MY SOBRIETY

Last year I started to notice that whenever I shared certain experiences and past feelings with people, it really lifted them up or gave them a sense of relief that they weren’t alone, and they would always thank me for sharing. I didn’t think anything of it till I started watching Red Table Talk on Facebook.

Confronting Mental Illness

Jada reveals her struggles with depression and suicidal thoughts. Grammy-winning rapper Kid Cudi joins the Table and talks about his mental health problems and battle with addiction.

Posted by Red Table Talk on Friday, December 14, 2018

There’s been a few videos re addictions and every time I watch them I feel so happy and empowered. One of them in particular really hit home, and when I shared the video I wrote:

Watching this video, it really hit home, and is actually inspiring me to share my story of becoming sober soon. How soon I’m not sure as I’m still dealing with feelings of guilt and shame from my past, but what stuck out to me the most was when Jada said “Testimony is so much more powerful than advice, just for people to know they’re not alone.” People can give me advice all day long but I notice the ones who I really learn from, are the ones who just simply share their experiences. I want to share some of the things I resonated with from this video, maybe it will help someone (maybe it’s helping me)..

“Depressed already, and you were using to try to manage your depression – I have anxiety or I’m depressed so this is the thing that keeps me able to do my work, it keeps me afloat – We’re all hurting and this makes us feel good.” I can relate to all of these. It’s so weird looking back though because there’s no way alcohol and drugs were keeping me afloat, but it really felt like it at the time, it was the norm, my stability, my go to. For me it definitely stemmed from hurt, so I would use alcohol and drugs to (temporarily) make me feel good, and help boost my confidence and self-esteem.

“Did anyone try to reach out to you? Not really because it was a very private thing, I was dealing with my sh*t alone. I was really good at keeping my troubles hidden, even from my friends, you can become a master. I really went out of my way to keep what I was going though hidden because I was ashamed.” Omg this is me all over. Even to this day my friends and family don’t know how bad I was with addiction because I would hide it so well. I would drink and get on it in secret all the time. I still struggle to talk about it now with them because I feel guilty that I used to lie, I wouldn’t lie with bad intention or anything, I would lie because I was lying to myself! Last month, one of my closest friends for over a decade made plans for us to meet up, and he (innocently) suggested I should have a prosecco to celebrate our mutual friend’s 40th Birthday. It really upset me that he would suggest that, we’ve been tight for so long, didn’t he know how important my sobriety was to me?! Then I thought Rochelle of course he doesn’t, you haven’t told him anything haha.. So I sent him a message explaining some of the struggles I’ve been through, so that he could understand my sobriety more. He replied straight away: Jesus …. I’m really sorry for even mentioning it now… that was so f**king deep and I didn’t have an idea as to what extent it got too. But on the flip side to hear more of the sh*t u went through, only makes me admire u even more, what u have now become. Thank u for sharing this as u could have just said naaa bruv!!!!!

I felt so much better after opening up to him, I think that’s what I need to keep on reminding myself too, that my loved ones will still love me and support me no matter what. Last but not least, “Spending time with my daughter, my daughter is my world.” This is how I feel about my nieces. I’ve always been close with them but even more so since I’ve become sober, because I’m in my natural state and more present with them, really taking in every moment. Children have such strong intuitions and I’m sure they can see/feel the difference. Last year at one of their Birthday parties while I was clearing up, their entertainer (who had been coming to their parties for years) asked who I was. It really got to me, I felt like such a bad auntie because it made me realise she didn’t know me because I wasn’t ever with the girls playing and getting involved in their parties, I was more interested in socialising with the adults with a glass of wine. But then I quickly turned it around and thought, that’s not me anymore, I’m so grateful I can be here for them now and that’s what truly matters 🙂  

So when Jada said “Testimony is so much more powerful than advice, just for people to know they’re not alone.” That’s what motivated me to write this blog now, in case it resonates with anyone and helps in any way. I remember when I heard stories from other people, straight away it would give me some relief and reassurance, like omg I’m not the only one feeling like this. So I’m hoping my story will be able to help others, help others to not feel like they’re alone in this, and to help them realise how important your health is. Not preaching for everyone to become sober, that’s just what helped me, but to definitely be more aware of how to practice self-care and look after your mental/physical health. One of the reasons why I created Rosario Fitness 🙂

So before I begin, I just want to apologise to everyone who I hurt, lied to and disrespected before my sobriety. I would say 2012-2016 were my most challenging years, and please understand I didn’t ever lie on purpose. I mean I was lying to myself!

Sober GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

I’ve been sober for just over two years now and one of the reasons why I didn’t open up sooner about my struggles was because of the guilt I’ve been carrying around. It was only until I met Annie, a lovely girl I shared a room with during my pregnancy yoga teacher training, that I saw my guilt in a different light. I would share stories with her about my past and I said I would like to share it publicly one day but I’m scared, I just feel so bad for all the lies I told. And she said something like “but people will understand when they hear what you went through, they already know your morals and values, they know the real you.” That always stuck with me, and within the same month I started opening up a bit more on social media, and noticed how much people appreciated my honesty, and I guess it gave me a little nudge to write this blog too. So thank you everyone who wrote to me, all the comments and messages re my posts, you have no idea how much it’s helped with my confidence to write this blog now 🙂  

Ok so back to my apology. I saw this quote, and I think it says it all:

So to anyone who I hurt or disrespected, I’m so sorry and I hope you can forgive me from seeing my remorse and changed behaviour now, and trust that I won’t ever act that way again. One thing people need to know is that addicts lie! They lie to their families, their friends, their bosses and most of all, to themselves. Addicts lie to protect themselves from the painful truth that their drinking or drug abuse is no longer under their control, and is used as an escapism. No one likes to admit they’ve lost their willpower, but that’s exactly what happens with addiction. 

https://www.verywellmind.com/my-addicted-loved-one-lies-all-the-time-22118

To help you further understand, online research shows:

What causes addiction?

Not every person who drinks alcohol or takes drugs will develop an addiction. The truth is that some individuals are at greater risk of developing this illness because they have a number of factors that could influence this. These could include a family history of addiction, mental health problems, socio-economic status, unresolved trauma, and early exposure to chemical substances.

Addiction denial.

Another common barrier to addiction recovery is denial. This is common among addicts who for one reason or another may not be ready to accept help. Some addicts have never tried to quit drinking or taking drugs so do not actually realise that they have become physically dependent. Others cannot comprehend the fact that they could be classed as ‘addicts’ because, in their mind, they do not fit the profile of an addict. To them, an alcoholic is someone who drinks all day, every day or someone who is homeless and drinks from bottles in a brown paper bag.

Why is willpower often not enough?

All people make choices about whether or not to use substances. However, people do not choose how their brain and body respond to drugs and alcohol, which is why people with addiction cannot control their use while others can. Once the brain has been changed by addiction, that choice or willpower becomes impaired. Most experts believe that the person loses control of their behaviour. People with addiction can still stop using, it’s just much harder than it is for someone who has not become addicted.

Brian Rose:

Is it possible to cure these people, or to get them to stop using drugs, or prevent/alleviate?

Dr Gabor Maté:

Wrong question. Is it possible to cure people? The answer to that question framed that way is no it’s not possible. If you’re asking is it possible for people to heal from trauma sufficiently that they don’t have to keep escaping into addictions, to lessen the suffering of their trauma, then yes that’s entirely possible. 

Addiction, rather than being a disease as such, or a human choice, it is actually an attempt to escape suffering, temporarily.

Addictions are a response to suffering, and what people need in response to addiction is not judgement and symptom control, they need to be helped to heal from their trauma.

My journey with addiction started at 14 years old. I say journey because I wasn’t actually suffering with addiction at the time, but it was the age when I started binge drinking. Every weekend at the local park with friends, and we would smoke cigarettes and cannabis too. I didn’t think anything of it, it was the norm, and back then (we’re talking almost 20 years ago) it was easy to buy and get served alcohol without ID. In hindsight I didn’t know my limit then which is very dangerous for a young teenage girl, I mean it’s dangerous for anyone but especially for someone who’s so young and naive.

So me and my friends would tell our families that we were going to the cinema and we would come home drunk and just run up the stairs hoping they wouldn’t see how intoxicated we were. Or if one of us had a free house we would always go there, and we would just chill and smoke weed all day. I began to smoke weed so much that when I started college at 16 years old I left after 4 months because I was more interested in getting high than going to class. One thing that did discipline me though was a job, and that’s because if I went to work I could then earn money, to buy more weed.

