If it’s okay… I’d like you all to meet somebody.
Everyone, this is Megan.
I stumbled across Megan on Twitter recently, followed the link to her website, loved it and immediately asked her if we could publish some of her work.
She agreed, thankfully, so we got the ball rolling with a little Q&A to set the scene!
Megan’s piece. “Hey Little Girl” follows our chat…
Megan, hi… let’s start with finding out a little bit about you… What brought you here? I mean, you must have some kind of “drinking story”… care to elaborate?
I was a heavy drinker for over ten years. I would drink hard liquor until I blacked out – every time. Scotch and whiskey were my favorite.
What was your drinking like at the point you decided to quit?
See #1! – blacking out, drinking the night before work, going to work still drunk or incredibly hungover…
… and the final straw, for you, was what, exactly?
When I blacked out, fell off my porch and broke my arm. I already knew at that point my blacking out was dangerous…breaking my arm essentially scared me straight.
Do you see yourself as being in recovery… If so, how? What do these words mean to you? If not… how so?
I see myself as ‘recovered’ because I no longer have the desire to drink (I’m so grateful for that). To me being in recovery is an active state of being – as in, you’re still processing all the changes that come with quitting drinking. I thank my lucky stars that I’m fortunate enough that not drinking is no longer a challenge for me – I actually enjoy it.
So, you stopped, congratulations!… how did you do that? How did you manage after you stopped? What did you do to motivate and maintain your abstinence? Any hints or tips, sources of inspiration for people seeking to do the same?
Well like I said, breaking my arm scared me shitless. I felt like if I continued to drink, my next injury would be worse…or even, potentially fatal. That was my motivation. Plus, I knew deep down I was abusing alcohol and I was tired of lying to myself.
I started seeing a therapist once a week – he was an amazing guy, who filled me with confidence and emotional support. I also read “Under the Influence: A Guide to the Myths & Realities of Alcoholism” which is an incredible book that I recommend not only alcoholics read, but also their families.
It helped me to understand the disease so that I could better treat it. I didn’t have a heavy physical dependency like some do…no shakes or medical detox necessary. Mine was psychological. Dealing with my underlying anxiety and depression in therapy – and just being honest with myself – is what really contributed to my success in the beginning.
Not drinking alcohol can be a very stigmatising thing… were you prepared for that? How did you deal with it? How did others around you deal with it?
This is an interesting question. The only stigma I have ever encountered has been from other alcoholics – for not participating in AA.
I’ve been on the receiving end of vitriol for that, despite my support for the program and what it does for others.
All the non-alcoholics in my life have been nothing but supportive and happy for me that I’ve made the decision not to drink.
Were you successful from day one? Any relapses? How did you cope, emotionally with all this?
Nope, no relapses. I consider myself a bit of an anomaly because after breaking my arm I never had the desire to drink ever again.
But I’m also very spiritual, and felt like the injury was a clear message to me to stop drinking. I don’t want to insult the protective forces I believe have saved my ass more than one time!
You’ve been sober for 6 1/2 years now. Are there any manifest benefits in your life that not drinking has afforded? Any advice for people reading this? Can we learn from any of your mistakes?
The benefits are everything you’d imagine they’d be… I guess my ‘advice’ would be to not expect life to get easier when you quit drinking. In a lot of ways, it becomes harder. But in dealing with all that without the booze… you also become stronger.
So… (drum roll) A Different Kind of Sober (your blog) – what’s THAT all about?
I felt different in my sobriety because I didn’t tackle it the standard way – AA, a sponsor, the steps, etc. I carved out my own path, and figured out what worked for me. I think it’s a mistake to assume that there’s only one ‘right’ way to get sober, and that’s basically the foundation upon which I built my website.
“Hey Little Girl”, the piece we’re publishing, is deeply personal, could you tell us how/ why you wrote this?
I’m honestly not sure where my ideas come from. I suppose I just wanted to reach out to the innocent part of me – the person I was before I became so corrupted; I think this is part of forgiving yourself and healing. Like, yeah you’re not innocent anymore but it’s okay I still love you kind of thing.
What does it mean to you?
I guess it’s about re-connecting to my inner child and bridging that gap. Ultimately, self-love and forgiveness.
More broadly, what does writing a blog mean to you as part of your recovery and more widely in terms of the subjects you tackle?
Oh man, starting my website (I hate the word blog) has been one of the best things I’ve ever done. In the beginning, I was trying to reach out to other people in recovery who also felt on the periphery because they didn’t go to AA.
I wanted to talk openly and honestly about my experience. That was therapeutic for me. And little did I know that five years into my sobriety I was going to be faced with some really serious mental health issues, so it’s served to help me with that to. I love writing, I love being honest, and more than anything I love connecting with others through it.
If any of our readers are thinking about writing/ starting a blog – what advice would you give them?
This sounds trite but “write from your heart – just be honest”.
Don’t try to write well, or write what you think others want to hear, or force yourself to write when you don’t have anything to write about. Wait until you feel like you have something to say – and then say it. But also before you publish go back and re-read it (several times) from the perspective of your reader.
Because while you’re ultimately writing for yourself, it has to also be something you think other people would want to read. You have to see it from both perspectives
Hey Little Girl.
Originally published May 06, 2017
Hey little girl.
Yeah you, with the cute red curls – I’m talking to you.
I bet you never thought your life was going to turn out like this, did you?
In a million years you never imagined that you would turn out to be an alcoholic with mental illness. Sound scary? It is. I’m not trying to scare you on purpose, but I want to be honest with you because growing up you believed in a lot of things that weren’t real. Like thinking there is some sort of universal appeal to justice in the world when the reality is, life is often not fair and you just have to deal with it. Bad shit happens to a lot of people and there’s really no reason for it. And a lot of bad shit is going to happen to you.
I bet you never thought you would develop a taste for hard liquor to try and numb your depression.
Well, you did and you nearly got yourself killed more than once. You must have an amazing guardian angel because lucky you, you survived.
Hey little girl, I bet you never imagined you would end up in a psychiatric hospital.
Well, you did. You scared the shit out of not only yourself but your family too. Your mental illness is strong and will take control of your life in a way you never imagined was possible. It will very nearly destroy your happiness and sense of security in this world.
You probably never imagined that at 37 years old, you would have no job, no friends, no husband and no kids.
Even though you always wanted to start your own family, the truth is you’re probably never going to have any children.
Does that sound depressing little girl? Well surprise, you have depression. I can depress the shit out of you if you let me.
But it’s not all bad, little girl.
You’re an incredibly honest person – and in this world, that takes guts. You know how to speak the truth and you do it regardless of the outcome. That’s brave of you, and not everyone does that.
You somehow find the strength to quit drinking. After ten years of hardcore boozing, you finally stop for good. Not everyone can do that.
Finally, the life that’s ahead of you is arduous but you’re strong.
Life will throw you a bunch of shit, but you’re able to persist despite all of it. You have a strength inside you that will protect you no matter the circumstance.
Little girl, you’re a survivor. Be proud of that.
About our author, Megan.