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Africa Brooke on sobriety and sexuality

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A glass of wine in one hand and a makeup brush in the other before the party even starts. Holding a drink in her hand at all times and feeling unlike herself without one. The intimacy of someone cutting up lines and passing the plate around a room full of nameless faces. These were all rituals that 26-year-old Africa Brooke used to find so romantic. Rituals she had to grieve and leave behind to live in clarity.

Africa still lives with these memories, but more than 800 days into her sobriety, no longer sees these as warm moments. Instead, she believes everything positive in her life is a result of her sobriety. Today, Africa is a mindset coach using her platform on Instagram to advocate for sober living and holistic self-development, and has even started a sexual wellness company.

 

Africa Brooke by Adam Barnett

Image credit: Africa Brooke by Adam Barnett

She beams with pride at the mention of her Instagram hashtag, #SobrietyIsRebellious. Rebellion used to remind Africa of self-destruction. She says: “Rebellion was going out on a binge for five days and telling my family I could do what I wanted and no one could tell me what to do”. It involved causing chaos, a consequence of her alcoholism. Chaos would come up in the form of lying to those close to her, cheating on partners, and even kleptomania in her early teens.

Today, embodying rebellion has a totally new meaning to her, one that has empowered her. She says: “For me, rebellion is choosing not to drink but still being able to party and having just as much fun. It’s being able to have sex and know what my body is doing. It’s not having to wake up next to a stranger. I think when you go against the grain in any kind of way, when you go against a norm in a way that is beneficial to you, that is rebellion”.

She often reminds her 7,000 followers that her path to sobriety was not an easy one. After an eight-year struggle with drug and alcohol abuse, Africa’s early sobriety felt “hollow”. The first year of her sobriety was one of incredible loneliness, triggered by the social aspect of recovery. She says: “It was very difficult for me because it was the bonding glue of all my social situations and interactions with people. I mean every single one, there would always be a drink. Once you take that away, you start to see that you haven’t given yourself the opportunity to know anyone beyond that, so it was very lonely”.

Africa also speaks of finding herself after almost a decade of substance abuse. She says: “I had to get to know myself all over again”. This involved replacing her old habits with new ones like journaling, reading and taking herself out on dates to galleries. These were activities Africa held close to her heart, but avoided doing as she “would be too hungover or on a comedown”.

Finding herself also meant nurturing loving friendships and cutting out toxic ones. She finds that in the past, she held on to friends that had “partied the same way” as her. She distanced herself from those who judged those habits and made sure they did not spot her behaviours. She says: “Now that I’m able to think clearly, I am able to see that those were my actual friends”.

Going sober gave Africa clarity in all aspects of her life. She says: “When I got sober a lot of things came to the surface which naturally happens when you go through some kind of detox of sorts. All the gross shit comes to the surface”.

Africa realised she was not only recovering from alcoholism, but also from large amounts of sexual shame. She says: “When I stopped drinking, all the shame would come up because I would look back to some of the things I had done. I would think back to the fact that I have never connected with someone in a more sensual way; it has always been kind of a replication of porn”.

At a young age in a Christian household, Africa harnessed shame surrounding sex and was not exposed to healthy intimacy such as her parents holding hands. She began learning about sex from pornography and it “created a blueprint” on how she should perform sexually. She also “cemented the belief that alcohol and sex go hand in hand”, causing most of her sexual experiences from the age of 14 to reflect this. “I would end up in very risky and dangerous situations when I was drinking. I only really ever had sex when I was drinking… I had a very unhealthy relationship with sex in my teens. I never had sex that I actually enjoyed”, says Africa.

Sobriety led Africa on a journey to “heal” her sexuality and to advocate for including the topic of sex in recovery conversations. Africa began exploring non-conventional sex and reading about tantric sex “which is more intentional, which is more connected, which is more focused on female pleasure”. She would have conversations with her girlfriends on the topic but was unhappy when these conversations stopped there. She wanted to help others “heal” their sexuality. She says: “I was thinking, how can I make the conversation carry on beyond these spaces? How can we include more voices into the conversation? And at the time it wasn’t as profound as what it might sound like, it was just similar feeling to when I was getting sober. The similar feeling of like, no one is talking about this, so where do I go from here?”.

This led her to start The Cherry Revolution in 2017, a sexual wellness company that seeks to break the shame surrounding women, identity and sexuality by “making shameless pleasure a priority”. The company hosts workshops and offers 1:1 empowerment coaching, whilst advocating for radical sex education. She says: “We are all doing it, so we might as well talk about it so that we can get the help that we need if there are any pains, but also so we can get the pleasure we deserve”.

The Cherry Revolution’s house mantra became “Death To Faking It”, in regards to women faking orgasms. She says: “The overarching idea is that we don’t need to fake our pleasure. We don’t need to participate in the male gaze and to make our bodies act in a way that they don’t want to. And that’s how it kind of started. Through pain, it ended being something so powerful.”

Join The Cherry Revolution here.

Find more information and advice on drug addiction here.




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