Sober Story: Elaine

smiling Elaine in a yellow dress

This week’s Sober Story comes from Elaine who is in her fifties and lives in the Hawke’s Bay.

===========

Mrs D: How long have you been in recovery?

Elaine: 14 years, one day at a time!

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

Elaine: I’d always partied hard and drunk until I got drunk, really drunk. If you came to our house – look out, cos you’d have a big, bloody hard night. We’d always have drinking games and if I went to the pub, I’d bring everyone home with me and play music and get chaotically drunk. There were a few massive hangovers along the way but nothing really stopped me drinking. But after years of this, I was starting to get spooked by more and more blackouts and big gaps in my memory. I had times when I didn’t know where I had been or what had happened. They were scary. I knew I had lost control of my drinking. Still, I thought I had a relationship problem and a geographical problem and that all I needed was a fresh start. I moved cities and got into a new relationship. My drinking settled down for a while, I think because I was so in love with my new partner. Looking back though, I think I just replaced drinking with him: it was an addictive relationship.

Mrs D: What was the final straw that led you to get sober?

Elaine: After a couple of years, the troubles began in my relationship and my drinking once again took off to an extreme: I burnt out my esophagus and ended up in hospital on my 40th birthday. I couldn’t really eat properly for days on end. The pain in my chest was so bad from the esophagus issues that I knew I should stop. I never told the doctors that I drank that much.  Logically I knew I was sick and I knew I should stop but I wanted the drink more. You’d think that would be enough to stop, wouldn’t you, but as soon as I got out of hospital, I started drinking again even though my partner was angry with me. Every time I tried to stop, I knew I couldn’t keep it up – I just wanted to get drunk. I was obsessed with alcohol. My drinking progressed from hard core partying to getting up on a Saturday morning and wanting everyone to leave me alone so I could drink. Now, I understand that that is alcoholism. One day I went to a support group and realised from seeing all these happy, healthy people that there was a way to stop drinking. From there, I finally got sober and stayed that way with the support of a recovery group, and my doctor.

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

Elaine: I was a pretty tearful, fragile, skinny broken woman when I first got sober. I remember feeling so goddamn broken on the inside and my head would not shut up. I dragged myself around and put one foot in front of the other. It was a tough first year but it laid the foundation to intend never to pick up a drink again. I remembered those awful times and I didn’t want to go back there.

Mrs D: What reaction did you get from family & friends when you started getting sober?

Elaine: People couldn’t quite believe it at the start, because I had stopped and started again so many times. But after a while, they saw I was sticking to it and were happy for me and happy for them.

Mrs D: Have you ever experienced a relapse?

Elaine: No. I never want to drink again, one day at a time.

Mrs D: How long did it take for things to start to calm down for you emotionally & physically?

Elaine: At least a year, probably more like two. On top of practising a rigorous recovery programme, I had to get help from my doctor for a while to get on top of wild anxiety, which was out of control for a time.

Mrs D: How hard was it getting used to socialising sober?

Elaine: I was lucky enough to be part of a community of sober people in recovery and so did a lot of socialising with them. I have stayed away from alcohol and big boozy situations, for the most part. In the early days if I was around a lot of drinking I’d always make a plan to escape early if I needed to. I always put my recovery first and this always looked after me.

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

Elaine: I am a lot of fun without alcohol and laugh all the time. When I was drinking I thought people who didn’t drink were boring and I wouldn’t have anything to do with them.

Mrs D: How did your life change?

Elaine: Everything changed. My addictive and unhealthy relationship didn’t last. My worklife improved. I bought a house. I found new relationships and fostered a trust in myself that I’d never known before. I started to make my dreams come true – one of which was setting up a rehab for other alcoholics - Ocean Hills Detox & Rehabilitation.

Mrs D: What are the main benefits that emerged for you from getting sober?

Elaine: Being alive. Being healthy. Laughing. Freedom. Being able to make a real difference by helping other alcoholics get and stay sober through my work.

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

Elaine: I had to hit my own rock bottom in my own time, and wouldn’t really change anything. It all worked out for the best and has led me to living a fantastic life.

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

Elaine: Reach out. For many people, stopping drinking on their own is really difficult and you need help. There’s no shame in admitting you can’t do it alone: in fact, it’s one of the strongest things you’ll ever do for yourself.

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

Elaine: Never lose hope. No matter how far you’ve gone in your addiction, there is always a way back. I see people come back from the brink and rebuild their lives in recovery. I believe in miracles. I am one.

8 Comments
  1. lloyd brady 1 day ago

    Excellent Sharing Elaine

    Lloyd B (Tamaki Sunday)

  2. Pete Fairhead 3 days ago

    Total respect, wise and succinct words.Kia kaha .

  3. TaoTeCm 2 weeks ago

    Very touching, inspirational story.

  4. kerry48 2 weeks ago

    I love this.
    Thank you.

  5. delgirl68 2 weeks ago

    Fabulous! A message of hope, and your belief in humanity shines through. Thanks so much for sharing your story x

  6. hummingbird 2 weeks ago

    love this. thanks for sharing x

  7. Hammer123 2 weeks ago

    There is always a way back! I love that idea, never give up!

  8. springlamb 2 weeks ago

    Wow, such a beautiful ending…you really are a miracle! That gives me a lot of strength and motivation in my very early days, thank you!

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published.

Licensed by NZ Drug Foundation under Creative Commons 4.0 2020. Built by Bamboo Creative and powered by Flywheel.

Forgot your details?

Create Account