A to Z Challenge · A to Z of Sobriety · Being True to Yourself · Fear · Love Letters · Year 9

A kid needs at least one person who never gives up on them, no matter what.

Most people, especially those of us who tend to escape or self-soothe with drinking or other maladaptive coping habits, still struggle with childhood experiences that harmed us, even if we’re unable to recognize them.

We are easily triggered when faced with challenges, people or situations that remind us of that the way we felt back then. Sometimes, the reminder is subtle, and our spidey-senses tingle, putting us on alert and hyper-reactive to what’s going on around us. Other times, we default to anger when we feel hurt or scared because we can’t handle these emotions and then lash out and become antagonistic, or withdraw and shut down.

Our extreme reactions are rooted in that fear we experienced in the past; fear that we are unloved, unworthy, unsafe or abandoned.

Recognizing that it is our inner-child that actually feels these wounds is an ongoing process, but it is possible to temper, and even stop, those heightened reactions. Learning to observe, acknowledge and understand what feeds our reactions gives us an opportunity to grow, and helps us to change our behaviour.

I’ve been working on that a lot lately, showing up for Little Me.
When I have snap reactions to other people or situations, most of the time they are connected to something I didn’t receive as a child. So I take a moment, figure out if I am feeling unheard, unappreciated, or afraid. I acknowledge the unmet need, and tell myself: You are safe, you are loved, and you can work this out. It’s okay to find another way to communicate, and it’s okay to leave it for now. Sometimes, the other person is also reacting to their own unmet childhood needs.

We have the power to truly transform things, and we can choose each day, to heal and do better.

There is also something else that has been working for me. We often underestimate the power of play, but I’ve found it to be so helpful. Especially when I feel myself retreating into a little cocoon.

Here are some ways I engage with or provide opportunities for Little Phoenix to thrive:
*Paint or sketch, without intention or monetary goal in mind.
*Watch movies or tv shows that I know make feel happy (strangely enough, they all tend to be fantasy, magical realism or Pixar movies.) I’m happy to share my movie or music playlist. Comment below if you would like me to.
*Listen to music or songs from my Sunshine playlist.
*Go outside and spend time amongst the trees and flowers, watching the sky, and birds and butterflies going about their day. The idea is to activate your sense of wonder and awe at all the life around you.
*If all else fails, I find a baby photo of myself. I smile at Little Phoenix and tell her that the world is just as big and beautiful as she thought it would be, and even if life gets rough sometimes (as it will) she will be okay. I tell her that I can remember her voice and that she wanted to tell stories. I tell her that yes, she did grow up to be brave, strong and amazing, and the stories are making their way into the world.

Never give up on Little You. Show up because you deserve it.
“You yourself, as much as anyone in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.” – Buddha

Share with me; how do you show up for Little You?
Love and light, Phoenix

Additional resources I’ve found helpful:

A to Z Challenge · A to Z of Sobriety · Being True to Yourself · Crossroads · Triggers · Year 9

Never listen to what people say; just watch what they do.

Crisjen Avasarala from The Expanse, is seated at a desk in a purple suit. She is pensive and says, "Never listen to what people say; just watch what they do."

“Never listen to what people say; just watch what they do.” – Chrisjen Avasarala, The Expanse, S2E01: Safe

This quote is hitting me hard these days and thinking about intentions and actions. About six months ago my living situation changed unexpectedly, and as far as I can tell, the change is for the long haul. It was my choice, made with the best of intentions. But it is challenging, and at night I lie awake feeling guilty for not having been my best self that day.

I’ve been happily and successfully living on my own for a few years, and I chose this new path because I was needed, and because I knew I could be of use. I told myself and others that I could do this. But while the shift to living with others has been a gift, it has also been triggering, to say the least. I’ve been setting boundaries, but we are in close quarters, and it is hard to find time alone to reset and recharge. As a result, I’m less patient than I would like to be, and my actions (while measured) don’t make me proud.

At times, I find myself irrationally reactive or bottled-up angry or in despair. When the moment has passed I think about it for hours or even days, feeling ashamed of myself, trying to work out what was so triggering, and making promises to myself to do better.

