Sober Story: Barbara

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!

  1. Lost Soul 5 years ago

    Wow you all have inspired my day by sharing. Hospitalized 3 times in 3 months, suicidal idealation/attempts and major depression disorder. Lost everything. Learned $ and material things, and most of all using does not bring you happiness. I’m starting a new humbling journey, trying to find myself and love who I am, instead of seeking love, acceptance, and approval from others. I’m blessed to have another chance. Prayers for all who suffer from addiction. Thanks again!

  2. Cinderella 5 years ago

    “An all or nothing girl”….how awesome not go thru the moderating stage (it doesn’t really work) In the end you have to bite the bullet and let go entirely. Well done you?

  3. Watergirl 5 years ago

    Thank you for your honesty and not sugarcoating it. I too now generally find socialising with drinkers after the first hour rather boring! , hence I don’t do it often at all.
    Thanks and all the best. Xx

  4. truthangel 5 years ago

    I agree with you …. socialising with drinkers is boring. I can’t hang around and listen to the crap, silly small talk and stupid jokes from people who mostly would only talk to you when drunk. It makes me laugh in a cynical way when I remember trying to be like these people and it was important that they liked me. I really believed it was normal and there really isn’t anything normal about it at all. All my relationships were by default. I never really chose my friends or partners. I stuck around with whoever accepted me and if they were an arsehole then I felt special that they accepted me rather than reject me. these days I’m finding that I see people that I don’t want to allow into my life. I’ve become quite discerning about who I let in and I’ve become quite blunt too, when I would otherwise sugar candy things and apologise all the time. I place less importance on being liked and more on respect.
    I listen to a young woman at work talk about her plans to get wasted or about her weekend getting wasted which lacks any narrative to speak of. She tells us her partner pulled her away from yet another girl fight about to happen. I’ve told her that if I could live my life all over again I wouldn’t drink. I don’t like that I don’t have much memories of the past to make many colourful and entertaining stories to share. I felt it made me miss out on really living. Life was the blurs between hangovers. My past lacked passion and I don’t like that and I see the same effects in a lot of people around me. Its only existing. I guess she will get older, have a family and the time will pass by for her fast and she will wake up one morning and want it all to stop. So many things cut out of her life’s narrative. Left with the woulda shoulda couldas of the hungover morning after. It makes me feel sad and the trillion dollar industry just gets richer from selling the fantasy that isn’t and takes away aliveness and passion from their customers who walk countless times through that revolving door. We’ve all been fooled and left out of pocket. Lets walk into life, its ups and downs, feel it all, wake up and grow. If we want to play a part in making the world a better place by healing and shifting our consciousness. It starts with us.

  5. Sue 5 years ago

    Like the honesty – socialising with drinkers is boring, life still has ups and downs. Refreshing that it’s not pitched as a wonder story ?

  6. Noodle71 5 years ago

    Brilliant Barbara, I resonate with this story so much. I too grew up in the drinking culture that saturates the UK, with a very boozy family. It was nothing to be given shandys from under 5 years of age and booze at any celebration just to be cheeky. I even used to take my kids to a beer garden every weekend cos that’s just what happens. People don’t believe me when I tell them about that here in NZ, so your story mirrors mine. I too am on or off so currently definately off, even though it’s early days I eventually don’t see any other way for me now. Thanks for sharing how you stopped even though you seemed at your lowest ebb, your resolve is inspiring ?xx

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