Self Expression Magazine

Before You Ask…

Posted on the 04 August 2018 by Littleredbek

The answer is yes, I will be a sober bride at my wedding in 2 months time.

It’s been a long time since I wrote something I felt comfortable enough to share.  I’ve stopped and started many times, I’ve jotted down plots for new novels and quickly forgotten about them because I wasn’t sure anything I wrote was worthwhile or meaningful.

However, as I lay in bed this beautiful sunny Saturday, sick as a dog with a cold, I’ve decided it’s time to pick up pen and paper (read: laptop and keyboard) and vent to my hearts content.

So here is my first blog this year, and yes, it’s going to be quite deep and dark, but I’m hoping it will help at least one other person out there dealing with similar issues.

Bek xo


It’s hard to think back to a time that I was truly happy and also drunk or had a few drinks.  I’m sure there were times, but most of my memories involving alcohol either end with me self harming, crying manically or calling friends, boyfriends, family members and telling them how pathetic and useless I was and wishing the pain I felt on a daily basis would disappear for good.

Over the past few months I’ve had a lot of time to reminisce about my interactions with alcohol and it has honestly been very hard.  I’ve had to think about times where I hurt those people who mean the most to me, or put myself and others in serious danger. However, as hard as this process has been, it’s also the reason I’ve decided that I will be sober for my wedding.

My unhealthy relationship with alcohol started when I was 16.  I was invited to a party for a guy who was my brother’s friend, and my dad allowed me to have ‘2 vodka cruisers’.  I ended up getting drunk somehow off that alone, and was from what I hear, quite entertaining.  Prior to this, I had been so strongly against alcohol as it logically didn’t make any sense to me.  Why would people want to do stupid things, lose control over their actions and words and risk friendships?

Unfortunately, apart from my father, no one scolded me or made me feel like my drunken actions were anything other than hilarious.  For me, an avid people pleaser since birth, the fact that I had made people laugh and given them some funny memories, justified why alcohol and getting drunk was perfectly acceptable/normal.

From here, I started to see my ‘popularity’ rise – people genuinely noticed me and I went from being the pimple faced, red haired mop head from the ‘pov house’ to the funny and entertaining ‘Bek’.  All of a sudden people who would never talk to me at school, started to.  People actually remembered me and giggled while re-telling my latest antics from the weekend. I no longer felt the need to eat some of my lunches in the toilet stall and was starting to get invited to parties left,right and center.  People relished in the stupid antics I got up to when severely intoxicated.

‘Hey Bek! Remember that time you ate cat food at Laura’s party?’
‘Oh my god, you were so funny! After you did tequila you climbed a tree and told people you were a drop bear and jumping on people who passed by!’
‘We had to ‘muzzle’ you and we’d ‘release’ you anytime we wanted you to bite someone.  You were fucking hilarious!’
‘Hey Bekki, remember that time at schoolies you decided you were hungry so grabbed some rocks from outside and fried them, flavouring them with salt and pepper?’

I wish I could say those stories DIDN’T happen, but they definitely did in my first few years of drinking and it meant that I finally felt like I belonged in this small community in country Queensland, where the only things to do were get drunk, make babies and get married.

Skip forward to a few months after graduation.  I moved to Brisbane by myself and ended up living in the laundry room of a friend’s sisters place.  When my boyfriend finally got down from Mackay, we found a place with two people I went to school with.  After 3 weeks of living together, my boyfriend and I broke up and I found myself feeling so confused, alone and lost.  My housemates at the time were experimenting with drugs and I was worried I wouldn’t fit in if I didn’t offer some kind of companionship in the form of partying.  While I never did drugs, I did drink copious amounts of alcohol, and it’s probably in those few months in 2008 that I realised alcohol + mental health are never good friends.

