‘I was a functioning drunk’

Cheryl Burke is three years sober after years as a “functioning drunk.”

The Dancing With the Stars professional, 37, opened up about her dependancy to Elizabeth Vargas on her Heart of the Matter podcast. Burke stated childhood trauma led to a string of abusive relationships and later years of utilizing alcohol to numb her emotions and deal with social nervousness.

“I’m definitely an alcoholic and addict. Absolutely. Yes. 100 percent,” Burke instructed the veteran newswoman, who’s additionally in restoration.

Burke stated she “didn’t start drinking till I was 21,” when she moved to Los Angeles to do DWTS. The self-described “introvert” stated instantly doing pink carpets and navigating fame dredged up insecurities, like questioning if folks have been solely speaking to her as a result of she was on TV. The fixed evaluation — “my brain was so crazy” — was soothed with alcohol. She began partying and it shortly grew to become a seven night time a week factor.

“I was a ballroom-by-day type girl and then party- or club-goer at night — for 10 years in a row,” she stated.

While she had great success on the present, profitable the mirror ball trophy with Drew Lachey and Emmitt Smith, throughout that point, she was “super mean to myself,” resulting in an increasing number of ingesting. Her mentality with booze was “all or nothing,” saying, “This is how I would bully my friends when I would drink with them, like, ‘Oh, you’re going home? No. Drink more.'”

As her ingesting elevated, she would attempt to set limits with herself — whether or not it was to not drink alone or solely drink after 5 p.m. — however she might by no means keep on with them. Drinking a lot on a regular basis, her tolerance was so excessive that “nothing got me drunk. I was a functioning drunk for sure.”

What she got here to comprehend is that, “I was drinking because I was numbing — and we all know that that’s a scary place… It was survival mode constantly, seven days a week for me.”

She stated she would “never take responsibility” for her ingesting. She stated anybody attempting to assist made her suspicious. “I had this saying: ‘I don’t trust people that are sober… There’s obviously some demons that they’re living.’ I was so ignorant to the fact that everything that I thought was weak is actually the most courageous thing you can possibly do.”

Burke stated she by no means “really crashed and burned,” as in — had one horrible alcoholic second that pressured her into remedy. “To me crashing and burning is that feeling of just emptiness, of feeling there’s no purpose,” she stated. “I felt disgusting. There was nothing there. I had no identity.”

She shared low factors, together with being interviewed by Diane Sawyer after a night time of partying for the Oscars. 

“I definitely reeked,” she stated of the encounter. “Ever since then… The shame started to slowly [seep in]. Because obviously I respect Diane Sawyer. That’s the last thing [I wanted].”

Burke had a lot of childhood trauma she was carrying. As she’s beforehand shared, she was sexually abused as a youngster. She’s additionally a youngster of divorce, her dad and mom break up when she was 2, and had a sophisticated relationship along with her father. Stephen Burke, who was additionally an alcoholic, died in 2018.

“I had this really weird friendship with my real dad from when I was a kid,” she stated. “[I] always felt that weird feeling of abandonment… I put him up on this pedestal and he always fricking disappointed me… He was this man that I could never feel loved by. And that was a weird addiction in itself.”

Burke felt that led to “being attracted to men that were not committed — that had dark pasts and that were abusive.” She stated she had “back to back physical and mental abusive relationships” previous to transferring to L.A.

When Stephen, a strip membership proprietor, was on his deathbed, she traveled to see him together with then-fiancé Matthew Lawrence. She recalled how her dying dad was in his hospital mattress ingesting Jack Daniels on ice, which was eye-opening.

“I knew that if I didn’t make a promise to myself to stop drinking that I was going to fall down the rabbit hole … I would crash and burn,” she stated.

Burke determined to not inform anybody, even Lawrence, whom she married in 2019, that she was going to give up ingesting, to allay any stress. “Because back then, there was no way I went one day without even having a couple of vodka sodas and lime,” she admitted.

However, when she returned from Thailand, any time she had even a little alcohol, she would have a “full on allergic reaction.” Her face would get pink and she or he’d get away in hives. “Obviously subconsciously something [happened and my body] was suddenly rejecting all this poison after drowning with it for so many years.”

She additionally had an allergic response at her engagement occasion, which grew to become the final time she ever had a drink.

She stated she broke down and had one drink to have a good time — and her physique rejected it.

“I took one fireball shot and I felt so angry,” to slide and be ingesting once more, “and broke out into hives. Then I just quit that night of our engagement party.”

She added, “Thank God for the hives because I don’t know if I’d be here today.”

Burke stated being sober has confirmed her what was lacking inside, together with “self respect, self love, self esteem, and just that peace.” And it is modified her life in so some ways. “All of a sudden, I’ve been very interested in online courses. I was a horrible student when I was in school, but now I’m so curious. I’m so clear headed… I am busy, busy, busy, because my new drug is productivity.”

Burke additionally shared that she depends on mediation (a sort referred to as Ziva), and remedy thrice a week. She additionally began going to Alcoholics Anonymous conferences throughout the pandemic on the recommendation of her former DWTS associate AJ McLean with whom she now hosts a podcast, Pretty Messed Up.