Sober Story: Lexi

This week’s Sober Story comes from Lexi, a 50-year-old living in Wellington.

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Mrs D: How long have you been sober for?

Lexi: 3 years on January 2nd 2017.

Mrs D: Congrats on your soberversary! What  can you tell us about how things were at the end of your drinking days?

Lexi: I had been drinking pretty much incessantly for 25 years with barely remembering more than a handful of nights without booze. Most every night I was either drunk or fully comatosed upon going to bed. The memory loss was quite frightening each morning, coupled of course with MASSIVE remorse and self loathing. The memory loss was very scary though, so I had ways of ‘finding clues’ to know how bad I was the night before (though usually the extent of the hangover gave me a pretty good idea!). So each morning I used to look for the top I wore the night before to see if there were dinner stains on it – that at least would indicate if I had had dinner (as I had NO recollection). And I knew if I had eaten, the hangover would be on a less severe scale. The extent of the mess on my top would also indicate just how bad my drinking session had been. I also used to look for food scraps in the rubbish bin to give me a clue whether I had eaten or not. Having to do this sort of thing to ascertain how bad I had been, and was likely to feel for the next 8 or so hours, makes me shudder now. Most every morning I’d vow to cut back, but the opposite typically occured, in order to wipe the shame from my heart and mind. It was a never ending self-perpetrated sick cycle – mind games at their very worst, bought about by an incessant ‘need’ to numb myself.

Mrs D: You’re not alone there Lexi. What happened that made you finally quit?

Lexi: I was married to the most beautiful man who loved me no matter what. But he was very sick, and undergoing treatment. The treatment was such that he could come down with a rapid infection at any moment and would need to be rushed to hospital – it was a life or death thing. On January 1st 2014, I over indulged yet again. Part of me wasn’t dealing with the reality of my husband’s life coming to an end (not that, that was the driver to start drinking to excess, but it did exacerbate the EXTRA amount i was drinking at the time). So on the morning of January 2nd 2014 my husband broke down and instead of giving me a dressing down for yet another drunken night, he pleaded with me to get help. His greatest fear was that I was killing myself with the extent I was drinking. But because I didn’t love myself that much, he ‘played another card’ which was the life changing one. He said that if he had come down with an infection over night, I would not have been able to take him to hospital – and nor would he have been able to take himself – as such he could have died. THAT was the turning point in knowing something had to change, drastically and quickly. After all, I loved him more than anything – certainly far more than myself, and it all just clicked at that point. I loved my husband so much I knew I could not be party to him losing his already delicate life, that was hanging by a thread.

Mrs D: Wow what a great inspiration. How was it for you early on?

Lexi: Incredibly, although changing a life time habit of such heavy drinking should be almost impossible without help, I somehow managed to just stop. No AA and no counselling. I don’t think I realised at the time how much grit and determination I must have had to have done that. Therapy certainly became necessary down the track but in the moment I made my mind up – that was it for alcohol – that was it! I do remember though that first month being really tough – oh the cravings. On a lighter note, I was also a bit preplexed as to what ‘normal people’ did for all those hours of the day/night that I had spent getting off my trolley. I think if my husband hadn’t been so sick we probably would have had endless bonking!

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

Lexi: Nobody knew I had a drinking problem – I hid it well and although some people probably strongly suspected ‘something’, I kept my drinking very private – always at home. I was however quite forthright with telling friends I had given up. I just didn’t elaborate as to why I did. That may well be my next chapter. (Watch this space). Funnily though, because giving up was so massive for me, I kind of thought friends would make a big deal of it. But they didn’t and I’m sure that’s the difference between people that have NO issues with alcohol, so therefore its not a big deal if someone stops, and for those of us that are alcoholics where it is life transforming, and quite all consuming for a very long time (a lifetime in fact) in all its ugliness and glory.

Mrs D: Have you ever relapsed?

Lexi: No – though I have unscrewed the bottle cap off the vodka…but thank god I didn’t proceed further.