To cut a long story short, I’d say from the age of 14-25 I would go through phases, smoking weed, binge drinking, cocaine, a few times dabbling with mdma and ecstasy pills etc., and I even went through a teetotal phase when I was about 19/20. It started because I couldn’t afford a social life AND rent, so I chose to keep the social life but without spending money on alcohol, cigarettes and drugs, that way I could afford both. I actually had a great time, I would still go out every weekend but just be on red bull. The music and atmosphere was so good, plus I’d be with all my friends and bouncing off their energy so I didn’t actually miss having a drink, which in hindsight is so positive because to me it shows that was a really happy period in my life, young, care free and on a natural high.

Now that all changed when I became depressed in 2012. That was the same year I married my first love, my best friend, and I was so so happy (our wedding day is still one of the happiest days of my life). But not long after, things changed and I began to suffer from depression and anxiety. Things became worse and worse and a year later, we broke up. Divorce wasn’t ever in my thoughts though, I married him because I wanted to be with him for life, forever and ever and ever. So when reality hit and we had to go through that, it was a devastating time. I was already depressed with low self-esteem and hardly any confidence, and although deep down I loved my husband, I actually began to hate and resent him. It was a whirlwind of emotions and a vicious cycle – wake up, feel depressed, quick drink at lunch to get through the day and/or definitely drinks after work, smoking throughout the day too, come home late, drunk, conk out, forget problems. Next day wake up, feel depressed and hungover and you know the rest..

Drunk Kristen Wiig GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

I wasn’t living at all, I was simply existing, hiding behind this cloud of alcohol and drugs, an easy way to block out the pain that I was feeling. It was also a way to temporarily boost my confidence and suppress my anxiety. I was the first one out of my friends to go through a divorce and people would give their opinion and ask me questions all the time. It was so overwhelming! So I would just drink and nod my head and do my best to change the conversation. When I eventually overcame my depression and anxiety, I realised I handled the opinions and questions all wrong.

If anyone reading this is going through some kind of break up, and someone asks who what where why you’ve broken up, here’s your answer: “It’s between me and him (or her), I don’t want to talk about it any further, please respect my wishes. Thank you, good night, God bless.”

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I really wish I knew that sooner as it would have helped loads with my anxiety, but hey ho, lesson learned. For some reason I felt like I needed to explain myself, that definitely stemmed from my low self-esteem. You don’t need to explain yourself or your situation to anyone, other people’s opinions really do not matter. And as much as you’re the talk of the day, something else will pop up soon and your divorce/situation will be old news. I remember a couple years ago someone mentioned something about me and my ex-husband to one of my girls and she simply replied “old news!” haha! I love my girls 🙂 Also some people are just being harmlessly nosey, they’re not asking to gossip (or maybe they are a bit) but it really isn’t a big deal. When Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt divorced, first thing I thought to myself was ooo I wonder what happened. And then I thought oh, this is what people must have thought about my divorce haha.. I shouldn’t have taken it so personally. 

I remember the year we separated I spent Christmas Day alone in my bed watching Toy Story eating a bagel. Loved ones had invited me over to their homes but I was so depressed and anxious, being in bed alone was all I wanted to do. Now the only thing that kept me getting out of bed was going to work and then that stopped too because I felt so drained, worthless and ashamed. Eventually I ended up being signed off with depression, all I wanted to do was sleep all day.

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My work were really understanding though and I wouldn’t be where I am now without their support and compassion. I’m still friends with my manager from that time and I’ll be forever grateful for her and everyone I worked with, they have no idea how much they helped me through one of the hardest times of my life. Going to work every day was the only bit of stability I had in my life and I really appreciated that routine. I guess it gave me purpose too.

So married 2012, separated 2013 and divorced 2014. Let’s call him EH (for Ex Husband).

2014 I met someone, someone who would do anything and everything for me, and worshipped the ground that I walked on. Let’s call this one MB (for Matey Bruv, because that’s what my friends actually call him, well one of them calls him ‘he who shall not be named’ haha, you’ll find out why in a bit).

But things didn’t last long with him as I already had plans to move to Abu Dhabi and Dubai. I was so heartbroken after the divorce I contacted friends who lived there and decided to move out there myself so I could have a fresh start. So I left my job and made the move abroad and I loved it! A fresh start in the sunshine, I was so happy! That feeling only lasted a month though, and was only out there for 3 months in total. Not only was I still depressed, now I was depressed and lonely. Fresh start abroad also means fresh start without the support and care of your loved ones. It made me realise that happiness really does come from within, I somehow thought that leaving the country was going to make me happy again, but it’s only temporary. I was depressed and running away from my problems, that was the reality of it. Again, alcohol was my go to there as well. My friends actually knew me as one day on, one day off. One night I’m out, next day I’m hanging, night after I’m out, day after I’m hanging. Yet another cycle.

So I called my mum who lives in The Philippines, told her that living and working abroad wasn’t for me but I didn’t want to go back to the UK just yet, I knew I needed more time away to work on myself. And she told me to come to her house, and I did, staying for 6 months. That’s exactly what I needed, I actually felt better after only a couple of weeks being there! I didn’t need to move abroad for a fresh start, I just needed some time away to work on myself away from distractions and away from my ex.

Those six months in The Philippines were a real blessing, and I’m so thankful I have my mum and family out there to turn to when I need them. Within the first two weeks of being there I finished reading Thrive by Rob Kelly. My therapist gave it to me in March 2013 to help me overcome my depression and anxiety (I used to suffer from panic attacks too), and I finished reading it in December 2014. That’s how much I lacked motivation. But as soon as I finished it I thought, I wish I’d read that sooner! It’s an amazing book and I’ve read it about six times already. It’s natural to go through highs and lows in life, and whenever I come across a low I’ll read the book again to help give me clarity and strength. So after I finished reading it in December 2014, I read it again along with other books which helped boost my confidence and self-esteem. All this time reading and working on myself and spending time with family, and the local people and children (my mum lives in a small town where a lot of people come from underprivileged backgrounds), it really humbled me and put things into perspective. Instead of thinking “poor me”, I turned it around and thought how blessed I am to have family and friends who love me and support me, and a home to go to, and food on the table.

Rob Kelly wrote in his book Thrive: “The thought that is in my mind right now, is it helpful? (And by helpful I mean: helping to create a wonderful, happy, healthy life.) If the answer is no, then change it for one that is or bin it!”

Beauty And The Beast Books GIF by Disney - Find & Share on GIPHY

*middle pic, me and nanay (mother) and bottom left, me and my best friend Jaded 🙂

Another situation I turned around was the hate and resentment I had for EH. It was no longer there, I let go of everything, as the only person I was hurting holding on to all that pain was myself. What’s done is done, it’s in the past, how am I bettering my life and moving forward if I’m holding on to grudges etc.? I’m not. I once heard that pain is one of the greatest catalysts for change and creativity. It’s a process, but we all have the choice and the power to turn hardships and heartaches into blessings if we want to. Over time I learnt how to appreciate the positives and cherish the memories.

Anyway during my time in The Philippines I had a few binges with alcohol, this didn’t happen often though because I spent most of my time at home with my family. When I arrived back in the UK now, that was a different story! I drank all the time, ALL the time. And I would lie about it all the time, not telling people how much I was really drinking. I remember friends would make comments every now and then saying “we’ve never seen Rochelle drink/party this much.” As much as I worked on myself and overcame my depression and was in a better place, I still had many underlying issues, and alcohol helped cover that.

One of the underlying issues I had was moving on from an assault. Before I go on, one thing I’d like to request is if you know my dad please don’t mention anything to him, he’s not in his best health at the moment and if he has any worry or stress it will make things worse so please respect my wishes to protect his health, thank you. So re the assault, I was with friends having a drink, having a laugh, some friends I knew already, but there were some people there I hadn’t met before. What started as a really fun time ended up with bumps, blood and bruises 🙁

It was the worst experience of my life, and the loneliest experience of my life. I only told one person to get it off my chest and then I buried it and kept it to myself for months and months. I suffered from nightmares and sometimes I still do, but they don’t scare me anymore. If I have one I wake up and try and turn on some sort of light or my phone and remind myself I’m home, I’m safe, it’s not real, it was just a dream, I’m safe. Please know this happened years ago, I have had counselling since and have opened up to more people about it, and I’m definitely in a much better place 🙂 I turned that experience around as a lesson learned re vigilance, and I’ve even shown gratitude for it, because some people suffer from domestic violence every day, even one of my friends, she was assaulted when she was 6 months pregnant. When I think of it like that, I’m thankful that I don’t have to experience that pain every day. You see my life now, I’m the happiest I’ve ever been 🙂 So please instead of worrying about me, use that energy to pray for those who are still suffering now, and if you’re going through/have been through something similar and would like to talk to me about it please do..

https://rosariofitness.co.uk/contact/

But if you’re a loved one of mine and want to ask more about what happened, just to know more details, I’d really appreciate it if you didn’t. I didn’t tell my loved ones because I half didn’t want to upset/worry them and half because I was in denial myself. For sure it’s something I won’t ever get over but I’ve done so well to move forward that I don’t feel like it’s necessary to speak about the past anymore, unless it’s going to help someone. It brings back bad memories, same with the divorce, the only time I want to talk about my dark times is if someone was struggling and would feel better after a conversation, then of course I’m here 🙂

One thing that didn’t help though was burying it with alcohol and drugs! And also, I look back at what happened and wonder, would that have happened to me if I was sober? Don’t get me wrong, sober people can get assaulted/drugged/knocked out unconscious etc. But I feel like now with my sobriety, my intuition and awareness is stronger than ever, and I always get gut feelings about things. So I can’t help but think maybe if I was sober I would have been more aware, or had a gut feeling and left the drinks and avoided that experience altogether. Anyway back to burying issues with alcohol and drugs. Everything was getting suppressed deeper and deeper the more I was drinking. I get that it sounds contradictory, because how did I overcome depression and anxiety, but yet abused alcohol and drugs to suppress the remaining issues? To be honest, I don’t know. But that’s how I was, I think overcoming all of my dark times gave me this amazing gratitude and appreciation for life, and that’s where my positivity stemmed from.

