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Building Your Own Community: Kate Baily’s Story
by Carmen McCrackin | ❘
- Recovery Stories
Kate Baily’s Journey To Sobriety
When Kate Baily stopped drinking, she didn’t consider herself “in recovery.” Not yet, at least. Around 10 years ago, when Baily began this journey, there wasn’t a positive public recovery movement in the UK for her to lean into for support. At that time, the drinking narrative in the UK was so pervasive that not even the doctors could appropriately address Baily’s concerns and needs. When Baily spoke of her concerns with physicians, they would minimize her worries or tell her they even had a drink or two a night. At this time in her life, Baily had little support.
“I feel very strongly about how little support women have, especially when you’ve had children, those big rites of passage. We have mental health spikes and mental health challenges. That certainly happened with me, whether it was the hormonal piece or the extra care load or loss of identity. Those tools I had been using over the years had fallen away, so I was very much left with almost just me and wine.”
Baily constantly wondered if she was an alcoholic, even though her drinking habits never indicated alcohol abuse. It would take years for Baily to be in the right place at the right time to begin her journey to sobriety. In her experience, there was not a singular moment that made her switch to sobriety; it was the accumulation of so many things all at once.
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Kate Baily Redefines “Rock Bottom”
Baily did not experience a traditional “rock bottom.” She had been in a “destructive relationship with alcohol for years,” but she was still trying to make moderation work for her. She surrounded herself with rules about when, where, and how she would drink. She vowed not to keep alcohol in the house and would not go out to drink when her kids were home. While she aptly tried to moderate her drinking, she was getting exhausted by the cycle.
One night, after her children were asleep, she began decorating her house, as she so often enjoyed doing. While it was her rule not to keep alcohol in the house, some friends had brought a bottle as a gift. Her husband was away then, and her children were safely tucked in bed, so she decided a drink or two would be fine. While nothing particularly eventful happened that night, this experience led Baily to a wormhole of anxiety upon waking the following day.
“I woke up at 3 in the morning, as you do, with heart palpitations and that familiar feeling of dread. The night was fuzzy, and I began thinking, “what would have happened if [the children] needed me?” I would call the ambulance or the neighbors, but I wouldn’t have been able to help,” Baily said.
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These thoughts propelled Baily to research if she was an alcoholic “for about the millionth time,” and the sober online forum Soberistas popped up. Baily only needed the opportunity and space to give up drinking. No longer would she wake up in the middle of the night with alcohol-induced heart palpitations; she had found a support group of sober and sober-curious individuals sharing similar experiences. She wrote her first blog post on Soberistas, and the warm, supportive comments came flooding in. Soberistas allowed Baily to thoroughly examine her relationship with alcohol without feeling ashamed or ostracized.
The Power Of Support
During her sobriety journey, Kate Baily was living in a new town and trying to make a friendship group among the mothers she knew from her children’s school, but she discovered that so many relationships centered around drinking. Many mothers Baily knew would socialize with alcohol or joke about making it to “wine-o-clock” to decompress after a hard day. For Baily and many others, the sober community was “the key” for her. Soberistas provided Baily with the community and support to express her doubts and fears without judgment.
Baily’s husband also supported her decision to quit drinking, but she did not tell him initially. Baily believed that her sobriety was “hers,” and she didn’t need to explain herself yet. She was also “scared of being a burden” to him; she didn’t want him to feel “any pressure” to stop drinking for her sake. However, as she was spending more time on the computer, she figured it was time to tell him.
“I was worried he would being to think I was cheating on him because I was spending so much time online on sober forums,” Baily laughs.
While it is essential in recovery to be surrounded by supportive loved ones, that might not always be attainable all of the time. Baily uses the term “green people” and “red people” to indicate which individuals in her life are supportive and which may present challenges to her sobriety. For example, those in sober communities can be labeled green, while some of her friends may be marked as red.
“My best mates might not be “green people” for that particular thing, and I may not be ready to have that conversation with them yet…That doesn’t mean they’re not my close mates,” Baily said.
Baily explains that the indicators of “green” and “red” people are subject to change as we do. As we grow and adapt, the individuals we surround ourselves with will also need to grow and adapt. Baily credits having a supportive community as a major proponent of her successful recovery.
Healing Through Community
Co-founder of the Love Sober podcast, co-author of Love Yourself Sober, mother of two, and holistic midlife and sober coach, Kate Baily has dedicated her life to empowering and supporting women, specifically women in midlife. Through her work as an International Coaching Federation (ICF) life coach, a menopause doula in training, a She Recovers coach and an addictive behaviors specialist coach, Baily has transformed her lived experience into practical and holistic tools that other women can use. While her journey with sobriety has not been easy, Baily is grateful for what it has opened her eyes to.
“Layer upon layer, I find [life] more exciting, more fulfilling, more joyful, and it hasn’t been a bed of roses,” Baily said, “We’ve had the pandemic, bereavements, redundancies, children going through the criminal justice system; it is not this perfect kind of Nirvana life, but I just can’t believe how amazing it is… I think sobriety or recovery can give you the tools to hold all of those multiple truths that things can be really tough but they can be really amazing all at the same time.”
Carmen McCrackin earned a B.A. in Journalism from the University of Auburn and has over 4 years of professional writing experience. Her passion for writing and educating others led her to a career in journalism with a focus on mental health and social justice topics. Her main mission is to be a platform for all voices and stories, and to provide tangible resources to those seeking recovery for themselves or loved ones.
- More from Carmen McCrackin
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