I put myself in extremely dangerous situations with men I did not know beyond meeting them across the road, or at a park, or at the pub down the road.  I often wonder how I was so lucky to make it out alive from that year, as so many other women don’t in similar situations.  I don’t think I’ll ever be able to tell my parents or siblings about the full extent of how bad that first year out of home was; mainly from shame but also because the person I was in 2008 was someone I don’t even recognize.  I have been in denial for so long about the actions of 2008, and no one person was privy to them all – I made sure to make it look like these bad actions, were ‘accidents’ or ‘mistakes’.  Realistically, it was my biggest descent into depression and self sabotage possible.

During the months surrounding my 18th Birthday, I did some pretty terrible and irresponsible things, such as:

  • I made a fake ID and got caught only a week before I turned 18 – because I so badly wanted to go clubbing with my housemates who were already 18.
  • I drank myself into oblivion several times over and almost killed myself in the process.
  • I spent a good portion of the year in severe pain (and in hospital) from my kidneys not functioning due to the alcohol abuse.
  • I would wake up, drink a whole bottle of the cheapest alcohol I could find, and go to work, sometimes only to pass out at work and being taken to hospital via ambulance.
  • I wasn’t able to be in Mackay for longer than a couple of hours without alcohol and would spend almost all of my time there intoxicated.

For my very first work christmas party, I ended up flirting with the bartender and drinking more than a tiny 50kg 5.4 person should, and had to be taken via ambulance to the hospital.  I had only just started my career in banking and my first full time position.  This was brushed off by my employers as irresponsible bartenders, but people who still work for that company have most likely heard the story – it was a reputation that followed me for years. “Oh you’re the Christmas party Bek… I’ve heard about you…”

I put myself in dangerous situations with men I was dating also.  I would often pass out blind drunk only to find my boyfriend of a week or two on top of me.  I never really accepted that this was anything other than me being a drunk girl, deserving of what any man was doing to her.  I so badly wanted to be loved, that I thought any affection or interest in me was paramount to my safety and wellbeing.

I was quickly branded a slut from my housemates and their friends who mainly still lived in Mackay.  My reputation was destroyed and I saw myself spiral so quickly month after month.   I lied to the people I cared the most about, and would call my family in the ridiculous hours of the morning bawling my eyes out telling them how I could no longer live, I was so sick of being a failure, sick of not being loved and knew the only way out was through suicide.

I don’t know my parents have ever really recovered from those phone calls, I often wonder if it still haunts them at night.

When I look back at 2008, I shudder.  I also have never fully owned or accepted everything I did in that year, and it’s not surprising that I only have one or two people still in my life that had to deal with the person I was back then.

Fast forward a year and I made this incredible group of friends, through my old housemate.  They all lived on the uni campus and as such my housemate and I were there more often than our own house.  For the first time almost ever, I had a bunch of ‘girlfriends’ – all smart, savvy, fashionable and fun.  I wanted to belong so badly that I immersed myself in the culture of campus life.  You guessed it – that involved a LOT of drinking.  Although I was working full time in banking and studying law part time, I somehow managed to party sometimes up to three times a week with these girls.  Once again, people liked me and I felt it was because of alcohol.

On top of this, i started working in Business Banking and during those years, some of the antics rivalled The Wolf of Wall Street. Inherent alcohol abuse was not uncommon in the office and it almost became part and parcel of the role.

During this time, I became better acquaintances with a girl I used to work with in retail.  She was quite religious at the time and not a big drinker. On days where I felt lost or needing of guidance, I would go to church with her.  I don’t remember much from those days at church, but one quote always stuck with me, “Let light shine out of darkness.” During the days where the girls from uni would go home for holidays, or I was fighting with my housemate, I would spend my time with this friend.  She started to show me you could go out for dinner or clubbing and not drink, and still have a good time!

I would often invite my housemate to our ‘sober’ clubbing nights, but she continuously made me feel like I wasn’t a fun person if I didn’t drink and didn’t understand how one could go out clubbing and not drink.  Many times I was peer pressured into drinking when I knew my mental health was not ok, but for fear of not being ‘fun’ or ‘wanted’ i would drink, and usually end up back in hospital for alcohol poisoning or suicide attempts.  My house mate and I never spoke about the ‘dark side’ of my drinking – almost as if it never happened, unless I had done something to hurt or upset her for which I had to repent.