I am still working on forgiving myself and I try to understand my motivations (without criticism) and acknowledge my good intentions instead of berating myself for my mistakes. I’m working on being curious, instead of judgmental. Judging myself, or anyone else, always closes a door. I am working on being kinder and more compassionate with myself, in the hope that I will be more open, connected, and more available for myself and others.

“We can’t hate ourselves into a version of ourselves we can love.” ~ Lori Deschene

Take care, and be gentle with yourself too. Hugs, Phoenix


The annual AtoZ Challenge is happening this month; one post per day for each letter of the alphabet. I’m way behind but determined to complete 26 posts. Prompted by the 2023 theme ‘Resilience’, here’s nine years sober, and counting… with some things to say, inspired by quotes from brilliant television series that resonate with me.

A to Z Challenge · A to Z of Sobriety · Beginnings · Being True to Yourself · Crossroads · Love Letters · The Truth · Year 9

I’ve Got You, Baby Girl.

“I’ve got you, baby girl.” – Joel Miller to Ellie Williams, The Last of Us, S01E08: When We Are In Need

I often think about the way I was when I started drinking intentionally. Looking back, that teenager was incredibly passionate, strong-willed, determined, brash and bold. She was also in a lot of pain and numbed that pain in all the wrong ways.

I particularly remember one family weekend at a beach condo on the northcoast. Everyone else was down at the beach and I was on the fourth floor of the condo, balancing a stolen bottle of wine and myself on a balcony ledge. I still don’t know what I was thinking but I know I was purposefully numb.

Of that time of my life, I remember feeling abandoned, unheard, unworthy and unlovable, and I dealt with that with rebellious and reckless behaviour.

If I could go back, knowing everything I know now, I would tell that teenager that she’s okay, and strong enough to find a way out. I’d tell her that she didn’t have to drink to fit in, or to be brave enough to speak her mind. Chances are, she wouldn’t listen to me, after all I was just some weirdo older than her parents. But I’d tell her anyway.

I’d tell her that she’s not alone, and that there is a way out. I’d tell her there was a path from where she’s at to where I am now, and that she will walk it, stomp it, run it, and yes, dance it. I’d tell her that I love her so much, that I’m never ashamed of her, and will always have her back, no matter what. “I’ve got you, baby girl.”
I would tell her there is so much beauty in her brokenness, and that everyone else is broken too, and trying to find their way. I would tell her that the very feelings that are sometimes too much to bear, are a gift of insight, empathy and compassion that will help her and others too.

I would tell her that she never gives up, and while the desperate need to demand and to fight subsides, she will grow more determined, just and strong, and there will be peace in coming to that understanding. I will tell her about a love letter she wrote to herself, twenty years after that photo was taken:

You are a light – bright, warm, welcoming, honest and brilliant.
You surround yourself and those around you with hope, magic, love and laughter.
You give comfort when it is needed and teach others to see the beauty in themselves and all around us.
You are respectful of life – your life, life around you in others, in all plants and animals, and our beautiful earth and cosmos.
You are truly part of the divine whole and easily recognize and call out the divine in others and from the brightest light of all, which connects everything.
You are born from this light and will always be a part of that place that exists within all of us.
You will always be a light.

And I would tell her that it’s been a decade since we wrote that letter, and that today, I need her too, because she will, once again, teach me to love. We’ve got each other, baby girl.


The annual AtoZ Challenge is happening this month; one post per day for each letter of the alphabet. I’m way behind but determined to complete 26 posts. Prompted by the 2023 theme ‘Resilience’, here’s nine years sober, and counting… with some things to say, inspired by quotes from brilliant television series that resonate with me.

A to Z Challenge · A to Z of Sobriety · Neuroscience & Biochemistry · Triggers · Year 9

Honey, it’s just the way your brain was hardwired

Honey, it’s just the way your brain was hardwired. Plenty of great, intelligent, funny, interesting, and creative people have struggled with the same things you struggle with. – Leslie Bennet, Euphoria, S01E01: Pilot

Leslie Bennet was speaking specifically about Rue’s bipolar and obsessive-compulsive disorders, but it got me thinking about brain chemistry whether or not an individual’s particular makeup can make them hardwired or predisposed to addictions.

There’s a post sitting in my drafts since 2014 titled My Nucleus Accumbens Is Out To Get Me. I did a lot of research back in those early days of sobriety, determined to figure out if my problems with alcohol were behavioural (meaning that drinking was a habit to break) or mental (meaning that I would have to learn to “live with” a predisposition).]

