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Laura McKowen on the ‘Magic’ of Sobriety

Laura McKowen author of ‘We Are the Luckiest’ shares her journey to sobriety. 

Courtesy of Laura McKowen

When author Laura McKowen first struggled with her addiction to alcohol, she felt she was anything but lucky. She thought people who could drink socially were the lucky ones. In her new book, We Are the Luckiest, the author says  that she now feels lucky to be living sober.

McKowen, who has more than 50,000 Instagram followers, is known in recovery circles for sharing her experiences with drinking and her journey to sobriety with honesty and vulnerability. She has shared hundreds of stories, blog posts and podcasts. McKowen says the book is not just about sobriety.

“This is a book about my experience in getting sober from alcohol, but it is really a book for anyone who comes up against big pain or [a] struggle that they cannot seem to overcome,” McKowen told Guideposts.org.

McKowen said she liked alcohol in her mid-twenties, but drinking was normalized, especially in her public relations career. It wasn’t until 2013, after separating from her husband and realizing her drinking was causing problems for her young daughter, that McKowen went to her first Alcoholics Anonymous meeting.

“It was my first sort of formal step towards sobriety, and then I didn’t actually get sober until September 2014,” McKowen said. “It was a full year plus that I was struggling…really wrestling with giving up what I thought was a very big part of my life.”

McKowen said she viewed sobriety as a kind of “death sentence” that would ruin her social life, career and chance at finding love. It forced her, instead, to finally reckon with the damage her drinking had caused. She realized then how lucky she was to be sober.

“There was no dramatic turning point,” McKowen explained. “My turning point was more of just a pure exhaustion. It was just, I can’t feel this way ever again. I couldn’t imagine ever feeling that anxiety of the day after drinking again.”

One idea that helped her on her path to sobriety was taking it one day at a time. McKowen told herself that if she wanted to drink tomorrow she would deal with it then.

“I erased the notion of forever because [the idea that I would never drink again] filled me with so much despair,” she said.

Another thing that helped was, as she put it, “burning all the boats.”

“I was talking to someone recently who said, ‘If you want to stay on the Island, you got to burn all the boats,’” McKowen said. “And I burned all the boats. All these little sneaky ways that I was still hiding or working to keep drinking in my life, like not really being honest with people about where I stood with sobriety.”

McKowen also temporarily removed herself from situations she associated with drinking: concerts, happy hours, dates, changing her route home so she didn’t pass her neighborhood liquor store. She also relied on her faith.

“When I can remember God, when I can remember that I am held in favor in this, in grace [than] I can get perspective that is so necessary to be okay even in really difficult and turbulent times,” McKowen said.

Six years after she stepped foot in her first AA meeting, McKowen has left her job in the public relations industry and dedicated herself to her passions of writing and recovery education. The sobriety she once feared would ruin her life, she now views as magical.

“I thought that it would be a small life and a very sad life,” she said. “And it’s exactly the opposite. Everything that I really wanted all along, which is a direct experience of life and to be able to feel everything completely and to be able to access my joy and my potential, that was all in sobriety, it was never in drinking.”

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