Since I started this site way back in 2010 I’ve always wanted it to be a platform for empowering women to become more of themselves.
It initially started as a project for myself to discover who I was after entering motherhood – and it has totally done that for me – but I also wanted it to be a space where conversations could be had, encouragement could be found and stories could be told. A little slice of “real” on the internet where women could find inspiration to discover their own true self.
Over the years that has evolved and taken shape with various series that speak to this particular topic more than others and none more so than my interview series known as “My Journey With…” This is a platform for women to share their stories – the ones that come with many ups and downs. I’m really proud of it and how it has already impacted lives.
What inspires me even more (and encourages me to keep going as a blogger!) is when readers reach out to me and ask to share their story. When my readers feel comfortable enough to be vulnerable on the internet in order to help others grow I feel a real sense of accomplishment that the space I’ve created is fulfilling a greater purpose. Incredible!
Today I’m sharing Ann’s story of her journey with Alcohol Addiction
“I remembered when I didn’t need alcohol to relax or enjoy life, but I found myself feeling stuck in a place where I had lost all my freedom. This is my journey through recovery and how I eventually took responsibility for my own healing.”
3:00a.m. I wake up with a jolt. This is becoming the norm for me. I suddenly start to remember the previous evening and piece together how many drinks I had. I promised myself I wouldn’t drink yesterday! I know it has to stop. I used to pride myself in my twenties for partying and “keeping up with the boys” but I am not in my twenties any longer. I’m concerned about my health, as is my husband. If I can’t stop for myself, why can’t I stop for the kids? What the hell is wrong with me!? And here comes the guilt. I promise that tomorrow it will all change. Tomorrow I will take a break from drinking alcohol. If I keep to my side of the bargain maybe I can turn it around. Maybe I can prove to myself that I am in control. But I have lost all faith in myself and I feel so ashamed and disgusted, all I want to do is go back to sleep and I can’t. So I Google “Do I have a drinking problem” and search for celebrities who have become teetotallers. This time of the morning is brutal and I know that something has to change. I know deep down inside that I am in trouble but I don’t know how to ask for help. My anxiety is palatable, and I can barely breathe.
The next morning I feel tired and restless, but as the day progresses, I miraculously forget my 3:00am reality check. I ignore whatever intuition I have left and convince everyone around me, including my delusional self, that everything is OK. The alternative, the truth, is too frightening. What if I have to stop for good? It seems impossible in our society to be anything but a drag when choosing a sober life. It relaxes us, I know it helps me unwind, socialise, and infact, I believe it gives me a boost of energy. So I imagine this life to be sore and dull without my magic drink. This belief encourages me to put off changing my life for as long as possible.
Besides I don’t fit the label of a true alcoholic. I am busy, an entrepreneur, a generally happy person, and a well put together family woman. I stopped drinking during both my pregnancies and nursing my babies, and I gave up smoking years ago without as much as a nicotine patch. But in the background my marriage is suffering, I’ve lost my ability to connect and create meaningful relationships, and there is a certain flow, or passion for life that is no longer there. You can see it in my eyes if you really look carefully. They’re dead.
The term addiction is used all the time. In fact we can be addicted to almost anything like shopping, sugar, social media, working, relationships, anything really. So I simply think of it as having two competing priorities. Wanting to stop, but struggling to cut back or stop for good.
I’ve lived this, and let me tell you it is torture. I explored, what felt like, the entire human experience. It was open and wild at times. At times it hurt so bad I felt that I couldn’t breathe. So I tried to escape it. And the pain got worse, more confusing and complicated and the competing voices in my head just kept getting louder and louder. My descent was slow and steady. For many years I considered myself a moderate drinker with a “healthy” relationship with alcohol. And, of course, no one believes that they are capable of hitting rock bottom. And some never do. But my decline was the best thing that could ever have happened to me because it helped me to grow the courage and compassion to look at myself with honesty and grace. It’s thanks to this, that I was able to finally stop for good. It became a choice as opposed to something I had to give up.
