This week's Sober Story comes from Lisa, a 55-year-old living in California, USA.
Mrs D: How long have you been in recovery?
Lisa: Almost 15 years. I got sober in March 2004. I was 40 when I quit.
Mrs D: What can you tell us about the last months/years of your drinking before you gave up?
Lisa: The best way to describe the last years is holographic. It seems like I floated in between these two realities. One where I was clearly an alcoholic, one where I wasn’t. The crazy thing—both of them seemed real. Whatever one I was in seemed like the CONVINCING one.
Mrs D: What was the final straw that led you to get sober?
Lisa: Ohhhh, I never like this question. My daughter got hurt (she was one at the time) and I had been drinking and not paying attention. It’s a much longer story than that, but that’s the straw. Even now (12 years later) it still makes my skin crawl that I let it get to this. I have done a lot of self-inquiry over the years, but somehow I have trouble fully releasing this event. In many ways I am grateful. I can’t image what else could have happened to have awakened me. All in all, it was the lesser of evils. We hear many horror stories. In some strange way, I’m glad this is mine.
Mrs D: How was it for you in the early days? What was most difficult?
Lisa: The early days were horrible. I did not think it would be so hard to abstain. It seemed the longer I was sober the harder it got, not easier as everyone said. It was about nine months before I found some relief from my thinking. At about a year of recovery I finally knew, for sure, without a doubt, I was a full-blown addict. I would never be able to drink ‘normal’ and it would be best if I didn’t try. At a year I was resolved to shifting my energy away from not-drinking and toward start-living. It was a welcomed shift.
Mrs D: What reaction did you get from family & friends when you started getting sober?
Lisa: This is a little anti-climactic. I think some people were surprised and others were happy for me. I kept lower companionship with drinking friends, so the feelings were mixed. People that drank less than me were glad, people that drank more than me were worried they might be addicts too. LOL.
Mrs D: Have you ever experienced a relapse?
Lisa: I guess you can say I’ve relapsed since the day I started drinking. If I am honest it was always a problem. I never quite drank like non-addicts drink. But when I went to detox in 2004, I somehow managed to stay in the sober loop. This blogging community is definitely part of my solution. I have found life-long friends via the internet. Whenever I get thinking drinking is a grand idea, I login to my friend’s blogs and read their posts. I love reading the words of a newcomer. Always profound and humbling. And always takes me back to the place I once was. They remind me that I hate drinking.
Mrs D: How long did it take for things to start to calm down for you emotionally & physically?
Lisa: Yeah, a year—Seriously.
Mrs D: How hard was it getting used to socialising sober?
Lisa: Very hard at first because I was focused on what I was giving-up. When I shifted to what I was gaining it became easier (and now it is very easy). I came to realize that there was an incredible gal living inside me and my challenge was to learn to live unaltered and to my fullest.
Mrs D: Was there anything surprising that you learned about yourself when you stopped drinking?
Lisa: Honest answer: I didn’t realize I was a rager. Yes, I did not know what to do with heavily charged emotions. I found myself walking down the hall of my house wondering who was living in my body. It scared me—truly. I thought I was going crazy. I think that’s when the therapy started. LOL.
Mrs D: How did your life change?
Lisa: Wow, everything changed. You don’t even want this whole answer. I went back to school. Started a new career in recovery, started a blog, wrote a book, starting doing public speaking, went back to school and learned about energy medicine and how it can aid in recovery AND I get to run almost every day. I get to do homework with my kids—sober. Cook sober. Vacation sober. Write sober. Go anywhere I want without worrying whether or not alcohol is available. I get to be kind and thoughtful. I get to be honest. I get to feel. I FEEL so many emotions I never even knew existed. I’m living and thriving. Not surviving until I get another glass of wine. I get to love me today. Sh*t, I couldn’t say that 12 years ago.
Mrs D: What are the main benefits that emerged for you from getting sober?
Lisa: The top is being sober and present to raise my children AND loving me, mistakes and all. But a close second is that I have worked toward a wonderful education in bioenergetic healthcare and I am learning and sharing my successes with other addicts. I love the joy in seeing a woman’s life change. I love being part of someone else’s recovery. It’s very rewarding.
Mrs D: Would you do anything differently given the chance to go through the process again?
Lisa: None of it. I’m a better person for having done it all.
Mrs D: What advice or tips would you have for those who are just starting on this journey?
Lisa: Don’t be afraid to let a new you emerge. There’s a beautiful person inside you. I hope you find them. You deserve to find them.
Mrs D: Anything else you'd like to share?
Lisa: Just because you struggle doesn’t mean you can’t do it. Find friends. Get support. Never give up hope.