This week’s Sober Story comes from Andrea, a 44-year-old living in Dallas, Texas.
Mrs D: How long have you been in recovery?
Andrea: Sober date is September 22, 1991 – (26 years 11 months currently)
Mrs D: Awesome! What can you tell us about the last months/years of your drinking before you gave up?
Andrea: I was a blackout mess from the beginning of my drinking. I could not fathom people only having a few drinks. My world became smaller & smaller as time went on so it was quite lonely in that regard. I lived to drink & get high, my days at the end are blurs of memories with strangers. I no longer cared about any of the dreams I had for my life.
Mrs D: What was the final straw that led you to get sober?
Andrea: After burning bridges, all my lying had caught up to me. I was living in a motel in the mountains, owed people money I couldn’t repay & had no plan to turn things around. Thank goodness my family intervened because I had no friends left & was well beyond the point I could have stopped drinking on my own. My decision to enter treatment wasn’t to sober up but to escape the situation I was in.
Mrs D: How was it for you in the early days? What was most difficult?
Andrea: The early days were painful, full of headaches, body pain, anger & exhaustion. The most difficult thing was feeling trapped in the hospital & being trapped in myself with nothing to numb my mind or body. I wanted to crawl out of my own skin & felt like I was going insane. Feeling like doctors were analyzing me was infuriating, the pity looks from them like I was a wayward teen case that needed more love really upset me. I didn’t want love, I wanted to drink. I didn’t want therapy, I wanted to get high. The anger and fear emerging was intolerable.
Mrs D: What reaction did you get from family & friends when you started getting sober?
Andrea: 100% support. To be honest I was in treatment & didn’t have much contact with anyone for 16 months to even know how they felt.
Mrs D: Have you ever experienced a relapse?
Andrea: Since I decided to take sobriety seriously I have not experienced a relapse. (That was four months into my second treatment center.)
Mrs D: How long did it take for things to start to calm down for you emotionally & physically?
Andrea: Physically about three weeks, emotionally that’s a tough question, maybe six months. I was very fragile emotionally for what felt like forever.
Mrs D: How hard was it getting used to socialising sober?
Andrea: Haha, it was one of the most awkward things in the world! As a sober teen & then college student it wasn’t just with parties, it was trying to make friends with anyone not sober. I felt like an alien. Most of my friends in early recovery were older and sober, I couldn’t relate to younger people.
Mrs D: Was there anything surprising that you learned about yourself when you stopped drinking?
Andrea: Omg, yes. I was very surprised that I was living in constant fear of everything. I thought I was fearless & bold, crazy enough to do anything. Turns out I was willing to risk anything, but that is very different. I learned about the difference between my self and my ego. That was a game changer for me in taking responsibility & changing the direction of my life.
Mrs D: How did your life change?
Andrea: Aspirations returned and were only time or effort away from realization. People invited me places. I didn’t have to hide from anyone. I became trustworthy, these were all big changes. Learning how to act with integrity set me on a new course.
Mrs D: What are the main benefits that emerged for you from getting sober?
Andrea: Easy one, that I’m alive. I was the type of drinker who would drink myself to death. There was no amount that was enough. I am grateful for my life, that gratitude is the main benefit I’ve received.
Mrs D: Would you do anything differently given the chance to go through the process again?
Andrea: If I could have, perhaps gotten my head out of my ass a few months earlier in rehab. I was so stubborn. I also wish I had seen how hurtful my outbursts were to those around me in early recovery.
Mrs D: What advice or tips would you have for those who are just starting on this journey?
Andrea: Don’t worry about tomorrow. Just focus on the next thing right in front of you. Ask for help if you need it and please know you are worth the work, time will change things in ways you can’t imagine.
Mrs D: Anything else you’d like to share?
Andrea: Not everyone thinks, feels, lives, acts the same & that’s what makes life interesting. Getting sober helped me find myself again. I love being all of me with confidence & genuine respect for who I am. I trust myself, value myself and feel free. That was unfathomable before, now that I have it I find it’s invaluable.