“We can’t be afraid of change. You may feel very secure in the pond that you are in, but if you never venture out of it, you will never know that there is such a thing as an ocean, a sea.” – C. JoyBell C.
Now that you have the benefit of hindsight, is there anything you might have done differently before, during, or after, your addiction?
With the benefit of hindsight I would’ve treated alcohol with caution, because now I know it’s a dangerous and addictive substance. I now understand that alcohol is dangerous no matter who you are, or where you come from. You want to play with fire, there is a chance that you might get burnt. What would’ve been really helpful is if I hadn’t attached so much shame to my experience. I suffered in silence for a long time before I had the courage to speak my truth.
What, or who, helped you to overcome or push through this experience? A book, a person, an incident, therapy, medication or was it just simply time?
All of the above! Recovering back to myself has literally taken a village. The final incident was crying out to God (or insert a name for a higher power of your own understanding here) and asking Him to help me. He showed up in a miraculous way! I couldn’t just leave the alcohol and go back to living the same life. Everything had to change to allow myself the opportunity to live the life I always wanted. I could not have done any of this without my family. For each of them I am incredibly fortunate and grateful. Some close friends have stuck by me, essential oils, Reiki, meditation, prayer, and a lot of yoga. I’ve been fortunate to find a powerful teacher who is guiding me on my yoga journey, and I came into contact with a brilliant therapist who just wanted to see me succeed. I found many amazing, creative, intelligent people on social media that have made the same choice as me. It helped me realise that there is another way to do this thing. I did plenty of reading to educate myself, so my progression has been a mix of different programs, theories, methods and beliefs. Learning to be patient and humble with my process has been a challenge. I’ve come to understand that healing the past, and changing a lot of conditioning, takes time.
“No one saves us but ourselves. No one can and no one may. We ourselves must walk the path” – Buddha.
Obviously there is not always a reason for going through such hard times in life, but now that you have come out the other side of the “tough stuff” (or are further down the journey) can you share any insights or personal growth that the experience taught you?
You need to understand the past in order not to repeat it. But I’m no longer focusing on the past. I try to stay focused on what’s working for me now. Focusing on what works has helped me to gradually forgive myself for the choices I made in the past, and helps me to keep making powerful and wonderful choices in the present. I no longer allow guilt, shame, humiliation, anger, or regret to rule my emotions. I pray and practice daily so that my thoughts are elevated and remain elevated. I try to keep doing everything I can to remain within that vibration of my being.
Where do you find yourself now?
Right now my marriage is better than ever. Our love story is not your typical love story, but it is ours. I finally regained the focus and drive it takes to run multiple projects at once. I have recovered my trust in myself and my intuition. Life is definitely not perfect, but I am truly happy and peaceful again even in difficult situations. I have tapped back into the loving energy of the universe, and life flows. There is meaning and joy in the small things again like bath time with the kids, or grabbing a coffee with a favourite person. I am a gentler, more loving, compassionate and less reactive wife, mother, daughter, sister, and friend. This life has become a gift again with all my senses charging at full speed and my body at optimum health.
Ann is a member of Kundalini Africa Rising (KAR) a movement that arose out of the formation of the teaching school African Kundalini Yoga Teacher Training of Southern Africa (AKYTTSA). She is completing her certification under the International Kundalini Yoga Teacher Certification (KRI) and has completed her mentorship program under the leadership of Elena Brower and Master Class course with Gabby Bernstein.
In addition to her one-on-one consulting she is a Reiki therapist, writer, and speaker passionate about enabling others to stick to their spiritual practices through private one on ones, corporate groups, speaking engagements, workshops and pop-up events.
She is a mother and wife who empower others to heal with the assistance of natural essential oil therapy. She is trained in the Emotional Freedom Technique for self-care, and the awareness and trauma healing method. She is a recovery advocate of the 12 step recovery program and loves exploring ways to connect to this ambiguous experience of being human.
Ann Stewart is on a mission to help you start to LIVE BIG, let go of fear, and make subtle shifts to live the life you’ve always wanted. Grab her free guided breath awareness meditation and be sure to watch her meditation video. It will teach you a simple and effective way to meditate to help you demystify the experience.