all worth it.
Here's to another year. xx