THE DAY I GAVE UP DRINKING
March 9, 2020. I wake up with a headache, par for the course over the last two years. I reach over and grab my phone to check the time with one eye. I still have my make-up on from the night before. It wasn’t even really the make-up from the night before, it was the make-up from a lunch at a little Italian restaurant in Clapham, where we celebrated my children turning 8 and 10 with close friends.
I try to take a second to rate the category of my hangover. Darn. It’s a bad one. I immediately try to think of what I have to do today, and when I can lay back down again. It’s a Monday bloody morning. (I know that bloody is meant to be an English curse word, but I am Californian expat, and am constantly getting in trouble with the tween for using it. “SORRY, it’s not a bad word where I grew up lady” I tell her all the time.)
MONDAY morning. I’m used to this predicament because I face it routinely, Mondays mean that I have to get the children to the school, but that I can then come home and take a nap after that- all alone, in an empty house. I can nurse my hangover in peace for a bit before I have to start some work.
I pick-up my phone, wondering why it can’t predict to go dim in times like these, and I see a text from my cousin, Kate, in L.A. “Missing our beloved Terry. I love you. Heart emoji.” My heart sinks into my stomach and I feel like I might vomit. Today marks the two-year anniversary of my mom’s death.
My cousins’ message isn’t the only one that has popped up, but I don’t feel like responding to even my closest friends’ condolences. They don’t understand how I’m feeling, how could they?! They all have their moms still. I am 37 years old, and I don’t have a mom, I live on another continent to my family. The loneliness overwhelms me. I put my phone back on my nightstand and roll back over, hoping my husband, Chris, will volunteer to take the children this morning.
I spent March 9th, 2020, in bed for most of the day. I seriously wallow in my grief. I purposely ignore anyone calling to check on me and when flowers arrive from Chris in the afternoon, I do an inner eye roll. The beautiful pink and white bouquet of peonies from my favorite florist in Chelsea isn’t going to bring back my mom so what’s the point?
I laid in bed for the entire day, scrolling social media and trying to distract myself with Netflix but mainly just feeling massively sorry for myself. The hangover is real, my stomach is churning and all I can think to myself is I just have to get through the end of this awful day.
What had I done in the past two years? Absolutely nothing of note. It felt like I just had been drinking.
Drinking drinking drinking.
I look back on my instagram from the last two years. How the heck did I look so happy when I was so sad and so broken? How did I manage to form those smiles I am making? They don’t even look forced.
There are trips to Ibiza, St Tropez, Paris, skiing in the Italian alps, and a photo of me at breakfast with Posh Spice herself. I look so happy. “How?” I think to myself.
I scroll back further to 2018, right after my mom died. The Royal Wedding. Sky News needed a peppy American who would represent all the excitement of the U-S-A, that we had a real American princess. I watch my interviews. I should be given an Emmy for being able to be that happy on screen when I am so miserable, there are days I just don’t want to get out of bed. The comments read, “Your mom would be so proud.” She was a Princess Diana mega fan and had given me multiple collectable dolls of Princess Diana the bride as a child. My middle name, Diane, is even a nod to the people’s princess. My mom would have totally lost her mind if she knew that I would wind up on multiple newscasts reporting from Windsor Castle.
As we all know, instagram is zero reflection of reality. What had my life really looked like in the past two years? Waking up with a headache, wondering what I had to do to get through the day, hoping there was a lunch in the diary so there was an excuse to have a glass (or three) of cold white wine at noon, and if not trying to get to the afternoon as quickly as possible so I could open up my own bottle when the homework books came out after school.
Everything looked so glossy and pretty on the surface. But it just wasn’t. When the afternoon wine bottle popped open, I felt relief. I could go fuzzy again. I didn’t have to feel all the painful stuff. I didn’t have to think about the fact that I wasn’t being a great mom. I didn’t have to ponder about the recent stupid argument with Chris, I didn’t have to think about how I had to cremate my mother and write her obituary, or single handedly plan her funeral. The wine, and later tequila because it was so en-vogue (thanks George Clooney), became a total and complete escape. I remember one day where I woke up with a particularly bad headache and thought to myself, “okay I’ve got a lunch today. If I can just make it to 12, I can pour myself a glass of rose and I’ll feel better.”
I can remember thinking in that moment, “where am I going to be in another two years if I keep up with this drinking like this?
My mind wanders. It pings back and forth between, “oh come on, you’re totally fine. No one thinks you have a problem. Not one person has called you out on your drinking” to “this has to stop.”
And then, in an attempt to shut up the internal battle of these crazy voices in my head I quite literally shout-pray out-loud- “Jesus, I can’t do this anymore.”
Right then I thought quite specifically about what March 9, 2021, one year on, would look like and I certainly did not want to look or feel like this anymore. I didn’t want to spend every March 9th for the rest of my life nursing a hangover and hiding in my dark bedroom. I needed this day to mean something else. I needed this day to also have something else attached to it. And so, on March 9, 2020, I decided, in honor of my mom, and to try to be better for my own little family- that I wasn’t going to drink anymore.
That’s when EVERYTHING changed.
All throughout my drinking days I would constantly pray to Jesus asking for his help. I didn’t want to feel like I did anymore- tired, anxious, slightly hungover all the time. I now know, not only was He fully with me during my darkest days, but that He had a plan for me, and it was greater and bigger than I could have ever imagined. He had heard my prayers throughout my drinking and had heard it March 9, 2020, I felt Him. He needed me to go through the pain of feeling totally helpless when it came to my wine, to get to the place where I had to totally surrender and call out for help.
In the following days and months, I remember coming across 2 Corinthians 12:9 (fun fact December 9th is also my birthday so I mean, if that isn’t a God-shot, I don’t know what is?!) The verse tells us that “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness, that the power of Christ may dwell in me.” God’s power was perfected in my inability to control myself around a wine glass. He was going to take this struggle of mine and turn it into something powerful. Verse 10 goes on to say “Therefore I am well content with my weakness…. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” I can’t explain it, but when I finally surrendered to God and let go of alcohol, I felt more powerful, because of His work in me, than I ever had before. I knew I had a story to tell, and a message to share.
I spent an entire year researching everything I could about alcohol use disorder and addiction, while also growing closer than I ever had to Jesus. I felt him calling me to be really vocal about the sobriety journey that I was on, and so I did just that. I started documenting my alcohol-free days on my personal instagram page during the covid lockdowns. It was scary to think about being that open and vulnerable and sharing that I had struggled to deeply with my wine intake but the response that I got was overwhelming- in a great way. So many friends- old and new- reached out and asked how I had found freedom from alcohol. I tried to help in anyway that I could by recommending books, podcasts, and webinars that I thought would be helpful.
I felt God calling me to help others with each passing day. At the end of 2020 I applied to be a certified This Naked Mind Institute Coach. I learned important methodology from Annie Grace who has helped tens of thousands of people ditch alcohol. I spent 2021 deep in studies and connecting to other women who have been on a journey to reevaluate how alcohol shows up in their lives. I started coaching my own clients in January 2022 and have been blessed in getting to coach some absolutely incredible women.
If you haven’t taken a break from alcohol in a while, I know that taking a break can seem really daunting and overwhelming. Trust me, I’ve been there, and I have experienced all the emotions you are likely feeling right now. It doesn’t matter how much you’re drinking, if it’s once a week or every night, the decision to take a break can be an incredible one for your health, your family, your career, and so so much more.
If my story resonates with you and you’d like to speak together about how you can lose the desire to drink and find freedom from alcohol, book a FREE 30 minute discovery call HERE. I would love to meet you.