Welcome to The (Not) Drinking Diary Series! I’ll be chatting to people on alcohol and on life; about their sober life, mindful drinking and/or alcohol free period – this week I’m talking to Kathryn, The Sober Hero.
Ahhh lovely Kathryn, an Instagram friend and all round lovely lady. Kathryn writes The Sober Hero blog & her boundless energy and enthusiasm can’t help but inspire you! She’s currently training for the London Marathon which she’s running to raise money for Guide Dogs and I can’t help but want to get up and run when I see her insta posts.
Name: Kathryn, The Sober Hero
Location: Leeds, UK
1.What led you to think differently about drinking?
My relationship with alcohol had always been problematic and unhealthy. Firstly as the life and soul of the party during school, sixth form and College, then in early adulthood. I would say it first hit something of ‘not normal’ proportions after I had my two daughters very close together and aamy marriage started to break down. I then embarked upon a four year flirtation with sobriety, but relapsed early 2007 following the birth of my third child.
I knew my drinking was out of control and alcoholic, but was in a very deep depression and saw it as a way of slowly killing myself. My sobriety of almost a year came about as a result of family intervention, a period during which I was on the verge of losing everything dear to me.
2.How would you describe your relationship with alcohol now?
As I would describe my relationship with my toxic and abusive ex; we broke up and we have no contact. ‘When the past calls, don’t answer; it has nothing new to say.’ I thank Lucy Rocca, author of the Sober Revolution for helping me with this! I simply do not have a relationship with alcohol and am no longer interested in pursuing one.
3.What’s been the biggest challenge you’ve faced since your approach to alcohol shifted?
Probably the stereotyped stigma that comes up when I identify myself as an alcoholic in recovery, people seem to be under the impression it’s catching. Also the unrelenting questions; ‘So you wouldn’t even have a drink at a wedding?’ type of thing!
I entered a new relationship about 4 months ago and my boyfriend helped me out with a talk I was giving by printing off all the papers. He knew I didn’t drink and that it was a decision relating to problematic drinking, however I was somewhat nervous when he came round with the papers as I knew he would have read what was a ‘warts and all’ account of my last two years drinking with observations from my children. I had thought long and hard about how I would handle his reaction and prepared myself for the fact that he may not actually feel comfortable continuing the relationship. That would have been entirely ok, but as it was it opened up further discussion and he’s fast becoming one of my greatest supporters.
4.What lessons have you learnt about life (and yourself) since your relationship with alcohol has changed?
I would need far more space than you have here in order to give this answer full justice! I’ve learnt a lot about the capacity for forgiveness which those who love you unconditionally are prepared to offer and I try not to take for granted the second chances offered me by my children.
I’ve become a great believer that the time has to be right for you to read, understand and process the messages life is offering. At the time I got sober ten years ago, I don’t believe I was ready. I’ve learnt to put myself at the centre of my life and the value of self care. If I am not at the centre of my life, looking after myself, investing in my own personal grown then I’m really not much use for anyone around who needs me. I’ve learnt so much and continue to learn daily about the power of the mind, the healing capacity of our bodies and that nurturing both is critical for sustained and successful recovery.
I’ve learnt that putting down the drink is probably the smallest part of what recovery is about, the power of the internet and social media for building support communities (Kathryn writes the brilliant blog The Sober Hero). I’m learning to trust and love myself.
5. How do you start your day? Do you have a morning routine?
I have a 9 year old who tends to determine this for me, but more often than not its oats and coffee whilst checking in on social media and emails. Many of my contacts are US based so there’s often a lot to catch up on from their overnight updates!
6. Do you have any rituals you always make time for?
I have just started meditating. I run 4 times a week come hell or high water, strength train twice a week, read lots.
7. What’s your favourite thing to do (hangover free) at the weekend?
I’ve just started doing my hardest hill sprint session on a weekend and with my boyfriend, which is a strange thing to enjoy, but we do and we are really enjoying training together! We usually then indulge in some cheaty type food and ice cream, spend some time on the sofa with the remote control, TV and my son.
8. When it comes to your own personal development, what is one thing that you’re working on or learning right now?
I have a mix of things, rather than just the one! Meditation and yoga, writing, applying for jobs and looking at setting up my own business in the longer term; being a kinder person (whilst keeping real and honest) and managing problematic situations in the spirit of love rather than conflict. I’m also looking to improve on my weight lifting abilities. And reading; always reading!
9. What is the one thing you’re obsessed with at the moment that’s making your life better?
Good nutrition. Not obsessed though; ‘Obsessive is just a word the weak use to describe the dedicated’
10. And finally, thinking differently about alcohol can be challenging and isolating, is there any advice you turned to or do you have any words of wisdom for people reading this?
Here’s where we can tap into the power of the mind. The situation does not need to be challenging and isolating, unless we choose to make it so. Let’s ditch these negative words and make sobriety cool!
My worst drinking days were those which were challenging and isolating; bottle after bottle drinking alone at home is where I ended up.
I don’t particularly have a huge face to face network of support, however all I need to do is scan social media and if I chose, I can be completely surrounded by like-minded souls who are on similar journeys, so I would be saying get out there, set up accounts, join groups, read and soak up as much as you can. Every. Single. Day.
Work hard to make your life about much, much more than not drinking and you really can’t go wrong. I’m a great believer that you will only take a drink if you give yourself permission. Nobody; no situation; no challenge big or small will make you drink if you are truly committed not to. I don’t subscribe to being powerless over alcohol; if I do then I’m lost here. It’s a powerful drug, but I’ve taken its power away. That does not make me powerless, I think it actually makes me more empowered.