Sober Story: Hetti

This week’s Sober Story comes from Hetti, a 68-year-old living in Mosgiel (having relocated about one year ago from Whangarei).


Mrs D: How long have you been in recovery?

Hetti: Just over 3 years. 19th August 2014 – I joined this site 5 days earlier to read posts and to somehow get my head around what was a very scary decision but by the 19th I was ready – that I was drinking like a fish could’ve had something to do with being ready.

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

Hetti: I was a late starter as are many in my age group as wine was not so readily available – and beer was not my drink of choice. Suddenly cask wine cooling in the fridge made pouring a glass very easy … and I am still not sure when a few glasses turned into a bottle per night and slowly an extra glass or two or three – mmmm – may as well finish that bottle as well aye. I tried to cut back but that was so hard. My daughters convinced me to have alcohol free days which I did – 3 per week but I hated those nights – I felt so flat, so sad, so empty.

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

Hetti: I was lucky in as much apart from being argumentative and very loud my husband didn’t have a problem with my drinking as such as long as I left his wine alone – as he could make his bottle last 4 or 5 days but before he knew it it was gone. I knew I was finally on a very slippery slope going down when I hid his bottle that I had just emptied and drank enough of another of his wine to the same level of the one I finished. This is of course after I had finished my own bottle. I went to bed but could not sleep – had to take the hidden bottle and put it out for proof that I was in trouble. I kept thinking about my problem with all the fuss re dry July – also Nigel Latta did an expose on the booze industry that I found disturbing and then I was lucky to see Lotta on TV talking about her book and the Living Sober site – and something just clicked. I actually felt a bubble of excitement and couldn’t wait to look at the site – mmmm had to join first – big step ….. big deep breath and click I joined. Five days later I gave up drinking for good.

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

Hetti: Day one done and dusted – what a feeling! 2 then 3, 4 and on day five I made the forever pledge. I just about lived on this site for months – it got me thru the hard days – helping others while others were helping me survive – I remember seeing some with 2 years and feeling amazed – how did they do that? Then it was a week, a month and slowly but surely the days kept growing. I also teamed up as a day buddy with another newbie who joined the same day – the support we gave each other – and all the other members was amazing – and many have become firm friends.

Mrs D: That’s so great. What reaction did you get from family & friends when you started getting sober?

Hetti: I was very lucky that I only got support – even better than that a month later my daughter joined the site – her belief in me just helped strengthen my resolve.

Mrs D: Have you ever experienced a relapse?

Hetti: Again luckily no

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

Hetti: Those first few weeks were nail bitingly tense – once the first month passed I started finding it easier. Not a walk in the park but do-able. Again the site was my go-to-place, for friendship and support … and we had some laughs as well.

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

Hetti: Not easy – and very boring – oh so boring … but at least I wasn’t loud and at least I wasn’t talking non stop. And best of all I went to bed not having to wonder did I say any thing wrong or offend anyone.

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

Hetti: I found out I was stronger than I had ever believed possible. I started liking myself again.

Mrs D: How did your life change?

Hetti: I was happy again, as simple as that. I was happy again.

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

Hetti: I was calmer and in control. When things went wrong as they tend to do, I found I could handle the situation without flying into a rage or crumbling down in a crying mess. I was able to see things for what they were and either fix it or let it go. That in itself made life so much easier.

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

Hetti: No not really except to start much much sooner.

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

Hetti: Believe in yourself. Use positive thinking and affirmations to retrain your brain. I go on and on about this but it was my main tool. When sometimes I think how nice it would be to sit down with a glass of red my brain responds immediately with a – is that the glass before the end of the bottle or the next one? I know I cannot moderate.

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

Hetti: Just to say how grateful I am to Lotta and the Living Sober site and its members. I for one would not be here after 3 years of sobriety without it.


  1. hopefuldot 7 years ago

    Thanks so much for sharing . I too was a late starter and now realize I need to stop completely. Tried moderating and it does not Work for me. Accepting this is step 1 for me.

  2. Liberty 7 years ago

    Thanks so much for your story @hetiheti. I echo what Brummiebird said so beautifully. You’re a lamplighter to me – thanks for showing how it’s done with such simplicity and warmth. xx

  3. Kerris 7 years ago

    Thank you for sharing your story. So sorry your not making it this weekend. I did enjoy talking with you at the last Christchurch gathering and I am sure there will be other meet ups. Your an amazing Lady xxx

  4. QuietlyDone 7 years ago

    Hello gorgeous !! Love your photo. Healthy, strong, and happy!
    The early days here together brought us all together. I will always treasure getting to know you and your lovely daughter!

  5. soberlynn 7 years ago

    You’ve continued to light my path and show me the way since I joined in September 2014. Thank you for setting such a fine example Hetti. ♡

  6. Cinderella 7 years ago

    You beautiful lady. Congratulations. Day 1 for the 4th time since March 15 2017. I started with a hiss and a roar but gradually got worn down by external woes…..But you have inspired me greatly to pick up and barrack on- Thank you for your awesome story Heti xox I love that your daughter came on board too – ) and I love all you sober warriors too -)

  7. bessiesgurl 7 years ago

    Thanks for sharing your story, it’s stories like yours that inspire me to keep going!

  8. GeeA 7 years ago

    So beautiful seeing your story and you Hetiheti! And all of you other gorgeous sober souls too! Inspiring. Each and every one of you! Much love and blessings Hetiheti too, GeeA – Gaylene. (So, so happy with my AF lifestyle too. We’re definitely worth the effort.)