The nucleus accumbens is involved in various cognitive, emotional, and psychomotor functions. It serves as an important area for motivation, reward and pleasure, addiction, impulsivity and risk taking behaviours. It is also involved in the control of survival and reproductive behaviours.  

That being said, are some of us hardwired for addiction? In an article in Drug and Alcohol Dependence, Psychology Professor Brian Anderson argues that non-addicted people show many of the same biases as people who are addicted to drugs. We are all “wired” to automatically direct our attention to learned predictors of reward. “This suggests that these seemingly ‘pathological features’ of addiction may in fact reflect a normal cognitive process — that we are all to some degree ‘wired’ to become addicted,” he explains. 

Psychology Today says, “Our brain has an operating system inherited from earlier animals. It rewards you with happy chemicals when you take steps toward meeting your needs. It alarms you with unhappy chemicals when you see a threat or obstacle to meeting your needs. Your ups and downs make sense when you know the job they evolved to do.” – Loretta G. Breuning Ph.D

All of the above being said, and bringing it back to Leslie and her daughter Rue. Are people who struggle with mental health disorders hardwired for addiction? Which comes first: A mental health problem or addiction? According to what I’ve read, it’s different for each person. A mental health disorder can be considered a risk factor for drug use, which may lead to addiction. In other cases, drug use can trigger the development of a mental health disorder. But what’s clear is this: Once both issues are co-occurring, they are likely to perpetuate one another.

The good news is that our brains have the ability to restructure or rewire itself when it recognizes the need for adaption. In other words, it can continue developing and changing throughout life. Some of us may need more help than others to get started and stay motivated, but we all should explore resources available to us.

For those who have chosen to go alcohol-free, it’s important to adopt healthy coping mechanisms for life’s stressors, that improve our circumstances without eroding our well-being or costing us in the long run. 

I’ve found these two articles helpful in terms of identifying typically unhealthy coping mechanisms, and also offer insight to strategies and tools we can use to live more fulfilling lives: https://www.happierhuman.com/unhealthy-coping-mechanisms/ and https://positivepsychology.com/maladaptive-coping/. Their key coping mechanisms are listed below but the articles explain in greater detail and offer worksheets where necessary.

Maladaptive coping techniques include: 

  • Substance abuse
  • Rumination – Overthinking
  • Emotional numbing – Shutting down feelings to provide relief from stress and anxiety.
  • Escape – Changing behaviour to avoid the situation and difficult feelings.
  • Intrusive thoughts – Unwelcome or involuntary ideas and thoughts that may be upsetting and difficult to manage.
  • Daydreaming – While occasional daydreaming may result in a loss of focus and delayed task completion, in its extreme, maladaptive daydreaming is a form of addiction to daydreaming that can last for hours at a time.
  • Procrastination
  • Self-harm
  • Over-eating, binge eating or under-eating
  • Blaming and self-blaming
  • Behavioural disengagement
  • Risk-taking behaviour
  • Sensitization – Overly rehearsing a future event, excessive worrying, and hyper-vigilance.
  • Safety behaviours – The tendency to rely on someone or something to help cope with extreme anxiety, seeking continual reassurance that things will be okay.
  • Isolation and Anxious avoidance 

Long-term use of such coping styles – and there are many others – is unhealthy. Such strategies are associated with high levels of psychological distress, including anxiety and depression in adolescents and adults

Adaptive coping techniques include: 

