This week's Sober Story comes from Darla, a 63-year-old who lives in El Paso, Texas.
Mrs D: How long have you been in recovery?
Darla: 11 years, sober birthday is April 1 2010
Mrs D: What can you tell us about the last months/years of your drinking before you gave up?
Darla: Very dark, chaotic and messy. Constantly tired and my hands shook in the morning. I used to say that I hadn’t eaten breakfast and other excuses why my hands shook. I was always “unavailable” and did not make meetings or deadlines. Relationships not working and especially with my adult children - they tried to tell me what to do. Lived with a married man and we both drank together.
Mrs D: What was the final straw that led you to get sober?
Darla: I got arrested for wrecking my car and driving under the influence, nothing wrong with my life!!!
Mrs D: How was it for you in the early days? What was most difficult?
Darla: I felt that I was crawling out of my skin. I equate the feeling to wearing a wool sweater 3 sizes too small in 103 degree weather. I want to scream and pull it off!! I broke out in a rash and wanted to throw up any type of food I tried to eat. I smoked like a chimney. The worst thing was what to do with my free time, I felt crazy! Needless to say I went to 4 meetings a day and if there were more I would have been there. I just was very angry, restless and discontent. It was hard to be around my “old” crowd. You can only drink so much diet soda!
Mrs D: What reaction did you get from family & friends when you started getting sober?
Darla: Well, they did not believe me and my adult children would constantly check on me, where are you? what are you doing? who are you with? are you drinking?
Mrs D: Have you ever experienced a relapse?
Darla: Thank God no.
Mrs D: How long did it take for things to start to calm down for you emotionally & physically?
Darla: About 5 months in I had a spiritual awakening, 9 months better but after a year much better. Its a day to day thing. The promises come true. I still attend meetings and work with my sponsor because I am still an alcoholic.
Mrs D: How hard was it getting used to socialising sober?
Darla: Hard till I dropped my drinking friends, they said I was boring. Found new friends in AA and forced myself to do non drinking activities. I still remember how awkward my first sober dance was but I went with 2 members of AA who helped me through it. Better in numbers and with AA friends. My first Christmas party with work, I took an AA member for support. I managed to come out unscathed and not drunk! First time that I was not the talk of the party the next day at work.
Mrs D: Was there anything surprising that you learned about yourself when you stopped drinking?
Darla: Well, I am a kind, sensitive person. I realised that my patterns with relationships (men) were unhealthy. I learned to love myself and not to be something I am not. Take me as you see me mentality. I learned to be ok by myself. I say I am alone but I am not lonely.
Mrs D: How did your life change?
Darla: I became patient, had a positive outlook on life and am happier inside. I learned about expectations, especially others, and situations will be what they will be. If I have set expectations I will surely be disappointed if it doesn’t work like what I want. Key phrase here is “what I want”. It is what God wants. He puts me where I need to be. I look for opportunities to express gratitude always. I pray daily and then some. God is a major component in my life today. I would not be where I am with out the faith I have in God.
Mrs D: What are the main benefits that emerged for you from getting sober?
Darla: Humble, grateful, faith in God, kindness. The promises are true. I got my self esteem and self respect back. I am accountable and trustworthy. I love life and love my self. Life is wonderful and I always look forward to what God has in store for me. He puts people in my life for lessons. I can’t express enough of the passion I feel for my new sober life today and I give thanks that AA brought me to God and God brought me to this life I have today. Never in my wildest dreams did I expect to have such a great life.
Mrs D: Would you do anything differently given the chance to go through the process again?
Darla: No, maybe discover AA sooner, but its hard to say because I had to go through what I went through.
Mrs D: What advice or tips would you have for those who are just starting on this journey?
Darla: Stay with it even though you feel like you are going crazy and don’t pick up! Call someone or go to a meeting. I remember when a girl asked me to sponsor her and I only had a few months of sobriety, I said no, now I wish I had said yes. Again no matter how many days or months, you have something to offer. You are worth it!
Mrs D: Anything else you'd like to share?
Darla: It is worth the journey of becoming sober. I attend meetings to remind me of where I was and where I am. I don’t want to go back to that first day. Work with others always. Even if you have not been sober for long, you are sober more than the newcomer walking through those doors for the first time. You have something to offer.