And at the same time, all of the underlying issues that I wasn’t ready to address, I would just hide, block and forget about them with alcohol.

Happy Hour Drinking GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

Update! (June 2019) – not long after I wrote MY SOBRIETY blog I was diagnosed with PTSD. You can read all about it here..

..including my realisations of how I was able to be in a positive place, whilst hiding underlying issues.

In hindsight, I should have told more people about the assault when it happened. They say a problem shared is a problem halved and to a certain extent yes it’s true. I didn’t realise it at the time but looking back I know exactly what I did. I was in shock and denial, and extremely distressed, I didn’t know how to cope. I didn’t even cry a lot when it happened, it’s like I was pretending to myself that everything was ok and went straight into block it out mode. I would wear clothes that would cover up my bruises so people didn’t see them and ask questions, I would even use make up to try and conceal them. Another silly thing I did was go to the hospital by myself. Worst thing I could have done. I felt so lonely and upset, it really would have helped if I had someone by my side. But instead of opening up, what did I do? Drink. Drink, smoke, get on it. Anything and everything that would make me forget about it, or make me feel strong like it didn’t affect me that much. If you’re reading this and resonating with anything, please talk to someone, a loved one, a helpline, anyone, it may not seem like it now but it really will help 🙂

Ok so do you remember earlier I spoke about my boyfriend MB? I want to talk to you more about our relationship. Well I don’t really want to haha, but my goal is to help others so I’ve got to be as honest as possible, and a lot of my most shameful times were when I was with him. We were in love but it was so unhealthy, he was the most straight laced person I’ve ever met, complete opposite of me. I would encourage him to drink and do drugs with me, I would lie to him about how much I drank and about my secret smoking/cocaine habit. We were on and off between 2014 and 2018. I reached out to him in 2017 after one of our off chapters – which was due to me lying, he wasn’t having it anymore and broke up with me. I didn’t care at the time, well I did because I loved him and it hurt, but as an addict, I loved alcohol and drugs more, and now I felt free to do whatever I want 🙂

But a few months later I became sober (not for him, for myself) and I looked at the break up in a completely different light. So I reached out to him to apologise for my actions, my behaviour and my lies etc. I wanted to show remorse, and take accountability for the hurt I caused. So I wrote to him. It was actually very therapeutic for me, and really helped to heal my own feelings of guilt and shame. I’ve heard that before, what you reveal you heal. I’m going to share with you some of what I wrote, but first I want to give you a few examples of the actions and behaviours I was just talking about. So me and MB had keys to each other’s houses and one time he came over as a surprise, thinking we could spend some quality time together. He came in my room and noticed these spinach/lettuce leaves all over my bed and asked what they were, I said I don’t know. When really it was from me being sick in my sleep the night before from drinking too much, I don’t even remember doing this, could you imagine if I choked on my sick in my sleep, so dangerous! He drove me to his house and I was sick en route, he was really worried, stopped to buy me medicine, got to his house and he carried me upstairs, ran me a bath and looked after me all day. I made out to him (and myself) that I was genuinely sick, but obviously I was hungover. My laptop was in the bed that night too, I must have fallen asleep watching a film or something. Anyway my laptop broke, surprise surprise, and when he picked it up from the repair shop, he said it wasn’t working due to water damage (aka vomit damage). That should have been a red flag for me but where I would lie to myself, I didn’t think I had a problem. I remember one day he was in a motorbike accident and I didn’t even go to see him because I was under the influence. I would do things like that all the time, and I wouldn’t say anything or tell anyone because I felt so ashamed! Or things like going to his house straight after work to stay over, he’s there waiting for me, but then I end up going out for a “quick” drink after work, next thing I’m in McDonald’s at midnight texting him with a big mac hanging out of my mouth saying I’m running late.

So disrespectful and I wouldn’t ever do that sober, and could you imagine if he done that to me?! It was completely against my morals and values, my friends and family love me because of my caring nature, loyalty, thoughtfulness and respect, but as soon as I had a drink it was like I turned into a different person. And that’s another thing, it was never just one drink. One drink wonder me, that’s all it took, and that’s why I’m so strict on myself now because I know one drink won’t ever be just one drink. One glass of wine turned into a bottle, which then turned into two, easily. A good example of this was January 2016. This was actually the 1st time I attempted to stop drinking, but I was secretly doing for MB, he didn’t even know. I felt bad about my actions and wanted to change but it didn’t work because I should have been doing it for myself. Don’t get me wrong I’ve seen an episode of Red Table Talk where they asked Adrienne (who was a drug addict), what made you change?

Adrienne “Sad to say I did it for a man, but at the end of the day you get to wherever you get and then hopefully the light will go on and you’ll realise that it’s about you, and I had to come to the understanding that there was a power that God had been looking out for us.”

Jada “Sometimes it does take that, it takes something outside of us to give us that hope in order to get the strength, if we had the strength for ourselves we wouldn’t even be there.”

So you can definitely change for another person, whether it be for your partner, your child, or even a friend. But in my case, I had to do it for me, and I had to do it by myself. Ok back to January 2016, I had already gone 22 days without a drink and this particular night I was out for a friend’s Birthday and told MB I’ll message him when I was on my way back. I ordered a virgin mojito, and turns out, the bartender didn’t know what a virgin mojito was and gave me one with alcohol in and I only found out after I drank it. By that time the alcohol had kicked in and I thought “f**k it.” Next thing I know I’m outside smoking, then at the bar ordering a bottle of wine, then in the toilets doing coke. Then I’ve ended up in a night club, followed by a house party. Just from one accidental drink! MB was so worried because I told him I would message him when I was on my back, but after that one drink I didn’t check my phone all night and I only contacted him when I left the club at 3am. Again, that’s just one example, I used to do things like that all the time. A glass of wine in Nando’s with my dinner could easily turn into a night out. I had no limit and no self-control, a really unhealthy relationship with alcohol.

Then one hangover in November I had a moment of, I can’t do this anymore! I actually said it out loud in front of my friends while I had the shakes, I said “I don’t want this lifestyle anymore.” There was something different about this realisation from the other times (I tried to give up alcohol twice already that year but deep down it was for MB, not myself, that’s why it didn’t work). I think me saying out loud made a big impact too. It’s like I was making it real. While I’m on the subject of November, let me tell you about a couple of my nights out during this month. First one was on a Friday evening, quick drink after work, nothing major planned as I was going to Manchester the next day for my best friend Lhara’s 30th Birthday weekend. What did I end up doing? Getting absolutely smashed and staying up all night. Lhara met me the next day, I had my sunglasses on, no sleep, I felt so guilty. She had a really tough break up the month before and I was her rock, I promised her a fun weekend away, she even brought ciders for us to drink on the train up there and what did I do? This:

The week after I had another best friend’s 30th Birthday. We had this big night out planned in London for the Saturday night, I was so excited! 🙂 Guess what happened? I ended up out the night before. Was only meant to show my face and just stay for 1 drink at this charity event, ended up getting on one, didn’t get home till 5am. Then guess what I done? I slept all day Saturday, and all night Saturday, yes I slept through my best friend’s 30th Birthday party. Omg I felt awful. I begged her for forgiveness and she was ok bless her, but of course she was hurt, I would be too!

That was it, I was giving up drinking for good now, I could not continue letting my loved ones down like this. But there was one last Birthday dinner planned with her and the girls, so I went and had a drink, I felt obliged to, to make it up to her. Well as you know I don’t know how to have just one drink, I ended up getting on one, and that’s when I had the “I don’t want this lifestyle anymore” hangover. Before I go onto the next part of me becoming sober, I just want to add how much I would drink and get on it in secret. In my bedroom mainly.