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

Lexi: Emotionally its an ongoing journey and one I am keeping on top of thanks to a very good clinical psychologist who has dug VERY deep with me as to why this all started to begin with. It goes back to childhood (hello – there’s a surprise!). Not having had any loving parental/family figures in my life, sexual abuse in my early teens, not being able to become a mother and finally a diagnosis of Borderline Personality Disorder (where something like 70% of people have addiction issues), a clear picture fell into place of why life went in the direction it did. I’ve been in therapy 18 months now and although I still have a very long way to go, I am starting to see I really have made progress…I think slow and steady is the winning formula in my case. Physically, it was surprising how soon life without booze became a settled way of life. But the first month was certainly the hardest – and especially given the hell going on with my husband dying. Ironically had my husband not been so ill, I probably would have found it harder, but i just had so much to concentrate on in his final months, I was all consumed with him…as I say, ironic! It’s now been 3 years and I can say life without booze is euphorically brilliant! And I have to remember that in those dark moments – coz we will all have dark moments….that’s the nature of being alive really.

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

Lexi: Being in my 40s most friends were too mature to cause any ‘peer pressure’….a few teased but no real dramas there. Part of me wanted to tell them I was so damed proud of myself for the battle I was conquering. Instead I just quietly used to say or remind them, hey I’ve given up drinking, and would go pour myself a virgin mojito and be content with that. Probs the hardest was when the mind would play tricks in trying to tell me, ‘just one glass with your friends will be fine’….and it was easy to believe those mind tricks. But you just KNOW, well for me anyways, there is no such thing, as ‘just one drink’…that is just how I roll. I guess I tend to be pretty black and white, so sober socialising is just the way it is and forever will be, and I needed to adapt to that sooner rather than later. And boy did I feel proud of myself those first few times out socialising and being able to drive myself home – that was a FIRST! I actually almost WANTED to get pulled over and breathalized by a cop – I still do, so when he says ‘did you have a drink tonight madam’, I can reply, ‘no and haven’t done so for 1030 nights actually’….That would be a fun thing to say eh!

Mrs D: SUCH a buzz to get breathalysed now days! Was there anything surprising that you learned about yourself when you stopped drinking?

Lexi: I was…I mean, am, a person that’s actually ok – go figure! I also recognise alcoholism doesn’t ‘just happen’….there is so often a life time of crap to unearth to really get to the whys and wherefores. I also learnt I am fully worthy of respect and dignity from others and myself. Neither being something I used to believe I deserved. And , that’s rather cool!

Mrs D: How did your life change?

Lexi: JOY< JOY< JOY!! Although its been 3 years I am still finding out who I am…compared with the person that had no identity other than being someone that was dependent on alcohol. There is a real person worthy of real love within everyone, including we alcoholics. Man, especially we alcoholics as we’ve had a battle to get to where we are. Go us, I say! On a practical note, these are just some of the things I love now; a much healthier bank account (3+ bottles of vodka a week really adds up!) which makes buying treats from time to time all the more special; no more anxiety over whether there is enough booze in the house to get me ‘drunk enough’ each night; no more sneaky/sly drinking to cover up how much I need to get the appropriate numbness; no more stories at the bottle store of saying the vast supplies being bought were for parties or work dos (when it was all going down my throat!); eating 3 meals a day and enjoying each of them is fabulous. Being able to drive home myself from anywhere at any time is YAH!; but probably most of all, is having self respect again – conversations are so much more real, relationships are deeper, and I’m experiencing clarity for the first time ever – there’s no price you can put on that.

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

Lexi: I would say that the most profound and life changing benefit from getting sober would be getting the professional help, that led to my diagnosis of Borderline Personality Disorder (known as BPD). BPD characterises itself with an extreme fear of abandonment and rejection and intense relationship difficulties – debilitatingingly so, and I can tell you it’s a nightmare to live inside one’s own mind with this disorder, even as a high functioning achiever. Living with these insecurities, based on very real abandonment experiences, coupled with the past trauma was the reason I needed to numb myself. I don’t think I would have kept recovery going (or at the very least it would have been a damed sight harder), had I not got the diagnosis and professional therapy. I still live in extreme fear of rejection and associated mood swings, but given the right tools now and with continued weekly counselling (I have had 4 years therapy approved by ACC – yup it is a long road) drinking is not something I now need to entertain to numb these anxieties. My liver is back to normal – by the grace of god I reckon and its not that I’m religious! I lost weight, my skin likes it (as much as it can for an old gal in her 40s!). I have so much energy it is ridiculous. But most of all I have pride in myself as I’m not hiding behind any crutch (unless you call a tad too much chocolate a crutch!)

