Sober Story: Dana

Dana

This week’s Sober Story comes from Dana, a 47-year-old living in  midwest USA.

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Mrs D: How long have you been in recovery?

Dana: I got sober in August of 2011, but then relapsed for seven horrible days over the Christmas holidays – so my new sobriety date is Jan 1, 2014. Very easy to remember. 🙂

Mrs D: What can you tell us about the last months/years of your drinking before you gave up?

Dana: I write about this often – I didn’t have some horrific, dramatic “bottom” like getting arrested or something. I think a lot of moms can kind of relate to this – I drank alone, at night, after my kids had gone to bed. It all seemed so… not a problem. I was very, very high-functioning and very, very miserable. And I have lots of moms ask me, “What was your bottom? What made you give it up?” I just tell them, I was simply sick and tired of feeling like I was worthless. And that’s reason enough. No jail time, no DUI’s but still a very valid reason to give it up.

Mrs D: Sounds very similar to me. What finally led to you quitting?

Dana: I will never forget it – I was watching my two boys playing, and they were so happy and oblivious to mom’s misery, and I just kept thinking, “I want to die. I can’t STOP drinking… but I also can’t see life WITHOUT drinking.” I was so trapped and it was terrifying. I surrendered.

Mrs D: How was it for you in the early days? What was most difficult?

Dana: It was tough, but I also feel like my Higher Power kind of had me on autopilot. He got me to meetings. He helped me sleep peacefully. He got me through it one day at a time – sometimes twenty min. at a time. There were a lot of tears. I did give myself permission to be a “lousy mom” – meaning for about three months we watched a lot of movies and ate frozen pizza. 🙂 It was ok – because they deserved a sober mom – and nobody will say three months of movies is gonna really mess up your kid.

Mrs D: I love that approach! What reaction did you get from family & friends when you started getting sober?

Dana: I only told a few trusted friends, and my church, and my husband. I had this secret circle of support for a good six months before I was able to tell more people. I was really grateful – they were all so supportive. My husband cleared the booze out of the house which I saw as SUCH a huge sacrifice for him (he didn’t really care- he’s a total weirdo normie!) and I was very very grateful. A lot of prayers and hugs.

Mrs D: Have you ever experienced a relapse?

Yep – that’s what my second book was all about. I had been sober for over three years and just trucking along… and I got careless. Stopped going to meetings. Stopped taking care of myself. Started to rev up my expectations for my life, my family – started to feel “not enough.” It was a slow slide and I let it happen (denial is such a tricky little thing) and then relapsed over a Christmas holiday for seven nightmarish days.

Mrs D: How long did it take for things to start to calm down for you after that?

Dana: Coming back from a relapse is TOUGH. You feel foolish and ashamed and so very tired of recovery – you feel this whole “I have to do this ALL over again,” kind of thing and it can be daunting. I really learned through all of this, though, that even though the relapse took me right back to where I was alcoholically (in my drinking) when I got sober again, I was not at ground zero. I could lean on some of those tools and habits I had learned and I was not starting ALL over. It took time to get peaceful about it, but now I say that in many ways the relapse was the best thing for my recovery. That’s not to say I am recommending it! It was TOUGH.

Mrs D: What about socialising sober, how was it getting used to that?

Dana: It is a lot easier now! I am a total introvert, so wine was a great way to get around that. I still remember when I was early sober I got a wedding announcement in the mail and promptly burst into tears. How would I do a wedding SOBER?? This was impossible! Now, I love weddings. And I love parties. But I am very selective – I only go if there is not a feeling of “I have to do this” but a genuine want or desire to go. And I always have a plan. I make sure I have a way to exit and that I am not HALT before I go (Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired) and I am also just really open about my feelings with those with me – most people know that I am in recovery anyway due to my books so that helps.

Mrs D: Was there anything surprising that you learned about yourself when you stopped drinking?

Dana: That real belly laughter – the kind that brings tears to your eyes and makes you catch your breath – can still happen. In fact, I think it happens more often now!!!

Mrs D: I agree! How else has your life changed now that you’re sober?

Dana: Holy cow. I don’t even know where to start! My depression and anxiety lifted (I still struggle with it but I have an understanding of it now that is so much more healthy and accpeting and not fear based). I have a career that has blossomed. I have quality friendships with women in recovery that give me such laughter and joy every day – when before I felt so isolated and unable to really “connect” with people. My marriage is so much stronger. My parenting is better! I mean it – the benefits just keep coming.

Mrs D: Can you pinpoint any main benefits that have emerged for you from getting sober?

Dana: A huge one was my ability to finally channel my creativity in a productive way. I finally got the courage to start a writing career, and now, lo and behold, I am the very proud author of a blog and two books. Amazing.

Mrs D: Would you do anything differently given the chance to go through the process again?

Dana: Nope.

Mrs D: What advice or tips would you have for those who are just starting on this journey?

Dana: I honestly felt that there was NO way I could do this. And I am a total whimp. If I can do recovery, so can you. Start small – talk to someone. Get the words out of your head and into the air. Speak your fears – to a trusted friend, or pastor or counselor. Get your mind wrapped around the idea that SO MANY OF US are sober and rocking it and LOVE it. There are a LOT of sober people out there, and I don’t think I have ever heard them say, “Gee I wish I had started drinking again,today. It was just too tough.” All of us sober people can’t be crazy – we are for real and we promise – it’s possible AND it’s wonderful!

Mrs D: Anything else you’d like to share?

Dana: Anytime I am able to write/talk/share about my recovery, it helps me. So I thank you for this opportunity and I’m so grateful for what you do!

5 Comments
  1. sobermommy1013 3 months ago

    This is me: “I want to die. I can’t STOP drinking… but I also can’t see life WITHOUT drinking.” I was so trapped and it was terrifying. I surrendered.

    Gosh….this is so me….thank you Dana, i really needed to read this today.

  2. Deborah French 3 months ago

    Well Done Ladyhawke! 13 days is awesome!

  3. Cinderella 3 months ago

    How awesome to read your story. We grew up thinking drinking was normal…..oh boy!!!!! It is anything but…..for a lot of us. Congratulations on the success you created and for having a husband who supported you throughout.

  4. Ladyhawke 3 months ago

    Thank you Dana for being so open and honest. This site and the people and their stories has really given me hope that I too can be sober – it can be a very lonely place when you don’t know where to go for support. This is my 13th day sober and looking forward to staying sober.

  5. JM 3 months ago

    Thank-you so much Dana for sharing your story! And about being so honest about what led you to the relapse, how tough it was afterwards and how it helped you, strengthening your commitment to being sober. I have been sober for over 3 years (yay!) and while I’m not in any danger of drinking anytime soon, it’s important to be vigilant. So much positivity here, I will check out your blog.

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