How I quit drinking and felt more confident

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How I quit drinking and felt more confident

Alcohol had been a part of my life for a good 13 years, until I quit drinking 2 years ago. And in that time I don’t think I’ve ever really enjoyed the taste; it has always been about how it has made me feel – or not feel.

Alcohol was my confidence booster. A magic drink that made me more talkative, funny, relaxed, fun, a better dancer, more confident and less sensitive. So to me and my friends, it was a great friend to have come out with us.

I grew up in Australia, in a creative family where drinking was commonplace. I knew It was something for adults, but I never rushed getting into it. At about age 16 I tried my first drink. It was red wine and it tasted disgusting. I remember the confusion I felt as to why people drink this stuff and make such a big deal out of it. But like any experimental teenager, I kept on trying different drinks until I found sweet spirits I could cope with.

By age 17 I had started to attend my first parties and I’d got a taste for alcohol.

At this stage I had a relationship with my body where it took a lot for me to feel anything. I had chosen to knowingly numb myself from anything that was going on around me. So when it came to drinking, I never felt drunk until I was completely inebriated. By this stage I would have memory blocks and blackouts when I drank. After a few embarrassing situations at parties, including me ending up in a bath soaking wet and covered in alcohol, instead of looking at what I was doing and making changes to the way I was living, I just moved on and made new friends.

When I was 18, I met a girl who was ‘cool’ – she dressed really well and had cool friends and was very confident in herself. I thought this was my chance at cleaning the slate. She loved red wine, and so I tried to like it too. But red wine turned out to be worse than spirits for me. I’d have huge sections of the night where I couldn’t remember where I had been. My body was not coping. At one of my good friend’s parties, I fell asleep in a cubicle at the club, and was found by security a few hours later. I was sent straight home but I don’t remember getting home.

The blackouts scared me. I just considered myself lucky that I always managed to end up in my own bed and with all my belongings. The trouble was, I’d never be able to go out and have just one glass of something; I would always want more.

At this point, I remember feeling like something had to change. I was getting a reputation as ‘the girl who got too drunk’ and ‘the party friend’. This was when my friend offered me drugs for the first time. I tried most things, but my drug of choice was cocaine. And it was the perfect companion to a glass of wine. So we would go out drinking, and when I started to feel the walls spinning, I’d go take a few lines and voila – I’d feel all bubbly again – my confidence was back. Cocaine was my ‘rescue remedy’ and I would spend the next few years making sure I always had it with me on a night out.

I had put a toxic band-aid over my issue with alcohol; except that no one seemed to think it was an issue. No one ever suggested to me that perhaps my body couldn’t cope with alcohol and that I should quit drinking. Not one friend ever took me aside and told me what I was like when I was ‘too drunk’ – they all thought it was funny.

At about the age of 22, I started to notice the significant changes my parents had been making to their lives. They had gone from drinking a lot, to not drinking at all. At first I thought they were no fun, but then I started to notice how good they looked and how they were more ‘together’. My mum had come across Universal Medicine and had simply started to look at how she was living and treating herself and others. She had made big changes which I could see were making a difference.

The changes were in line with the truth that she had always known, that there was a way to treat her body that was loving and respectful.

Of course a lot of this challenged me and my dad, but slowly my dad started to stop drinking too, and he was looking younger and younger. At this time I decided I needed another new start, so I moved to the UK. I got into advertising and there was a bar in our office, so alcohol continued to be a big part of my life.

All this time my parents never ever told me to stop drinking, they only ever commented on when I looked tired or run down and brought it to my attention. It turned out that I had moved to the one other place in the world where Universal Medicine had a strong presence, so I had run back into the arms of that which would offer me true answers. My parents suggested I go to a few talks with some of their friends whom I had met in Australia. So I did – I went to a few courses looking for the answers to why I had no love in my life, and I found something much bigger.

Universal Medicine presented that our bodies talk to us all the time, and that everything is a message reflecting how we are living.

So I sat with this, and I reflected on all the ‘forgotten moments’ I’d collected with alcohol. I drank again after those sessions, but this time I clocked how my body felt before and after drinking. I was treating my body like a tip – and listening to Universal Medicine had brought this to my attention. Perhaps I didn’t have to stay in this cycle of stress, drinking, a hangover, regret and then back to stress.

That cycle was not truly cut until I left the world of advertising. And in the midst of this I had been attending more and more workshops and courses with Universal Medicine – deepening my understanding of the body.

But what I came to realise was so much bigger than quitting alcohol. You see, alcohol has only been one of many patterns in my life. If I take a step back, here is my list of addictions:

  • Age 7-10           Barbie dolls
  • Age 8-15           Horses
  • Age 14-26        Love/romance
  • Age 17-28        Alcohol
  • Age 19-26        Drugs
  • Age 26-now    Food
  • Age 30-now    Exercise

I will put my hand up and say that until I quit drinking, alcohol took up a big chunk of my life, and was really, really hard to let go of, and to be honest, I just replaced it with food and exercise because it was another thing that made me able to numb my body.

I have come to realise that I tend to replace one obsession with another and writing this account has exposed to me how there has always been ‘something’ to hang onto – some sort of fixation that takes me away from who I truly am. It highlights that there is something so much bigger than the end result of an obsession.

This is an age-old habit of my not wanting to feel where my body is at and to allow the sensitivity I naturally carry to shine through.

It is only in the last few years since quitting alcohol that I have started to look at where I am really at, and how I am using food and exercise to dull myself and what is behind this. It has come to light that I am actually a very sensitive woman who knows what tenderness and delicacy is.

But to live this was too much for me, it asked me to be deeply sensitive all of the time, and I wasn’t ready to feel everything that came with that – the state of the world, my friends and family, my choices. It meant taking responsibility for my part in a de-sensitised world, and I was nowhere near ready for that.

And it is still something I am working through today – my resistance to just being deeply sensitive. Only when I call this out, can I start to feel more of a relationship with my body and what it is naturally communicating to me.

And as I do, I am starting to develop true confidence in myself.

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Universal MedicineAddictionAlcoholDrugs

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    Photography: Joseph Barker

    To sketch, paint and question life. To cook, laugh and wonder why. To hug and hum and appreciate the sky, to look into another's eyes. These are some of the reasons Joseph loves life and is inspired to contribute to this amazing site.