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

Lexi: I’d love to say I would have made the decision to stop years and years earlier. But the fact is, it is what it is and it was what it was. If I could go back, I would have sought counselling at the time rather than nealy a year on. It shouldn’t be a journey struggled through on your own.

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

Lexi: Just start…..start anywhere as long as you start. Probably firstly, find someone you can trust implicitly, whether it be a best friend, spiritual mentor, counsellor, your doctor…just whoever you can be certain has your back, and don’t worry if that can’t be a friend….just someone. And then do the hard yards because when you do, life changes in ways you could never imagine. If a magic wand could be waved giving me the choice of being sober for life or winning a million bucks – I’d take being sober, EVERY time. Thank god I didn’t need the magic wand anyway eh.

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

Lexi: If I can give up after 25years of being comatozed nightly, with a pretty sad and pitiful childhood that it all stemmed from, then you can do it too. Nobody’s story is so big it can’t be done. Just take that first step. And if it ever feels too overwhelming at the prospect of a life without alcohol, then just take the very moment you are living in right there and then and deal with that, rather than some massive big picture of all it encompasses. Last bit of advice – do it…it is so worth it! I know my husband who is now in heaven is proud of me, just as I am of me. You can do it too!

42 Comments
  1. Elsa1202 2 years ago

    Thanks so much for sharing @Lexic. I found your blog so familiar- only because the way you describe your life before freedom from alcohol was so like mine; the blackouts, the regret and also the fact that nobody else really knew of your addiction.
    It was so exhausting having to hide the truth day after day and pretending to be the person I knew everyone thought I was.
    My last drinking session was with my sister who I love dearly but who I suspect is also on the same alcohol addiction path I have just freed myself from.
    Maybe on that last night I hadn’t had as much to drink as my sister, but one of the catalysts for me ditching the booze was seeing her slurring and stumbling her way through the night. I knew then I didn’t want to be like that any more.
    The second thing that made me think about going AF was having a major memory blank the next morning when talking with my nephew (only 15 years old) . While we chatted he laughed and commented ” yeah Aunty, you and Mum get smashed every time you catch up eh?” I decided then and there that I wanted to ‘ cut back’ .
    The last straw was waking up the following morning, having failed to ‘ cut back’ at all, with a massive hangover ( my last ) and no recollection of a long distance conversation with my son who had just left home for overseas.
    I found Mrs D’s book incredibly inspirational and helpful. Reading that followed by Jason Vale’s book was all the push I needed to see that I was an alcohol addict and it was time to break free.
    It’s very very early days into my AF life ( only Day 9) but I’m certain that this is the way I want to live from now on.
    I’m excited to think about what the future holds – with so much more time to do the things my drinking prevented me from doing.
    Thank you to all in the Living Sober Community. I feel very lucky to have found you. I’m looking forward to what will no doubt be a roller coaster ride ahead and look forward to benefiting from the advice from those of you who have so much wisdom and experience to share with those of us who are newbies to this whole thing. Time for a cuppa and a good nights sleep!

  2. Anonymous 2 years ago

    I hope you are still sober, and if not, try again. It is incredibly hard in the beginning but easier with time and you will feel at peace for a change

    • Lexic 2 years ago

      that’s the thing isn’t it – if you relapse, pick yourself up and start again……you are not a failure for a relapse – failure is when you don’t try again…….we are all here to support.

