Kristie Sparksman on Alcohol Addiction
Kristie Sparksman describes herself as abundantly human … a lighthouse of love that will be launching a new platform called @youhavebaggage in 2020. She also wrote an essay for us on OHH a few weeks back about her own spiritual awakening. Today, she’s going back and sharing even more of her own story. This time, about moving beyond alcohol addiction through energy work, meditation, and more. Let’s dig in.
What was your childhood like? There was both a ton of joy and a ton of struggle. My mom and dad divorced when I was quite young, with my dad moving to Hong Kong to pursue his career. They both remarried and my brother and I welcomed two half sisters into our siblingship through my mom’s new marriage. I was the eldest of the four and naturally assumed the role of responsibility and caretaker. My mom had me when she was 20 and was still very much a child herself while navigating my growth through this world. She had low self esteem and also blamed my dad for things which ultimately shaped my view of him until my early twenties. Her depression seeped into me as well and I grew up believing that I wasn’t worthy of love, like she believed of herself.
I excelled at school which led to a series of psychological exams for advanced placement. Once I was given special treatment, I started getting bullied which led to my switching schools and knocked my self esteem down. I stopped caring about standing out and being me and starting caring about fitting in and seeking approval from peers. I was a social chameleon, easily influenced by my environment no matter what it was. Coupled with my unstable home life and you have yourself some rough waters.
On the positive, my life was filled with fun activities (sports, girl guides, crafts, reading) and the most wicked grandparents on both sides. We did tons of camping and I helped my grandpa tend to his garden. One of my favourite memories is digging up potatoes and screaming with laughter when we’d accidentally slice one with the shovel. With three siblings it’s like you have three automatic friends so we had tons of fun with each other too. My brother and I are super close in age so we shared a big friend group with tons of overlapping birthday parties, always with cakes made and decorated by our mom. She was and remains an incredibly creative force who loves us so much.
“Alcohol became my closest friend, my savior. It was there for me when nobody else was. It let me feel nothingness and didn’t judge me. It dutifully poisoned me until I was dull, only to whisper the next morning that I couldn’t live without it.”
Can you share your experience with alcohol addiction? I started working in the restaurant industry when I was 18. It started off as fun and games, but the growing drum beat of not being good enough was escalating inside. Like a self fulfilling prophecy, my outer world confirmed this belief over and over. Alcohol became my closest friend, my savior. It was there for me when nobody else was. It let me feel nothingness and didn’t judge me. It dutifully poisoned me until I was dull, only to whisper the next morning that I couldn’t live without it. Nobody knew I was suffering as badly as I was. I started taking anti-depressants while also maintaining my overindulgence. It was a mess. I was a mess.
My world was filled with drinking as the norm, the way, the thing to do. All my friends drank. Most of them worked in the industry. Nobody had any clue this turmoil was going on inside of me, or if they did, it wasn't discussed. I also got better at hiding it. I don't blame anyone. Who has the tools for that big of a talk? So on I went, poisoning, numbing, running. I told myself this was a right of passage. Normal. And society confirmed that. Everyone I knew drank but nobody was drinking the way I was.
I have blacked out on an 8 AM flight to Vegas. I have woken up fully clothed on a bench in the park across from my apartment. I have been grabbed and touched without wanting it because I was too drunk to verbalize no. I have binged away days at a time in black nothingness. I have woken up in a different city without really remembering how I got there. I have lost 4 phones, a passport, 3 wallets, my purse, my dignity, my ability to ask for help. I have let myself down time and time again only to continue doing more of the same. I have lived most of my life in a thick fog of shame.
In the months leading up to my quitting, I threw up every time I drank. Every. Time. It didn't matter if it was 2 beers, 5 beers, bourbon on the rocks, a glass of wine, a bottle of wine. My body rejected it. How smart of our bodies to let us know with subtle (and not so subtle) clues that it wants us to listen. This was a wake up call, a coup de grâce for my attention. And this time I heard clearly. My last drink ever was a lime gose beer on June 3, 2018 at a craft beer festival. The event was during the day and by 4 PM I was swirling drunk. I got home and collapsed in a pile of overwhelm. As I laid there in the blazing early evening sun, I heard the gentle voice from within telling me that it was time. I threw up. I woke up on June 4, 2018 and haven't touched it since. Nor will I ever again.
