Some of you may know me because you follow me on Instagram, or are friends with me in real life, or simply have read previous posts by me on my other blogs. For those of you who don’t know me, I’d like to take some time to introduce myself. My name is Haley Sherif. I’ve been living in the grey area—a term that is oft used in recovery circles to describe the kind of drinking that doesn’t align with alcoholism, but still feels problematic somehow—for the last five years.
My journey began when I realized that I didn’t drink “normally.” I put normally in quotes because everyone’s drinking is different, mine just never felt easy. There was always so much thinking about the decision behind the drink. Do I or don’t I? I have spent days and days and days qualifying to myself and to those I trust about my drinking and my sobriety, yet I’ve never fell on solid ground. I’ve never made a decision and then stuck to it with certainty.
When I do drink, I feel badly about myself, too aware of the twenty-four year old holding the bottle, conscious of not drinking too much, but also not drinking too little, determined to make sure we are all having a good time.
When I don’t drink, I feel most me, but I also feel serious FOMO (fear of missing out) on a good time.
Am I too young? Do my genetics (some people say if there is alcoholism in your family it’s kind of inevitable that you end up struggling with the bottle one way or another) predetermine who I am and is It just a matter of when I say “enough is enough?” Do I have to reach my bottom or can I raise my bottom to meet me? I tend to ask myself questions because it’s a way for me to get honest with myself. I don’t know the answer. I’ve been writing, attending Twelve Step Meetings, reading recovery memoirs, and talking about my relationship with alcohol for almost six years now. That’s a really long time considering I remember walking into my first A.A. meeting and not understanding how people could keep coming back after relapsing and struggling for years. Time seemed infinite then. I now know it’s not.
Although I created this space suddenly and on a whim, I feel an innate need for it. I see women in my circle fighting and writing and talking about the things they believe in daily. Before today, I’ve never felt brave enough to create a website solely dedicated to my struggle and story with alcohol and alcoholism. I didn’t relate to the term “grey area drinking” because I’ve always felt that alcohol is something that is black and white: either you have a problem or you don’t.
Thank goodness I am not the smartest one in the room. Thank goodness there are tons of women who are fighting for a space for people just like me. I realized that I’m not the only one who doesn’t know, and though I don’t expect to be able to answer the questions I asked earlier in this post with any certainty anytime soon, I do know that this space can become a sacred one. I hope to write here daily, sharing pieces of my story, and in turn, hearing pieces of yours. I know that there is so much power in telling my story, I am a writer after all, and I want to use the thing that I feel was given to me, to help others. It may seem silly, but I know this for a fact: when we stop being fearful of our own shadow, we can claim our space in the world, and thus feel less alone. Putting down the drink is the first step.