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I actually remember taking a bottle of prosecco home from a pub one time, it was late and I drank it on the street by myself walking home, straight from the bottle. Not care in the world. It’s mad because after my assault you’d think I’d be more vigilant, but like I said, when I’ve had a drink it’s like I turned into a different person.

I’d be sick a lot in secret too, in my bedroom, or pretending to go to the toilets for a wee but I’d actually be throwing up, either because I was hungover and was trying to hide it, or because I was drunk and over my limit. If that was the case I didn’t tell people that I was sick because then it meant that I should go home, so I pretended I was ok so I could stay out longer. I’ve even done cocaine till my nose bled and carried on. I would hide/flush the tissues with blood so my friends couldn’t see in case they’d tell me to stop. At one point I ended up in hospital with dehydration, I got on it so much that my body rejected everything in it, I literally had nothing left, I couldn’t even sip water without throwing it up. That was a real low point for me, I actually thought to myself what is the point of this life? I’m not living! That still didn’t stop me drinking by the way. A week after I recovered I flew out to Ibiza. The author Allen Carr says: One of the kindnesses of Mother Nature is that we tend to forget bad experiences in our lives. But if we ignore her advice, such kindnesses tend to backfire. The fact is that the longer we abstain, the less we remember about the misery of drinking, and the less reason we have to resist the other side of the tug-of-war, increasing the temptation to have, just one drink. But of course alcohol dehydrates us, which makes us want another drink. It also removes our inhibitions, which makes it easier for us to have the second and so on. You fall straight back into the trap again.

I actually suffered with sickness a lot as I had gallstones for over 10 years, and then eventually had my gallbladder removed in 2014. Where I was sick all the time with gallstones, I would just tell myself I’m still sick now because of my history and the surgery. I really did believe it too, I’d go to the doctors all the time. Because sometimes even when I had no alcohol in my system I would still be sick. So I genuinely thought I had a medical condition, especially after my history. It was only when I gave up alcohol I noticed I stopped being sick, then I put two and two together and thought omg, it was all alcohol related! The thing is, your gallbladder is there to digest your fats, when you don’t have a gallbladder anymore, you then solely rely on your liver to digest these fats. So I should be treating my liver with the upmost respect, not damaging it left right and centre with alcohol. Oh and I used to suffer a lot with UTI’s, colds and coughs as well, all the time, I was constantly ill, and then it all stopped naturally when I cut out alcohol. I knew alcohol lowered your immune system but didn’t realise how much till I actually cut it out and saw how healthy I was in my natural state.

Anyway, when I finally got over my “I don’t want this lifestyle anymore” hangover I downloaded an iBook to my phone called How To Control Alcohol by Allen Carr (the author, not the comedian) because a couple months before I had stopped smoking using the Allen Carr’s easyway method, so I thought I’d try his book re alcohol. During my time reading this it was coming up to Christmas and I wanted to test myself Christmas Day to see if I could have just the one drink. Well I had one and ended up calling Lhara and went to her family home for drinks all evening. Ordered a taxi back to mine on my own, conked out, and the driver had to wake me up when I was outside my house, so dangerous. Again, Rochelle, you do not know how to have just one drink! This was actually a big red flag for me because I’ve fallen asleep drunk in a taxi before and was touched inappropriately without my consent. Fortunately I woke up in time and stopped the situation before anything happened, but I remember at the time I promised myself I wouldn’t fall asleep in a taxi again. But after a drink, everything changes. Even though I was really drunk, I remember going into that taxi on Christmas Day and saying to myself “stay awake!” and then literally 1 second later I fell asleep. So although my intention was there, it wasn’t good enough, because I was under the influence.

Allen Carr: It is an illusion that alcohol gives you courage. It does however remove inhibitions. Just like fear, inhibitions are there to protect us.

I then thought about just doing ecstasy pills every now and then for a buzz instead of having a drink. So I tested it after Christmas. Met my friends for drinks, I was just drinking water but I took a quarter of a pill, felt nice and not too buzzing. They carried on drinking and doing drugs and I’d slowly take a quarter of a pill here and there, got buzzing and loved it. But then the pills ran out and I was craving more. Next thing a friend offered me a bump of coke and because I was already high and not thinking straight, I took it. Then I felt really wired and needed a drink to balance it out, so I went ahead and poured myself a glass of wine. Then one thing led to another and I was back on the alcohol and coke again. I was in bed for days after, slept through New Year’s, I remember my best friend Lauen went out of her way to contact me because I hadn’t looked at my phone for days, not answering calls or responding to messages, she was worried bless her. And that was the last time I had a drink or took any drugs. I’m glad I tested myself like that though because now I know if I do have a thought about going off the wagon I remind myself of those times, and how awful I felt after, and I just say to myself it’s not worth it! It’s also why I’m so strict on myself. I remember going to Amsterdam a couple months after thinking about maybe doing magic mushrooms or a space cake, and I thought I can’t, because when I’m not in my natural state I don’t think clearly and I don’t know what else it could lead on to. Plus I was feeling so healthy that I didn’t want to spoil it, and that feeling and mindset has stuck with me ever since. But it wasn’t easy becoming teetotal, especially after how many years of relying on substances to get through life, now I didn’t have a vice! So if I was feeling overwhelmed or upset (which I did a lot in the beginning because all of those unresolved issues from my past came up to the surface) I didn’t have a cigarette or glass of wine to take the edge of things anymore.

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So Lauren recommended I try yoga. I’m naturally an early bird so I would go every morning before work, it was such an uplifting way to start the day. I also came across Fight Klub which is a boxing workout to drum and bass. Other end of the spectrum to yoga but it’s such a good release for me. I’m not a fan of HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) but with Fight Klub’s music and atmosphere you don’t feel like you’re training at all, more like you’re raving, and that’s why I love it! I began to meditate too, I went to a few classes first and then downloaded the headspace app to help guide me at home (I now use the Calm app). I didn’t notice a difference straight away but I definitely noticed if I missed a couple of days, the main thing that sticks out for me is that I became less patient. Same thing happens now and I only meditate for 10 minutes each morning. I think it’s so beneficial for your health, especially as an addict because it gives you some quality me time, time to zone out and clear your mind and thoughts. So when things do get on top, you already have the tools to practice patience and think things through properly before reacting and reaching for a drink etc. I mean don’t get me wrong, if I’m going through an upsetting time I won’t bother meditating because I know my mind isn’t clear enough for it and there’s no point. Some people might disagree with me and think that’s the time when you should be meditating the most but I believe you should listen to what your body is telling you and if you don’t feel like meditating, or exercising, or whatever, don’t force yourself. Some days you do just need a duvet day, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Quote: “Don’t forget that you’re human, it’s okay to have a meltdown. Just don’t unpack and live there. Cry it out and then refocus on where you are headed.”

Ok so remember earlier I mentioned that I wrote to MB apologising in 2017? I’m going to share with you some of what I wrote, so you can get a gist of my remorse at the time:

I realised straight away after we broke up that I completely messed up and I take full responsibility for my actions. I’m truly sorry. As much as my intention wasn’t to hurt you, I still disrespected you and acted very inconsiderately, and at that time there was nothing I could do or say to make things better. I’ve done a lot of work on myself though and it’s made me reflect on our relationship, on my past relationships and on my life in general in a whole new light. The first step to that was giving up alcohol, and I wish I done it sooner because I’ve never been so clear about things in all my life. They say you don’t see things when you’re going through them, it’s always in hindsight. That’s exactly how I felt when I became sober. Looking back I’ve actually been battling with alcohol for a long time. I’ve always been a party girl but when I was younger I’d go out just on red bull and be sweet, even the first 2 times I went to Ibiza I was teetotal. Don’t get me wrong I’ve had a few sessions in my time, but only here and there not every weekend and I wouldn’t be hanging for days.

My relationship with alcohol changed when I became depressed in 2012 and drink was my go to, it blocked out the pain I was feeling and was an easy way to distract myself from reality. It wasn’t a healthy way to deal with my situation at all. I really believe I wasn’t made to drink. The fact that I told my work that I don’t drink just shows I can’t control it, who starts a new job and pretends they don’t drink just because they don’t want to get tempted/sucked into that lifestyle with work too? But you live and you learn. I done a face to face session set up by Allen Carr for quitting smoking at his clinic in September and I haven’t smoked since, where it worked so well I thought let me try his book on how to control alcohol. One of the things he said was you need to still drink while reading this book so you can see the effects alcohol has on you, with this new knowledge.

