Sober Story: Maria

Today’s Sober Story comes from Maria, a 56-year-old living in Ireland. 

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Mrs D: How long have you been sober for?

Maria: This time I’m 3 years 3 months sober. Previously I was 9 years sober until I made the mistake of picking up again. It was to take another 9 years before I would get sober again. The biggest waste of 9 good years of my life.

Mrs D: I often hear people say that it is harder to quit the second time..

Maria: The last time I started drinking again it quickly escalated and there were periods of some heavy binge drinking. I persuaded myself I was now out socialising with friends and having a good time. Soon I was sitting alone drinking to the early hours of the morning Thursday through to Sunday. Every day on holidays. I was drinking, sleeping, eating and starting the cycle over again, endlessly. No interests or hobbies. Just drinking and sitting in my chair watching TV. I drank copious amounts of wine with dinner then moved on to vodka lemonades. I used to water the vodka to cover up just how much I’d drunk after my husband went to bed. The hangovers and sickness were awful in the mornings but I’d perk up and by late afternoon was thinking about more drink for that night. Work and family really suffered. How I didn’t lose my job I will never know. Yet I just kept on and on drinking.

Mrs D: Yeah that was me too. The endless daily flip/flop. How bad did it get at the end?

Maria: I became physically sick and ended up in hospital. My liver function was sky high.  When I got out I stopped drinking for 3 months. Then convinced myself I could moderate. Once I started again it was clear I couldn’t. I was desperate and ashamed. Then one night when I was drunk and googling I found the Soberbia blog online. I emailed Amy saying how I envied what she had in her sobriety. She emailed me right back the next day to say I could have it too. I argued with her. Clung on to the need to drink. But she wore me down! A week later I decided I’d had enough. I had enough of being a drunk and wanted my life back. She saved my life and I’m eternally grateful to her.

Mrs D: What was it like in the early days?

Maria: I emailed Amy every day and she emailed back for the first 100 days. I was tired, grumpy, full of the poor me’s as to why I couldn’t drink normally. Guilt and shame would wash over me as I thought about the mess of the last nine years. (Ugh, it’s still tough that one). So I slept a lot. Read sober blogs (including this one!) Walked a LOT. Ate better. Did some crafting. Focused on my family and my job. And slowly I began to look and feel better. At times I soared high with happiness other times I was fit only to curl up in bed and wait for the pain to pass. But I knew my drinking days were done and the only way was to cut alcohol out of my life forever.

Mrs D: So great. How did your friends and family react to you quitting?

Maria: My husband was so supportive. I talked only about my health and a new start and he and friends accepted that. Soon everyone could see me looking better and being happier. I lost some drinking buddies but that was ok. They have their own issues and struggles. I let them go, they let me go. Real friends stayed and reaped the benefits of me always being the designated driver! Maybe I should have come cleaner to those around me. I don’t know. I’m still on the journey so maybe I will open up more. I focus on walking the walk. Living sober each day.

Mrs D: Best thing to focus on in my opinion. Have you ever relapsed?

Maria: No not this time. But as I said I was previously sober for 9 years and relapsed. Last time I just stopped drinking. This time I’m working on me. Being a better, kinder, more loving person. Warts and all. It’s different this time. As someone once said to me in AA – I know I have another drink in me, I don’t know if I have another recovery. I just couldn’t face going back to those dark, lonely days and nights of drinking again. Existing, not living. So I have to do the work to stay sober. Writing this story is part of the work. Giving back to others is too.

Mrs D: What are the biggest changes you’ve noticed?

Maria: I am just simply a different person. Happier healthier, slimmer, more content. My life is immeasurably better. No hangovers never gets old!! Neither does picking up the car keys when you’re out and want to go home. I’m calmer, so much less snippy and irritable at home and function so much better in work. I can be the wife and mother my family needs. I have also discovered a whole creative side to me I never knew was there. So much fun to be had getting out of your head and in to your hands!! I started power walking to music….Fabulous. Got out in the countryside. …so good… Reconnecting and rebuilding lost intimacy not just with others but with myself.

Mrs D: Would you do anything differently if you had the chance to go back and do it again?

Maria: There is nothing really I’d do differently or I regret about giving up the booze, other than that I didn’t do it sooner!

Mrs D: Any advice for Living Sober members who are just starting out on this journey?

