The Sober Inspiration Series is a sequence of interviews with regular women, just like you and me, who have overcome alcohol dependence, abuse, and addiction. We feature women from all backgrounds and walks of life and praise all methods of recovery from addiction, whether support groups, higher power, rehab, counseling, DIY or a combination of all the above. Please join us in celebrating these strong, successful women. If you’d like to share your story, check out the interview instructions, and let us know.
Can you share a little about yourself?
Hello! My name is Jocellyn. I graduated with a degree in writing and currently work as a copywriter. I love going on walks (I live on beautiful Lake Champlain, so it doesn’t take much prodding), I find cleaning rather relaxing, and I enjoy reading. Recently I’ve been getting back into running! Being active and reading were habits I lost when I was drinking, and it’s been great to gain them back, as well as reassess some hobbies that I enjoyed at one time but don’t really feel like continuing. #Choices! I’ve been dating someone for just over a year and it’s been an amazing experience. We’re big on little weekend getaways and use hotels as a way to experience sleeping in a King size bed because I’m a blanket hog and normally commandeer his Queen size bed.
Can you share your experience with alcohol?
I got sober on January 10th of 2016. My first hangover was when I was about 11 or 12 after I drank five champagne flutes at a wedding; off to the races, it seems! My first blackout was when I was 15 and happened after drinking 13 shots of Kahlua. In college I was a really big drinker but reeled it in for about 2 years when I was dating someone. It started picking up again when I was single and in the last semester of my senior year.
Once I graduated and got a job I was pretty much drinking every day. I got sober a few months before I turned 25 and it baffles me to think that for at least two years I couldn’t think of a time where I’d gone more than three days without drinking.
During the depths of my drinking, I was coming into work either still drunk from the night before or wildly hungover, I had a mental breakdown and suicidal thoughts, and I drank heavily during the weekdays and even harder on the weekend. I did a great job hiding my drinking in plain sight by going out to restaurants and hanging at fancy bars. Also, Instagram makes it really easy to make a drinking lifestyle seem glamorous. But underneath all the “pretty” photos I hurt so bad and felt so empty.
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How did you know it was finally time to stop drinking?
My last month of drinking I had accepted that I had a real problem and couldn’t stop. I decided to be a “functioning” alcoholic and just go with it, but I was tired of the same old: waking up feeling like I wanted to die (physically and emotionally), not being able to really function until 1 pm (I’d just stare at my computer screen at work), and then doing it all over again.
There’s no delicate way to put it, but I wasn’t someone who puked often, so I would just have to suffer through hangovers until it processed out. For that reason, the last month I didn’t really eat much — maybe once a day — and my body just kind of gave up on me too. The night before I got sober was just like so many others. Nothing super amazing but also nothing super bad. The next morning, I woke up, cried, and accepted I needed to give it all up.
What method(s) did you use to quit drinking?
After about two weeks of not drinking, I went to my first AA meeting. AA was not new to me, as my adoptive mother had been sober for 30 years. Everyone seemed nice, but since I had “mommy issues” and didn’t think she was really that great at the time I thought, “geesh, if that is what AA gets you then I don’t need it. I can do it on my own!’ ha ha ha.
After about two months of doing it on my own (and the pink cloud leaving) I realized I needed help and went back to meetings. I got a sponsor, started working the steps, and now believe in a Higher Power.
What was your biggest challenge with getting sober, and how did you overcome it?
I truly believe in a Higher Power because I went from being someone who drank practically around the clock to not having cravings, which is a big challenge for a lot of people in early recovery. But something I struggled with was negative thinking and self-pity.
It’s not that we cannot ever feel bad, but so often I got stuck in these self-pitying loops that didn’t allow for growth and they bred resentment. Learning how to catch it and overcome it has been immensely important to my growth and betterment as a human. That also ties into gratitude. The more gratitude I have in my life, the less self-pity I have.
This attitude shift really happened by listening to others, connecting, working Steps (or another recovery program, therapy, if that’s more your thing) and also time!
What are the top benefits you’ve experienced since quitting?
There are so many benefits! The first and most immediate one was feeling physically better. Cocktails, wine, and champagne are so hard on the body!
Waking up feeling good most mornings is a miracle, seeing as most mornings I would have done anything if it meant not feeling the way I did. Like sacrificing a firstborn. Another big one is growth. It’s hard to grow in active addiction. You get stuck so easily.
I get to constantly grow in sobriety. How I view and react to situations is ever-developing. Sometimes the growth is fast. Sometimes it’s slow. But it always feels good. Another big benefit is having more time.
I slept away so many hours with hangovers or not knowing what to do until I would get my drink after work and start the madness over. Most weekends I’m up at seven and will have gotten in a full day’s worth of fun and errands by noon!
What is the best advice you can give to someone who is struggling with alcohol abuse?
- One: you cannot do it all on your own. Lean on people for support and guidance. Also, help others when you’re feeling good.
- Two: it takes time. You didn’t get a drinking problem overnight and you won’t get better overnight either. Hopefully, sobriety is a lifelong thing for you, so enjoy the ride.
- Three: putting down the drink is just the start. If you don’t address underlying habits and situations that made you drink then you’ll probably be miserable. My way of addressing those issues was through the 12 Steps. You might do Smart Recovery or Refuge Recovery or meet with a therapist. Either way, address the underlying.
Share with us three people in the sobriety space you recommend?
- Served Up Sober (@servedupsober): She’s got a kind and loving attitude, she’s also got no bullshit streak. Sometimes in recovery, too much coddling can get in the way and she tells it like it is. She’s also very vulnerable and sharing her vulnerability helps people feel less alone. Finally, she’s a woman of color and while we can all feel the same feelings in recovery there is something to be said for seeing and hearing from people who look like you!
- @ grlpwrmeme: if you’re in the 12-Step rooms you’ll effing love this account! It’s memes about meetings, sponsorships, and the Steps. They’re biting, humorous, and familiar for those “in the rooms”. And on a platform where so many meme sites are about getting drunk and wine-o-clockin’ it, it’s nice to have one that’s 100% recovery based.
- @africabrooke: an amazing woman! She talks about recovery and also healing past wounds and trauma. She offers a non-12-step approach and even though she’s still in early sobriety she has so much wisdom. If I ever go back over to London (a place I went for a five-day solo trip in early recovery, no less!) I’m going to meet her and force her to be my best friend ????
Do you celebrate your sober anniversary in any special way?
Until I got my year medallions in AA I’d go up each month for a colorful chip. It was an exciting way to commemorate those longggg early months of sobriety. Afterward, I’ve gotten my year Medallion and hugs from people. My first and second year were both really reflective days. A lot of people in AA go out with friends for dinner and fun. Whether you do it big or small, I think it’s important to somehow commemorate the first 11 months and then the years. You earned them! -Jocellyn, Seltzer&Sobriety Click To Tweet
Where can we find you on the internet?
So much of what I learned about sobriety was in AA and it was freely given, so I return the favor. I used to have a blog called Seltzer & Sobriety, but I closed it Spring of 2018 after a year. I didn’t post super often and didn’t want to pay the $120 yearly renewal fee. But because I’m a writing major I couldn’t disappear entirely, so I started a Seltzer & Sobriety newsletter. You can subscribe here: https://tinyletter.com/SeltzerSobriety. Posting is sporadic, so you never know when a little something-something will be landing in your mailbox. You can also follow me on Instagram at @seltzersobriety where I post most frequently.