What is a soberful life? In today’s episode, Veronica interviews Soberful Life team member Louise O’Brien. Louise is a single mother who was struggling desperately with an alcohol problem. Unable to carry on, she took the leap into her sobriety, and everything changed.
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Today’s guest is someone many of you know from Soberful Life, our Operations Manager and someone I absolutely couldn’t live without, Louise O’Brien. She’s been a wonderful asset to the Soberful team and she also has a really inspiring and relatable story that I’ve been wanting her to share on the podcast for a long time.
Growing up in Australia in a strict Catholic family, staying in control was very important to Louise. She made a decision early on to never be that person who lost control and as a result, she didn’t have her first drink until her late teens.
Once she was out of school, she travelled abroad and got her first taste of what it was like to be away from the good girl expectations that were on her at home.
“I just wanted to completely change who I was.” Louise O’Brien
Feeling like she’d finally found her people, she partied hard and eventually started selling drugs for her friends. Even in that situation though, Louise was extremely careful not to take too much herself, still not wanting to be that person who lost control.
After moving back to Australia, her partying continued much the same as it was when she was abroad. Drinking on Fridays was a normal part of her work life and after getting married and having kids, it was a central part of the weekly mom group meetings she had at the pub.
“I stopped drinking for the taste. I started to drink for the effect.” Louise O’Brien
The turning point came a few years later when her father died and her marriage ended less than a year later. That’s when she started to feel like drinking was a necessity to cope with life.
Now as a single mother, she continued like that for years, eventually realizing that she was hurting her children but she couldn’t bring herself to stop.
Coming back from a trip with her kids, hungover at the airport, she spotted Russell Brand’s book, Recovery. Knowing that she needed to change, she bought the book and started reading it on the flight home. That’s where she saw Chip’s name and found the Soberful Facebook group.
“I’d look in the mirror and just say, I hate you so much for what you’re doing.” Louise O’Brien
She joined the group but continued to isolate herself, drinking at home, trapped in her feelings of not wanting anyone to know the truth.
But there was a little spark in her that knew that she had to get out.
Louise reached out a friend who she knew went to AA meetings and went to a meeting with her. For three months, like many people, she kept drinking and going to meetings. That’s what I call putting weight on the sober end of the seesaw.
“When we put weight on the sober end and we just keep doing it, something clicks.” Veronica Valli
The shift happened when Louise started sharing her truth, despite her fear. That was a massive part of her realization that she could go on living without alcohol.
Once the alcohol was gone, Louise saw that there was so much internal work that needed to be done. That’s when she joined Soberful Life.
She admits that she was scared at first, “What if it doesn’t work?” but she threw herself into it. But she decided to trust herself and found it to be a game-changer for her.
“Doing that, as well as going to my AA meetings, really strengthened what I was doing.” Louise O’Brien
I remember Louise’s time in the programme. She showed up, did the work, struggled, asked for help and kept going. She committed to creating a new way of life for herself.
For Louise, the past three years of sobriety have been a process of doing the deeper work on a regular basis. She’s learned to trust herself and to know who she really is.
“It’s learning how to sit with yourself comfortably without reaching for your phone or anything external. Understanding that you are okay and underneath all of it, you are going to be okay.” Louise O’Brien
She’s developed authentic self-esteem and a circle of support she can lean on when things get rough. I’m so proud of the incredible way that Louise has handled her challenges. I’ve seen her go through some really bad days, acknowledging that it is really hard, she’s scared and not only asking for help but being open to receiving it. Taking it all one day at a time.
“It’s that community that’s so important for anyone going through their sobriety journey. You can’t do it on your own.” Louise O’Brien
What’s Louise’s message for other mothers seeking sobriety?
“Change is possible. Just keeps showing up for yourself. Put your sobriety first and everything else will follow. The practical advice is, get to the service support meetings, get a network of sober friends and reach out to them regularly, even on the good days.”
“I treat my newborn sobriety like a newborn baby, to have this real gentleness, like when you’re holding a baby, and making sure that it’s you know, fed and warm and comfortable. And just really looking after that newborn sobriety is so important.” Louise O’Brien
About Louise O’Brien
Louise O’Brien joined Soberful in 2018 looking to make sobriety stick after many years of trying to moderate. Being a single mother to her two children and juggling full-time work and life in general she was at her breaking point. After signing up for one of Veronica and Chip’s 4-month intensive programs, she found sobriety, and it has changed her life and her career.
Louise is certified to work in an Alcohol and Other Drugs Assessment Role. She is the Operations Manager for Soberful Life and co-hosts the sober support meetings alongside the qualified therapists. Louise offers support and relatable advice from her own recovery journey to bring the true connection to the growing Soberful Life community.
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