One year sober

It was a particularly raucous party at my place that tipped me over the edge.

That night, my drunken exploits were so epic I have very little recollection of what happened.

The next morning, I woke up wrapped in that familiar cloak of shame and regret.

The hangxiety was so crippling, I could barely breathe.

It was becoming a regular occurrence. Sunday morning panic had become my default position.

With every big night, my mental health took a hammering. Even after just one or two drinks, I’d feel flattened the next day.

That was just over a year ago. I haven’t had a drink since.

Sobriety has been one of the most helpful things I’ve ever done to manage my mental health.

I feel calmer, happier and more in control than I have in a long time.

Those of you who read my first book, High Sobriety will know that my relationship with alcohol has been a tumultuous one since I was a teenager, growing up in Scotland’s booze-soaked culture.

When it came out in 2013, I unwittingly became the poster girl for sobriety.

I felt the pressure to present an image of sober serenity long after the book hit the shelves.

Truth is, I was a much more mindful, moderate drinker – at first.

But as the years progressed, I found moderation increasingly a challenge.

Drinking was often a fast-track to belonging for someone who spent too many years looking for external validation of her self-worth.

On that hungover Sunday morning a year ago, I messaged my friends to fill in the blanks. They told me I’d missed a great party.

But I knew I was missing so much more.

I was missing the chance to be present in my life. I was missing the joy that comes from cultivating deep emotional connections not built on booze.

And more than anything, I was missing the chance to be the stronger, more authentic version of myself I knew I could be if I had the courage to swim against a social tide that tricks you into believing that belonging comes in a bottle.

They say that the quieter you become the more you can hear.

For me, alcohol made a lot of noise. I used it to drown out those loud, messy feelings I didn’t want to face.

Taking it away has been raw and confronting at times. But jeez, it’s been worth it.

Turning down the noise has allowed me to really listen to what’s underneath.

There’s strength in that clarity.

Being able to sit with myself – my whole self, flaws and all – is a work in progress but it’s more rewarding than I ever could have imagined.

I’m proud of who I am. Even the parts that feel broken and bruised.

That’s not something I could have said a year ago.

Sunday mornings are different now. I wouldn’t swap them for anything.

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