To be perfectly clear, we were both very confused, lost young ladies and both of us had really unhealthy relationships with alcohol.  I also pressured her several times to drink when she didn’t want to, and would be horribly nasty if she chose to stay home instead of drinking or partying.  We were as bad as each other and stuck in this perpetual cycle of peer pressured alcohol abuse, as many young people are.  I don’t lay any blame on her for my relationship with alcohol, but I feel like those years living together in Brisbane, played a large part in my detrimental relationship with alcohol.

On top of this, I was ‘seeing’ a man who was 12 years older than man and managed a few bars around Brisbane.  His constant push and pull relationship with me, ended up causing much heart ache and confusion.  Only years later when I think back to those days, do I realize how alcohol played such a big part of that relationship; not just becuse of his career but also because we never once had a ‘date’ and instead always ate inside with a few bottles of wine.  Everything was so much more passionate once I had alcohol – I opened up in ways I never could sober. Things started to get worse the more time we spent together and cocaine was mentioned more times than I remember. I questioned why all of a sudden him being drunk was not enough he also needed to be high to be around me. I often called him a vampire a. Because I was obsessed with True Blood and he looked like the main character but b. Because I never saw him in daylight.

Part of never seeing him in daylight meant that I also never saw him sober for more than a quick kiss goodbye. When he had drunk, or had taken whatever substance he needed to get through his night, I was more attractive and wanted. I’m genuinely not sure he ever saw me when he was sober, besides once when he visited me in hospital. He begged me to never end up there again, and soon after we stopped seeing each other for good; it made me wonder if he felt like he had played a part in my mental spiral and the guilt he felt caused him to stay away for good.

Those years once again proved to me that I was fun and ‘wanted’ when I had alcohol, and that the fallout from my actions was easily swept under the rug and just part and parcel of the fun times with alcohol.  It normalised the behavior of binge drinking.

Move forward to my return to Mackay in 2011/2012.  I couldn’t live at my parents due to the never ending personality clashes with my dad, so ended up living with my boyfriends parents.  I absolutely adored his mother, she also suffered from severe depression, but she was the most glamourous yet down to earth mother I had met.  If you think of Donna from Mama Mia, that was her in a nutshell. She made me feel loved, welcomed and belonging.  When I finally ended things with her son, the hardest part was losing her and to this day I still miss her so much.

However during this time, my relationship with alcohol manifested from binge drinking on the weekend to normalised everyday behavior. With every dinner, she’d serve up a new bottle of wine.  Sometimes we would then watch a movie together on the couch and open another bottle or two. Had a rough day? Wine will fix that! Want to celebrate a small win at work? Let’s open a bottle! Roast dinner? I know a wine that will go perfectly!

Once again, I need to make it clear that I in no way blame her for my demons with alcohol, but it is necessary for me to recount all the times in my life where alcohol played a huge part in ritualised behavior.  I had never drank wine prior to this “just because I liked the taste of it”, and never knew you could just have one glass and not a whole bottle.

On top of this, I joined cheerleading and hockey in Mackay and as a lot of the girls were younger than me and still going through their partying phase, I also went through the phase with them again. To be fair, a lot of people in Mackay settle down quite young and so it can be a very lonely place if you are single.  Hence why many people drink and do drugs and go clubbing – or at least they used to when I was there. There wasn’t much else to do.

2014 was one of the worst years of my life.  I secured a position with a large organisation running a team of 15 people.  Only to lose it a month in due to a stupid post on social media.  I had never been fired before, and never wish to again.  I was jumping from relationship to relationship, and always seemed to be the one ending up getting dumped for reasons that really never made sense.

