Sober Story: Kate

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This week's Sober Story comes from Kate, a 59-year-old living in Christchurch. 

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Mrs D: How long have you been sober for?

Kate: I have been in recovery for nearly 4 years.

Mrs D: How were things for you towards the end of your drinking?

Kate: The last years of my drinking  were characterised by heavier and heavier drinking leading to blackouts, frequent rows with my husband on the subject, the hiding of bottles (and seeking endlessly inventive ways of disposing of them), and making monumental efforts to disguise the ravages of the night before, each morning before my teaching job. No amount of makeup or pretty clothes ever did it, really, but boy did I try! I could never remember what had happened the night before, so would constantly be playing catch up as to events/discussions while pretending I knew everything anyway. A constant refrain in our household was “I TOLD you that, don’t you remember?”

Mrs D: What happened that finally led you to quit?

Kate: The final straw that led me to get sober was the disappointment shown in me by my (then) teenage children, and them increasingly turning to my husband for comfort after my erratic behaviour. That, and my younger daughter’s fear of me when I was drunk because of the different (argumentative and aggressive) person I became. In addition, my alcohol; consumption/vomiting over the years led to a diagnosis of Barrett’s Disease - a precursor to oesophageal cancer.

Mrs D: How did things go for you after you stopped?

Kate: The early days were difficult, there’s no denying that, especially the evenings which seemed interminably long. My answer to terrible cravings was to go to bed, even late afternoon. Bed became my refuge; usually after preparing dinner, off I would go. The frank conversations I had with my husband and children had to be had, and they were also difficult but provided me (and them) with a starting point. One irony of the whole ‘addicted to alcohol' story, was that when trying to give up smoking in my 20s, I found that was when I started drinking far more than I usually did. Instead of having a drag on a cigarette in social situations, I’d have a gulp of wine instead, and another, and another… thus trading one addiction for another. Incredible.

Mrs D: I used to always be happy if some pot came out as getting stoned would stop me drinking. Crazy. How did you find socialising sober?

Kate: In the early days of sobriety, I over thought everything ie: "I can NEVER have fun any more", "I can NEVER toast my daughter at her wedding with champagne" (she was 15 at the time!), "I can NEVER socialise ever again" and "How in the world will I ever take the edge of my huge anxiety levels?" I found it difficult to go out socially at first, not because I thought I’d give in and drink, but more that there really seemed no point at all without alcohol. Why would I want to meet friends for Friday gins? Or go to a work do in a bar? Or be faced with orange juice at dinner parties, as nothing more interesting was ever provided? Eventually, finding delicious and ‘interesting’ alcohol free wines (Edenvale Sparkling Cuvee and Ariel Cabernet Sauvignon) beer (Clausthaller) and spirits (Seedlip) made a lot of difference. As long as I had something yummy in my hand that LOOKED like the real thing in a proper glass, I was ok, and friends now even provide them for me

Mrs D: Have you ever relapsed?

Kate: Yes, I have relapsed a few times but only ever a glass or two, and usually far less. The guilt, fear, shame, disgust and general self loathing usually saw me see sense fairly quickly, and I would take an Antabuse pill the very next morning. My willingness to take Antabuse (usually after I woke up) has helped me enormously as it “stops the thinking’. If you take a pill you simply can’t drink, it’s as simple as that. I HAVE tried believe me, but turning bright red, feeling giddy and faint and projectile vomiting tend to put you off a bit! So taking the pills regularly has become part of my life.

Mrs D: How long did it take for you to start feeling better?

Kate: It probably took a few months to get through the worst of the cravings (why isn’t Naltrexone freely available in NZ? I tried to get a prescription to help with the cravings, and it was going to cost about $400 as isn’t subsidised unless you go to residential rehab), and my fears and misery that my life was effectively over.

Mrs D: What reaction did you get from your friends and family?

Kate: My family was, and always have been, extremely supportive, as were the few friends I told.

Mrs D: Is there anything surprising that you've learned about yourself since you quit?

