Happy, proud and satisfied

woman driving a car

I had one of those classic ‘couldn’t do this if I was still boozing’ parenting moments the other day. Our 9-year-old had a friend over for a sleepover and late in the evening (around 9.30pm) we were interrupted in the living room by a little boy in tears saying, "I want to go home!" Poor wee fella.

I phoned his mum and because she was in bed already offered to drive him home. "Are you sure?" she asked. "No problem," I said, "I just want him to be happy." So in the car we hopped - me in my socks! - and I drove him the two minutes back to his house.

His mum met us outside the front of their house in her dressing gown and was extremely grateful. Little did she know that the entire time I was driving over there all I could think was how GREAT it was I could actually do this! I was mentally high-fiving myself all the way! Look at clever sober me driving the car at night - in the DARK!!

This simply wouldn’t have been possible in my former boozy life. Eight and a half years ago you’d likely find me on the sofa with at least a bottle of wine in my belly. No way would I have been able to drive.

Actually it’s more than that. There is also probably no way that I would have been so sympathetic to this little boy’s emotions. How could I have been? I was so completely cut off from my own emotions I didn’t have a lot of space inside me to accommodate other people’s.

I’m still fascinated by the fact that I had absolutely no idea I was an emotion avoider while I was boozing. I thought I was simply an ageing party girl who needed to break a nasty little drinking habit. It wasn’t until I took my beloved wine away and got so goddam emotional that I realised what my life-long drinking habit had done to me as a person.

Drinking steadily and heavily from age 15 to age 39 had left me with no real emotional coping skills. To put it bluntly I just wasn’t good at dealing with shit. After I got sober my anger would come out of me in intense outbursts. My sadness would overwhelm me. Low-grade stress would feel like a full-blown panic attack. Mild disappointment would hit like unbearable grief. I was an ill-formed toddler wrapped up in the (lumpy) body of a grown woman.

Only by living sober week after week and experiencing my emotions in all their raw glory have I gotten better at dealing with shit. But it has taken quite a while and a lot of practice. I’ve had to keep not drinking and allow myself the time and space to live and grow. I’ve had to experience, recover from and forgive myself for numerous anger outbursts, down days, and knee-jerk reactions. And slowly over time I've got better at navigating my reactions to life events. I’ve got better at being a fully-fledged, fully-emotional human being. I've calmed right down.

So, nowadays when I’m faced with a tearful 9-year-old wanting to return to his own bed, I’m not thinking; “how annoying, wish he could just suck this up and go to sleep, I don’t want to move, how am I going to deal with this?”. Instead I’m thinking, “Poor fella has had a lot of change in his life recently, his mum did tell me he’s been experiencing nightmares, he’s obviously feeling a little shaky emotionally, it’s probably embarrassing for him that he’s breaking down at his friend’s house, I’ll do what I can to make him feel ok and safe again.”

Getting sober has not only calmed me down and made me much more attuned to myself (such a great feeling!), it’s also freed me up to be more empathetic and considerate of other people’s feelings. I love this. It makes me feel so good.

So here I am driving at night, mentally high-fiving myself for being so present and reliable, feeling great that I am helping a fellow human (especially a young one navigating their way through childhood), and feeling proud of myself!! Such happy emotions! A real buzz.

The buzz continued when, safely back on my sofa again, I received a text from the boy’s mum which said “Thank you, that was above and beyond. xx”

I’m telling you, if you could bottle the buzzy, happy, proud, satisfied feeling I had in that moment and sell it, you’d make far more money than anyone peddling shit booze ever could.

Mrs D xxx

16 Comments
  1. truthangel 6 days ago

    it makes me remember when I a friend of my son for a sleep over. They would have both been 10yrs. He complained of a sore tummy and I rang up his mother. She asked me what they had for dinner and it was bolognais followed with ice cream. She told me it would be the ice cream because he got stomach aches when he had a cold food like ice cream after eating hot food. She told me that he knows better and should have waited. he said he wanted to go home so she came over and picked him up. Of course i was drinking wine at the computer. never thought anything of it at the time. thought it was normal. looking back 10 years later and being Alcohol free for 9 months, it’s not. I knew I couldn’t drive and the poor boy was picked up by his mother who acted annoyed towards him. It wasn’t good in sober hindsight. Just wished I had stopped when my kids were young but can’t roll back time.

  2. MissMuffin 7 days ago

    Day 1 for me and your blog pretty much captures it for me. I need to be present for my 9yo son and husband. And to stop avoiding difficult emotions!

  3. Nikki 1 week ago

    At the beginning of my journey, I absolutely identify with this, so helpful and such a relief to not feel alone and ashamed.

  4. Nora 1 week ago

    I am almost finished reading your book. I’m so happy to have found you, Mrs. D. Even though our stories don’t have much in common, you are a great writer and I am having a hard time putting your book down. Million thanks!❤

  5. Noodle71 1 week ago

    Great story, simple but so true x just being available and actually being someone that can make a difference to others is huge for reformed drinkers. Drink keeps us so insular, so selfish, all we care about is keeping our addiction fed and on shut down emotionally to not only ourselves but everyone around us, even ones that should mean the world to us. I too am getting so much enjoyment and satisfaction in just doing the basics for others, just because I can, I’ve not been able to for so many years, it’s huge xxx

  6. Lovenlight 2 weeks ago

    Lovely, it’s truly a gift. Thank you for sharing.

  7. craftygirl 2 weeks ago

    Just what I needed to read. Great inspiration.

  8. connilynn 2 weeks ago

    What a great story! And the best part is how aware you are of yourself and your tender heart and your capacity for empathy. This touched me deeply.

  9. Winner 2 weeks ago

    Always an awesome inspiration @mrs-d. ❤️❤️

  10. MareeB 2 weeks ago

    You are an inspiration 🙂

  11. Komninos 2 weeks ago

    Awesome post, brought tears to my eyes. Kia kaha 🙂

  12. barnmomma 2 weeks ago

    This was great, Mrs. D! Thank you.

  13. Mari135 2 weeks ago

    Love this so much. oxoxoxo

  14. Poppy88 2 weeks ago

    First of all, bless for the kindness you showed this little man, you would have made him feel so safe, he will always remember that. Secondly thank you! I was just reflecting the other day how I struggle a bit to cope with the tasks of a day, I used to be able to manage a high level role in a government department (before I saw the light and moved on, seperate story) then made a life change by going back to finish a degree I’d started many moons ago, way less stress, but somehow I feel overwhelmed a lot more these days than I feel I ever have before? This post has been so helpful in being able to understand why now. Even 15 months into my wonderful sobriety I feel emotions quite intensely, as you also aptly highlight they are becoming more manageable by the day. You were put on this planet for many awesome reasons Mrs D, this place, connecting like minded sober warriors and your messages around recovery is one of them for sure. you have a gift. Thank you

  15. Classic50 2 weeks ago

    This is a story I can so relate to… thank you!

  16. Alice33 2 weeks ago

    Wow, this was just what I needed to read tonight! This sounds very familiar. Thank you

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published.

Living Sober by NZ Drug Foundation is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. Built with love by Bamboo Creative and powered by Flywheel. 2019.

Forgot your details?

Create Account