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.