I've known Joey, in some capacity, for all of 2016. We made each others' "e-quaintance" back in January and it's been such a treat to watch what she and her BFF in life and business, Persia, are creating in the holistic wellness and recovery worlds. Plus they're British. That just makes everything more fun :) Stay tuned for a rockin' interview and make sure to buy their new book, The Inner Fix!
Love you, Joey darling, my fellow Sober-at-24-er!
Name: Joey Bradford
Location: London, England.
Recovery date (turning point for addiction or mental illness): 05/05/2012
Creative niche (art, music, writing, entrepreneurship, etc.):
Co-founder of lifestyle movement Addictive Daughter (coach/ healer/ author)
If applicable, drug of choice (or not of choice...): Alcohol
Recovery Story in a Nutshell:
My ‘rock bottom’ was gradual. By 24, a series of events left me with a niggling feeling that I perhaps needed to look at my relationship with alcohol (in fact, on and off, I’d had thoughts about this since I was 17 or so).
The nudge to do so came just after I’d badly fallen out with my best friend over the Christmas period in 2011 during a drink and drug-fuelled evening of chaos (where my behaviour was very much at fault, unfortunately). Ironically, this is the same friend I later went on to set up positive lifestyle movement Addictive Daughter with!
Immediately after our fall-out, I began dating an alcoholic who was several years sober and in recovery. The six months we spent together gave me an opportunity to lay off the drink almost completely and experience the many benefits that came with that.
Then, having hardly touched alcohol for almost half a year, I went on a massive bender whilst on holiday without him. I spent 12 hours passing out and vomiting until I was just retching air, begging to be taken to hospital. I returned home from my trip to be broken up with (my boyfriend had met someone else during the time I was away, and promptly married her - but that’s a story for another day.)
Although I was obviously hurt, I remember panicking more about having to go back to my ‘old lifestyle’ than losing him from my life. And then the light bulb moment came… I didn’t have to. I could do sobriety for me.
Realising that pretty much every negative occurrence in my life had happened as a result of being under the influence helped me to see that building a substance-free life could be a positive step for me.
In my early months of sobriety, I learned a lot about myself; I loved waking up clear-headed and remembering everything I had said and done the night before, my skin was clearer, my eyes were brighter and I felt inspired and motivated.
However, I also began to discover how dependent I was on alcohol to have a ‘good time’ socially - in order to feel confident and relaxed. Working through this was a challenge at first, but one I became willing to take on. It was important to me to learn how to become comfortable in my own skin, without the aid of substance.
Over the past 4 years, living alcohol-free has become much more ‘normal’ to me, as well as those I’m closest with. Many people respect and even, dare I say, admire it as a lifestyle choice. Total sobriety has cracked me wide open to a more spiritual way of life, which wasn’t something I’d anticipated or set out to pursue particularly. That said, I’m really grateful for the unexpected detour. I talk about my journey into sobriety and how a relationship with a ‘power greater than myself’ has evolved in Addictive Daughter’s new book, The Inner Fix.
Last year, I married a gorgeous man - a filmmaker - who is also sober (in recovery from drug addiction). Today, my life feels uncomplicated, honest, exciting, free and more purposeful than it’s ever felt before.
Top 5 Recovery Tools
1) Letting go of other peoples’ responses to my lifestyle choice.
Not everyone wants to be around a sober person because you are a mirror to others peoples’ choice - and that can be uncomfortable for some people. I am pretty sure that I’m a fun, open, friendly person a lot of the time, but people who aren’t on this path can create distance relationally, and identify it as ‘boring’ or ‘too good’. I’ve learned that this is more about their way of relating to sobriety, rather than evidence of who I am. Friendships evolve, change, fade and sometimes even reignite again. I’m learning to allow my relationships to ebb and flow, as they need to.
2) Not comparing my ‘rock-bottom’ to someone else’s.
The only thing that’s ever led me to entertain drinking again is hearing someone else’s story and thinking, ‘that is so much worse than my own, I guess I could have gone down further.’ But then I remember that I’d prefer not to do that, actually! The truth is, my journey got bad enough for me. And that’s really all there is to it. The fact that I was just 24 when I embraced a sober way of life is something I am grateful for. A lot of good stuff has happened since then - more than I could have dreamt of really - and much of that’s down to the clarity sobriety has given me.
3) Surrounding myself with ‘radiators’.
In workshops run by Addictive Daughter, we talk about ‘drains and radiators’. ‘Drains’ are people who sap your energy, remind you of your limits and generally bring negative and low-frequency vibes. ‘Radiators’ do the opposite - they lift you up, help you to feel expansive and bring light and warmth. Socially, I try to surround myself with radiators as much as I possibly can, particularly when life feels fragile.
4) Remaining open and teachable
A lot has shifted for me over the past few years, particularly my attitude towards spirituality. I was a complete atheist until a few years back. I’ve become more open-minded, and as a result, have encountered some pretty unbelievable (in a good way) things. I try my best to remain open to new experiences and ideas, as I know this is just the beginning and that I’ll continue to grow if I’m open to it.
5) Prayer & meditation
I read this quote by Yoga Bhajan recently: “Prayer is when you talk to God; meditation is when God talks to you.” Prayer comes quite easily to me these days (that wasn’t always the case, but I’ve found my feet with it and now, there’s no stopping me.) Meditation I find harder, because my mind can get so busy and I struggle to sit in stillness for extended periods of time. I 100% see the value in it, and I hope to continue to develop in this area! On days when my mind is in overdrive, I find running or journaling really helpful. The rhythmic nature of running gets me into a trance-like state - I get such release and many epiphanies from a good old run!