Ash B’s Story: Stepping out from behind the smile

April 20, 2023

“Hi my name’s Ash and I’m an alcoholic…”

It took me years to be able to say this out loud, but when I finally took acceptance over this fact, my life changed forever.

Sitting here today, I can’t quite believe I’m three years sober and I’m living a life beyond my wildest dreams. This is a far cry from the girl who walked through the doors of South Pacific Private in February 2020. Back then, I was completely broken.

Stuck in the cycle of addiction where every day felt like Groundhog Day. I would wake up hungover and promise myself that I wouldn’t drink that day, yet by the time I closed my laptop screen and switched off work, it was never long before there was a vodka in my hand. Each day, as I relinquished control and succumbed to the drink, I would think to myself, “how did this happen again?”

From the youngest age I’ve always felt a sense of not being enough. I’d developed this core belief and carried it with me into adulthood. As a little girl, I was always striving for my parent’s attention which manifested in extreme perfectionism. Yet, no matter how good my grades were, or how impressive my extracurricular achievements, in my mind it was never enough.

As a teenager, my perfectionism turned into rebellion. I remember always feeling the need to do things first, whether that was dating, drinking or trying drugs.

By the time I was in my early twenties I was abusing drugs and alcohol on a weekly basis. I was incapable of maintaining a healthy relationship, instead I would blow them up and blame the other person, unable to see the part I played in the destruction of my life.

At 26, I moved from Melbourne to Sydney, thinking that I could run away from my problems and start fresh. But the reality was, my problems came with me and my drinking continued to escalate. Within a year, I’d fallen in love and later married a man who also battled with addiction. The next seven years were a haze of co-dependent partying.

On the outside, I appeared to have everything together. I was ticking all of life’s boxes. But the truth was, I was slowly dying.

I remember vividly the sliding doors moment I became a daily drinker. It was two weeks before my wedding day when I received a phone call telling me my fiancé’s brother had taken his own life. The grief was more than I could handle and, in that moment, I turned to the only thing I knew would ease the pain.

For the next two years life was a blur and I became a shell of my former self. My inner light turned to dark and I pushed away those who loved me most. I lost my energy, my motivation and my zest for life.

My “rock bottom” moment occurred on the 14th February 2020. After yet another night of heavy drinking and using, I walked through the door the following morning and fell to my knees. As the tears streamed down my face, I knew in that moment, I couldn’t go on living like this. Filled with guilt, shame and remorse, I couldn’t fathom another day of this endless torture. I was done.

One week later, I walked through the doors of South Pacific Private. While I didn’t know it at the time, this was the first day of my new life. I spent three weeks at the treatment centre, where I did intensive trauma work and was introduced to recovery and the 12-Step fellowship.

They say not to make any drastic decisions in your first year of sobriety. So, I waited twelve months before making the difficult decision to leave my marriage and move back home to Melbourne. It was over the next twelve months that I learnt how to be alone, how to form a relationship with myself and discovered who I really was without alcohol. This period of my life was at times extremely painful, yet I now know looking back, that it was these moments of pain that enabled me to grow and form a relationship with myself.

Today I’m full of gratitude for the incredible life I’m living. At three years sober I still put my recovery first because the life I’m living is contingent on me maintaining my sobriety. The peace and contentment I have today is better than any night I ever had on the drink and life continues to unfold before my eyes.

My life’s purpose has turned to sharing the message of recovery. In 2022 I left my corporate job and created ‘Behind the Smile’, a podcast dedicated to removing the stigma surrounding mental health, trauma and addiction by sharing stories of other people in recovery.

It’s my belief that when we recover loudly, no one need suffer in silence.

Forever grateful,
Ash B

If you or someone you know is struggling, there is hope and recovery is possible. Take a free self-assessment online or speak with our caring Intake Team about our range of programs and how they may be beneficial to you.

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