I recently looked back at journal entries I’d written as far back as 2016. In them, I pour my soul out about how much alcohol was messing with me. Every few months, I started a new plan to stop and each entry saw my tone of voice get softer and gentler. I was being nice to myself instead of ruthlessly beating myself up like I used to. This is what I believe ultimately saved me — learning to love myself by dealing with unstuck energies lingering throughout my body and in the deep crevasse of my subconscious mind.
What holistic healing modalities / tools have been the most helpful for you? I’ve been on a highly holistic overhaul for many years, but something that stuck out as being a game changer was energy work. Learning how connected the mind and body truly are was outstanding to my healing. When I started to practice focused breathing, visualization, and yoga positions attuned with chakra healing, my whole being shifted. I learned that we are all just made up of energy and that interacting with others’ energies all days can affect us so much. I learned to ground myself; to meditate and visualize deep roots plugging into the Earth when I felt overwhelmed. Dr. Sue Morter is someone I came across years back and her lessons have had a profound impact on my daily routine, my energetic focus, and the level of intimacy I share between my higher self and my human being self.
“How smart of our bodies to let us know with subtle (and not so subtle) clues that it wants us to listen.”
What led you to these modalities / tools? Since about 2015 I’ve been exploring myself avidly. Along this path, I discovered so many fascinating books and mentors who lived the life I’d always wanted. I absorbed their lessons like a sponge, always thirsty for more. At first I dealt with the physical and more widely accepted modalities: nutrients and diet, sleep science, exercise, but then as my spiritual awakening intensified, I found myself reaching for something that aligned with my soul’s healing and not just my human form.
Are there any challenges that you have experienced so far in your healing journey? Being understood by other people (which I have released the need for) was something big at the beginning. Because of my past of needing acceptance, I felt completely alone and naked when I came out of the spiritual closet. Learning to trust myself and believe the voice calling from within was a massive, massive accomplishment that I only recently sunk into. I know what is best for me, just as you know what’s best for you, etc. I believe we’ve all been conditioned so deeply to forget our own power in order to be sold to, convinced of, and depleted into accepting life as it is. But oh my is there ever an abundance of magic!
“Learning to trust myself and believe the voice calling from within was a massive, massive accomplishment.”
How can the people in your life best support you during and beyond healing? The biggest feeling I had in the throes of quitting was guilt. Guilt over not knowing how to respond to people. Guilt over letting my problem go this far. Shame over having hid my struggles this whole time. Shame over who I had let myself become.
Holding space for someone to thrash and kick without trying to interject and fix is so important and something our entire society should practice. Our brains just want to fix, fix, fix — not their fault, they are wired to do so. The people who were able to say to me “Look, I don’t know what you’re going through, but I’m going to love you through to the other side anyways” are the ones who you want around, and the ones who I’m most grateful for. Empathy is everything. Sitting in the dark with someone without making it about you is unbelievably hard but incredibly powerful.
How are you feeling these days? Blessed. For the pain, for the growth, for the tears, for the days I wanted to die, for the days I could barely eat, for the days I gave up, for the days I thought would never end. They shaped me. They created this right here, this person who trusts and feels and loves herself in an immeasurable way. I’ve never felt peace in the ways that I do. I’ve never believed deeper than in my own energy and intuition, the very voices I tried to drown out with alcohol alongside my demons. I am so grateful for everything I’ve gone through. It feels as though I have taken my first steps in this new life and am gathering momentum towards something big. I have an unquenchable desire to help other people so that is where I’m headed.
The Energy Codes by Dr. Sue Morter.
A Course in Mastering Alchemy by Jim Self (he has both an online course and book — I have taken the book-led course).
Alexandra-Jo Hastings is someone I look to and admire and although she doesn’t have a book, she is an incredible asset to me just through Instagram.