Today’s Sober Story comes from Helen who lives in Auckland.
Mrs D: How long have you been in recovery?
Helen: I’ve been 29 years sober.
Mrs D: What can you tell us about your last days and months of drinking?
Helen: The last months before I got sober were terrifying and bewildering. I knew I was on a ‘ slippery slope’ and didn’t know how to stop. My drinking escapades had lost all fun and no longer worked as an escape mechanism. I had 2 small children I was almost 100 % responsible for and knew that I was increasingly unable to fulfill that job.
Mrs D: What was the final straw that led you to get sober?
Helen: I can’t actually recall a ‘final straw’ there were a number of them. My relationship with my long term partner was disintegrating. That upset me because I had wanted to make that work.I didn’t realise at the time that I had ‘taken a hostage’ not a partner.
I felt incredible loneliness I was to learn later that almost all alcoholics feel this. My doctor had prescribed tranquillisers and sleeping tablets for me which combined with alcoholic drinking actually ‘tipped me over’
Mrs D: How was it for you when you first quit?
Helen: The early days of sobriety were very difficult! I found it was horrendous getting off the prescription drugs. A nurse in the fellowship advised that I gradually come off over six weeks rather than ‘Cold turkey’. It was difficult to not have ‘pain killer’ to use when I wanted to. Fortunately the desire to drink was taken away from me the night I walked into an AA meeting. I allowed myself to be educated by the wisdom in AA and learned that I could never drink normally. I remember hearing that if I didn’t want to get drunk then I was not to drink. I thought that was so profound!
Mrs D: How did your friends and family react?
Helen: Friends were a bit surprised to hear that I was an alcoholic (I’d hidden it well), some family seemed rather uncomfortable about my getting sober.
Mrs D: Have you ever relapsed?
Helen: I have never relapsed and I’m very grateful for AA as I know I could not have stayed sober on my own
Mrs D: How long did it take for things to calm down for you physically and emotionally?
Helen: It took about a year for things to calm down.
Mrs D: How hard was it getting used to socialising sober?
Helen: I was surprised to learn that I’m not a ‘party animal’. I only liked parties because they were places to drink at! I was also surprised to gradually become aware of the enormous control and influence my alcoholism had over me! So when alcohol dropped from my life I started upon all the projects and interests that had been subsumed till then.
Mrs D: Can you pinpoint any main benefits to your life that have occured since you quit?
Helen: The main benefit of getting sober was freedom; freedom to go out and not get drunk, no hangovers, no shame, no dangerous escapades, no lying to pretend all was well!
Mrs D: Would you do anything differently if you were to go back in time and do it again?
Helen: I don’t think I would do anything differently had I my time again, it was and still is a hell of an adventure!
Mrs D: Anything else you’d like to say?
Helen: For those starting out ; stick with meetings (lots), trust the program, get a sponsor. Accept the love and wisdom.