  • Cognitive restructuring – Replace negative thoughts with more healthy, positive ones that reduce the impact of real or imagined events.
  • Distraction – When a difficult situation presents itself, it is possible to distract oneself from negative urges through music, breathing techniques, writing down thoughts, meditation, etc. Such techniques can have a calming effect while redirecting attention away from the stressor.
  • Thought stopping – Interrupting or breaking the cycle of negative thoughts as they arise can help stop panic from spiralling and the domino effect of negative thoughts.
  • Self-compassion – When confronted by a challenge, we often respond by either dwelling on our shame or bolstering our self-esteem. Both are of limited value in helping us cope; instead, we should adopt a mindset of self-compassion which says, “you are worthy no matter what” Self-compassion releases oxytocin, a feel-good neurotransmitter that reduces distress, increases feelings of safety, and helps us form new connections.
  • Coping statements – Creating a set of coping statements can help us reframe our worries and difficulties in a more positive way and prepare us for what’s to come: I’m going to face this challenge and handle it as best as I can. So, it may not work out 100%, but I will give it my best and see what happens. I’ve been in this situation before and survived. I’m strong enough to handle this, whatever happens. Things often aren’t as bad as they first seem.
  • Openness – Approaching challenges in an open way leads to improved handling of stress, finding novel solutions to existing problems, and an increased ability to cope. Using stress as a stimulus for change, think about what you wish to change and open up to the possibility of starting the transformation process.
  • Flow – Finding a balance between the situation’s difficulty and our individual skillset to reach flow.

Cheers to rewiring, Phoenix.


The annual AtoZ Challenge is happening this month and prompted by the 2023 theme ‘Resilience’, here’s nine years sober, and counting… with some things to say, inspired by quotes from brilliant television series that resonate with me.

A to Z Challenge · A to Z of Sobriety · Neuroscience & Biochemistry · Year 1 · Year 9

Trust your gut, before your head gets in the way.

A Belter, Josephus Miller, dressed in a dark grey shirt and dark pants, is standing with his arms folded, looking off to the left. There are glass windows and glass screens around him.

“Trust your gut before your head gets in the way.” – Detective Josephus Miller, The Expanse, S1E08: Salvage

Alcohol never made anything better. Sure, the first couple of drinks felt good because all the pleasure centres in my brain were tickled, tricking me into believing that the high meant I was happy. But warning bells would already be going off by the end of glass two. My gut, my intuition was already telling me to stop. But that warm, fluttering, overheating feeling spreading across my mid-section—that was meant to be a powerful message from my psyche telling me to pay attention to what was going on around me—would be interpreted by my brain as something to fear. It’s usually a good thing, a healthy thing. My way of dealing with it though, was to block it out as fast as I could, with more drinks. My intuition putting me on alert had become a trigger, and my go-to response back then, was to numb everything. To turn it all off. Bartender! Another!

According to the Harvard Business Review, there’s a science to trusting your gut:
“Despite popular belief, there’s a deep neurological basis for intuition. Scientists call the stomach the ‘second brain’ for a reason. There’s a vast neural network of 100 million neurons lining your entire digestive tract. That’s more neurons than are found in the spinal cord, which points to the gut’s incredible processing abilities.
When you approach a decision intuitively, your brain works in tandem with your gut to quickly assess all your memories, past learnings, personal needs, and preferences and then makes the wisest decision given the context. Everyone knows what it feels like to have a pit in your stomach as you weigh a decision. That’s the gut talking loud and clear.”

But, for some of us, that’s where repressed memories and unhealed trauma can throw a wrench into our thought process. If it’s enough of a struggle or a burden, it’s easier for us to drown it. I used to be really good at that. Even felt a bit proud about being able to say, to hell with it. My brain had actually convinced me that I was liberating myself—from pain, stress, struggle and over-thinking—by having another drink. The rush that gave me, always invited more.

When I decided to go alcohol free, those emotions I’d been blocking out came flooding back in. It was a lot, but I was determined to experience them all, the lows and the highs. Learning to sit with my feelings and emotions is an ongoing process, but I am getting better at working through them without over-intellectualizing the whole thing (that’s just another way of turning them off).

Then there’s a super-power we can gain when we give up drinking: intuition. Gut feelings that, when we learn to trust them, offer so much wisdom and guidance. It’s not all that easy, as intuition tends to surface unexpectedly and intensely, and disappears just as quickly leaving us mulling over what we’ve felt. Intuition can feel unfamiliar after years of numbing all emotions, and until we learn to trust our gut, our heads will get in the way. The over-analyzing can make us doubtful, uncomfortable, anxious, afraid and unwilling to move forward.

About six months after I gave up drinking, I began to feel healthier, and my mind cleared as did my intuition. I started to trust myself more and had decided to let my heart lead me where it would. I felt the pull and tug of certain workshops and classes and I followed with an open mind and an open heart, sometimes not knowing what to expect, but never regretting the decision to attend. Without the physical, psychological and emotional fallout from drinking, there was more space and time in my life for opening doors and widening avenues on my true path. It’s been nine years, and while I am still working on strengthening my intuition with intention, I trust my self more than ever before.