I spiralled in and out of depression and alcohol abuse, harming anyone in my way.  During that year, at my little cousins wedding and my best friends wedding , I had burnt bridges with almost all my adult friends from Brisbane and my few family members left who tolerated my shit.  These were people who had helped me through several of my hospitalisations, had literally bandaged my wrists and had been at the end of another phone call of me crying and begging for permission to end my life… These people were the same people I hurt so immensely that in only the last year or two have I started to regain their trust.

Although I met Peter in 2014, I threw him into a world of chaos and madness.  This was a year where I had 4 weddings to attend, each of which I got blind drunk and made a fool of myself, embarrassed the bride and groom and offended and hurt many people.  However, instead of acknowledging my flaws or my part in the dissolution of friendships or even the role that alcohol played, I blamed outside forces and other people for the outcomes at hand.

Fast forward to Melbourne in 2015.  I knew very few people down here.  I joined a hockey club to make friends and found my confidence at the many social events that involved drinking. I also moved back into banking, an industry that is just so rort with addictions, that its not surprising it also has one of the highest suicide rates. In early 2015, struggling from feeling so alone and far away from everyone, I was drinking at least a bottle of wine a day.  I was still reeling from my actions months prior and losing one of my best friends.  It was honestly one of the loneliest times of my life and I masked my depression with alcohol.

I only knew one or two people in Melbourne and one was my best friend in Melbourne was a fiesty Russian who really just ‘got’ me.  She was never a big fan of Peter, but i clinged on to her for dear life as she was one of the only people I knew in Melbourne.  I ignored the fact we generally only hung out when alcohol was involved, because it felt different this time – we would drink at home and have light meals and just chat for hours.  I never saw this as a negative thing, after all just watch a few SATC episodes and it’s obvious this kind of ‘girly behaviour’ is perfectly accepted and normal – how many ‘Cosmos’ did Carrie share with her besties?

My beautiful boyfriend (now fiance) at the time, didn’t like the fact that we would drink so much together and quite often she would drive me back home heavily intoxicated.  We laughed about the fact she was a better drunk drive than sober driver.  Alarm bells should have gone off then that this was clearly self sabotaging behavior and ridiculously risky.  Not to mention the fact that my dad is still reeling from the death of his mother 25 years later as she lost her life to a drunk driver.  Instead, I felt like I had a real ‘adult’ friend in a booming metropolis. I felt like Carrie or Miranda … I felt important and loved.

One thing you’ll notice from these events and stories is that the feeling of being ‘loved’ and ‘wanted’ over rides so much of my life.  I am forever searching for someone to fill the whole my mother left and at times alcohol serves as a trusted ally – it makes me fun, confident and happy.  At other times, it serves to mask the pain – if I drink enough I’ll pass out and I’ll wake up and feel better.  Sometimes, it allows me to break down my walls and let people in.

The vast majority of the time, alcohol serves as a fucking foe and enemy.  It makes me question my worthiness of living.  It reminds me that my own mother gave birth to me to just give up on me.  Alcohol has ruined more friendships that I can count on two hands; it has screwed my reputation many times over and placed me in dangerous and compromising positions. Any ‘joy’ or ‘happiness’ I get from alcohol is short lived and runs the very long term risk of ruining everything I hold dear.

The past 18 months have been hard for me, during a time that I should be the happiest with my upcoming nuptials, instead they’ve been marred by darkness.  I blamed myself for certain family events that occurred and started drinking pretty heavily when I lost all contact with one of my little brothers.  It felt like he was honestly dead  and at times we didn’t know his whereabouts or wellbeing… he was homeless and I couldn’t do anything to fix it or mend the damage. I just had to hope that (a) he was alive and (b) one day we might be able to speak to him again. It honestly broke me as I felt though I should have been there to protect him and all my other family members, just as I always had previously.

At the same time, I participated in a class for uni which was the most moving and valuable 10 weeks of my life. The class really was about self exploration to become a more intune leader. I dreaded the fact that I had to relay information so private and so personal to a bunch of people I didn’t know and were quite advanced in their careers who may end up being work colleagues or employers down the track.

