I’m sharing a short, unplanned and personal podcast episode in light of Addiction Awareness week, where I discuss my former alcohol addiction and how this year, I celebrated 10 years of sobriety.
This is a completely uncut episode, 100% raw, real and unedited – so please forgive the sound quality.
For a list of helpful addiction support resources, please visit lovemydress.net/addictionsupport.
You can find a transcript of this podcast below.
Love Annabel x
Hey this Annabel Beeforth and I’m sharing a short, unplanned podcast episode in light of Addiction Awareness week which I’m just in the nick of time for – and – this is going to be a completely uncut episode, 100% raw, real and unedited – not least because my poor sound editor isn’t very well at the moment, but, I just wanted to record something in the moment and completely wing it from my heart. I also need to mention that it is early saturday evening as I record this and my family are relaxing with me at home, and it’s also chucking it down outside, so apologies for any background noise.
I found out it was Addiction awareness week a couple of days back. And having visited the Addiction Awareness Week website, I understand this awareness week has been organised to create an opportunity for understanding, to reduce prejudice, and to tackle the stigma surrounding addiction.
Some of you listening to this will be aware already that I live a sober life, having battled addiction issues myself in the past.
Back in July this year, I reached the crazy milestone of 10 years of sobriety after battling with alcohol addiction for about decade prior to that. Becoming sober was absolutely not something I had planned or premeditated, and whilst I had attempted to give up drinking multiple times prior to this – with success on a few occasions – 3 months here, 6 months there – 9 months one time – the reason I eventually gave up was because I absolutely had no other choice. At that point in time, I was on the brink of losing everything that mattered to me. I had reached crunch time with absolutely no alternative or room for negotiation with my loved ones – at all. It was a very chaotic period of my life.
Every year, on the anniversary of my sobriety, I post to instagram to celebrate another alcohol free year – and I do this 3 reasons. The first, is that sharing my achievements so publicly helps me hold myself to account. The second is that, it feels like a joyful thing to do, to stop, reflect and then celebrate on another year of sobriety and all the wonderful reasons my life is so happy and fulfilled now that I no longer drink. But the most important of all reasons for me – and the reason I will share every year for as long as I live, is that each time I do, a number of people reach out to me privately to seek help, to share their addiction secret, to tell me that they are struggling and don’t know what to do. Most of these people work in the wedding industry – and they come from all corners of the industry. They are owners of teeny tiny businesses that work from home. They are the CEOs of internationally successful brands. Alcohol addiction does not discriminate; it can affect anyone.
Those people are so incredibly brave. I learned the hard way that the first path towards recovery from addiction is finding the courage to seek help.
Mental health advocate, Bryony Gordon, has published an article in today’s Telegraph, where she addresses the passing, a week ago today, of Friend’s Star, Matthew Perry. During the height of his career on “Friends,” Perry said that he was battling severe addiction to alcohol and Opioids. An addiction that he was eventually able to overcome. In her article today, Bryony Gordon refers to how Perry was all too aware of the curiously cruel attitude meted out to addicts. “This is the fate of people who are public about addiction”, she states, going on to say, “and it’s perhaps why so few people want to do it.
It saddens me, how true these words of Bryony’s are. For some reason, whilst it is encouraged and accepted socially, the truth is that alcohol is one of the most addictive, harmful substances in the world and far too many people ignore the warning signs or fall into a state of denial – and then find themselves in a situation where they cannot stop drinking. They start using alcohol to enhance confidence, to help cope with financial or relationship stress or to help sooth mental health issues. In addition to this, alcohol addiction is not looked on kindly by society. People caught in the throes of addiction are often unfairly branded as selfish and self-absorbed, destructive, helpless, hopeless – dirty and useless. As a society, we tend to stigmatise and condemn addicts, leaving them without the empathy and assistance they desperately require, which often, only further entrenches the chains of addiction around them.
It can feel devastatingly isolating. It can cripple your mental health. It can destroy families.
On a personal level, it’s important that I emphasise that I don’t worry about what others may think when I openly discuss my past battles with alcohol addiction. My motivation here is to use my own experiences and voice to connect with those who might be going through similar challenges. If you’re currently facing such struggles, I want you to know that this is for you. It comes from a place of genuine care and compassion for what you’re enduring and I empathise with your difficulties. Most importantly, I want you to realise that there is amazing support available to help break free from the cycle of addiction and take your first very brave steps towards recovery, healing and a much, much happier life. You are not alone.
If you’re listening to this and you’re struggling, I know what it feels like to have no trust in yourself. I know what it feels like to feel no hope. I know how exhausting it is to conceal your issues from your loved ones, to be constantly entertaining the idea of ‘when and where can I get my next drink’. I understand the guilt you feel for spending so long considering how you can smuggle your next bottle into the house or the shame you feel on waking the next morning when memories of the previous night are non existent and there are unexplained bruises on your arms and legs. I truly, truly understand that sense of worthlessness.
You are worthy. There is no need for shame. You are a cherished human being deserving of love, compassion, and support.
I understand what it feels like to believe you will never be able to overcome alcohol addiction but you can. You can. You absolutely can.
I am 10 years sober. Ten freakin’ years! I love my life. I feel joy every day. I have rediscovered my self confidence. My skin is better, my overall health is better, I’m the first on the dance floor and the last to leave. I’m speaking to you with a huge smile spread across my face now, just incase you couldn’t sense that. That’s how I feel when I think how far I’ve come and how much better life has got since giving up alcohol.
There’s a little phrase I share with my husband and it goes’ ‘every blade of grass’. It’s a reference to how I now see beauty in every tiny, normal little thing, in a way I never could when I was addicted to alcohol.
I cannot stress to you enough how miserable I felt, prior to becoming sober, when I absolutely, unequivocally believed that this was my lot. I fully accepted my fate that I was as addict and would be for the rest of my life. I just hoped that I had it in me to be as good a mum as I could possibly be.
If this unplanned episode of my podcast reaches a single one of you with a connection strong enough to encourage you to want to reach out and seek help for either yourself or a loved one, then it’s been worth every second of putting my heart on the line.
I’ll include a link in the show notes, but if you head over to Love My Dress, at lovemydress.net/addictionsupport, you will find a page full of helpful resources. Please bookmark it and take a look when you can.
I say this often but – be kind – to everyone.. None of us know what goes on behind closed doors in the lives of others and even those people who seem to have it all together, can end up struggling privately. I recall a friend asking me, after I’d gone public for the frist time about being sober, and she said ‘were you really that bad?’. She had absolutely no idea, not the faintest of the hurt and pain my addiction had already caused for myself and those I love. Unless you are, or have ever been addicted to alcohol, you might never understand how manipulate you lower yourself to become, in order to sustain that addiction. And this includes lying to your friends and loved ones and doing all you can to conceal your addiction. One of the ways that addiction is described by Alcoholics Anonymous is with the phrase “cunning, baffling and powerful.” – words that I’m sure will ring true to anyone who is or who has formerly had to grapple with addiction issues in their lives. So again, I remind you – be kind to everyone, because even the strongest of people might be hiding a struggle privately.
I’d like to finish by sharing a quote I discovered via a friend today on Instagram, by Japanese writer Harukeee Murakanee:
“And once the storm is over, you won’t remember how you made it through, how you managed to survive. You won’t even be sure, whether the storm is really over. But one thing is certain. When you come out of the storm, you won’t be the same person who walked in. That’s what this storm’s all about.”
Thank you for listening.