HBR says: “Discern gut feeling from fear. Fear tends to be accompanied by bodily sensations of constricting or minimising. You may feel tense, panicky, or desperate. Fear has a pushing energy, as if you’re trying to force something, or selecting an option because you want to avoid a threat, rejection, or punishment. Fear also tends to be dominated by self-critical thoughts that urges you to hide, conform, or compromise yourself.

“Intuition on the other hand has pulling energy, as if your choice is moving you toward your best interest, even if that means pursuing a risk or moving more slowly than others. This is usually accompanied by feelings of excitement and anticipation or ease and contentment. Physically, gut feelings tend to cause your body to relax. With intuition, your inner voice is more grounded and wise, like a good mentor.”

There are some good advice here, with actionable strategies to stop overthinking and start trusting your gut: https://hbr.org/2022/03/how-to-stop-overthinking-and-start-trusting-your-gut


The annual AtoZ Challenge is happening this month and prompted by the 2023 theme ‘Resilience’, here’s nine years sober, and counting… with some things to say, inspired by quotes from brilliant television series that resonate with me.

A to Z Challenge · A to Z of Sobriety · HSP and SPS · Neuroscience & Biochemistry · Triggers · Year 9

A More, Fully-Realised Person?

Sherlock Holmes sits at a AA meeting, wondering if, had he been born in a different time, he would've been a more fully realised person. He is dressed in a dark suit, with four other AA members seated behind him.

“I often wonder if I should have been born at another time. My senses are unusually, some might say unnaturally keen, and ours is an era of distraction. It’s a punishing drumbeat of constant input. It follows us into our homes and into our beds. It seeps into our… into our souls, for want of a better word. For a long time, there was only one solution for my raw nerve endings and that was copious drug use. In my less productive moments, I’m given to wonder…. If I had just been born when it was a little quieter out there, would I have even become an addict in the first place? Might I have been more focused? A more fully realized person?” – Sherlock Holmes, Elementary, S2E07: Marchioness

When I first heard Sherlock say this, I felt seen. It was the way I’d felt all my life. I still do. When I was young, I dreamed of one day living in a little cottage surrounded by fields and trees as far as the eye could see. There’s a river nearby and I have a garden to grow my own food. Best of all, there are no people around for miles. Densely populated, fast-paced cities always made me nervous.

I’ve more comfortable in intimate socal settings than amidst a crowd or around a lot of high-energy people I have to interact with. If I do spend a significant amount of time with others, I mentally prepare way in advance, and need moments to myself to reset.

I’m pretty good at sensing and recognising other people’s emotions, and can usually understand what motivates their behaviour. I also read body language and facial expressions well, which is overwhelming at times, especially if those around me are stressed, angry, upset or anxious.

I’m particularly sensitive to bright, glaring or blinking lights, super-loud sounds, strong scents (especially artificial scents), and bothered by itchy fabrics. I’m observant and tend to notice changes in my physical environment, even if they are subtle.

I can identify risk or potential danger in my physical surroundings, and devise solutions when the need arises. When managing daily tasks, planning ahead feels natural to me (I love lists), but all of this can appear obsessive to other people. I don’t care for huge surprises and sometimes feel frustrated with poor planning, or anxiously helpless when it’s not my place to fix a problem.

When I gave up drinking, I quickly realised I’d been using alcohol to neutralise the overwhelm caused by either too much sensory input, being an emotional sponge; or feeling anxious or afraid about living situations that were physically, economically, emotionally, mentally or spiritually unsafe or unsustainable.

In early sobriety, I picked up new self-soothing habits for those situations: coffee, delicious food, sweet desserts, milkshakes, salty snacks… are you seeing a pattern? The pleasure centres of my brain that used to be satisfied by alcohol, still demanded their fix when I went alcohol-free. I put on about 20 pounds in those first few months. That was not sustainable. I had to find another solution.