I found myself really questioning my thought process, my anxiety, my habits and auto drive moments. I found a love for research and really trying to understand the psychology behind how I functioned. It’s not surprising that I discovered many articles linking childhood trauma to addiction and substance abuse, but for some reason I had NEVER made the connection before.

Unfortunately I didn’t learn, and during this period was a victim of sexual assault – I was too embarrassed to press charges despite the police and security guards begging me too… I genuinely doubted it was any ones fault but my own, as I was blind drunk and unable to control my own safety. It was a very nasty period of time having to deal with various people urging me to take the matter further and facing the fallout when I just wished the whole thing would disappear.

I felt horrible for a long time – I was never sure if Peter believed me or understood that I didn’t ask for the situation to occur. I think it’s also a really sad sign of the times when women still feel they are at fault when they are the victims.

In the lead up to our trip to Russia in March 2018, I began drinking more and more. I was so stressed organising a trip for a group of adults, trying to work through uni, my job was in an interesting phase and I had just started hockey for the year. Russia itself ended up almost costing me my life, and while alcohol was involved in the incidents leading up the event, it was the fallout after that really took its toll on me.

The horrible incident that occurred was brushed under the rug at my request as I didn’t want to ruin the last few days we had left by trying to navigate the events of recent days. We all agreed we would deal with in on our return to Australia. But we didn’t.

Peter went straight back into 12 hour work days and I genuinely struggled with jet lag. I would drink two bottles of wine to help me sleep. I would cry by myself night after night remembering what happened. I would try to call my mom several times in a night simply to get her voicemail. I would replay the events in Russia over and over again in my head, trying to understand how I once again lost a best friend due to a wedding drama. I felt so lost and so alone.

I don’t know that anyone knows how to deal with the fallout of a failed suicide attempt, but I think it’s the hardest for the person who failed, to express why their failed attempt just adds to their feelings of hopelessness and unworthiness. I literally would sit there and say to myself, “you cannot fucking do anything right… you can’t even kill your self. You don’t even have the balls to cut yourself deep enough…” once again i had failed. Once again I had to cover my wrists for however long it would take for them to heal.

I ended up thinking if I failed so miserably at that, perhaps I needed liquid courage to help me finalise it. Blood is thinner when alcohol is in the system so that means you probably bleed out quicker right ?

I was in this never ending battle of not sleeping more than 2 hours a night and needed to overdose on sleeping tablets just to get an extra hour or having to get blind drunk to pass out. I was hardly able to go to work because I was generally still drunk the next morning, or I’d wake up just to drink more or take sleeping tablets to try and rest an hour or two more until I was sober.

This path i was heading down was the end of me. I knew I wouldn’t make it to my wedding and I always said I’d die before I was 30 so I suppose this was it. I kind of found a bit of peace knowing it would be over soon enough.

Then one morning, I woke and i looked at the man lying beside me. I cried and cried silently thinking how much I hated that he loved me when he deserved someone so much better. I started googling, “mental health hospital” and “alcohol addiction rehab” and found one the next suburb over. After a quick call to our private health insurance to confirm I was covered, I called the clinic and checked myself in as soon as possible.

Peter begged me not to go and told me he would help make it better. But I knew I needed help or I would not make it to our wedding. I knew I owed him the opportunity to love me for the person he knew I was, not this broken, hardly functioning shell of a person I had been for the past few months.

I had no timeline and no idea of how long I would be in hospital, I just knew it was a safe place for me away from alcohol and social events. It was probably one of the best things I have ever done in my life, as stupid and simple as that seems. I didn’t even realize how bad my alcohol addiction was until I was breath tested after my birthday dinner and told I had to be breath tested every time I came back, because they were weening me off alcohol via Valium.

I genuinely thought I was in hospital for my depression, and was still in denial about my alcohol addiction until that night. That night I lashed out at Peter and my family and best friends for leaving me feeling so alone and unloved in hospital. Peter organised a last minute dinner and instead of being thankful I cried most of the night in this gorgeous piano bar. I had my mother’s voice echoing in my head as I was born on a Wednesday and this year my birthday fell on a Wednesday. She always said, “Wednesday’s child is full of woe…” I once again gave her power over me by believing this was true and putting myself in a state of absolute hopelessness.

