I can vividly remember the morning of my last hangover, standing in the kitchen with my throbbing head, messy hair, dry mouth, miserable face and deep overwhelming guilt. I can remember crouching down and reaching into the back of the cupboard to retrieve the empty bottle of wine I’d hidden from my husband the night before. I felt like complete and utter rubbish. My self-esteem was gone. My sense of wellbeing was eroded. I was utterly miserable. This was my personal rock bottom.
And I made a decision. Enough was enough. This had to stop.
I had tried for years to control and moderate my drinking. I’d done deals with myself, had dry patches, set limits. None of it had worked. The minute the wine hit my throat I was a goner. Time and again I let myself down. It was time to face up to reality. I couldn’t control alcohol and no-one else could help me. It was my hand twisting the cap, my arm lifting the glass, my brain responding to the drug. It was my problem and only I could fix it.
That last miserable morning when I made my big decision I clung to the belief that if it was just me that needed to fix me then surely I could do it. Other people get sober – why not me? Other people learn to live without alcohol, surely I could too.
And so I did.
It has now been over eight years since my last drink. I won’t gild the lily; it was bloody hard at first. I had cravings. I got shitty and emotional. I had sad days and angry days and days when I had no idea what the hell I was feeling except it just felt bad. Slowly but surely I realised I’d been using wine as an emotional suppressant – habitually drinking as a way to keep things on an even keel. I had to learn how to be emotional.
And I had to learn how to have fun without booze. My whole adult life I had equated alcohol with fun. A party wasn’t a party unless I was getting hammered. A wedding was an excuse to lush out! A disco party with the kids was a great opportunity to drink chardonnay with girlfriends. A long lunch was made all the more fun because of the endless supply of drinks. How was I going to enjoy anything without my beloved booze?
With this I was determined. I knew I couldn’t live as a miserable boozer any more, but I also couldn’t face living as a miserable non-boozer. I couldn’t bear the thought of going through the rest of my days feeling like I was missing out, feeling like a sad, boring loser. I couldn’t do that. I wouldn’t do that. I refused to do that!
So I worked really hard at re-training my brain. Read lots of books to help me see alcohol not as the magical elixir that had all the power to make things fun, but as the enemy that lied to me and made things worse. I kept going out to weddings and parties and dinners and slowly but surely I got better at it. I learned not to drink too many energy drinks, not to fixate on what others were drinking, not to isolate, and most of all to look for the real things that make an event fun – the people, the camaraderie, the jokes, the atmosphere, the music, the food, the party clothes, the dancing!
The more I refused to accept that alcohol had the power to make an event fun the more I realised it didn’t. My fun and enjoyment didn’t rest with the fact that my drink had brain-bending qualities, it rested with all of those other real things.
Again, I won’t gild the lily. Sober events can be hit and miss and sometimes I do go home feeling a bit flat. But then again that used to happen even when I was drinking. A boring party will always be a boring party even if I’m boozing heavily – that just makes me drunk at a boring party. I now know a fun party is always a fun party even if my glass only has lime and soda in it.
I went to a friends 40th recently and danced for 4 hours to cheesy 80’s pop hits then drove all our friends home. It was the most fun ever! And I didn’t drink a drop. Not drinking doesn’t make me a geek. It doesn’t make me a loser. It doesn’t make me boring. All it makes me is someone who doesn’t drink alcohol.
Getting sober is hard, it takes work, but it can be done. Front up and be honest, dig deep and go for it. Find your support – find it with friends and family or in the rooms or online – and go for it. To turn from a hopeless boozer like I was into the self-respecting sober lady I am today us to experience complete, glorious freedom. Kick that nasty booze to the curb, free up your life-force and let yourself soar. I promise you, if you stick at it, push though the hard early months and keep on going without the booze you will experience a hugely positive transformation. It will happen. It always does.
And know this, you are not alone. There are many, many of us who are turning sober. Thousands of us who are now moving through our days with no alcohol passing our lips at all. It’s ok, really it is. It’s better than ok, it’s freaking fantastic.
Mrs D xxx
Thanks so very very much for this post. (Too funny when my fat fingers write pist instead of post… how ironic ?). When I read I thought hey! Somebody saw me! I’ve shared this site with my husband and he’s gone from being quite judgy to admitting it’s a bit him too… now we’re on the sober path together and it’s day 6.
There is a such a stigma around being a nondrinker….even more so if you are *gasp* an alcoholic. I love your point about it being just a simple fact. I just don’t drink. Full stop. To me, it’s like making the choice to not eat meat or not smoke. The societal conditioning of normalizing drinking is so pervasive and creates this stigma and traps so many of us in a cycle. Good on all of us for taking the brave step to move beyond this societal “norm” and prioritize our health. With some perspective, it’s no wonder so many of us are “addicted” to alcohol…it’s an ADDICTIVE SUBSTANCE! There is nothing wrong with us. It’s simple cause and effect. We drank alcohol and therefore became addicted. From a purely scientific and logical standpoint, it is an obvious outcome. To your point, yes, it is hard to break the cycle and I am so proud of all of us for putting in the necessary effort to de-stigmatize being nondrinkers. Not only are we prioritizing our health but we are challenging society’s definition what it means to be “normal”. Keep up the good work everyone and thank you, Mrs. D. for creating this wonderful community.