So I had a drink at Christmas, ended up falling asleep in the taxi home (which you know is my biggest pet peeve) and cancelling plans with my family the next day because I was half hanging and half ill with a cold, but of course alcohol lowers your immune system so I wouldn’t have been ill with the cold if I didn’t drink. And yeah it just confirmed my decision to not drink again, it brings no good to my life or to my loved ones and it’s one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. Being under the influence blocks out your emotions. When I say under the influence, it’s not only when I’m drunk, it’s when I’m hanging too, it’s even when I just have 1 little glass of wine with dinner, none of it is good. So when I became sober, I was overwhelmed with emotions – regret, guilt and disappointment (in myself) to name a few. I felt like I was going through the break up with you all over again but with a different perception, a real perception, because it was me in my natural state with no drink clouding my views. I couldn’t believe and still can’t believe how I disrespected you. It’s mad because respect, honesty and loyalty is so important to me but my actions contradicted them big time last year. Like I said you weren’t the only one I hurt, I disrespected my family, my friends, my work. There’s no excuses, I really had to work hard on myself and read and research where these behaviours stemmed from, and it all led back to unresolved issues and alcohol. I know I’m a good person with a good heart but when alcohol comes into play I turn into someone else! And you got the brunt of it more than anyone and I’m so sorry for that. When I was in The Philippines I worked on my self-esteem, letting go of the hate and resentment I had for EH, and I overcame my depression which is amazing, but I didn’t work on my experience with the assault, and the hurt I went through during my divorce. There’s a quote – when you love, love like you’ve never been hurt, taking your past relationships hurts into your new relationship will sabotage it from the beginning – which is exactly what I done and then adding alcohol to the mix was a recipe for disaster. Jaded, who is my best friend, who knows me better than I know myself, said a couple things to me because she knows me so well, and it really stuck with me.. When I called her from Abu Dhabi and said I don’t want to be here anymore it’s not for me, she said “I knew this was going to happen but I didn’t want to say anything because you have to experience it for yourself and I didn’t want to put a dampener on it.” And she didn’t mean it in a negative way, she’ll support me through anything, she just knows me and knows what’s best for me. So when I came back home in 2015 and me and you got back together, she said “You’re jumping into a relationship too quick you’re not ready yet, you need to settle in first. Yeah I can see you’re in a good place but that was in Philippines, it’s back to reality now, you need to find yourself before starting a relationship.” I said I know what I’m doing, I know MB already, I’m ready to be with him. Erm.. No. Of course I wasn’t ready for a relationship! Again Jaded didn’t mean it in a negative way or anything, she just knows me well and was advising what was best for me at the time which is what real friends do. Looking back I absolutely should have taken a few months to myself, I reckon I would have given up alcohol then if I was focused enough. But I can’t think like that because what’s done is done, I can’t change the past, all I can do is change my actions now and that’s exactly what I’ve been doing since November/December last year. I love my balance now – I can see my nieces, party with friends, go cinema with my dad and have a roast with the girls all in one weekend just because it doesn’t involve alcohol. I wouldn’t even say I’ve changed, I feel like I’ve gone back to my true self and evolved from that – and will continue to grow from that. I really did start to grow and learn new things from simply removing alcohol from my life.

(I didn’t include that quote to him by the way haha, just thought it was fitting for this part of the blog). Ok back to what I wrote:

I’ve even given up caffeine because I feel like it’s not good for me, I’m so aware of my health now (I haven’t been sick in months) and I want to continue living in the best health I can. I spoke to a few people including yoga/meditation teachers about my actions last year and the guilt I was dealing with, I said the only way I can deal with it is knowing that wasn’t the real me. They put me in my place real quick and said that was you, it just wasn’t the best version of you. And they’re right, I need to take ownership of my actions which I feel like I’ve done to the best of my ability, I’ve apologised to the ones I’ve hurt and said thank you for keeping me in your life (even in my job), I continue to express remorse in my actions by simple things like being reliable and being there for people and I just do the best I can now. And I’ve seen a real difference, I’m closer to my nieces, I’m excelling at work and my health has improved so much.

After he read that he forgave me, we got back together and we were so happy! 🙂

And then months later, guess what happened?

I found out he’d been cheating on me..

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I just celebrated my 1 year soberversary with him and then I got that news, what a test to my sobriety! I know you’ve just read all of the awful things I did in our relationship, but the reason why he stayed with me through all of that was because he knew that wasn’t the real me. I am actually a kind loving respectful person, which is who he fell in love with. And before he cheated we had been together for months sober, so it wasn’t like I was disrespecting him or anything then. Basically what I’m trying to say is, I didn’t deserve it. Well no one deserves that kind of betrayal 🙁 And like I said before, he was the most straight laced goody two shoes person I’ve ever met. Me and my loved ones were in shock! We’ve even seen him stop talking to one of his boys because he was unfaithful to his Mrs. Always preaching about being faithful, such double standards. It’s funny because my intuition has become so much stronger since being sober, and I knew something wasn’t right, even my auntie felt it (she was close with him too). I actually confronted him about it but he said he wasn’t himself because he was depressed. FYI to all the people who are depressed, if you’re depressed and you’re not getting enough attention or whatever from the relationship, do this thing called…. leave.

I’ve heard so many people say that “I was depressed, I was on my face, we wasn’t communicating.” Mate, leave her (or him), sort your shizzle out and then be with/sleep with whoever you want. Or you could even try this thing where you cross one leg in front of the other. It’s not that hard. Also what I’ve learnt over the years is that you can only ASSIST someone is overcoming their depression/anxiety etc., you can’t fix them and you can’t magically make everything better, the only person who can truly help them, is themselves. Going through all this made me respect EH so much more, we had a really tough time during the lead up to our separation, do you think he was going elsewhere? Do you think I was going elsewhere? Nah. Who does that?! Let me tell you, the weak, the lost and the delusional. I know a couple friends who have betrayed their partners, and it all stems from their own unhappiness and insecurities. Credits due where credit’s due, and because of EH I won’t ever have to suffer from trust issues – that is the biggest positive I always think of and shall be forever grateful for. I also appreciate how much I always felt safe with him, something I not necessarily took for granted, but after the assault I thought wow, that wouldn’t have ever happened with EH. I never questioned my safety with him, I know he wouldn’t have ever put his hands on me. He has no idea how much he’s been my rock in certain situations. As much as things didn’t work out, I’m so thankful to have met him. Time really is the best healer and we’re actually in a good place now, not best friends or anything, but we’ve definitely moved on and have nothing but love and respect for each other. Funny thing is, as time goes on I appreciate it him more and more, mainly because since we’ve broken up me and my girls have come across some right dicky donuts haha, and I just think “thank goodness I’ve got EH!” We still have our differences, hence why we’re not together anymore, but he has some amazing qualities about him which is why I fell in love with him in the first place. And I always say to my girls (and myself), if EH has those qualities, someone else does too, so keep hope! 🙂

Ok back to the cheating palava and my sobriety. The funny thing is when I found out, I didn’t actually crave a drink, looking back maybe I was too heartbroken to crave anything. Anyway all I remember was crying, a lot. I didn’t meditate or exercise for a long time. I tried to but I would just end up in tears, I just didn’t have the motivation or energy, I felt depressed and anxious again. But the saying is true, time heals most wounds. And the best thing I ever did was let it all out, as I didn’t have alcohol or drugs to suppress my emotions. If I was feeling sad I’d let myself feel sad, if I was feeling angry I’d let myself feel angry, if I wanted to stay in bed all day and talk to no one that’s exactly what I did. I listened to my body and it was the healthiest way for me to move forward. If I had still been drinking, I know I would have just put on a brave face, hidden my true feelings with alcohol and carry on with life as this strong independent woman. The thing with the whole strong independent woman role is we think we have to be strong all the time. That’s not the case, the reason why people become strong is because they’ve been through hardships, and with those hardships it’s ok to cry and feel weak. That’s what actually gives you your strength, the comeback is always stronger than the setback.

I’ve also learnt that it’s ok to cry and feel vulnerable. I remember I was watching KWTK in front of my nieces, the episode where Kim talks about her robbery in Paris (video below, from 1:14)..

It brought back so many bad memories from the assault and I just sat there, holding my breath, forcing myself not to cry in front of them because I want them to see me as their strong, brave auntie who doesn’t ever feel weak. My sister later explained that it’s ok to cry in front of them because it shows them it’s ok to feel vulnerable and sad, you don’t have to be strong all the time. Which makes sense, in all aspects of life. One thing I remember feeling while watching that episode was a bit of relief. Relief because I wasn’t the only one who went through something similar, and I wasn’t the only one who’s experienced that fear. It made me feel a lot less alone, which again is one of the reasons why I’m sharing my story, in hope that it will help someone else.

