Adrienne Abella is the owner of Little Black Diamond, a clothing company selling eclectic, sustainably produced festival clothing and rave wear. We connected with Adrienne over a shared love of live music, dancing, and good times sans alcohol. We recently chatted with Adrienne about her journey with alcohol. Here's our conversation:
What’s your history with alcohol? What was your relationship with it like before you decided to make a change?
I thought I was being rebellious, wild, and adventurous with my drinking. But my history with alcohol was dangerous and toxic, and I am thankful to be alive today.
I was good at hiding it. I masked the toxicity of my behavior by being the life of the party—dancing, laughing, making sure everyone was having a good time. It wasn’t what typical “alcoholic behavior” looked like. I didn’t reach for the bottle every morning of every day, just on weekends (and sometimes weekdays) when I went out with friends. It didn’t start off this bad. It was cumulative, my drinking addiction worsened as I got older.
Most people can go out to dinner and have one glass of wine with their meal. Not me. Once I start drinking, I won’t stop until I black out.
What led to you deciding to change your relationship with alcohol?
I quit drinking because I was about to lose the love of my life.
It got bad at the end. We would argue as I struggled to find sanity in my poison haze, forgetting the words I had just spewed seconds earlier, as he'd snatch my car keys out of my hand.
I would wake up in places I didn’t remember going to with random injuries, and of course a hangover so bad it felt like my head was splitting.
I didn’t love myself back then. But I loved him. And I finally realized how badly my behavior was hurting both of us.
Now I understand fully that this journey is for me. And though the process of healing and growth never ends, I finally do love myself, but it started because I was so deeply in love with my partner, and I still am.
What did you hope to get out of altering your use of alcohol?
I wasn’t just about to lose my relationship, I was going to lose my business. Being a small business owner is hard work, and there’s no way you can show up and steer the ship when you’re constantly hungover.
I knew deep down that I had a problem, but I was too scared to quit. I knew it would be hard, I knew it would be messy and I knew that my life would change dramatically—but the unknown of what that change would be scared me the most. The uncertainty and crippling self doubt of it all. Could I even quit? Was it possible to live a fulfilling life without booze?
Spoiler alert: The answer is yes. Abso-fucking-lutely.
Has choosing to be more mindful about your drinking had an effect on your life? If so, how?
I gave up booze for good on August 8, 2019. This date is actually known as the Lion’s Gate in Western astrology, and was also celebrated by the Ancient Egyptians as the New Year. I didn’t plan my sobriety date this way, this is just how it happened.
The greatest effect quitting alcohol has had on my life is that I deeply love, accept and forgive myself in all my flawed humanness. It is an ongoing process, but I finally understand that drinking does not make me rebellious—radically loving myself is what makes me a true rebel in a world where we are constantly being told we are not enough.
Do you ever feel pressured to drink by other people? What do you do in those sorts of situations?
When I first quit drinking, of course there was some awkwardness with the friends I would party with. Some of them even expressed that they missed the “old me.” Upon hearing these sentiments, a sacred rage lit within my heart. I very loudly and publicly proclaimed that a real fucking friend celebrates your growth and applauds when you make positive changes in your life. After I made this known, people either respected and supported my lifesaving decision to quit or they wilted away out of my circles.
What do you do in situations where drinking is expected, such as parties, etc? How do you deal with people questioning why you’re not drinking?
The rule is: Stay hydrated. I always bring water and a fun non-alcoholic beverage to the fray, and I keep my drink in hand 99.9% of the time. Psychedelic Water is my top drink of choice anytime I want to vibe higher.
Also, if the vibes are off, just bail. I used to linger in places that definitely didn’t serve my best interests. I could sense this, but drank alcohol to squash my instincts and stayed out past sunrise with people who were just as lost as I was.
I am very public about my journey with sobriety, so my friends already know what the deal is. But when I meet someone who asks why I’m not drinking, I smile widely and proudly tell them the truth: that I’m a massive fucking alcoholic, and that I’ve already drank more than enough in this lifetime, and maybe even the next.
Thanks so much for sharing your story with us, Adrienne. Is there anything else you want to add?
Whew, that felt like a therapy session! Thank you so much for this opportunity to share my story.
Psychedelic Water means so much to me because it gives the perfect vibe boost while still being totally healthy and keeping my sobriety pact intact. I’ve never tried a drink I’ve enjoyed more (except maybe actual water).
Check out Adrienne's clothing company, Little Black Diamond, and read more of her musings on sobriety in her recent blog post How to Be Sober at a Festival.