health

'I was a messy, blackout drunk. On Boxing Day 2018, I knew I'd gone too far.'

It’s 5.20am on Boxing Day 2018. 

I jerk awake, still in my Christmas Day dress, saturated in a pool of sweat in the spare bedroom of the townhouse I share with my husband, five-year-old daughter, and six-month-old baby son.

At first I'm confused. Why am I not in bed with my husband? The bed next to the bassinet my son sleeps in. 

Suddenly, a crippling dread envelopes me as flashes of the past 24 hours start flooding in. I see myself, drunk and belligerent in front of my whole family. A big fight with my husband. Running down the street barefoot to get an Uber to my friend’s BBQ. Falling over and breaking her front fence. Being sent back home in an Uber for being too drunk. And then… blackness.

I scratch around the floor for my iPhone to check my missed calls and messages. The screen lights up with an alert I haven't seen before. It's from Uber: ‘YOUR ACCOUNT HAS BEEN DISABLED, CONTACT US FOR MORE INFORMATION’. 

My heart jumps into my throat. What the hell did I do?!

This was not the first time I had woken up this way after a blackout; confused, anxious, and terrified of the repercussions of my drunken debauchery. But for some reason, this time felt different.

I was a 35-year-old wife and mum of two and I’d just been banned from Uber for reasons I was too drunk to remember. I had children who needed me, I had ruined Christmas Day, and it was pretty clear in that moment that I was falling apart and something had to change. 

Tears streamed down my cheeks as I looked in the mirror at my face; so bloated, so lost, and so sad. It was the face of a woman who I had officially lost all love and respect for.

I should never have been an alcohol drinker.

I was a messy, blackout drunk pretty much as soon as I started drinking at age 14, and I stayed that way until my last drink on 31 December, 2018. 

I binge-drank through university, through a successful career as a marketer, through marriage, home ownership, and having children. More often than not, it ended in a similar way: crying, blacked out, and doing really stupid things that I would regret and beat myself up about, for days and sometimes weeks to follow.

"I binge-drank through university". Image: Supplied.

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Trying to moderate my alcohol consumption began very early on. I would set rules for myself around what type of alcohol I should avoid (white wine copped most of the blame!), but as soon as the alcohol entered my bloodstream and took effect, it was a losing battle. 

Quitting didn’t occur to me. I didn’t even see it as an option. I thought that only alcoholics, who drank out of coffee mugs at 7am, had to quit forever. It was this exact stigma of alcoholism that kept me trapped for years in my own vicious cycle of drinking.

I was far too ‘together’ to be an alcoholic, and the reality of life without alcohol was terrifying. I’d heard the way my friends talked about non-drinkers when we were at weddings and parties. While I prayed that one day, I would learn how to moderate and live happily ever after, that was never going to be the case. 

Getting sober.

A few days after the Christmas Day carnage, I was in the passenger seat of my sister’s car. She said eight words that gave me the final push I needed to finally make a change: ‘Have you ever thought about never drinking again?’.

I felt a dagger through my heart, and sat in silence without responding. What normal drinkers don’t realise is that for people who struggle with their drinking, owning up to and addressing the issue is excruciating. 

She didn’t see the tears welling in my eyes as it dawned on me that my private dilemma was not so private anymore. 

I felt like a complete failure. 

But I was so far from a failure.

That night, New Year's Eve 2018, I drank my last ever alcoholic beverage. On New Year’s Day 2019, I pulled out a new journal and made a plan to recreate my life. To start my life again at 35 years old. 

I began by implementing healthy daily actions, starting small, with my goals being to just stay sober, exercise, and meditate. 

Then, day by day, I added to these actions as I became more and more confident and capable. I sat with my feelings, journaled, binge-read 'quit-lit', listened to sobriety podcasts, and joined all the Facebook sober communities. Slowly but surely my lifelong anxiety melted away, and I began to feel happier and more comfortable in my skin. 

Lucy, 2.5 years sober. Image: Supplied.

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Quitting drinking was the catalyst for more magic than I could ever have wished for. Sobriety allowed me to see my life with so much clarity, like a veil over my life was lifted. I started to value, trust and actually like the person I was. My looks started changing, I lost weight and started to glow. I felt like I had discovered this secret in sobriety that needed to be shared. Despite its bad reputation, sobriety was so joyous, and I wanted others to learn how to experience this for themselves. 

I became dedicated to helping others with their own drinking and undertook a career transition, training to become a Life Coach and then partnering up with my incredible business partner Jen Clements to create Thrivalist, an online sobriety program for women. We have helped over 200 women change their relationship with alcohol in nine months and look forward to helping thousands more.

Three things you should know if you’re questioning your drinking.

There are three major things that I love to share with women who are questioning their own drinking:

1. Alcohol Use Disorder sits on a big spectrum, so rather than it being a definitive black and white answer as to whether or not you’re an alcoholic, there is a huge amount of grey-area in between ‘normal drinkers’ and ‘alcoholics’ where you could sit. 

2. You don’t need to identify as an alcoholic to want to quit booze. Rather than asking yourself, ‘am I an alcoholic?’, try asking, ‘is alcohol holding me back from achieving my dreams?’, or ‘is drinking alcohol still serving me and my life?’.

3. If you do the work, choosing to live an alcohol-free life is not a sacrifice at all. As Brene Brown says, sobriety is a super-power!

I have experienced more happiness, love for myself and others, success and abundance in my sober life than ever before. I am a much better mother, I am healthy, fit and have an incredible amount of energy.

And most importantly, I can look in the mirror and be happy with and proud of the woman looking back at me. 

For more information on Thrivalist, visit www.thrivalistsobriety.com, and join the free Thrivalist Facebook Community here. For more information on Lucy’s 1:1 Life Coaching visit www.lucyquick.com.

Feature Image: Supplied.