  3. Choose wisely 2 years ago

    Hi Lexi

    That is so cool, I am struggling again, but back in track, first quit may last year, and have picked up a few times, it’s almost Ike I want to go into blackout to shut everything up…. but yes getting more counselling for childhood issues now, and addiction. Thank you for sharing . X

    • Lexic 2 years ago

      you are most welcome @choosewisely . So happy you are getting the counselling – I can tell you first hand, that when you find the right therapist, dig deep (which takes HUGE courage) and really address the core issues, then beautiful things will follow – including managing the addictions…after all, they don’t get there by themselves and altho I am no expert I’d hazard a guess that 9 out of 10 addicts have trauma issue whether childhood or other…..keep up the great work, keep on at counselling, lean on us and just know you can do it….REALLY REALLY believe in your inner strength……(and us for support!)…xo

  4. Anonymous 2 years ago

    You are wonderful, I can so relate to you.
    Night after night of blackout after blackout trying to remember the actions of the night before.
    God what a horrible living hell.
    And now we can embrace this wonderful beautiful world.
    Enjoy all of life’s gifts.
    With pride and dignity.
    xxxxx

    • Lexic 2 years ago

      it was a living hell – but life is sooooo different now…and what key words you used there, with ‘pride and dignity’…….that’s priceless. love and light to you.

  5. lexic 2 years ago

    well done Jane – can you just imagine how much your mind and body is thanking you now. I reckon given we both had so many years of drinking, that we are meant to be alive and able to tell our story. (anon or not doesn’t matter). It could have been so different yet its not, and that’s a reason to celebrate every day – and sober celebrating is the best fun of all as we are aware of every moment of its reality…. Fantastic stuff Jane!

  6. lexic 2 years ago

    Well done you for day 3! You have made the biggest step of it and it takes such courage and conviction. I hope you are so proud of yourself. I don’t know you and I am really proud of you!! 🙂 And before you know it you’ll be into double figures….but you just take one day at a time for now and no matter what, stay strong with your decision, lean on us oldies on the journey whenever you need and watch a magic life unfold…..its is so truly worth it. x

  7. Anonymous 2 years ago

    Thank you so much for sharing, I am only on day 3 and neeeded it.

    • Lexic 2 years ago

      and hoe are you doing now – day 10 I hope….keep it going… x

  8. Anonymous 2 years ago

    Lexi, congratulations, I can relate to you story so much, at the moment for me its one day at a time but I enjoy it so far after 40 years of drinking. Thank you Jane

    • Lexic 2 years ago

      just keep looking forwards eh….and only look back when you need to remember where you never want to be again. Go you!!

  9. Kerris 2 years ago

    Thank you for sharing your story. Being present and sober for our family and friends is such a great feeling. Congrats on your 3 years and your ongoing inspiration xxx

    • Lexic 2 years ago

      thanks so much @kerris…I am finding out that telling your story (just as MrsD did) is so liberating.

  10. lexic 2 years ago

    You are welcome @fanoel Just remember in your darkest hour, IT IS WORTH IT….as I said in my wee spiel, nothing is so big you can’t do this…..hang on for the ride coz there’s a lot of joy in it too. x

  11. Fanoel 2 years ago

    Thanks so much for your story, you’ve done so well, your husband sure will be proud of you. I’m just starting on the journey of staying sober and free of the big hangovers, it’s great to hear that others have been going through the same things year after year and can overcome it all. Thanks again

  12. Burno1976 2 years ago

    Thank you so much for sharing. Such a fantastic read. I’m on day 9 and you have given me so much inspiration and hope x

    • lexic 2 years ago

      Yahoo for Day 9 @burno1976 – what a massive step you have taken and isn’t it just the best. A whole new life will unravel before you (and yes there will ups and downs), and it will be worth every day, every minute and every second of it. I am cheering you on from my study here in little old NZ and there are people all round the world on this site that are too – isn’t that just the best support network…keep going and keep sharing and talking about how you are doing….on ya!

  13. seedynomore 2 years ago

    Thanks for sharing your story and I can’t help cry for you and your husband. He definately will be so so proud of you and I’m so inspired by your story so thank you xx

    • Lexic 2 years ago

      Thank you @seedynomore. Life is a very strange thing isn’t it. As I said in my blog, chances are things would have been very different if I hadn’t had such a sick husband – that was the ultimate motivator. Somewhere in my head I have this strange thought that was all this some part of a grand master plan to get me on the right track…I’m not religious enough to know but its just a thought…hope it doesn’t sounds too offbeat. 🙂

    • Anonymous 2 years ago

      the inspiration we get from each other is bloomin’ marvellous ain’t it!

