My Long Toxic Relationship with Alcohol
In this blog, I’m sharing my long ‘toxic’ relationship with alcohol.
Most of my close friends who I met in my late teens and in my 20s will know my love of white wine.
But many of my friends will probably not know that I started drinking alcohol at the age of 13.
Age 13 to 16
I was born and grew up in Japan until the age of 9 when my parents decided to send me to boarding school in the UK.
I was sent to a well-known alternative school called Summerhill. A place where lessons are non-compulsory and both adults and children have equal status.
I didn’t speak English at all and living in a small community in a small town in Suffolk far far away from home was frightening. I was regularly homesick in my first year but learned to adapt to a new environment and embraced the freedom far away from home and my parents, who were very strict in some ways.
I started smoking before I started drinking. Many of my friends were smoking at the time. I didn’t start smoking because I wanted to fit in.
I smoked to get back at my parents who sent me away. My parents were both non-smokers. In fact, my father’s grandfather was a heavy smoker and died because of it and my father was really against smoking.
The 13-year-old me just wanted to do something that would hurt my parents. Because I was hurt by them. I was playing a victim.
I started drinking because of the same reasons.
Every weekend, my drinking friends at school would plan to ‘get smashed’ as we used to call it!
There was a little ‘wood’ at school where we would sneak out after midnight, make fire and cook some sausages and ‘get smashed’, until we got caught one night.
We were sent home for a few weeks after getting caught.
My parents were not thrilled at all. After this incident, my relationship with my parents got worse.
Age 16 to 30
When I graduated from school at 16, I moved to London alone and started living in a house share and going to college. I couldn’t imagine myself going back to Japan and living with my parents.
But the reality really hit me after completing college. I couldn’t afford to go to the university to further my education! I decided to look for a full-time job so I could save money.
I worked hard and changed jobs several times in my 20s aiming for better jobs and salaries.
At one point, I was working for one of the Big 4 accounting firms and studying towards an accounting qualification, but I never felt enjoyment in any of the jobs and constantly felt something was lacking in my life.
As I got promoted and took on more responsibilities, I was working long hours with spent most weekends working and studying for my qualification.
I was stressed out, exhausted, and feeling miserable from my unfulfilling job and in an abusive relationship.
My best friends were cigarettes and alcohol. I filled my sense of emptiness with cigarettes and alcohol hoping this would relieve my stress and sadness. But it never did.
Instead, I was always exhausted and depressed.
When I finally left the Big 4 and started working in a smaller company it gave me more free time to focus on my life. I was in another abusive relationship at the time and emotionally and physically I was in a dark place.
I started practicing yoga regularly in my local studio and started learning about Yoga philosophy in my spare time.
Age 30 to Present Day
In 2014, I enrolled in a 200 hours of Yoga teacher training course and everything changed.
The biggest accomplishment after completing my Yoga teacher training was to quit smoking.
Yoga really helped me look at my life from a different perspective and showed me that I didn’t need to rely on cigarettes to feel happier in my life.
But my toxic relationship with alcohol continued.
I was still unfulfilled with my day job and longed to leave the job to focus on my Yoga business.
Every Thursday, I would drag my partner after work to go to a pub and have a few glasses of wine to forget the day in the office feeling unfulfilled and miserable.
But the pattern of going to a pub after work every Thursday got interrupted by the pandemic and lockdown back in 2020.
I was still drinking after work at home and on the weekends, but I stopped after a glass or two. Whereas I was always drinking at least 3 large glasses of wine when I went to the pub.
So what shifted? What made me feel like I didn’t need to rely on alcohol to deal with my life?
Well, I was happier because I didn’t have to go to the office every day and make small talk with colleagues and be watched by my boss.
I was happier because I had more time to do what I’m passionate about – focusing on my Yoga & Ayurveda business.
But the turning point was when the lockdown was lifted and I had a few glasses of wine with my friends in the pub one night.
I got so sick that night that I couldn’t get up the next day.
I stopped drinking for 6 months after that night. I just didn’t crave alcohol at all. Something had changed in my body.
I guess after harming my body for over 20 years it has just had enough! But most importantly, I know something has shifted emotionally and mentally as well.
I used to drink when I was sad when I was stressed when I was depressed when I was angry but also when I was happy and celebrating.
After practicing Yoga & Ayurveda for years, I feel I now have the tools to deal with my emotions without relying on alcohol.
It’s been a long journey for me to get where I am today. I still have bad days where I feel depressed and anxious. And that’s ok.
Many people crave freedom. The freedom to do what they want to do. Financial freedom. The freedom to be themselves.
I learned at a very young age that freedom comes with responsibility.
Many of us are free to do what we want to do in our lives.
We are free to ‘get smashed’ every weekend, to forget all the miserable things happening in our lives, or we can take responsibility for our own actions and lives and create change.
Yoga taught me to take full responsibility for my actions and life, to forgive my parents, and let go of my past. But also to be compassionate towards me in that journey. The journey of transformation.
So if you are in the middle of a transformation, be compassionate with yourself.
But also know that you are ultimately responsible for who you are and the actions you take.
If you read until the end, thank you for reading! I hope this inspires you and helps you move forward in your life in some way.
If you want to start living more intentionally and consciously, but you need some support and guidance, I invite you to check out my brand new 1:1 coaching program Pathway to Dharma. Or find out your unique pathway to self-discovery.
Risa Kawamoto (she/her)
Hi, I’m Risa! I’m a Transformational Coach and a certified Yoga & Ayurveda teacher.
I am passionate about guiding and supporting purpose-driven individuals, discovering their True Self and inner purpose, and creating a fulfilling, meaningful & joyful life, using the powerful tools of Ayurveda, Yoga and transformational coaching.
I am excited to guide and support you as you begin your journey to discovering your True Self and creating a fulfilling, meaningful & joyful life!