I’ve spoken about it a LOT! The fact that I was Queen of holistic living and spirituality, I interviewed leading Guru’s as a Hay House radio interviewer, I knew the ‘science’ of self love, I knew about the importance of selfcare, self esteem, self worth, I knew that meditation was worth showing up for, but did any of that apply to me? Nah! I was too busy numbing my inner critic with booze. It was only once I ditched the booze that I was finally able to start the long process to self love. I now encourage everyone to take it gently, just become Self Love Curious. Here’s this account of how one Sober Club member Elspeth learned how to love herself.
How I learned to love myself!
I had a breakdown in September 2016. I’m sat in my Doctors office crying uncontrollably – “What’s wrong with we me? I’m the strong one. I support the family on so many levels, I run a business. I’ve got it all together, there’s nothing wrong with me what is going on – I cannot stop crying.” The Doctor has 10 minutes to assess and diagnose me, “it’s either grief, menopause or stress here are some anti-depressants, can you take time off work” “No I can’t I run a small business people depend on me, there’s no-one else to do what I do. I take a deep breath and release it. I will try and take time off I can’t sit in my office crying I’ll scare my team and my clients”
Before this episode I would have described myself as a control freak and no-one or no-thing could stop me. My husband and I run the business in parallel with bringing up our daughter and caring for elderly parents. We managed to weave everything into our daily lives but looking back now it was a monumental load. I now realise we managed because the parents didn’t all get sick at once, they took it in turns! We both felt passionate about supporting our parents at this stage in their lives they were vulnerable, and our siblings weren’t in the same Country or didn’t have time, we agreed together that we would do whatever we needed to do to fulfil our honour and duty to our parents.
In these times of extreme stress, I rewarded myself with what I thought was self care – a glass of wine at the end of the day. The alcohol numbed and suppressed my feelings. I started to call it my crutch! I didn’t know it at the time, but I was self-medicating the stress and anxiety. I was not an alcoholic but I later learned that I was a grey area drinker. Who knew that was a thing!!
I recovered from my breakdown in September 2016, but I never knew why or what had happened to me. Due to the anti-depressants I was taking I had to see a Doctor every 6 months. The Doctor suggested that I start to take HRT due to my menopause symptoms. At this point I tell the Doctor I regularly drink wine every evening should I stop this? ‘No, that’s ok just drink a maximum of 3 bottles a week and make sure you have alcohol free days’. Ok now I’m following Doctor’s orders, so it must be OK.
I’m not convinced my lifestyle is right. I suffer with anxiety and depression but it doesn’t stop me working. I’m functioning. I start to get curious about whether or not I’m drinking too much wine, so I start googling and I find The Alcohol Free Podcast for the sober curious by Janey Lee Grace. I’m intrigued. I start listening every week. It is fascinating so much information about the benefits of ditching the booze. Janey was highlighting the positives of being alcohol free and how to live the best version of your life. I’m now thinking alcohol could be a contributor to my anxiety. I’m learning it is a depressant.
On 23 December 2019 I join The Sober Club which is run by Janey Lee Grace and I make a pledge to myself and the community, in the club, to do 100 days alcohol free. I join the private Facebook group. I’ve never done anything like this before in my life, I was terrified but something inside me was stronger than the fear of being vulnerable in front of a group of strangers. I muster up all the courage I can and write my very first post introducing myself and saying Hi! The wave of kindness and welcome from the reply posts completely overwhelmed me, in a good way, like having a big soft warm duvet wrapped around me saying you’re OK we’ve got you. Wow I’m not alone!. Here was a group of real people exactly the same as me. The members who were 100 days + alcohol free were oozing positivity about how fantastic they felt and that they were living the best version of themselves. How on earth am I going to ever get to that stage?
During the first 9 months of ditching the booze I suffered terribly with my emotions and I had to work out how to deal with them. Years of suppressed emotions were coming out of me and I had to feel them nothing was stopping them pouring out. I signed up for coaching 1-1 with Janey which helped enormously. The big revelation was I had no self-care and I hated myself. Self love what the hell is that? MEEE love myself – well that’s never gonna happen. Janey is like a stuck record banging on about self care, self love. Thank god she did because eventually I listened and followed the process, I had to trust it!
Now I notice my emotions, pause and ask what is this call to action? Once I find the answer and deal with it the emotion changes. Simple!
I am now living the best version of myself and it feels awesome. My self belief has soared to the point I had the confidence and curiosity to join an Akimbo workshop in November 2020 to learn story telling skills.
I don’t take any medication now. After 3 months of stopping alcohol I didn’t need anti-depressants or HRT if only the Doctor had suggested cutting out alcohol……
I’d love to say that ditching booze was the easiest thing I’d ever done, but no it was the toughest thing I’ve ever done. I stopped numbing my emotions and boy did they rise up. I learned that my years of caring for others and not caring for myself had taken their toll. I had numbed the hardest emotion of all – grief. To me self love means an inner genuine sense of worthiness and value and that can only be reached by nurturing myself with care. Self-care is as important as cleaning my teeth every day it’s a chore that must be done, do it right and life will be just fine!
For inspiration, accountability and support join The Sober Club