Kate: The most surprising thing I have learned since I stopped drinking is that actually I’m quite clever, organised and funny. I despised myself for so many years and thought of myself as stupid (very), hopelessly disorganised and terribly boring – and actually I’m none of those things.

Mrs D: Can you summarise how your life has changed?

Kate: My life has changed immeasurably, it really has. Probably the greatest of many changes has been the enormous sense of calm that envelops me these days. Yes life sucks at times, but for the first time in living memory, instead of escaping bad times, I calmly deal with them to the best of my ability.

Mrs D: Any other benefits that you can pinpoint?

Kate: Valuing myself more, and those that matter to me. I have developed an intolerance of wasting my time on people/events that ‘don’t do it for me’, so I simply don’t. Another benefit has been the respect shown to me by family and friends  - they are very impressed by my resolve and sticking power, and know it hasn’t been easy. Also my clarity of thinking, and wonderful, wonderful sleeps! No fear, shame, disgust and self-loathing any more for this chick!

Mrs D: Wonderful!

Kate: Would I do anything differently if I had to start again?  I would give myself permission (without any guilt) to go to bed early, turn down that party invitation, have that massage, and buy that pretty dress. It’s a tremendous achievement becoming sober, yet because of the stigma, you don’t tend to shout your success from the rooftops. A shame really, as it’s one of the greatest achievements of my life!!

Mrs D: Any advice to those who are just starting out on this journey?

Kate: All of the above is my advice. Be kind, be VERY kind to yourself. Treat yourself in any way you can, because you are worth it. Self-care tends to come way down the list for many women, but putting yourself at the top of the list sometimes, is your right as a wonderful, unique human being. Treats are very important! Online support groups like yours and Sober Sisters also invaluable.

17 Comments
  1. TheBee 2 weeks ago

    Thank you Kate – your story is indeed inspiring and I, like many of you, read them for inner strength and support. I’m only on my 3rd day of trying to put wine to the side and already I am having a tough day of it – I’ve been telling myself that I will allow myself to drink on Friday evenings and Saturdays, nothing more, progressing slowly into total sobriety or near enough – and that this week why not drink a little as I’m on holiday? So I decided to come on line and read some of your stories as the ‘witching hour’ is near. My main issue is that although I drink daily and can drink a fair amount, I just fall asleep. I never get drunk, rarely have hangovers (although some weekend morning I don’t feel as fresh as I’d like admitedly) and realise that other than using wine as my ‘dessert’ (I’m a vegan who doesn’t eat carbs at all), I do also use it to sleep more so that the days don’t seem so long. In these past 2 1/2 days dry, I’ve done more Spring cleaning than ever! I should be happy about it (I am really), but I’m also grinding my teeth in frustration right now and wondering if I’m going to make it ’till Friday evening sober. Reading about your stories gives me strength – hopefully.

  2. Shivvymac 3 weeks ago

    Thank you Kate for sharing your story.
    I’m a 63 year young woman.
    I’ve being sober since the 2nd of January this year.
    I have done 7 months sober 4 years ago, went back when my mother in law died, just an excuse as she hated alcohol as her life was hell with her husband.
    I am doing really good and enjoying the sober life again until last night , I got a real hankering for a glass of wine with my meal. I thought about the outcome as I know it would be a bottle not a glass. So I had a none alcohol beer instead and it was hard to finish.
    The mind can play so many tricks on one’
    I got on this site this morning as I find all the stories so inspiring and that I’m not alone in my journey!
    I love being sober and the little things that mean so much to me , like the birds singing outside my window or the smell of fresh coffee and lavender. No guilt! That you to all the wonderful sober family that share on Mrs D’s site.
    ” The devel wispered in my ear what will happened when the storm comes . I shouted back I AM THE StORM”

  3. Komninos 4 weeks ago

    Thank you for sharing this, every perspective counts!

