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I drank heavily for a decade or two.

During that time, I managed to compromise my health, many relationships and a destroy a career or two (thankfully, just mine). I left a trail of destruction behind me, and along the way, I amassed a Portfolio of Humiliating Incidents. My very own Dodgy Dossier.

I finally quit drinking.

I used my sober tools, I banished cravings, I focused on the positivity of zero hangovers, and better sleep  – and learned that a life without booze, was not a life of deprivation, but a life of freedom. I mended as many fences as I could. I surveyed the wreckage and started the process of repair. With gratitude, I might add, for the second chance.

I buried the Dossier deep in a dusty filing cabinet in the back of my mind.

But this was not closure.

If I drank too much coffee in the afternoon, I couldn’t seem to stop myself rummaging through that filing in my mind, and when sleep evaded me, I tortured myself with past humiliations, again and again. I  leafed through the Dossier, and re-lived every moment, my eyes glued to the disaster movie playing in my head. An act of self-betrayal.

Ex-drinkers know what I’m talking about.

The Ghost of Drunken Past is a hard one to lay to rest. He keeps popping up, causing me to flinch in the middle of day-dreams – waving that Dossier…

Impostor Syndrome.

Am I still in recovery? Do I have the right to call myself “sober” yet?

We are responsible for the impact that we have on other people’s lives. Although I understand, on a logical level, that the drinking affected my actions, it doesn’t excuse them. It doesn’t stop me obsessing over all the things I could have done differently.

WHY didn’t I do them differently?

My big fear, during those dawn hours, as I studied that Dossier, is that it represents the real me. Those moments reveal my true personality, petty, self-absorbed, fearful and lazy.

Did the booze just unlatch the door to my real personality? Was it Truth Serum?

I don’t think that I am done with this journey, until I can finally close that Dossier for good.

Sobriety is tool, not a destination.

In a way, being a drunk meant that I was unconcerned with the pressures of expectations.

People knew (well, I did) that grandiose declarations of What I Will Do With My Future, were fueled by a few glasses of Merlot, and largely forgotten by the bottom of the bottle.

I could blame just about everything on the booze.  My underachievement, debt, failed friendships and That Dossier.

Now, I am without that comfort blanket of booze I am left with the lingering question – well, what now? How do I fix the rest of my life?

I can’t go back and rewrite that Dossier – it stands. It’s real. It all happened.

The real test is how I use my sobriety to create New Dossiers. The New Story of my life.

Sobriety, for me, isn’t a “being” word, it’s a “doing” word.

The Sober Story Studio is all about metaphorically and literally writing my new stories, in this new phase of my life. It’s about laying the Ghosts of the past to rest. It’s about filing away that Dossier for good, not forgetting my past, but learning from it and moving on.

Love Jackie.



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