Author: Anne Luong
My sobriety journey started on September 9, 2020.
The journey has not been linear, it has been messy with a lot of trial and error, and many confusing and shocking moments.
When I first gave up alcohol, I did it for a guy, cold turkey with no support. This led to resentment towards him and my relationship with alcohol. I felt so alone when I gave alcohol up.
I was sober curious for about 3 years before I realized that alcohol was controlling me, and it became the culprit to all my issues for about 12 years. I began drinking when I was 17 as a social thing; because I wanted to fit in with my friends. My social circle involved people who would drink on any occasion and I thought it was normal. We were all binge drinkers. I quickly started to like how it made me feel.
I hated my home life, as my parents were toxic to one another. I was severely depressed and was suffering from severe anxiety. I was only 19 when my drinking started to spiral out of control. When I turned 21 I was so far gone and this is when I was heavily drinking and partying all of the time. Many traumatic events happened during this time and my childhood trauma kept creeping back to me. Alcohol made me feel safe, it took the pain away; but only temporarily.
I’d partake in risky behaviour and I lost complete control of my life. But that wasn’t enough for me to stop, even with the frequent blackouts and family members expressing their concerns about my alcohol consumption.
I would take 2-week breaks or a month just to prove to others and myself that I was “okay” and that I didn’t have a drinking problem. I don’t know how many times I’ve put “Sober Day 1” in my calendar only to last a few weeks. I kept re-writing this on my calendar, because deep down I knew I wanted to stop drinking, but didn’t know how to. I didn’t want to feel like an outcast for not drinking, how backward is that?
I thought I needed to hit rock bottom with a DUI to quit. The year 2021 was a wild rollercoaster, that I couldn’t get off of. After a very dramatic break up I completely lost it. I thought I needed to go back to drinking, it was an excuse. Even though I knew drinking was not what I wanted for myself, I didn’t care. I wanted to feel ‘normal’. I thought to myself, “well I took 4 months off from drinking, I can go back to drinking in moderation, what’s the big deal everyone drinks, and I would be weird if I didn’t drink.”
The shame, guilt and resentment I had towards myself kept me in a cycle of drinking. The person I was dating at the time, kept calling me an alcoholic so I started to believe him. The relationship was toxic to begin with. Since I went back to drinking I felt ashamed, like I had let everyone down. The truth was I had let myself down. So I’d drink in my room alone and then hide it from my sister. I would drink and drive around drunk so that my sister wouldn’t know. I didn’t want her to see me like this at home.
My rock bottom was when I woke up from a night of binge drinking all alone. I woke up next to a growler I had DoorDash from the night before and drank to myself — at this point, I didn’t recognize myself anymore, alcohol took away my self-esteem and self-worth. It stripped me of my identity and I allowed it.
It was holding me back from being my true authentic self.
This was when I had my awakening. I knew I had two choices — to continue living this way blaming others and feeling sorry for myself or to walk away and to change, FOR ME, and to finally do it FOR MYSELF. At that moment I chose ME.
The moment I hit rock bottom was also the very same moment I was reborn again.
Fast forward – I decided to break up with alcohol for good, I have been sober since July 27, 2021. I’m so thankful for the entire sober online community, it has changed my perspective on alcohol completely. A huge thank you to the Reframe app, it saved me. I have made real sober friends and I got rid of the ‘fake it until you make it’ mantra.
Forming real connections and attending therapy is essential to my sobriety. For me, it was learning about the psychology and neuroscience behind alcohol and addiction. I believe that the stigma behind addiction and sobriety is so messed up in our society.
People like to blame the person struggling, that they are the ones who chose that path, that they can be and do better, why drink or do drugs? That’s not the point.
It starts with the pain, the problem, and the feeling that is rooted in the person.
The substance is a crutch, it’s addictive. Once you try it and it can numb or make the feeling and the problem go away and block out that noise, even if it’s temporarily – it comes back to you. Your brain is now wired to that substance. Until you tap inwards and understand the science behind it, a lot of people will just blame the person and that they have a choice.
We all have choices, that is true – but mental illness is a disease, and sometimes it’s so much deeper than that.
People used to tell me there’s other ways to cope. No shit I knew that. This is where I would hide it by being overly active. I would look at the part. I’d work out, look presentable, I hid behind my success and my business. I had it all – from the outside world, but no one knew I was struggling with depression or anxiety or that I was using alcohol to mask it all. I’ve been suicidal since I was 13.
Don’t ever judge a book by its cover, because you never really know someone’s story or their struggle.
We hide behind social media and post the highlights of our life, no one shows the real them on social media; at least that’s what I did for 12 years. Ultimately, I had to accept my past and all the mistakes I made in the last decade, but those mistakes led me here.
Today, I can continue growing and changing, because I’m allowing myself to forgive and accept the past version of myself. Today, I hold space and compassion for the new version of me. My past does not define me.
This doesn’t make me better than anyone else today – I share my story, not for sympathy or to have anyone congratulate me on this journey. I share my story and truth so that others don’t have to suffer or go through this alone. Healing and sobriety are not linear, but so worth it. Especially when you know you’re not alone.
It just takes one person’s truth out there to help you realize your truth. I didn’t know back then what I know now. But today I am no longer that sad and lost girl.
By being vulnerable and sharing my truth, I hope to shed some light and help end the stigma around mental health and addiction:
- By breaking up with alcohol for good, it has allowed me to see myself for myself, I accept all my flaws – the bad and the good. Most importantly I have learned to love myself again.
- Today, I allow myself to feel through my emotions and to let myself flow and change at my own pace. I am an open book and love sharing my story and struggles with others.
- No one has to go through sobriety alone or feel ashamed for speaking up. Share your truth and let yourself transform into the person you are meant to be. Everyone is worthy and deserves true happiness.
- You can accomplish so much more in life if you tap in with yourself and focus inwards. Be true to yourself.
- Don’t let society tell you how to live or let social media fool you.
Nothing comes easy, start trusting yourself. It starts from within. Trust the process.