Sarah Pretorius works a day job as a marketing manager for a well-being startup, but since 2017, she has also allowed her creative side to blossom by sharing her poetry with the world.
“For a long time, I tried to hide my more artistic side because I wanted to fit into a certain set of expectations that I think, unknowingly and unintentionally, were given to me by my parents and by graduating from college and thinking you have to fit into this very structured, professional working environment where certain aspects of your story didn’t have a place and you couldn’t show them,” Sarah says.
Although Sarah now shares her poetry publicly on social media, her venture back into writing began from a place of personal need for a way to heal. She began to journal during some of the most difficult, darkest times of her life, and those journal entries began to inspire poetry.
Sarah reflects on and identifies with these words by Rumi, a Persian poet: “Your wound is a place where the light comes in.”
For Sarah, poetry has become a way for her to share her struggles, including an unhealthy relationship she had with alcohol throughout her teenage years and into her twenties. This struggle, Sarah discovered, stemmed from deep-rooted insecurities and caused shame, guilt and friction in relationships in her life.
“Alcohol was a way for me to numb out some of the internal turmoil I was feeling and to escape the present moment,” Sarah says. “Using all of that and knowing how much shame I carried as a result of my drinking and as a result of the things I might have said, the tensions I caused or the feelings I might have hurt — I want to spare other women that.”
Now, Sarah uses her art to encourage other women who might face the same issues.
“I’m grateful to use my experience — as scary as it’s been — to share this so publicly,” Sarah says. “It’s been easier to have the medium of poetry be my form to share this side of my story with people.”
Beyond sharing her poetry online, Sarah has also built a community centered around choosing a sober conscious lifestyle. She also offers resources and coaching to provide support for those who need it, focusing on steps such as self-forgiveness, self-compassion and self-awareness.
“It’s given me such encouragement to continue the work that I’m doing and to take what I call sober conscious coaching and mentorship to the next level [and] to build community among women who have experiences similar issues,” Sarah says. “Knowing what it would have meant to me as a woman in my early twenties and really not having a clue that my relationship with alcohol was even a problem, [I hope] to support women in similar circumstances [so they do] not have to go through a lot of what I did and [they can] obtain that level of self-awareness and freedom to live the life they deserve.”
Sarah also hopes to break down the stigma surrounding sobriety through being open about her own struggles.
“If someone tells you that they’re sober and that’s the lifestyle that they’re choosing, [people think], ‘Oh, this girl must have been a hot mess. She must have real issues, she must have a few DUIs under her belt, she must have been fired from a job,’ and, at least in my case, that was never true,” Sarah says.
She also emphasizes that, for women struggling with their own relationships with alcohol, there are ways to grow. Sarah encourages women to focus first on shifting their perceptions of themselves and to find resources that work for them, whether that is a podcast, book, support group or something else.
“You are not alone, honey,” Sarah says. “You are not alone. It’s been fascinating how many women and friends I had no idea were struggling with alcohol have come and shared their story with me and asked me for resources.”
Currently, Sarah is preparing to publish her first poetry collection, “Love me into Oblivion.” She also hopes to continue to help other women through sharing her own story.
“I want my future to be more of that — more of sharing my truth to help other women uncover theirs and uncover the beauty that’s possible when they align what they want out of life with who they truly are,” Sarah says.
To learn more about Sarah and to check out some of her poetry, follow her on Instagram @sarah_pretor. For additional resources about how to live a sober conscious lifestyle and to subscribe to her monthly newsletter, visit Sarah’s website.
“Women are natural multidimensional beings,” Sarah says. “Whether it’s our families or society or certain systems we exist in that try to define us, [they] can’t. I love the concept that ‘she can be both’ highlights: that women cannot be defined solely by their professional title, what they do nine-to-five or what their role is at home. We have endless amounts of titles and we have no bounds.”