Sometimes I do have flashbacks and bad memories from the past, and now instead of blocking them out with alcohol and drugs, I sit there and feel the emotions or even call a friend, and then I remind myself of all the blessings I have now 🙂 It could be little things that trigger me. I remember watching an episode of Power where two men run up in this woman’s house to rob her, and you could hear them beating her up upstairs. I just left the room for a bit so I didn’t need to hear it, and I haven’t watched another episode since. I do these things not to block it out, but as a way of protecting my peace 🙂

Ok back to the MB palava, so all of this happened a year ago (this month), and with the help of my sobriety and a clear head, I was able to change that pain and humiliation into gratitude, what a blessing in disguise! If you see my journey over the past year and all of my achievements..

https://www.instagram.com/rosariofitnessuk/

There’s no way I would have been able to accomplish my goals being with someone like him. Absolutely. Dodged. A. Bullet. And this year I have so many amazing opportunities lined up, I really am living the life of my dreams and it wouldn’t have been possible if I was still with Matey Bruv. So thank you MB! 🙂

And if any of you are going through a heartache, please keep strong and remember:

BREAK UP AFFIRMATIONS

Another thing I want to share while I’m here, are some of the amazing affirmations my loved ones and I wrote during my heartache. Whenever someone tells me they’re struggling through a break up/betrayal, I simply copy and paste the below and at least one of them always helps 🙂

  • Don’t be embarrassed – it just shows how courageous and mature you are to give your all when you love, because you are in love with life, you love yourself and are surrounded by loved ones who are loyal, genuine and caring 🙂 which he won’t ever experience. For that reason, pity him.
  • It’s not you – it’s his own issues, emptiness, insecurities and fake life full of lies and it just shows how weak he is which is not what you want in a man.
  • He didn’t truly love you, he loved how much you loved him. He loved his ego being stroked and if a man needs his ego stroked, it actually means he has low self-esteem.
  • He is a narcissist, someone who doesn’t take ownership and loves to play victim, in other words a fake lying p*ssy. And the narcissist doesn’t even know they have a problem, so how can they fix it? They can’t. He won’t ever change (the other girl actually helped us with that one haha).
  • Live your life and leave it to karma, and the karma that is on its way to you is going to be so amazing, it will be worth the pain! 🙂 Remember it’s his loss, he won’t ever meet a woman like you again and he couldn’t keep up with you anyway.
  • If loving the wrong man made you so happy, imagine how happy you’ll be loving the right one!
  • You are strong and as much as this is the worst heartache, re life situations you have been through worse, you can get through this – “you cannot keep a good woman down, she rises like a phoenix after betrayal and lights up the sky!”
  • You will grow and flourish from this experience and it will just make you appreciate the right man even more when he comes along 🙂 Remind yourself that not all men are like him, you were married before to someone who was 100% faithful to you, faithful men do exist!
  • Lesson learned though, if you meet someone who’s damaged, walk away. You are not there to help him, people have to help themselves. You need to be with someone who is strong, healed, confident, respects themselves, loves themselves and loves life!
  • This has happened for a reason, now he is out of your life for good the universe can align something so much better for you!

I must add, one of the pros of going through a divorce is that when you do go through break ups, even though it hurts, without the paperwork it feels like a walk in the park haha.. I mean at one point I started looking up to MB for his time management! The other girl actually contacted me a while after we broke up, and I was really taken aback because I hadn’t given any attention to that situation in so long, I rang Jaded to tell her and even she was like, omg I forgot all about MB! We kind of felt bad for her, but at the same time it was a nice reminder of how far I’ve come with my strength and positive mindset, and I believe my sobriety had a lot to do with that 🙂 Before I finish off this part, I wanted to share this theory of postponing your reaction for 72 hours to find perspective. I mean I’m still learning how to practice it myself haha! But I really believe in this. When I found out about the cheating I quickly reacted, too quick. Sent him a message telling him about himself, and saying how could you etc., when really, do you think the boy cares Rochelle?! He’s just cheated on you, he don’t care. I know if I waited 72 hours I would have just sent him this: “Yeah you crack on with that mate. All the best.” Anyway what’s done is done, but maybe by me sharing this theory it will help someone, and it’s also a gentle reminder for me haha!

Ok so that was basically an example of me dealing with a hardship/heartache being sober. Another one I want to share quickly is my break up with MH. My friends call him MH for Mr Hesitation. We weren’t together long, just over the summer in 2018. Had an amazing connection and fell for each other straight away. My friends and family loved him and were so happy for us 🙂 He was such a gentleman, and so thoughtful and respectful. Then one day, out of the blue (here we go), he came out with something like, he’s not sure if he’s got time for a relationship at the moment because of his work and family commitments. Err, alright mate, did you not think about this before asking me to be your girlfriend? Anyway I let him say his piece and the first thought in my brain was “ever so sorry, was that a hesitation I just heard?!” But I kind of brushed it to the side because I did care for him a lot and wanted to make it work, so I said to him while I’m away for 3 weeks at my yoga teacher training, why don’t you use that time to see how you’ll be able to prioritise your time more, and he agreed. He dropped me to the station and as I walked away I started crying, I cried on the train all the way home and then called Jaded to vent. Not even about him, but about myself! Rochelle, are you feeling alright, have you just heard yourself? What you’re going to be away on your teacher training, twiddling your thumbs wondering if he’s going to have enough time for you when you’re back? Nah mate. Know your worth! If someone truly wants to be with you there would be no hesitation, it could have been a conversation of “babe I’m crazy busy with all of these commitments so our time together is going to be a strain, but I want to be with you so let’s do everything we can to make it work.” But it wasn’t. And it actually made me think of EH (like I said earlier, I just appreciate him more and more now haha), because before we got married I wanted to go travelling for 3 months and he was so supportive of me. He joined me for the last couple weeks so all in all that was 2 and a half months without seeing each other, I was travelling in Asia so the time difference made things harder with contact too, but we loved each other and wanted to be together, so we made it work. Thinking of EH reminded me that if you truly want to be with someone, you can make it work. So I reacted quick and broke up with MH. Bish bash bosh done. And then I apologised for how abrupt I was because looking back I should have had a conversation with him, I should have waited those 72 hours haha! I think I waited about 1. But do you know what, I don’t regret my decision. One of the things that has come with my sobriety is a stronger intuition, they say gut feelings are guardian angels and it’s so true. If I was still drinking I would probably still be with him now trying to work things out, not realising my worth.

I did give myself a pat on the back though for recognising his actions and knowing my worth. I felt so misled, used and worthless. I don’t think he done it on purpose, maybe I was a lesson to him, to make him see that he wasn’t ready to commit to a relationship yet like he thought he was, who knows. But guys please take note..

Because nowadays..

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Anyway, with every hardship and heartache comes a lesson.

Well I’m going to try my best and not get carried away next time, just because you have a strong connection with someone does not mean you’re meant to be with them! By the way I didn’t ever get closure with any of these break ups, we never had a sit down of what happened and why etc. I see so many of my loved ones crave that feeling of closure but what I try to remind them is sometimes closure doesn’t exist and if anything, the best kind of closure is the one you give to yourself. What helped me was thinking if we wanted the same things from the relationship and was in agreement of how the break up came about, then we wouldn’t have broken up in the first place. Not everyone has the same way of thinking as you, not saying it’s a bad thing, you have your way, and they have theirs, and sometimes people are just not meant to be together. This relates to friendships too. I also do my best to remind my loved ones who are going through heartaches and want to lash out, that it doesn’t actually bring you anything. No justice, no happiness. The only way to gain true happiness is to accept, let go, move on and focus on your own life.

And for certain people it helps remembering, in the words of Cardi B “karma for you is gon’ be who you end up with..”

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I just want to add, I am in no way shape or form a relationship expert haha! But through my divorce and betrayal etc. I feel like I’ve learned a lot. So hopefully by sharing my experiences, and what I now understand through sober eyes, it will be able to help someone else 🙂

Another couple hardships I went through during my 1stl year sober was losing my job due to company closure, and seeing a loved one diagnosed with cancer 🙁 I got through these times with acceptance. Acceptance is so powerful. When you fight against something that is out of your control, that’s what causes the pain, which can then cause you to reach for a drink. So I accepted these situations, cried when I needed to, and then worked out the next steps with a lovely clear head 🙂

I’ve got one more heartache to mention while I’m here, the time when I fell out with my very close group of friends. I couldn’t believe it, I thought we were going to be friends for life. I even saw some of them being Godparents to my children one day, that’s how close we were. But one thing I can guarantee (and other addicts will agree with me) is that your friends will change when you become sober.

They’ll probably disagree and say my sobriety has nothing to do with it, and that I’m a recluse haha, but if I was still drinking, would we still be friends? Most definitely. At first I was devastated, crying all day to MB and Jaded, I felt worthless, like my friendship meant nothing 🙁 Then I done some more work on myself and realised quality over quantity, it doesn’t matter if you’ve been close with those friends for years, do they respect you and love you and have your back right now in this present moment? I don’t think so, because my phone was looking like this..

