"Everything is so strange right now, I need (and want) to be sober, present and calm for my family."
Today's hero is Tammy who lives in Wellington.
Mrs D: How are you feeling about what's going on with this Covid-19 virus?
Tammy: I’m proud of the way our country has handled this pandemic. Reading what’s been happening overseas has been awful and at times scary. Maybe because we only have 4.7 million people and one central government giving direction, it’s easier for us to be united during this time. We have a vulnerable child in our family so we’ve been taking this very seriously as to be blunt, he wouldn’t survive if he caught this.
Mrs D: How have your emotions shifted and changed since the crisis began?
Tammy: Initially worried, then my pragmatic side kicked in and I focused on what I could control. I’ve felt overwhelmed at times, but I take a moment to cry or just breathe and refocus.
Mrs D: How long have you been sober for?
Tammy: As I write this, 101 days!
Mrs D: Why did you start drinking in the first place?
Tammy: My drinking escalated about a year after our twin boys were born in 2010. Long story short, they were born at 26 weeks in a very traumatic way and our eldest son died when the boys were only a few days old. Our youngest son was very sick with heart and lung issues and went on to spend a year in the NICU and the next few years with a lot of serious health complications and his ongoing disabilities. I never dealt with the death of our son, not properly. We were in survival mode for the first few years, worrying about our younger son and our other 2 children and just getting through each day was a challenge. I pushed all the emotions about his birth/death down and drank to not have to deal with it. Drinking before going to sleep was one way to stop the replay in my head. I didn’t realise at the time I had PTSD. Over the years, I would stop drinking for a while and then when I did start again, I could handle 1-2 glasses before the dreaded “moderation” didn’t work (because it doesn’t for me) and I was back to drinking every night again. In 2018, a friend lost her child and after attending the funeral, it was like a cork had popped and everything I had buried deep down exploded. My husband, my rock, organised some counselling for me and for the first time ever, I dealt with and worked through my grief, pain and PTSD. I felt like a weight had been lifted, I had got so used to carrying all of that pain and anger around for so long, it felt weird to think of a way forward without needing wine to numb myself. In the back of my mind, the seed took hold that I could stop drinking and it took a few more months but when I did back in January, it didn’t feel as scary as it had on the many attempts in the past – it felt right and I haven’t looked back.
Mrs D: How is being sober helping you at this crazy time?
Tammy: I think it’s sharpened my resolve to not drink even more. Everything is so strange right now, I need (and want) to be sober, present and calm for my family. My husband and I are both working full time from home, the kids have homeschooling and we have a child with disabilities as well.
Mrs D: Have you had any pangs to drink since the lockdown began?
Tammy: Not since the lockdown began, early into my 100 days, hell yes!
Mrs D: Any particular self-care actions that are helping you in these gritty times?
Tammy: Lots and lots of tea! Reading, family time, movies, following sober Instagram accounts and music - always music.
Mrs D: What are you doing to fill in the days?
Tammy: Working. I run my own business and it’s crazy busy right now, I’ve been working 7 days a week for the last 2-3 months.
Mrs D: What would you say to people who are struggling with alcohol while they're in lockdown?
Tammy: Be kind to yourself. This is a strange, stressful time we’re all in. Do what you need to do to cope and get by. Be selfish if you have to, just do what needs to be done to take care of yourself.
Mrs D: What's in this photo you've shared with us?
Tammy: My favourite mug for tea and some of the books that have helped me during this new life of mine.
Mrs D: Anything else you'd like to add?
Tammy: Your book was the first one I read when I first thought I want to stop drinking. It made me laugh, cry and realise I could and will, do this. Thank you.
Thank you for sharing so much vulnerability. My heart goes out to you for all the struggle and pain you have felt.
I have 2 of those books in Audible and/or Kindle. I do love this picture.
Amazing strength and love in your story. Thank you for sharing
You’re amazing, Tammy! And I love the mug.
Thank you Tammy for sharing you story. I think many people deal with trauma in a similar way, by numbing themselves with alcohol. Where I live we use alcohol in place of counselling, to numb our emotions and present a cheery facade. Your story is very heartening and you sound like a very grounded person who is dealing with life in a very pragmatic way. 101 days is fantastic. I think most of us who abuse alcohol need to at some point take that journey inward to find the root cause and deal with it, painful but probably necessary in the long run. You’re a true sober warrior, your strength shines through.