  4. Anonymous 1 month ago

    Thank you for your inspiring story., I am just beginning my sobriety, although I’ve tried and failed many times. I feel now is the time I can truely accomplish this, this group is wonderful and I’m so glad I found it, or I kind of believe it found me. It’s comforting to read other stories, and not feel so alone

  5. Iowadawn 1 month ago

    Thank you, Kate! I absolutely loved your story. I am 566 days with a few slips, and a few years younger than you 😉 I can totally relate to the “I can’t drink at my daughter’s weddings!” And..”what about champagne at MY wedding? Ladies night out” etc etc….(by the way..at the moment this second marriage of mine is ..well..complicated at moment…yet yes, those thoughts of “NO MORE WINE” were in my thoughts)
    You are inspiring to me ! Thank you for sharing and congratulations on your AF journey. (And…yes…we should all be shouting off the roof tops of our overcoming and bravely stepping into this AF path)

  6. Oceania 1 month ago

    Loved reading this ! Well done you 🙂 aw man I know exactly what you mean about trying to stop ciggies and drinking double the amount !!

    • Kate 1 month ago

      How funny! I thought I was the only person to end up an alcoholic because she stopped smoking! I could never understand in the early days why I ended up plastered at parties all of a sudden , and it was because instead of the occasional sip of alcohol I was actually sipping/ gulping all the time instead of having regular drags on a ciggie. Seems funny now!

  7. AnnFromCanada 1 month ago

    Wonderful story Kate. You are inspiring to me. I’m a moderate drinking not wanting to hit bottom. I know I’d like to get off the ride now before I spin out of control. I considered hiding a bottle from my husband the other day and my alarm bells went off. thank you for sharing <3

    • Kate 1 month ago

      Hi Ann, I’m glad that what I said resonated in some way. I didn’t really know if I could say much that was worth sharing, but Lotta persuaded me🙂 I too was a moderate drinker, but the change in that crept up without me really noticing although I was anxious about my need for it for a long time. I suppose I now I realise that that anxiety should have told me that I was worried about it, then I definitely had a problem. If you feel you’re ready to change, then it’s more rewarding thank you think😘

  8. englishmum 1 month ago

    Great post. Really inspirational to hear from people further down the line. And WELL DONE 👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻. As you say, going sober is a huge achievement that should be really congratulated (but sadly isn’t).

    • Kate 1 month ago

      It’s crazy really, isn’t it? We should be SO PROUD of our mind- blowing achievement and we should have people stopping us in the street to congratulate us!!!! Just kidding, but I think so many people still regard being an addict as a weakness, so we feel ashamed. And even when beat it, because it was a so called ‘weakness’ in the first place, therefore we haven’t got much to be proud of. So wrong!!! It takes courage, strength of character, determination , self knowledge and tremendous grit – and is now a source of enormous pride to me. I’m slowly telling more and more people too – like all of you!

  9. Mari135 1 month ago

    Such a powerful story yet again….thanks heaps for sharing this, Kate! As always, posts like yours make me feels less alone, and I continue to learn so much from them. It is not easy what you did, and you did it. Getting out of that alcohol trap. It was never your fault, but definitely a huge victory to be where you are now. oxoxoxoxo

  10. barnmomma 1 month ago

    Loved this, Kate. Thanks for sharing. 🙂

  11. Elsa1202 1 month ago

    I love that- ” becoming sober is one of the greatest achievements of my life”. It really is isn’t it? And I think you’re right- we need to shout it from the rooftops. Thanks so much for sharing.

  12. Poppy88 1 month ago

    Nice Kate. These stories are so powerful in all the right ways. Your honesty is appreciated. At 9 months I am struggling a teeny tiny bit, which is when I revisit the sober tools which this site is one of. Thank you for your story, it has helped. Blessed day 🙂

  13. jo14 1 month ago

    Congrats on your sobriety Kate! Isn’t it amazing how we find out so many good things about ourselves once we quit numbing ourselves with alcohol? And kindness, especially to ourselves is so important. Well done!

  14. Hammer123 1 month ago

    Great message Kate, I feel that it will help many of us on this journey of recovery!

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