This week's Sober Story comes from Boruch, a 54-year-old living in the Midwestern United States.
Mrs D: How long have you been in recovery?
Boruch: I have been sober for 18 years.
Mrs D: What can you tell us about the last months/years of your drinking before you gave up?
Boruch: I was a “high bottom” drunk and did most of my drinking alone. Most people I knew had no idea that I even had a problem. But, I had a problem, for sure. For years, I used to go home and get drunk alone in my apartment. There were some events that were bottoms, in retrospect. I got drunk at dinner with friends and acquaintances. It was embarrassing for them. They had never seen me like that. I knew they were embarrassed for me, and it caused me shame.
Mrs D: What was the final straw that led you to get sober?
Boruch: I actually got sober partly by accident. For medical reasons, I was told to stop drinking alcohol. It was only then that I started to see my life instantly getting better, and a bit more confusing… but it was a real eye opener.
Mrs D: How was it for you in the early days? What was most difficult?
Boruch: With God’s help, I have not struggled much with physical cravings for alcohol but I had (and continue to have) a lot of problems with true sober behavior. I tend to be a dry drunk. In the early days, I was irritable and easily provoked into anger or anti-social behavior.
Mrs D: What reaction did you get from family & friends when you started getting sober?
Boruch: Most people didn’t realize I had done anything because they didn’t realize I had a problem. When I told some people close to me, they told me I was mistaken, that I could not be an alcoholic. But yes, even if you get drunk on 2-3 glasses of wine, you can still be a drunk. (If you drink like that, by yourself, with the sole purpose of knocking yourself out, every night, for 10 years straight… you’re an alcoholic.)
Mrs D: Have you ever experienced a relapse?
Boruch: With God’s help, I have not relapsed, though I have had emotional relapses, where the “bad” addict side of my personality predominates – this happens when I stop working a proper program and stop understanding that God is the Higher Power in my life.
Mrs D: How long did it take for things to start to calm down for you emotionally & physically?
Boruch: It took a good 6-12 months before I saw that “turning things over” could work for me, and that if I trusted God with my life, God would help me live the way I needed to live.
Mrs D: How hard was it getting used to socialising sober?
Boruch: Very, because drinking had always been part of getting relaxed enough to deal with people – even if my social drinking wasn’t out of hand too much. It was a ritual that was hard to stop.
Mrs D: Was there anything surprising that you learned about yourself when you stopped drinking?
Boruch: Yes, I learned that I was an introvert. I don’t like loud noise and a lot of people around me. When I drank, it didn’t matter. When I stopped drinking, I started to notice how much crowds bothered me. At first I thought I was defective. Then, I realized that I am simply how I am and I started to accept myself.
Mrs D: How did your life change?
Boruch: In sobriety I have been a great deal more productive and creative. I have become financially stable. I got married and support a family of 5 by myself. I have written 8 books and undertaken other creative projects that I was interested in but never seemed to have time for.
Mrs D: What are the main benefits that emerged for you from getting sober?
Boruch: I am calmer and more focused. I have a tendency toward anxiety. Alcohol was a temporary, very poor quality fix for this problem. Without it, I need to trust God to help me – and that works better.
Mrs D: Would you do anything differently given the chance to go through the process again?
Boruch: I would look harder for a really good sponsor early on. I think I had a big enough ego that I thought I could figure out the steps on my own. I delayed too long.
Mrs D: What advice or tips would you have for those who are just starting on this journey?
Boruch: Find a sponsor you want to work with. This does not necessarily mean someone you like. A sponsor can become a friend but doesn’t need to be a friend up front. In fact, some distance is healthy.