This week’s Sober Story comes from Dale, a 50-year-old from Mairangi Bay on Auckland’s North Shore.
Mrs D: How long have you been in recovery?
Dale: I’ve not picked up since April 25, 2009
Mrs D: What can you tell us about the last months/years of your drinking before you gave up?
Dale: I knew I had a problem after my 40th. I was concerned about how quickly I got drunk compared to others. It was always a race for me to get merry before others.
Mrs D: What was the final straw that led you to get sober?
Dale: The final straw was getting jealous again of my wife’s flirting and losing it. But this time I lashed out. I’d had enough. I hit her which I deeply regret but then she called the cops and I hit him too so I was arrested and transported to Auckland by police boat.
Mrs D: How was it for you in the early days? What was most difficult?
Dale: The first six months were pure hell for me. I hated everyone and I thought if I couldn’t drink then no-one should. Part of my bail conditions were that I attend AA and go to anger management classes … these two things changed my life and I’m still grateful to the legal system. I worked out my beliefs were wrong and I was very insecure.
Mrs D: What reaction did you get from family & friends when you started getting sober?
Dale: Family were really supportive but friends were sceptical. The ones I considered true friends gave me a very hard time. They preferred the drunk fucked up Dale, not the one trying to sort his life out.
Mrs D: Have you ever experience a relapse?
Dale: Relapse is not part of my dictionary – there’s no way I’m going to jail and I knew I couldn’t have 1 beer cause I’m an addictive person. And I wanted what my new friends at AA had – they all seemed so annoyingly happy lol.
Mrs D: How long did it take for things to start to calm down for you emotionally & physically?
Dale: This is a tough one. I thought after two years at first but things changed during the third year I’d given up. In my words – I’d taken the alcohol out now I needed to lose the asshole. I had to buy in and get a sponsor and start fixing me. I was clean but not happy yet.
Mrs D: How hard was it getting used to socialising sober?
Dale: Socialising sober was a big challenge to me. I’d convinced myself I couldn’t have fun without alcohol. It got easier though the more I put myself in the situation. I learnt about people I’d known for ten years but knew nothing about cause they didn’t drink. I was embarrassed but also proud that I was becoming a good guy.
Mrs D: Was there anything surprising that you learned about yourself when you stopped drinking?
Dale: Lots. Every day was a learning experience now – like a sugar craving. The fact I could taste food now. How low my water intake was and time … lots of spare time.
Mrs D: How did your life change?
Dale: Life changes were huge. I had begun to analyze myself and followed the 12 steps of AA. I enjoy being sober and I love a challenge so things were exciting but tough too.
Mrs D: What are the main benefits that emerged for you from getting sober?
Dale: I’m a better person now. I’m not cured but at least I’m able to control emotions now and understand my feelings. I know myself far better now.
Mrs D: Would you do anything differently given the chance to go through the process again?
Dale: Hindsight is a wonderful thing but how can you answer this question honestly? So I guess I’m happy I’ve got the chance to change my life now. Lots of people go on like I did and change nothing. My rock bottom was mine but I’ve seen others hit lower and still drink which I can’t understand.
Mrs D: What advice or tips would you have for those who are just starting on this journey?
Dale: My advice is get to meetings, listen to the similarities, and buy a big book and read it. And get a sponsor – AA works but you have to want it and I did.
Mrs D: Anything else you’d like to share?
Dale: Each person is designed differently. I admire the person who can have two drinks and stop – unfortunately I can’t so I can’t have any. But I love my new life and look forward to my new challenges and goals … cause I actually achieve them now and set really good ones, like Harley Davidson bikes and race cars. I love life without the drink.
I liked reading your story. I’m new to this, so i was just curious, i’m wondering how to enjoy life without drinking?
I really enjoyed reading Dale’s story. You are right about other ppl’s bottoms. I, too, struggle with friends that have lower bottoms than me (some much lower) and still drinking. It shows what a baffling disease this is. Good on you for being sober for 9 years! That’s wonderful. Happy 24 to you.
Brilliant your story inspires me Dale, my journey is just beginning, iaam on day 7, thank you.
Powerful and authentic sharing right there Dale, thanks so much for letting us in on your experiences! I learned a lot from this…and can relate to so much. oxoxoxxo
I love your determination and the ‘getting to know yourself better’ part. That’s what I want. Thank you for sharing
Love the honesty and love the outcome. The absolute happiness of not drinking is so infectious. 9 years is a bloody long time mate!!!! Good on you.
Wow! Thank you for sharing your story and for your honesty.
Dale, this is super inspiring, huge congrats on transforming your life!! Great last line, I love life without the drink.