This worried me. I already knew my social habits would change when I quit, but was withdrawing from social events going to be my only option, if I couldn’t drink? I found myself making conscious choices about which events to attend, what to consume (if anything) at those events, and worked out safe exit strategies in advance. Rather than hanging out with friends at bars, restaurants or at house parties that were centred around drinking, I went to more book launches, art exhibitions, mind and body events, and formed a peer-review writing group to channel my creative energy.

Around this time, I attended a women’s circle gathering during which many shared life experiences related to body awareness. As the exchange came to a close, we helped to put away our chairs and yoga mats, ahead of a nature walk at the park next door. I was feeling pretty overwhelmed by then, and let the speaker know I was peopled out, and would go to the park ahead of the group and meet them there. She said sure, and asked if I was an HSP. I had no idea what that was, but looked it up when I got home that evening.

“A highly sensitive person (HSP) is a neurodivergent individual who is thought to have an increased or deeper central nervous system sensitivity to physical, emotional, or social stimuli. Some refer to this as having sensory processing sensitivity, or SPS for short.” Source: https://www.verywellmind.com/highly-sensitive-persons-traits-that-create-more-stress-4126393

Sensitivity isn’t an illness, a detriment, a problem, a diagnosis, or something that needs to be fixed or cured. And, most importantly, sensitivity isn’t weakness. Source: https://highlysensitiveperson.net/start-here/

Sensitivity is an essential human trait, and one that is tied to some of our species’ best qualities. There are powerful advantages that come with being sensitive. When sensitive people are allowed to thrive, society will benefit from their unique gifts. – Jenn Granneman and Andre Sólo

Highly sensitive people are thought to make up 20%-30% of the general population.

The more research I did that night, the more relief flooded through me. Everything clicked. Best of all, there were tools available to help me cope with sensory processing sensitivity! I didn’t have to push myself to be or do anything that didn’t feel natural to me.

Over time, I got better at recognising my triggers and learned what I needed to do to prevent (and deal with) sensory overload. I actively sought and adopted healthy coping mechanisms to process overwhelming situations, and learned that it was okay to say no to people and events when I needed to. It’s an ongoing journey, but I am grateful every day for the discovery.

Here are some links if you would like to know more about HSPs and Sensory Processing Sensitivity:

What is a Highly Sensitive Person? https://www.verywellmind.com/highly-sensitive-persons-traits-that-create-more-stress-4126393

Are you an HSP? https://highlysensitiverefuge.com/highly-sensitive-person-signs/

Addictions in HSPs: https://www.aconsciousrethink.com/3579/addictions-highly-sensitive-people-many-fall-trap/

Why HSPs Use Alcohol to ‘Turn Off’ Being Sensitive — And How to Stop

Solutions for Sensory Overload: https://www.additudemag.com/women-with-sensory-processing-disorder/

Is there anything wrong with being an HSP? https://www.verywellmind.com/is-there-really-anything-wrong-with-being-an-hsp-5219182


The annual AtoZ Challenge is happening this month and prompted by the 2023 theme ‘Resilience’, here’s nine years sober, and counting… with some things to say, inspired by quotes from brilliant television series that resonate with me.

A to Z Challenge · A to Z of Sobriety · Crossroads · Fear · Sober Blogging Network · Triggers · Year 9

Every Day We Change the World

“My father picked me up from school one day, and we played hooky and went to the beach. It was too cold to go in the water, so we sat on a blanket and ate pizza. When I got home, my sneakers were full of sand, and I dumped it on my bedroom floor. I didn’t know the difference. I was six. My mother screamed at me for the mess, but he wasn’t mad. He said that billions of years ago, the world shifting and the oceans moving brought that sand to that spot on the beach, and then I took it away. “Every day,” he said, “we change the world,” which is a nice thought until I think about how many days and lifetimes I would need to bring a shoe full of sand home until there is no beach, until it made a difference to anyone. Every day, we change the world, but to change the world in a way that means anything, that takes more time than most people have. It never happens all at once. It’s slow. It’s methodical. It’s exhausting. We don’t all have the stomach for it.”
— Elliot Alderson, Mr. Robot Season 1: eps1.4_3xpl0its.wmv

I started this blog in 2014 when I quit drinking, and faithfully chronicled my journey for two years. After that, I wrote two posts in five years. Key posts continued to attract readers but the blog’s readership dropped to about 2000 visitors per year between 2016 and 2021.