My biggest trigger is I live alone no kids no bath time bliss for most of you I know but its the time I go who cares know one will know not effecting anyone but it is effecting me!!!!!! And I am important thats why im here
A great post Mrs D… oh yes…..it does get better. We get better, believe it, everything around us gets better and better and better and yes ‘NO’ gets easier and easier to say? On the road to two years alcohol free and utterly ‘tino pai’ blissed out about it to this day. Happy sober free weekend to all?
So very true! ❤️❤️
I can relate to this. I always look at upcoming events, my birthday, our engagement party, work parties and most recently my friends 50th as a good reason to get drunk. But so far at every one of those occasions, the supposed ‘good time’ and ‘fun’ that I had envisioned I would have was ruined … by me, because I drunk to much. I always end up fighting with my partner, feeling lousy the next day, and spend at least a week trying to mend the damage I have done.
On all the above mentioned occasions, I have gotten too drunk and completely ruined what should be happy memories of spending time with the man I love the most. Hence looking back at them or reminiscing is avoided. I don’t want it to be that way, it’s almost bringing me to tears just thinking about it, but I have to hold it together as I am at work …
I read a little thing on Instagram that is relevant: “Life’s bad memories aren’t meant to life sentences, they are meant to be lessons.” I feel your pain, especially the “I ruined everything” moments. My last drink was the evening before, when I woke up in the morning thinking everything was fine, till I remembered being a total ass to my wife in front of her friends.
Glad I found your new site! I listened to Mrs. D goes without over the course of 2 days last week while cleaning out my garage. I decided to join Audible because it kept popping up on my Facebook ads and thought listening to books would be a good way to pass the time while doing housework. Little did I know it would lead me to your book. This was what people refer to as a “sign”- I feel we have lived parallel lives. Your book was the first book I downloaded and binge listened to. I am the age you were and in the stage of life you were in, when you wrote this book. My husband was born in NZ and lived in Auckland and Wellington. He now resides in the US where we met. I am on Day 5. These first 4 days (it’s not 5pm here ye!t) have been easier than I thought, but I know it’s going to get harder. We had a lot of fun, relaxing evenings and dinners out the past few days. Like you, the mundane weeknights with husband working late, grumpy kids, dirty dishes, homework, and bedtime are my triggers and will be the huge test for me. I related to your words of “a sober night’s sleep” helping to get you/me through the witching hours. I love 9pm when everyone is tucked in and I’m not too exhausted from wine that I crash and get no alone time. Now, I am awake and alert to read, online shop, tidy the house, and/or watch what I want on the tv. I was reading your original blog (had no idea your book was from 7 years ago) and found the link to this. So glad you’re still writing.
Question for you or anyone in the community: Did you have to stop hanging out with your heavy drinking friends? Or at least initially postpone getting together with them to avoid the temptation? Or best to face it head on early on?
In terms of leading yourself into temptation (pun intended), why would you? No one can force you to go to a dinner or party. Simply not going may be the best option under the current circumstances.
@runningwith4 I hear you about the triggers. Being a stay at home mom, I have really struggled with the idea that the state of my home and my children are my sole purpose in life. I tend to “escape” through alcohol, which isn’t much of an escape at all, honestly. But when 5pm hits, the kids are getting grumpy, dinner has to be made, baths need to be drawn, pajamas, book, clean up, it all seems to go so much smoother with a couple glasses of wine in me. Ofcourse, it’s never just two glasses. Hence why I am here. I wish you luck, and welcome to the site.
Thank you! I’m sticking to easy dinners with minimal clean up for the first few weeks- that alone has helped the stress level of that time of the night!
Hi running with it….. great that you found this site…if you go into “members feed” there are so many people there who will be able to answer your questions and the ones to come! lots of people going through this together…all best
Thank you!!! I discovered that feed last night and then was binge reading it all! So much helpful insight. And just knowing other people have the same things going on in their heads (cravings, I “earned” wine tonight, etc.) is so helpful!
I so needed this today.
you are awesome! Day 9 for me today.
Day 11 for me. It’s my birthday in a couple of weeks … eeek
I love this! I really do believe that the key to success is turning your thought pattern around; through brain re-training as you mention (and learning about how alcohol affects your body, mind, and soul. Knowledge is power). It’s harder to be totally successful and happy if you still believe that you’re missing out on something. Thanks again Mrs D. 🙂
“I refused to accept that alcohol had the power to make an event fun.” Once this finally sunk in, it was a game changer for me. It allowed me to flip my thinking from “I’m missing out” to “I’m gaining so much!” Thanks you sweet soul.
Morena ? it’s true, it’s all true and most importantly it does get better, so much better. Addiction is one tough cookie to get through. I wondered for a long time what this ‘gets better’ means, then it just happened and it was/is the best feeling I’ve had since I was in my early 20’s. It’s a thing it truly is. It’s a blimen tough slog to get there, but when you do, what a lovely place it is. Still have hard days, but doing them sober makes them ok. What a great and apt post. Again. Happy day everyone ?
?Just what i needed to read today! Thank you!