  9. hummingbird 7 years ago

    beautiful x

  10. Hetti Engelen 7 years ago

    Awwww thanks Morgan – must say the cauliflower pizza doesn’t do it for me but then I was never a pizza fan anyway – have now gone vegan as well so have now completely turned my food intake around – would never have done that if I was still boozing – so now wheat, sugar and dairy free plus vegan – and it feels good xx

  11. Hetti Engelen 7 years ago

    That was what I loved most about the site – giving and receiving the support we so needed – will fb msg the recipe later xx

  12. Hetti Engelen 7 years ago

    We sure do spinnerz – we sure do xx

  13. morgan 7 years ago

    Beautiful story. Loved remembering how it was when Bella joined, and how she has honoured you along the way. Love the times we meet up, the fun at Lyall bay, more stories! seeing you in the bus home – another huge chapter to tell. Soon I will get down there and we can do more sharing. You can teach me the cooking ( yet another chapter!) – I think of you when I venture into healthy food making, (the latest a cauliflower pizza base type thing – wonderful!)
    You have made such a difference to so many lives with your strong support and caring. Xxxxx love you beautiful, strong woman.

  14. Prudence 7 years ago

    Thank you for your story Heti, I feel I know you a little bit more now. I will always remember the early days and what a huge support you were to everyone, and how often we were all on the site. Remember when we reached 500 members and we were all blown away? hahaha. I love what you say “Is that the glass before the end of the bottle, or the next one”. Clever!. It has been great to watch the courage of you and your husband in selling up the family home, buying your big camper and travelling the country. I admire you both so much for that choice. May you always be this happy. (And may you tell me your recipe for black rice salad please, I thought I’d have a crack at it for the gathering next w/e?) xoxox

    • Gilbert 7 years ago

      Thank you Heti. You have made huge changes in your life and it’s wonderful to see you just flying. You have been here offering love and support for so long. Your family and yourself can rightly be proud of you. You even look so different now. Wonderful sober star. If there was a walk of fame and a life member badge you’d have it xx

  15. Seizetheday 7 years ago

    Our lovely hedgehog, thank you so much for sharing your story. I remember those early days, this site was our go to aye.
    I loved how positive you always have been. I’m so glad you have the real you now. Well done you special thing xo

    • Hetti Engelen 7 years ago

      Yes seizetheday – it certainly was my go to place for support and friendship – how lucky we’re we xx

  16. Spinnerz 7 years ago

    Well done Hetti ! I haven’t been here an absolute age and then I saw your story ! I too am still going strong and over 3 years now and my little calculator is almost at $20,000 !!! Well done to us. Rock on !

  17. elhall 7 years ago

    Congrats on three years! You were one of the first to welcome me here and it meant so much to know I wasn’t alone. Thank you for all your positivity and support.

    • Hetti Engelen 7 years ago

      Glad I was there to welcome you – and yes I know how much that means cos joining is a huge step (in the right direction luckily) – and I also remember the welcomes when I joined and suddenly it didn’t seem quite so scarey anymore xx

  18. globug 7 years ago

    Thank you for your story Hetti, you are so right – sober IS a great place to be. I’m now at 190 days sober and really love where I am, so much happier and healthier.

    • hetiheti 7 years ago

      Wow 190 days and growing every day – and healthier for sure – hair shinier skin cleaner and eyes brighter – life sure is happier sober xx

  19. Brummiebird 7 years ago

    Well done dear Heti.
    You are amazing
    I looked to you in my early days as you were (and still are ) one of the site lamplighters.
    You helped make the site what it is. A big family of support.
    I will always remember you guys for that xxxx

    • hetiheti 7 years ago

      Awwww thanks Brummiebird – but being there for others is what helps us all stay strong and we are all amazing xx

  20. JM 7 years ago

    Wow, 3 years!! I love that you said the main way your life changed is that you’re happy. So simple and great. Your picture shows that! Huge congrats!!

    • hetiheti 7 years ago

      Thanks JM – why do we all risk so much with that booze – so great when we cut those ties and yes happiness is a great reward xx

  21. Nina 7 years ago

    So many different stories of success which I am soaking up because they all speak to me. Thanks for telling yours Hetti. It is inspiring and I remember the buzz having mother and daughter LS duo on board.
    I am with my very elderly mother tonight who just offered me a drink while she has her whisky nightcap. She doesn,t get my refusal but I love her anyway. A teaspoonful is unlikely to suffice and i feel stronger without and like you, happier too.

    • hetiheti 7 years ago

      That happiness is too precious to risk the loss of it again … bless your mum – she just wants to share and doesn’t get it at her age and I am so please that she can enjoy her nightcap – at her age we will probably have to put up with warmed milk – bleh!!! But when I think things like that I remind myself I am the one who chose to break my stop button so I am the one who has to pay the price …. but the price has been the best ever …. and I am excited for my daughters third year soberversary next month … we have been a great team. …. grateful for our happiness @Nina

  22. Lilly67 7 years ago

    Loved reading your sober story Hetti. really inspiring. X

    • hetiheti 7 years ago

      @Lilly67 – we are all on this journey and we are all inspiring xx

  23. Scared 7 years ago

    Love you Hetti!! Congrats on three years xoxo

    • hetiheti 7 years ago

      Love you too beautiful woman xx

  24. Elsa1202 7 years ago

    Thank you so much for sharing your story Hetti. It is so affirming to hear the stories of people whose lives before being AF were so so familiar! Your achievement of 3 years sober is an inspiration to me – it’s where I want to be. Best wishes to you.

    • hetiheti 7 years ago

      And just keep plodding thru those days Elsa1202 and eventually you too will get here – just like we did – we are all on the same road heading towards the same direction whether on day one or 111 – sober is a great place to be – good luck xx

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