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All we have is this present moment and we shouldn’t hold on to friendships and relationships to how things used to be. I now look back at our friendship as happy memories, same way I do as my marriage, I focus on the positives and I’m grateful for the lessons and hold no resentment to anyone 🙂

Thinking about it, I’ve learnt so much about my loved ones in recent years. I remember one girl who I classed as my best friend saw me in a club one time holding a shot for my mate and asked “omg are you having a drink?!” and I said no it’s for my mate, and she replied “aahhhh I thought we had the old Rochelle back” 🙁

Err sorry to disappoint you. What you want the old Rochelle back that you used to be sick all the time and sleep through friend’s Birthdays?

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After all the lies I told when I used to drink, I ended up lying when I gave up too! It’s like it’s socially unacceptable to be sober nowadays. So I would tell people I was on antibiotics and that’s why I wasn’t drinking. Or I’d just pretend I was still drinking – got me through sober holidays to Amsterdam and Ibiza, no questions asked! I’d have appletisers in wine glasses and mocktails (still do) or just lemonade, and pretend it was vodka lemonade. One night out I almost drank my friends vodka lemonade by accident because I thought it was my drink, it was already in my mouth and I could taste the alcohol straight away, I looked at my friend who knew I was sober and she could tell what had happened, straight away she passed me her glass so I could spit it out on the sly, so no one could see and ask questions. I kept that up for a year, for some reason I thought a year sounded serious, so when I turned around and told people I was actually drinking mocktails etc. for the past year they would hopefully respect my sobriety and take me seriously. A lot of people were shocked when I said I’ve stopped drinking because they didn’t notice. Everyone says to me now that I’m still loud and actually have more energy than I did when I was drinking! Not saying you don’t need alcohol to have a good time because sometimes you do (e.g. when you’re out partying and not a fan of the music) but it’s nice to hear that I’m naturally bubbly and energetic without alcohol etc. I still love being around my drunk friends by the way, their energy rubs off on me and I feel drunk with them haha.. That first year sober was definitely a year of transition though. Finding out who I was, who I wanted to be around, what I wanted to do with my life.

I’ve always been known for being the one to go out of my way to meet loved ones for catch ups, dinner and so on. I’ll travel here there and everywhere for them, and didn’t think anything of it because that’s how I am, I don’t give to receive. But my second year sober was when I started my studies and training to become a yoga/fitness/Fight Klub instructor and my time was very limited. I always thought you found out who your real friends are when you’re down, turns out you also find out when you’re up! I took a step back from all of my loved ones, not on purpose, I just physically did not have the time because of my work, training and studying. I began to notice who understood and still made effort, and who I just didn’t hear from anymore.

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And as much as I said I don’t give to receive, I’ve taken a step back from that as well, to protect my peace. By protect my peace, I mean that I can sometimes take it to heart when people who I care for a lot don’t show as much love or effort, or I guess have the same intentions as me re our friendship. So instead of me giving and giving, which then ends up with me feeling hurt, I’d rather just take a step back and focus on making time for those who acknowledge and appreciate my friendship 🙂 Eric Thomas says: You will never get to where you need to be if you keep surrounding yourself with takers. I need you to grab a sheet of paper and assess every relationship in your life. Are these relationships mutual? Or are you around people who take and never give.

I mean I don’t have time to assess every relationship in my life, but I just really notice who makes the effort with their time for me nowadays. Recently a couple of my girls just had babies, one of them was over from Costa Rica and wasn’t staying long, but kept in contact and made sure that we made time to see each other while she was in London. The other girl has two kids already, and again kept in contact to make sure we saw each other. It was so sweet and thoughtful of them, especially how busy they are as mothers. Even new friends that I’ve made through Fight Klub and yoga etc., they are so understanding and always make the time to check in on me or show support, whether it be face to face or social media, I appreciate it all 🙂 Like I said earlier, quality over quantity. It’s not a bad thing if the people around you change when you become sober, and if it does get you down, keep focused on the ones that are there for you now, no matter how short of a time you’ve known them.   

The following is a speech that I gave to my loved ones in 2017 on my 1 year sober anniversary, I guess I’m sharing it now so you can have more of an understanding of how I felt at that time:

Just wanted to say thank you all for coming today, it really does mean the world to me. I wouldn’t have made it this year without a drink if it wasn’t for you lot so thank you for always being there for me and for your ongoing support. This has definitely been the year of realising who my real friends are and as much as it hurt at the time losing certain people, I’m actually grateful for it now and even more thankful to have you all in my life. I couldn’t ask for more genuine, caring, loyal friends. You guys have no idea how much it means to me that I don’t feel excluded or boring around you, and that I can still be myself without any pressure to drink. And as much as I’m saying thank you for being there for me this year, I also want to say thank you for putting up with me at my worst, getting mash up, running off, forgetting things and cancelling plans, that’s how I know you lot truly love me! 🙂 So I’d like to raise a glass to all of you, I want you to know how much of a positive difference you’ve made to my life and I love you and appreciate you all so much! 🙂

It was so lovely to celebrate my soberversary with the ones closest to me (and if you’re wondering why there’s an emoji, it’s because it’s covering MB’s face haha). I count my blessings every day to have such an amazing support system, including my friends who still drink, party and get on it around me not caring that I’m sober! I tell them all to have a drink for me haha, they really have stuck by me through thick and thin. I remember when I lived with a couple of my boys, M and L, they would do anything and everything for me and treated me with the upmost respect, and I spoke to them like garbage. One day I broke down crying to them apologising for my behaviour. I was hurt, and hurt people hurt people (and although being hurt may not be your responsibility, healing most certainly is!). They knew it wasn’t really me bless them and that I was going through some pain, so now I try not to take it personally if someone is acting a certain way towards me. I either show love or pray for them to feel love (and healing). “Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that” MLK Jr. So thank you to everyone who stuck by me during my low points, I cannot put into words how grateful I am to have you all in my life!

And thank you to all the lovely new friends I’ve made since becoming sober 🙂 After the assault I didn’t trust anyone. I would always sing..

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But the more people I met through Fight Klub (love my Fight Klub Family!) and yoga etc., the more I could see there are nice genuine people out there, and the more my guard went down 🙂 Especially with men. So many of them have been so respectful and kind to me, and not even trying it on or anything, they would just be there showing support and encouragement 🙂 It really helped to build up my trust again.

Last but not least, thank you to all of the teachers and trainers who believed in me, and still put their time and energy into training me, even though you knew I had a drinking problem. I guess it could have always been a risk (in case I relapsed and gave up my training) but you all still supported me. I know of certain trainers that turn away fitness instructors in recovery because it’s bad for their reputation etc. They probably don’t want someone on their team who has a past. So it means the world to me that my teachers and trainers have had my back every step of the way, even when I’ve craved a drink haha! You have no idea how much it’s helped with my confidence, and I’m so excited to help others in recovery through fitness too.     

STAYING SOBER..

Author Gurmukh wrote in her book Bountiful, Beautiful, Blissful (which I’m reading as part of my pregnancy yoga teacher training): Know too that choosing to be positive is a process, something you do over and over again. It’s not as if you will reach a point at which you will say, “Okay, now I’m fixed, now I will never know pain or anger or confusion.” It is the doing over and over again. It is called a living “practice”.

I couldn’t have said it better myself. Of course in life we experience ups and downs, and with those downs I sometimes have that depressed feeling again, and there are times where I do get anxious. It’s just about having the right mindset and patience to push through these times.

When I say right mindset, I mean: Everything in life is temporary. So if things are going good enjoy it, it won’t last forever. And if things are going bad don’t worry, it can’t last forever either.

I’ve also realised just because I’m over my depression doesn’t mean I should stop reading books and working on myself. If you signed up to run a marathon you would be training every day, eating right, not drinking as much. When the marathon day comes and you complete it, it’s a huge achievement, and you think “Yes, I’ve done it!” Then you go back to your pre-training days, not working out as much, not eating the right foods, drinking more. What happens? You go back to your old self. The same thing happens when it comes to depression/anxiety/low self-esteem. You have to keep up that maintenance.

So I’ve learnt through practicing yoga, meditation and Fight Klub, I can maintain a peaceful mindset and know how to take on any setbacks in a healthy constructive way. Along with being vegetarian and cutting out caffeine, that also keeps me healthy and feeling good. And to me it’s not just about the physical benefits, to me the most important thing is how much it’s improved my overall wellbeing. I wouldn’t be where I am now if it wasn’t for all of these things and now I can’t imagine my life any other way. That’s one of the reasons why I wanted to become a yoga/fitness/Fight Klub instructor, I saw how much it helped me with my health and sobriety, that I wanted to help others too. Of course everyone is different but that’s the balance that works well for me. Looking back at my life I’m definitely happier when I’m more active. It’s scientifically proven that exercising is great for your serotonin and dopamine levels (which relieves depression) and that it also releases endorphins which are your feel good hormones. Makes sense why you always feel better after a workout. So now if I’m upset I would go for a run because it’s a good release for me, or have a nap (love a nap), or even call a friend to vent. Some people might turn to cleaning, reading, watching a movie but I do believe there are alternatives to emotional drinking, smoking, eating etc. it’s just finding out what works best for you.