Then the pandemic was announced and worldwide, people were facing increasing socio-economic, mental and emotional challenges. In the first year, there was a six-month lockdown in my country which included the closure of bars and restaurants. I thought often about the ones who struggled with alcohol consumption during those months.

Understandably, visitors to my blog increased by 65% during the pandemic. Peak months were April, May & June 2020, with a significant bump in March/April one year later when it hit home for many that life was never going to get back to normal.

The Moon Stays Bright when it Doesn’t Avoid the Night; Emotions Don’t Have to Overwhelm Us; Metamorphosis; I’m too Sad to Walk. Just Give me a few Hours; The Moderation Contemplation; and Do I Deserve to Be Happy? were read the most. My heart broke for any person who Googled a phrase or word that led them to these posts. People were looking for hope.

I wanted to start back writing when the pandemic was announced, I really did, but I too, got busy with keeping our family safe while simultaneously processing what was happening around the world. I wasn’t prepared to give myself room to explore my own vulnerabilities. I just got to work and did what I had to do. I was one of the lucky ones who were able to keep working so I threw myself into that for two years, working 12-hour days. Of course, burnout eventually required a much needed break. But I’m going off topic here.

What I wanted to say was that even though I was not writing, it moved me how many readers found comfort in my words during that time. I know I’ll never change the world, or help millions, but it means a lot to know that my words have helped a few people change their worlds. Hugs and love to all.


The annual AtoZ Challenge is happening this month and prompted by the 2023 theme ‘Resilience’, here’s nine years sober, and counting… with some things to say, inspired by quotes from brilliant television series that resonate with me.

A to Z Challenge · A to Z of Sobriety · Crossroads · Fear · Triggers · Year 9

The devil’s at his strongest while we’re looking the other way

“The devil’s at his strongest while we’re looking the other way, like a program running in the background silently, while we’re busy doing other shit. Daemons, they call them. They perform action without user interaction. Monitoring, logging, notifications, primal urges, repressed memories, unconscious habits. They’re always there, always active. You can try to be right, you can try to be good, you can try to make a difference. But it’s all bullshit. ‘Cause intentions are irrelevant. They don’t drive us, daemons do. And me? I’ve got more than most.”
Elliot Alderson, Mr. Robot, S1E04: eps1.3_da3m0ns.mp4

In the beginning when I quit, I knew that giving up my means of emotional escape would leave doors and windows open for my demons to enter. In actuality, the roof was blown off as well, leaving the way open for decades worth of demons to wreak their vengeance on me for ignoring my own authentic heart. It has been, and sometimes still is, one hell of revealing (and amazing) journey. I don’t mind it all that much anymore.

I’ve always had to push myself to make the changes I needed to heal. To clear away the residue left by my demons: unhealthy habits, toxic relationships and whatever else didn’t serve me. That’s all we can do right? Acknowledge, clean and clear away until we find our authentic selves. To work with what comes forth and try to understand where it comes from. To notice what makes us stand a little taller, who makes our hearts open and what brings us joy. To fill our lives with those things, people and endeavours.

Our demons will always be a part of us, existing in the background, and may know exactly when to show up and what to say to cause self-doubt. The courage of self-awareness helps us to be unafraid. Be strong. Acknowledge, find a way to understand the source of your struggle, and clean and clear away. You’re the one in control.

Hugs and love, Phoenix.


The annual AtoZ Challenge is happening this month and prompted by the 2023 theme ‘Resilience’, here’s nine years sober, and counting… with some things to say, inspired by quotes from brilliant television series that resonate with me.

A to Z Challenge · A to Z of Sobriety · Being True to Yourself · Crossroads · Love Letters · Year 9

On Craving the Chaos: Love doesn’t have to be bombs and tears and blood. Love can be peace.

“Love doesn’t have to be bombs and tears and blood. Love can be peace. And it can be beautiful. And if you’re lucky enough to find somebody who lifts you up…even when you don’t deserve it… that’s where the light is.”
– Daisy Jones & the Six S1E10 Track 10: Rock N Roll Suicide

I just finished binge-watching Daisy Jones and the Six, and couldn’t help thinking back to the relationships I had before I quit drinking. Like all relationships, there were highs and lows but multiply their intensity by ten…or twenty, and you can guess what mine were like. I gravitated to (and helped foster) chaotic, on-again-off-again relationships. As much as there were creative connections we celebrated and inspired in each other, there were also flaws and susceptibilities we had in common that made the drama addictive.

