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My Sober Life in Montreal Day 14: An anonymous feature I wrote for FASHION magazine at 5 months sober

When I was just five months sober, I wrote a feature for FASHION Magazine about women and binge drinking. It was titled “One Too Many” and published in the 2011 summer issue under the pseudonym Kate Robinson.

At that point, I was extremely private about my alcoholism. I chose to write the feature anonymously for three main reasons: I was ashamed to be labelled an alcoholic, I feared exposing my issues would jeopardize my career and, most of all, I wasn’t sure I’d be able to stay sober.

The article discusses how binge drinking is a pervasive problem for young Canadian women and examines how excessive social drinking can “pave the way” to alcoholism. It also touches on how society views women who abuse alcohol differently than men. Intertwined with quotes from medical professionals, I tell my story as a “party girl” and detail how my decision to get sober was a final attempt to save my marriage. It is a revealing portrait of how I felt at that fresh moment in recovery and a reminder of how much life has changed.

When I wrote the piece, my confidence was at an all time low: I didn’t know how to feel better, I was uncomfortable attending any social event and I felt “dirty, raw and exposed.” What is commonly referred to as the “drinking fog” had been lifted, but I was just beginning to understand the long, arduous process of recovery. I was depressed, anxious and terribly unsure of how each day would unfold; it was a difficult time.

If you had told me then that I’d still be sober today, I’m not sure I would have believed you. If you told me then that one day, I’d be able to have fun again at social events, that I’d learn to live joyously without booze, I would have doubted your optimism. Recovery is not an easy ride, and it took me a long time to feel better, but these days I know a sense of happiness and comfort that I had never known before. That said, I know that just one drink could make all that I have worked for disappear.

At one of my first meetings back, a man turned to me and said, “You may not be able to save your marriage but it sounds like this is where you need to be.” I did not save my marriage, but somewhere along the way, I saved myself.

See the full FASHION feature here.

~ Jen McNeely

On day 1, Jen outed herself as a recovering alcoholic. On day 2, she wondered why the hell she did that. On day 3, she compares the dark days of 1999 with vibrant life in 2012. On day 4 Jen randomly meets Steven Tyler while strolling the streets late at night. On day 5 Jen took a meditative morning walk through the Plateau.On day 6 she found serenity in the Fuchsia Tea Room. On day 7 she hits the town for mocktails and shots of OJ. On day 8 she broke down the stereotypes of AA. On Day 9, Jen had a run-in with the circus. On day 10 Jen talks about how she knew she had a problem. On day 11 Jen recalls her last drunk meal and gains an appreciation for good food. On day 12 Jen tackles why she drank. On day 13 Jen questions her motives and discusses anonymity.

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