  14. QuietlyDone 2 years ago

    Thank you so much for sharing your story. So proud of you!

    • Lexic 2 years ago

      @quietlydone – I’ll tell you something…there are no words that mean more to me than ‘so proud of you’..(except ‘I love you’)…..so thank you for that….that has made my night more than anything….wish I could hug you, but suffice to just say thanks.

  15. hummingbird 2 years ago

    wow thanks so much for sharing your story Lexi, that really moved me x

    • Anonymous 2 years ago

      my pleasure – we all have a story, just by being here don’t we. x

  16. soberlynn 2 years ago

    Such a powerful, gut wrenching story. So much of it I could relate to in my personal life. Thank you for opening up your life and sharing with us. Bless you. 🙂

    • Anonymous 2 years ago

      Thank you soberlynn – its empowering sharing with others isn’t it. What parts could you relate to? (if you care to share)

  17. Fabulous50 2 years ago

    That was a story I could completely relate to! Thank you for sharing! Your first description of waking up and looking for clues, this was me! So many nights I don’t remember going to bed. If my wonderful and loving husband or boys needed me to drive them or respond to an emergency I wouldn’t have been able to and that is very motivating to stay sober! I have an amazing and supportive husband worth being sober for. More importantly I have 2 amazing boys that have amazing journeys of their own and not remembering part of my night pretty much leaves me out of it. I can’t cheat them out their mother and all she is capable of nor cheat myself out their amazing experiences!
    Thanks again for the inspiration!

    • Anonymous 2 years ago

      Those morning afters were a killer eh – the remorse was indescribable to anyone unless you’d been through it….thank God we came out the other side eh…..sometimes I do wish I had stopped so long ago, but I can’t change that. What I can be grateful for, is that it wasn’t one day longer. x

  18. Seizetheday 2 years ago

    Isn’t it terrible what we put ourselves through while we’re drinking? Thank you so much for sharing your story, I love what you said at the end :
    Nobody’s story is so big it can’t be done
    Through all your grief there is pride and joy. Well done you xo

    • Anonymous 2 years ago

      Pride indeed. I don’t know why I am so private about my journey coz my goodness the strength required to overcome addiction is…well bigger than Everest really eh, and I/we should be shouting it from that mountain top. x

  19. Anonymous 2 years ago

    That brought tears to my eyes – well done you!

    • Lexic 2 years ago

      as long as they are tears of inspiration coz I don’t want to ever make anyone cry….give me a BIG SMILE .. 🙂

  20. HappyNess 2 years ago

    Thank you for sharing your story. Inspiring and to the heart. Isn’t being alcohol free just so damn fantastic!
    🙂

    • Lexic 2 years ago

      My gosh yes @happyness……..its just so important to remember that when temptation sneaks in……lets try and always remember joy over remorse…EVERY blimmin time. blessings. x

  21. Oceania 2 years ago

    Thanks for sharing , so very inspiring , xx

    • Lexic 2 years ago

      its very cathartic to share. I would encourage everyone and the beauty of this site is we can do it anon if we wish or out and proud. Cool huh.

  22. Treehugger 2 years ago

    Lexi – thank you for sharing your brave, raw and honest story. For someone like me, who is at the beginning of her journey of recovery, reading your words makes me feel like I am not alone and empowered to continue living sober. Arohanui ki a koe xo

    • Lexic 2 years ago

      you are most definitely not alone @treehugger. It can certainly feel like that…esp when we are having cravings or at certain times of the day/night….but we are NOT ALONE. We are united in at least one very BIG thing and that’s forever more….I do like that ‘forever’ word…its special…x

  23. soberorbust 2 years ago

    That was truly a wonderful story. Thank you so much for sharing!

    • Anonymous 2 years ago

      Thanks @soberorbust..we all have a story. 🙂

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