Molly, Co-founder of Sober Butterfly Collective reflects and shares snippets of thoughts from her sobriety journey so far:
In the early days I thought alcohol was part of who I was, I thought it made up my personality and giving this up would be like giving up who I really was. All of my socialising relied on alcohol. I associated it with having fun. Quite simply, I could not imagine myself without a drink in my hand as I was bubbly, funny, wild Molly.
But as my mental health continued to take a battering, drinking another glass of prosecco to cover up what I was really feeling and living under a dark cloud of depression and mood swings. A lot of recovery stories mention rock bottom, but I was lucky enough to catch myself before I got there. If I was serious about healing my mental health, then I knew what had to be done.
I don’t exactly remember my last drink, but I do remember my last drunken thought of feeling so utterly lost and helpless.
When Hannah first shared her vision of ‘Sober butterfly’ in a park in Hebden Bridge, whilst we munched on our giant vegan donuts, sobriety had brought us together and I could feel something special was beginning to grow.
I have tried to write down my story of sobriety so many times, and tried to collate my thoughts into comprehensive sentences that would make sense to anyone but me. And although I love words and writing, something I do both professionally and personally; the right words in the right order don’t exist yet, as this chapter in my life was so foggy. I have painted the feelings in my head as large patches of greys and blues frantically sprawled across a vast canvas, but the words have never come. One day soon the words will find me, and the book will be written so watch this space.
In the meantime, I wish to share some thoughts from my journey in the form of a list of emotions, a collection of thoughts like postcards from my mind:
- Breathlessly crying in the bathroom, hot, heavy tears dropping out of my raw eyes. I tried to muffle the sound from my husband downstairs – I could feel myself balancing on the each of rock bottom, it was tantalising close, the grey patch of nothing staring back at me: but I managed to find my inner strength from that moment onwards to never go back to that place.
- My hyper-organised mind started to compile a manic to do list in my head: Project be happy, get better, fix everything. Working overtime, my mind felt so congested, too full that I couldn’t process basic things – I wanted to take my brain out of my head, putting it on ice for a while, like a cool bottle of prosecco.
- Knowing what needed to be done and actually doing it are worlds apart. We all have those unavoidable, menial tasks that stare back at us on our to-do list. Taunting us as we ignore it, procrastinate and put it off . Giving up alcohol was that task for me and a big green tick had to go in that box: 12 August 2019 was the day.
- Whenever I think of my early days of sobriety I picture my husband: my best friend, my soul mate, my right arm – I wanted to be the best glittering version of myself for him, as much as I did for me. His support, his unconditional love, his soft kind words are what got me on this path, and I will be forever thankful.
- Thinking back to our wedding day, a day of sheer bliss, sunshine bouncing off the cathedral, a perfect harmony of laughter and love. I was gliding around on a cloud of happiness, everything a wedding day should be. I had 3 drinks all day – my emotions were so high that alcohol didn’t seem to come into it, I was already aware of a change coming. I watched on as the drinks were free-flowing all night, sparkling wine, cocktails in pineapples – my loved ones enjoying and drinking the night away. I was part of everything, yet not wanting to rob myself of any magical memories by drinking, I didn’t want alcohol to taint the perfect day.
- So many stressful days at work would end with a bottle of unnecessary wine to wash over the angst, to feel better again, to switch my head off. However the warm boost would only be short-term as the next day would be filled with anxiety and regret, and so the cycle would begin again.
“Because wherever I sat—on the deck of a ship or at a street café in Paris or Bangkok – I would be sitting under the same glass bell jar, stewing in my own sour air.”
– Slyvia Plath, The Bell Jar
- This quote resonates so much, but for me it was more like a mini weather system within my mind, very changeable. Thick, stifling fog would completely write off some days as useless, just grey nothingness. Some days the fog would allow cracks of positive sunshine thoughts, and on the clear days the fog would lift and make way for a fresh clean air of promise. Alcohol always temporarily lifted the fog, and I could enjoy some fake, forced sunshine for a while, but the fog would always return thicker and darker.
- Sobriety has lifted the fog and the muddy haze over life and made way for a brighter life that I want to be present in.
- I often feel let down by alcohol. There are so many times it has taken things from me, from my family, taken the joy out of life, taken hours away from the day and taken loved ones too soon. People that would never let you down might begin to when alcohol is part of the picture. I did not want to become part of this picture.
- As I reflect, not all of my memories have been tainted by alcohol, I do hold tight some of my most precious memories with gorgeous people and my closest friends laughing so hard, we thought we would never stop. I don’t see alcohol as an enemy, but rather something I no longer have a use for.
- Without alcohol in your life, you are always the purest version of yourself. With no social lubricant, no Dutch courage, no pre-drinks – you have to sit with every single emotion and feeling. You are unapologetically you and this takes a lot of courage to take on.
- I can remember that moment quite early on in sobriety when I realised: I was always that person that I thought I needed alcohol to be. No, that’s who I am. No longer is alcohol tarnishing who I am at my core.
- How bold it is to be the truest version of yourself, all the time. Living every day with inner peace, virtue and power – something only sobriety can give you.
- Sobriety has allowed me to become more choosey, more selective in everything I do. It’s become quality over quantity, no more pointless drunken Wednesday nights, no more spending £50 on a round of drinks for people I don’t really like. I am more selective on saying ‘yes’ – which is what life should be like.
- When I see women drunkenly staggering in their expensive heels and sleek dresses at the end of the night, often crying or shouting at their partner – it’s not smugness I feel, it’s sadness as I know exactly how they feel, trapped and sad.
- I sometimes think about why people drink – what is the purpose of alcohol? Is it to get drunk? To give us that buzz? Because it simply tastes nice? Are there any good reasons to drink? It’s as if it were designed to be consumed in high quantities, designed to get us addicted, designed to make us sad.
- Can anyone drink in moderation? It was never something I could do, I found alcohol and the warmth it gave me too addictive, one sip of glossy prosecco, the way it felt in my hand, the fizzy sugar giving me a glow – it would always be more than one. Moderation was never obtainable. People early on in my sobriety would say: “Go on, just have 1 drink” and I wondered if anyone ever said this to an ex-smoker, or a vegetarian.
- Kissing my friend and her mum goodbye at the end of a friend’s wedding on a chilly October evening somewhere outside of Manchester airport. Her mum drunkenly flailed her arms at me furious for driving as I pull out my car keys, grabbing my drink to sniff it in disbelief that I was drinking tonic all night. I smiled to my core and felt like I had won a prize.
- I still dance like no one is watching to 1990s house music; sing Take That at the top of my voice and am still the first on the dancefloor. I’m lucky to have confidence that doesn’t come from a bottle, but it’s taken me years to realise this.
- There are still really tough days, days where I understand exactly why people reach for the bottle; to escape the feelings, to drown out the voice, to deal with life challenges, to feel more involved again, to feel that familiar warmth again. But I then remember that none of it is real, its drug-induced, its temporary, bottled lies, it’s all manufactured. What is real is sobriety.
- There are some days that I take my sobriety for granted, as it’s become just another aspect of my life, much like being a vegetarian. But then other days, I clutch hold of my sobriety so tightly, never wanting to let go of it as it has become the most precious part of my being.
- Even after over 430 days of being sober, I am still learning so much about myself. The journey is long and exciting.
Co-Founder, Sober Butterfly Collective