I had 6 people come for my birthday dinner and instead of being grateful, I was angry and hurt … are there only 6 people in Melbourne who are my friends ? Is this all I have? I wanted to see the worst in the situation because it justified how shit I felt internally and how shit I feel every birthday since my mother started forgetting them when I was 8.

In my anger and frustration I wanted a cocktail – fuck it, it’s my birthday and alcohol is the best cure for sadness. Peter approached me as I was ordering my drink and politely told me he thought it was a bad idea and I should reconsider. By this point I had projected my feelings of worthlessness and feeling unloved on him and blamed him for no one coming. I can’t even remember what I said, but all of a sudden words that weren’t my own flowed from my mouth and I realised at that point in time i had fulfilled my biggest fear. I was becoming my mother.

That night was the last straw for me. The look of hurt, disappointment and utter hopelessness on Peters face shook me awake. Here was a man who cares so deeply and loves me so much more than anyone ever has, and yet I lashed out and severely hurt him because I wanted a drink of alcohol. The next few days were pretty terrible, I don’t think I left my room or even my bed in hopsital. I had the blinds drawn down and sat in darkness crying trying to figure what was going on in my head.

At that point in time, my family had accepted that it was probably best for Peter to call off the engagement and for him to find someone to treat him the way he deserved. That must have been so hard for my dad, who loves Peter like a son, to tell him he deserved someone better than his own daughter and that he would support him 100% if that was the decision he made.

After many tearful conversations, I realised something so vital in my recovery. I may always seek love and validation and maybe I’ll never fully recover from my mother, but i can’t continuously hurt the people I love because of the hurt she caused me. I had few moments in the past few years that were genuinely happy, and those moments never involved alcohol. On the other hand I had lost so many friends, hurt family members and Peter more times than I could remember and risked my life, my safety and my sanity all over a few drinks.

Each and every single day is a struggle – but it is also so damn rewarding when I notice that urge to drink and am able to talk myself out of it. I even had a completely sober bridal shower and hens night which was something I never thought I could do.

The most beautiful part of my sober journey is noticing who is there to support me. I lived in fear of not being fun or not being good enough as a sober person, for so long, that I never really realised people do genuinely like me for me. I have been able to make some lovely memories over the past few months and I remember them all and there’s not a hint of regret involved.

I genuinely thought people would get sick of me calling or messaging when I was having a weak moment, but no one has complained. I message my fiancé or my best friends or family, and they are right there – ready to help when I think I might cave. I’ve started to be able to attend events where people Are heavily drinking such as work functions or hockey events, and not once has anyone pressured me into drinking or excluded me from conversations or situations because I was sober.

I suppose the point I am getting at is that for so long I let all these beliefs around my worth and value cloud my judgment. I let alcoholic rituals become a norm in my everyday life and regardless of the damage caused, could sweep the matter under the rug. But if you surround yourself with good and true people, you can start to normalise “sober” rituals instead, and where I used to perhaps “spoil” myself with a glass of wine, I might now decide to have a hot chocolate or a Coke Zero. If I have a rough day with too much stress I don’t find myself craving a bottle of Shiraz, but instead decide to have a hot bath and read a book.

I don’t know if I’ll always be sober or what the future holds for me, but going on my third month without alcohol, I feel like I’m becoming a better person but more so, I feel so much more confident and happy in myself knowing i don’t need alcohol for people to like me, or for someone to find me attractive.

So yes, for the biggest day of my life I will stay sober. I think that the temptation to drink will be strong but I have also discovered this great range of alcohol free sparkling wines that actually taste better than the alcoholic ones. By giving up alcohol I have made a commitment to be the person that Peter and my family and my friends deserve, and not some horribly broken, hurt and distraught person who needs alcohol to function.

Alcohol no longer controls my life. I control my life. Sober. Awake. Alive.

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