JOEY'S STORY

BY PERSIA

Growing up in the North of England, Joey was a strong character at school - considered a bit controversial amongst her peers as a result of her drinking and involvement with boys from the age of 12, or thereabouts. 

She was always drawn to the rough, pot-smoking rebellious guys from volatile backgrounds, and spent her weekends hanging out in their garages (this was the life).

Although she was complicit in much of the unruliness, a lot of energy went into trying to straighten her bad boys out so they could embody the potential she bestowed upon them. 

Drunken misdemeanours led to more drinking, rebellion and further misdemeanours. The circle was, well… vicious.

Drinking for Joey had always been the perfect vehicle for misbehaving with the opposite sex, and this continued well in to her 20s. 

As with many young women, the line between being complicit in and being taken advantage of was – at times – a blurry one.

At the age of 18, Joey was accepted into the prestigious Drama Centre London to train as an actress. Although on different courses, our paths crossed on a trip to New York with some mutual friends, where we bonded instantly over our mutual obsession with partying and toxic romance. We returned to London firm friends, and moved in together a year later.

After the demise of her most stable relationship to date (a bad boy slowly turned good under Joey’s supervision), she soon fell madly in lust with the most conventional man she’d ever met – much to her parents' relief. 

He was extremely career focused, and so Joey happily put in enough effort for the two of them – falling into obsession and denial, and failing completely to be present in her own life.

Our friendship suffered as a result, as (like me), when Joey entered in to a new relationship, friends were often swiftly pushed aside.

Inevitably, she was soon kicked to the curb, and with no one to focus her energy on, her self-destructiveness went into full flow.

Shortly after her break-up, Joey found herself in a period where an alarming number of married men began pursuing her. It struck her as no coincidence – she was obviously giving off the air of a girl willing to engage in illicit affairs. 

Both the attention boost – and the fact that there could never be a real commitment – were appealing after her recent heartbreak.

Aside from interact from the ‘husbands’ at this time, she was simultaneously involved with a sex addict, a cocaine abuser and a ‘nice guy’ (who was of least interest to her, naturally). 

Joey had always enjoyed a good drinking session, but it was her ‘man junkie’ habits that threw her life into regular disarray. In relationships, she was top of the class at putting her boyfriend’s interests and needs first. 

So keen at times to stay in relationships that were – in hindsight - no good for her at all, on several occasions, she even secretly willed herself to fall pregnant – simply to get her man to stay put. 

Her sense of self was so disconnected that the bearing a child might have on her future (particularly with a completely unsuitable father figure) failed to register at all.

Numerous events during late 2011/12 led Joey to try cutting out alcohol for the foreseeable future.

Immediately after toying with this as an option, true to the ancient Buddhist saying, “When the student’s ready, the teacher appears,” she met a guy who had been sober in AA for 4 years. The bond between them was nothing to write home about, but the lessons it taught Joey were life-changing.

Fast-forward 6 months, and after yet another break-up (which ironically occurred on the exact same day that my own relationship ended), Joey felt resolute that enough was enough: She would not fall back into her old reckless behaviour, but use this painful experience to change herself and her life. 

For the first time ever, she didn’t turn to her usual fixes of men, alcohol and partying in order to make herself feel better, but instead decided to try and find happiness from within. 

Giving up drinking threw up lots for Joey, and she soon found herself at a complete loss in social situations, feeling tongue-tied and insecure. 

But she was determined to enjoy life without the assistance of mind-altering substances. Drink had been such a crutch that she found herself needing to learn how to interact without it.

But learn, she did.

Today, Joey is continuing on her journey of sobriety and healthy relationships (in fact, in 2015 she got married) and can happily reel off a lengthy list of the benefits both have brought so far. 

Enjoying married life with her husband Luke in north-west London, she now has a healthy focus on herself and surrounds herself with people and experiences that enhance her life, rather than drain it.