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Sober Story: Barbara

July 18th, 2019 Interviews

sunlight through the trees

This week’s Sober Story comes from Barbara, a 52-year-old living in Lower Hutt.


Mrs D: How long have you been in recovery?

Barbara: Since May/June 2011

Mrs D: What was your upbringing like with regard to alcohol?

Barbara: Up until the time I gave up, I cannot recall a time when I wasn’t drinking on a regular basis. I’m sure it started with my parents taking us to pubs and us sitting outside in the beer garden (I grew up in the UK), having a shandy or a cider as a young teenager. At home, there would be sips of this and that and wine with meals. Parties at friends as a 15+ year old was always cider and cheap fizzy wine. It became the norm to have to feel drunk in order to have a good time. This progressed onto clubbing and pubbing drinking wine, spirits, cider. Heck, when you’re drunk, you don’t regret anything right? Work involved alcoholic lunches; Sundays at mum’s progressed from a mid afternoon wine, through to sherry, wine again, liqueurs and gin.

Mrs D: Lots of alcohol growing up then, did that continue on once you got more into your 20s?

Barbara: When I went to University in my mid-twenties there was also a lot of booze. Holidays were all about booze. Working overseas was all about booze once again. It was always just part of my daily routine. I met my first husband when I was half out of my face. Come to think of it, alcohol was involved in meeting my second too. Even when I was pregnant, I had some alcohol (the odd glass here and there – to be social…)

Mrs D: When did you start thinking you needed to change?

Barbara: In 2011 just after my second marriage had ended. I found myself necking a large bottle of cider that we’d bought to share, but I was drinking it alone because I’d kicked him out. It was then that I saw the sad person I was and how much worse it could become if I carried on. I’m an all or nothing girl so I switched immediately to nothing, and it’s been that way ever since.

Mrs D: How was it for you in the early days? What was most difficult?

Barbara: Seeing everyone drinking and having to say, “no.” Not long after I stopped I went back to the UK on holiday and managed to avoid drinking completely – no mean feat with all the booze around in my family!

Mrs D: What reaction did you get from family & friends when you started getting sober?

Barbara: Surprise mainly – then acceptance.

Mrs D: Have you ever experienced a relapse?

Barbara: No, apart from when I was in on holiday once and sipped some feijoa liqueur without thinking!!

Mrs D: How long did it take for things to start to calm down  for you emotionally & physically?

Barbara: Things are still up and down – nothing to numb the pain.

Mrs D: How hard was it getting used to socialising sober?

Barbara: I still find it weird and boring. But I don’t have much choice. At least I’m saving loads of money!

Mrs D: Do you still miss it sometimes?

Barbara: Sure, of course I miss having a cold cider, a lovely glass of wine or my G&T, but I know that there’s no going back.

Mrs D: Was there anything surprising that you learned about yourself when you stopped drinking?

Barbara: I just didn’t need it anymore! I also wonder if I’d have gone back to looking for relationships rather than staying alone.

Mrs D: What are you most pleased about?

Barbara: Apart from a few teenage blips, both my young adult kids are not drinkers and I put that down to me changing my drinking habits before they could imitate me. I’ll always be thankful for that ????

Mrs D: What advice or tips would you have for those who are just starting on this journey?

Barbara: Take it one teeny tiny step at a time – and before you know it you will be arguing with someone about not wanting a drink rather than caving in!

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