It's been a while since we published any sober stories and we're back with the fabulous Leon (@sober-leon). Leon has been a friend of the Proud and Sober IG for a while and we are so pleased he agreed to share his thoughts with us.
Hi Leon! Can we hear more about who you are?
I am originally from Sydney Australia with Pakistani, Indian and Portuguese heritage. My husband and I moved to Dublin, Ireland, 6 years ago as it was not legal to get married in my home country yet!
How long have you been sober and why?
I have been sober for one year and 3 months! I was tired of waking up remorseful and feeling guilty (but not too sure why- as I never remembered what I got up to). I knew there must be a better way to live and live fully present. My husband had raised the subject on a few occasions but it was up to me to want to make that big change. I finally decided enough was enough as it wasn’t a cute look just over a year ago, although I had tried a few times previously through abstinence and controlled drinking.
What method did you use to become sober?
I am a member of a 12 step LGBTQIA+ fellowship in conjunction with therapy. I also meditate, practise yoga and go to the gym daily.
What are your thoughts on the LGBT+ community’s attitude towards alcohol and drugs?
As an "femme" person of colour I never really felt like belonged to the LGBTQIA+ ‘community’ I was exposed to in both Sydney and London in the late 90s/Early 10s. As a general statement, I do think that it is heavily normalised and glamourised as part of the scene. Since coming into recovery I've felt very much part of a community and feel truly welcomed.
Why do you think members of the LGBT+ community are more susceptible to
experiencing difficulties with alcohol and drugs?
I think a lot of us are exposed to societal shame very early on in our lives. A lot of us hide who we really are and this stunts our emotional growth and to help deal with that we self medicate. There is a feeling of isolation and never feeling good enough which many of us carry on well into adulthood. The trauma of never belonging and feeling less than our heterosexual counterparts plays a large part in this.
What do you think we can do to change this?
Removing stigma on sexuality, societal expectations and mental health by speaking out when discrimination is present.
What’s your favourite thing about being sober?
Being present and being given a second chance to start over. One of the most valuable things about my sobriety is the real connections I've made with others in recovery and people that I've met by being my authentic self.
What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned so far?
The biggest lesson I have learnt is to take a moment to pause. Respond - do not react!
What advice would you give to anyone wanting to give up?
A big fear of mine was that I wouldn’t be as fabulous or life would be dull. I can assure you that life becomes utterly amazing and you will be even more fabulous than you thought possible! Just give yourself time and be gentle on yourself. You have to work hard for anything worth having and sobriety and all its gifts are definitely worth all the hard work. Honour yourself, love yourself and most importantly : celebrate yourself!