Sober Story: Julie

Julie doing a handstand on the beach with dog

This week's Sober Story comes from Julie, a 48-year-old living in Auckland.


Mrs D: How long have you been in recovery?

Julie: 3 ½ years.

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

Julie: In the last few months before giving up I had a lot of conversations with myself at 3am. It seemed that was always the time I would wake up and wish that I had not had so much to drink the night before. Dry mouth, feeling a bit nauseous and needing to go to the loo. But I could never seem to remember that feeling by 4.30pm when it was wine o’clock. I had known for a while that I wanted to stop and kept trying to limit alcohol to certain nights of the week, but it never really worked. I would say to myself on Sunday, “Ok Julie, you are not going to have any wine until Thursday evening.” And then something would happen at work on a Monday or Tuesday and I would say to myself, “You deserve a wine.” I could always find a reason that I deserved a wine.

Mrs D: Oh, same. What finally led you to quit?

Julie: I did not really have ‘a final straw moment’, many regretful moments built up over a long period of time but nothing earth shattering. I got very tired with being disappointed in myself. Probably the real turning point for me happened when I read a sober story (like this one) posted by a friend of mine. Reading her account of her struggles to stop drinking and her success moved me to contact her and ask for her help. I thought if she could do it why couldn’t I. She became my own personal AA. We would walk for an hour every week and talk, and I would complain, and she would be calm and tell me to keep going. Forever grateful for Kerry Tari.

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

Julie: It was hard, probably one of the hardest things I have ever done. I really had to just approach each day, each new social event, each celebration, each challenge one at a time. As each of these days or events passed, I realised I had conquered another day and knew I couldn’t go back, or I would have to start all over again.

Mrs D: What was most difficult?

Julie: I think one of the hardest things was having to explain to people why I had made this choice. I don’t think anybody truly realised how big a deal this was for me and I don’t think I could ever quite find the words to express that to people adequately enough. It felt to me that people were quite confronted by it, like somehow because I had made this choice, I was judging them.

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

Julie: There was quite a bit of surprise from most family and friends. Most people would say, "Why are you doing that, you never seemed like you had a problem?" They saw me as a well a good and well organised mother and wife, who was efficient at work and home, who liked to exercise regularly and enjoyed a glass of wine. And I was all of those things and there is nothing wrong with that. But the problem was I could never just have one glass of wine. What would be the point in that? I was very good at looking in control until I wasn’t.

Mrs D: Have you ever experienced a relapse?

Julie: No relapse. Phew!

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

Julie: I feel like it took 6 months for me to feel a bit more in control but even up to a year or year and a
half later I would still have the temptation to drink.

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

Julie: It’s funny how people will say, "lets get together for a drink. Oh yeah that’s right, you don’t drink." And I always think to myself, "But I do drink, if I didn’t, I would die of dehydration." Socialising was hard because I really loved drinking with friends and fully believed that social occasions were more fun when you were a bit drunk (or a lot drunk sometimes). In the beginning its all about convincing yourself that you can have fun without alcohol and then at some point it changes to you trying to convince others that you are having fun without alcohol.

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

Julie: I learned that I have an extremely addictive personality and that when I do things I tend to go all or nothing. This has been important for me giving up drinking but is something I need to monitor in myself across other areas of life.

Mrs D: Oh SAME. How did your life change?

Julie: I feel so much better for making this change in my life. I am fitter, stronger healthier and much more clear and in control.

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

Julie: No hangovers, sober laughter, being present as a mum (no more wine o’clock), amazing sleeps, weight loss, clarity and so many more…

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

Julie: To be honest, I do sort of wish I could go back in time and tell my 16-year-old self to not pick up that first drink then maybe it would not have been so hard when I had to give up. But to be honest, I have an amazing life and amazing people in it, so I feel lucky to be here where I am regardless of how I got here. As for the actual process of giving up drinking I don’t think I would change anything.

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

Julie: Just take one day at a time. Every day is a victory and everyday is a little further away from day 1.

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

Julie: Being honest with yourself about your relationship with alcohol is confronting. Being honest about how much you actually drink and determining whether it is a problem is also confronting. Talk to people, read about it, find a friend and listen to the voice inside your head at 3am that says, "you need to stop this".

  1. sb1205 1 year ago

    Thank you for having the courage to share your story, Emma. It’s encouraging to see how your choice to quit drinking not only changed your life, but the lives of those who love you.

  2. Danne 4 years ago

    Thank you for your story Julie, I relate to so much of what you said. 3.5yrs is so awesome, you are an inspiration to me as I sit here at day 4. Nga mihi x

  3. Jamie 4 years ago

    Wow incredible story, very inspiring. I’m on day 7 and can already see that my social friends are going to be challenging, more than me giving up! I went out with a girlfriend yesterday to an afternoon show, I’d already told her I was doing dry January to soften the blow ( In reality I want to stop forever. ) She was shocked and said, oh my birthdays in February, thank god you will be able to have a drink with me then. Eeekkkk.

  4. Lupita 4 years ago

    This is my story to a T! It was the 3am self-loathing that seemed to never end. I just couldn’t take it anymore. I’m so proud of you for making a change and sticking with it. Very inspiring. 🙂

  5. coach-elise 4 years ago

    really relate to this! thank you.

  6. Hammer123 5 years ago

    Congratulations on 31/2 years AF! I definitely found there are stages to explaining that your not drinking to people. I used to be terrified to tell people because I would feel like a failure. Now the only people who judge me are people that have a drinking problem. Normal drinkers don’t care if you have a drink because they are only going to have a couple and stop! Thanks for posting.

  7. Lucky44 5 years ago

    Very nice!! I loved reading this and thanks for sharing!!

  8. Poppy88 5 years ago

    Bless. Thank you so very much for sharing this. 3 1/2 years is amazing! Your story is eerily similar to mine. I’ve never posted anything about how I came to stop but this comes the closest to similarities with my journey. What a huge accomplishment for you, so inspiring and awesome! Take care and happy day ??

    • Jasmaine 5 years ago

      Same with me Poppy, it is very similar to my story too.15months for me now and I’m still finding it difficult at times to push the “just one won’t hurt” voice away in my head. I struggle with my husband drinking though, that has caused me to feel very resentful at times because of all the effort I’m putting in for “us”…..still working on that one…..may you both feel happy and peaceful in your journey xo

      • Rachel2015 5 years ago

        Breaks my heart to read this….I’ve been down this road and it’s a nasty one. Best of luck x

    • J Blamires 5 years ago

      Thanks for your comment. Its a weird one putting it out there and seeing it in print. Good luck and have a great day.

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