And that’s my journey so far. I can’t ever see myself smoking, drinking or doing drugs again, I just feel like my life is so much better sober and this is the happiest I’ve ever been 🙂

I see plenty of people with addictions in my life but I don’t preach to them, if/when they’re ready to make changes they know I’m here for them to help in any way I can, and with no judgement.

One of my friends recently asked for my advice re giving up coke. So I gave my opinion and simply told her what I would do if I were in her shoes, but what worked for me might not work for her. It took 4 tries myself before I became sober, and we all have our different rock bottoms/”aha!” moments before making a change. So when I say help, sometimes that can be as simple as just listening. My goal is to help others but I don’t expect people to turn their lives around, I know by just being present and being that shoulder to cry on can really help lift a weight off someone else’s shoulders 🙂 And some people in my life will do some of the things that I’ve done and that doesn’t mean they’ve got a drinking problem. I was out with my friends a few weeks ago and one of them was making herself sick in the toilets so she could drink more, and I didn’t bat an eye lid. I know she’s happy in her life, her work is stable, her home is stable, and she’s just having a blowout haha! I remember throwing a whitey in Amsterdam (Innovation in the Dam) because I mixed alcohol and magic mushrooms. I ended up fainting and throwing up, it was awful. But I wouldn’t class that as a drinking problem, just a good old whitey! Omg I remember a night out with the girls, when me and EH were living together (I don’t know how but he still married me a week after this story haha). I woke up the next day with chips and mayonnaise on my bedside table, felt something at the bottom of my bed, it was Lhara. Turned around to apologise to EH, and I saw Jaded. Went downstairs and EH was sleeping on the sofa bless him! Next thing I’m being sick, he’s come in to see me and noticed I had a cut lip, black eye and a massive graze down my face. He switched on us asking what happened and we were all like, err we don’t remember. I basically fell over on my face, it wasn’t anything dramatic. I also threw up on Lhara’s Barbour jacket at some point (sorry Lha, and thank you Lexi for cleaning it!).

Again, I wouldn’t class that as a drinking problem. Because I was happy with my life, no underlying issues, stability in my job, loving relationship. It was just a messy night out! Oh and no lies or secrets, that’s a big red flag to me now.

Red Table Talk:

Jada talking about her addictions “I can go cold turkey, I am a binger, and I always have to watch myself and just how I can get obsessed with things. It’s not what you’re doing but how you’re with it, why you’re doing it, it’s the behaviour that’s attached to it.”

Adrienne “And is it making your life unmanageable..”

Is it making your life unmanageable? That is the difference between my messy nights and my addictions. My messy nights were here and there, I was happy in life, I was stable in my job and I had no underlying issues. From 2012 I went through depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, a divorce and an assault. Along with meetings at my work because of my actions, and lying to my loved ones (and myself). My life was no longer manageable, and alcohol was no longer there for celebrations, and catch ups with the girls. It was my crutch, I was relying on it to get through life, to block out and suppress the pain that I was feeling, and to help me with my confidence. I remember me and MB would talk about having kids one day and it would actually freak me out that I would have to give up alcohol for 9 months. I just couldn’t remember my life before drink and drugs, and I did not know how to cope or live without them! And that’s why when people say to me “just have one drink” I can’t, because now the bad memories outweigh the good times, hence why my sobriety is so important to me.

August Alsina “Weed, pain pills (*and alcohol etc.), they literally block your receptors so you’re blocked inside of here. So of course my emotions can’t flow, of course I can’t get through what I’m feeling because I am blocked – mentally physically spiritually – and all of that pain that you feel it turns into something else. Next thing you’re feeling depressed, and sinking and drowning further into depression. And now it’s a constant decision, every day of life – what do I want for myself? And sometimes it’s hard, because sometimes I do want to smoke some weed (*or have a glass of wine haha) but it’s because I’ve been in a cycle, a way of living for so long, smoking weed/popping pills/drinking alcohol for so many years, but I want to break these cycles. I do not want to be a slave, we talk about slavery and oppressions but we oppress ourselves, and then we suppress emotions on top of that. I don’t want to be a slave to a pill, I don’t want to be mentally enslaved to anything, I don’t want to do that to myself.”

Don’t get me wrong I still have my challenging moments being sober, I’m still moving forward from past issues and insecurities, I still have triggers and weak spots but it’s an ongoing process and I’m embracing it. But I am so grateful for my life now and I’ve worked really hard to be here, some people don’t like seeing me this happy and will try and put their own limitations on me, and I’m slowly learning not to take it to heart. I’m also reminding myself how far I’ve come and that I deserve this happiness! 🙂 

There have been multiple times where I’ve wanted to have a drink, a cigarette, or even take an ecstasy pill. One time that sticks out to me the most was during my Birthday weekend 2017. I was out in a bar celebrating with friends and just before I arrived I got the news that Jaded’s uncle passed away in the Grenfell Tower fire. Where me and Jaded are so close I really felt her pain, and hearing her cry over the phone was heart breaking. I still went to my Birthday drinks as I didn’t want to let my friends down but omg being surrounded by alcohol during that time was a real test. I thought “f**k it, I’m going to have a drink.” Then I went in the toilets alone holding back the tears and had a word with myself, I remember saying in my head “Rochelle, if you have a drink it won’t just be one, you’re going to have 10 and still feel rubbish, if anything you’re going to feel worse, it’s not worth it!” So I talked myself out of it, stayed for a bit longer, ended up crying and went for a walk with Lhara and then she drove me home. Woke up the next day still feeling upset but so much better for not having a drink because that really wouldn’t have helped anything. Ujjayi breath (a breathing technique in yoga) is usually my go to, I remember having a stressful day at work and was thinking about having a glass of wine, at 9.30am, and then I just started practicing my Ujjayi breath through the office haha! So as much as I feel free from addiction and have a clear head, I do have moments where it takes a little longer, and is a bit harder for me to do certain things and cope with certain situations, because I’m having my own little battle talking myself out of having a drink. Emotions feel a lot more heightened too, but they’re not, it’s just me feeling them in my natural state and it only feels heightened now because I used to suppress them for so long. That can be a bit overwhelming sometimes, especially through hardships, but I just try my best to ride them out and remind myself it’s only temporary. There have been a few other times, usually when I’m feeling overwhelmed, you can read more here..

https://www.facebook.com/522326054/posts/10156907659581055/

This quote actually makes me think of my weight too. The amount of people I’ve come across who make comments about my figure and what I eat since becoming a yoga/fitness instructor is a joke. Even though this is the healthiest I’ve ever been, my weight still fluctuates, and just because I’m a fitness professional doesn’t mean I need to be stick thin eating nothing but celery. I know I’m not the skinniest and yes I still eat chocolate (get over it), and usually when people make comments it’s in one ear and out the other. But I remember one time someone made a comment to me while I was eating some chocolate, along with a patronising look and a laugh, and I just thought, you don’t know me. I’ve given up alcohol, drugs, smoking, meat, fish, caffeine, I practice yoga and meditation, I train with Fight Klub, you have no idea about me and my journey, let me eat my chocolate in peace! I didn’t actually say any of this out loud haha.. Because it’s not worth it, her judgement says more about her than me, plus I need to protect my peace. But it just made me think, I am so proud of how far I’ve come, and when I have my curvier than usual moments it really doesn’t matter! I’m happy within myself, that’s what truly matters 🙂

I believe I’m a strong, independent, confident woman, but who also has moments of weakness and sadness, and even thoughts of having a glass of wine sometimes, and that’s ok. I’m not perfect, I’m human. At the end of the day we’re all on our own journeys and a lot of our personal growth and development is down to timing and what we experience through life. I hope by sharing my story and showing how much I’ve turned my life around, can be motivation and encouragement for others to overcome their adversities, and see how important it is to look after your overall wellbeing and practice self-care. That is my goal 🙂

Adrienne “There’s a stigma and a stereotype attached to addiction that makes it difficult for people to seek the help that they need.”

*below, my best friend Lhara carrying me through life haha 🙂

My favourite alcohol free bar/restaurant:

https://www.redemptionbar.co.uk/

Lastly, a video that used to make me laugh at the beginning of my sobriety “discovering Sunday’s after giving up drinking was amazing” haha! So true! 🙂

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