“Everything that made Daisy burn, made me burn. Everything I loved about the world, Daisy loved about the world. Everything I struggled with, Daisy struggled with. But at the same time, we were a mess. Two natural disasters who needed to heal.” – Billy Dunne, Daisy Jones & the Six

Looking back now, with a healthier awareness of myself, I can understand the root of that attraction: we gravitate to people with whom we share similar traits. We recognize bits of ourselves in them, the good, the bad and the ugly. The good – as behaviours and ideologies we subscribe or aspire to; the bad and the ugly – as an affirmation that we can be loved despite our flaws. We stay in contentious relationships because conflict is distracting. The drama provides a temporary refuge from the issues we want to avoid.

“When we’re unhealed, we’re attracted to chaotic, unpredictable people. They give us the hit of adrenaline our body craves that we call passion. They allow us to play the familiar role of working or proving ourselves worthy of love, just as we did as children. As we heal, we’re attracted to safe people whose words match their actions and show us love beyond survival mode.” Dr. Nicole LePera

Allowing ourselves to grow has a lot to do with learning how to be accountable for our choices when it comes to our relationships. We can explore our past and present motivations and choose a way forward that brings us peace.


The annual AtoZ Challenge is happening this month and prompted by the 2023 theme ‘Resilience’, here’s nine years sober, and counting… with some things to say, inspired by quotes from brilliant television series that resonate with me.

A to Z Challenge · Being True to Yourself · Crossroads · Fear · Labels · The Truth · Year 1 · Year 9

Believe That You Can Change

“You just have to believe that what you’re doing really matters, and then the fear can’t control you.”- Bobbie Draper, The Expanse, S4E01: New Terra

Deciding to give up drinking is an emotional, mental and physical struggle I remember very well. For years I suspected I had a problem but I was afraid to admit it. Fear held me back for a long time. I was afraid that the ongoing battle to stay sober would break my spirit. I was afraid I’d lose what I loved about my life because so much of it was wrapped up with drinking. Would I have to give up hanging out with friends, or going to art exhibitions, book launches and music gigs, or even have to give up dancing? What if I couldn’t stop? Would I judge myself harshly if I faltered? Would I give up?

Deep down, I was also afraid that quitting meant I was a broken mess, which (in my way of thinking back then) would also mean that I was unworthy of love. I was afraid that I would have to give up my keys to The Little World of Block-It-All-Out and be left with no way to escape all those issues I was running from. Most of all, I was afraid to spend time with an un-numbed me because I believed myself to be ugly and shameful.

I had tried quitting, or at least curbing, my drinking multiple times before I actually quit. Especially after particularly embarrassing episodes or near misses. I tried “not drinking during the week” or limiting my consumption, you know, with the “three drinks minimum”. I changed what I drank and who I hung out with. I “had it under control.” But the truth was, I didn’t want to give it up, and I was afraid to be the girl who had to give it up. So, no rules or agendas or Jedi mind tricks would’ve worked.

But I was fed up of pushing the limits and ignoring the warning signs; fed up of seeing the looks of annoyance, frustration, hurt, anger, pity and finally indifference on the faces of those who loved me. I was fed up with hurting those I loved and of making poor choices when I was under the influence.

I was tired of having days of un-productivity because I was too hungover to function, of missing work or events and disappointing friends. I was tired of waking up and not remembering what happened the night before and of being afraid I’d done something stupid, unforgivable or dangerous once again. I was tired of feeling small and lost and of self-pity. And I was tired of knowing I had to do something before it was too late.

In the end, I had to accept that the only way through the change was to believe that the life I was afraid of losing was the one that mattered. That I, mattered. And I had to believe that I would be able to hold onto everything I loved about my life, by being sober. So I quit.
I knew that it was the last time I would quit because this time, I was quitting for ME. In my heart I believe that this made all the difference in the world.


The annual AtoZ Challenge is happening this month and I’m a few days behind, but going for it, nonetheless. Prompted by the 2023 theme ‘Resilience’, here’s nine years sober, and counting… with some things to say, inspired by quotes from brilliant television series that resonate with me.