Maria: Take it easy in the early days and focus on yourself as much as possible. Managing your stress levels is vital. Get support from friends and family. If you’ve hurt them with your drinking it may take time to build trust and repair relationships so in the meantime….
* Reach out to the blogosphere, journal and read sober books. We’ve all been there and know the shit you’ve done and are going through. Use us. We want to help, it’s good for us too.
* Eat good food, walk, take bubble baths, go to bed early and get up early.
* Groom – it makes you feel great 🙂 Spend some of that money you spent on booze on your sweet self.
* Get a hobby. It’s good for distraction if nothing else.
* Get a therapist or support from your GP if you need it.
* Try to forgive yourself. Yes you’ve done some bad shit to yourself and others. But shame and guilt are dangerous fellow travellers on your sober journey. Focus on living the best life you can from this day forward. Give yourself time to repair all the damage you did while you were drinking. It can’t all be put right as quickly as you’d like. Baby steps.
* Be grateful and enjoy each new sober day you’re given. Not everyone makes it.
* Have fun!! Sober life rocks.

Mrs D: What a fantastic list! Anything else you’d like to add?

Maria: One final word again to Amy over at Soberbia (check her out if you haven’t already!). You saved my life girl. I love you sober sister!!

Thanks for reading – didn’t think I’d this much to say! Hope it helps someone out the xx

25 Comments
  1. Maria 2 years ago

    Hi Anonymous – this has really touched my heart. I don’t have any easy answers for you – I wish I had. I wonder what was around when you relapsed after 16 years. And what you do when the beast on your shoulder calls so that you “too readily” give in. Dealing with all this and cancer – well it just doesn’t bear thinking about. Have you had one to one counselling? As well as an addict you’re the adult child of an alcoholic. So many issues for you to grapple with. All I can say is that I thought I’d NEVER get sober again after my 9 years drinking. But the miracle happened. Almost out of the blue. You can have it again. Keep the faith, for you and your lovely family. There’s so much help out there to bring that beast down, no matter how strong he seems. I know how hard it is – I fully respect your struggle and very much hope you can get your AF life back. Take care Mx

  2. Anonymous 2 years ago

    Relapse is SO hard. I know every tool available and I keep in touch with a supportive weekly meeting run by the hospital in our country town. I try and try and keep failing. My family is aghast, hurt and confused. As am I. My 16 years of sobriety while raising the family I never thought of drinking and did a lot of work in the community we then lived in before moving from city to rural. I believe I have very good understanding of addiction, but the beast never leaves my shoulder. A constant temptation that I too readily give into. Why? I wish I knew. I am intelligent, bright, have a gorgeous now grown up brood, my partner who has stood by me in utter despair. My mother was a chronic alcoholic and I always remember her saying as I put her to bed yet again asa 16 year old “if I had cancer my friends would visit, but because I am what I am (never the mention of alcoholism mentioned in our house), they stay away. When she died her entire school class was present. I wanted to lift the coffin lid and let mum see that they did care – just couldn’t or didn’t understand addiction. Never did I think I would end up following her path. I do have friends trying to understand, I also have cancer and addiction … but dear mum it isn’t easy!!

  3. Maria 2 years ago

    Hi Janna – I’m so glad you’ve made that firm decision! You’ve had 26 sober years so put that 14 months down to experience and start enjoying a happy sober life again. One where you can hold your head high and leave the shame, guilt and hangovers behind you. I’m so glad you stopped by to read. Come back to your sober sisters we need you! Every good wish to you – keep in touch xx

  4. Maria 2 years ago

    Thanks for reading square-peg. Each new day is a start and brings hope. Without that what do we have? Don’t give up trying x

  5. Square-Peg 2 years ago

    Wow thanks for sharing gives me hope

  6. Janna 2 years ago

    Maria. This was just timely for me. I was sober for 26 years and happy. Picked up a drink and 14 months later here I am typing with a hangover.

    Today WILL be my last hangover. I have not done any permanent damage to my health yet but will do if I keep on going. Not to mention I feel I am letting people down at work etc.

    Blessings

  7. Maria 2 years ago

    You’re very welcome Sophia2. It was a good experience to write it all out. Hope it helps someone in some small way x

  8. sophia2 2 years ago

    loved your story. Thanks for sharing.xx

  9. Maria 2 years ago

    Thanks Booklover – that’s kind of you to say so! Your path will get easier with time. Stick with it x

  10. Maria 2 years ago

    Don’t waste another day of your precious life feeling like that. I know how tough it is, especially the second time – but at least you know you CAN do it based on your history. I’m really hoping you can make day 2 then 3 then your first week, month and year. But today, just think about today. Do whatever you need to do to stay away from it. Willing you on from Ireland. You can only feel better if you don’t pick up today. Good luck and I’ll be thinking about you xx

  11. Anonymous 2 years ago

    Thanks for your share. I am Day 1, I also quit for 9 years and have now been drinking for 2 1/2. I have been “trying” to quit for a few months now, but today is the day. Sick of feeling shitty about myself.

    • booklover 2 years ago

      You can do it, I am new on this path and it is difficult, by Maria has some great ideas.

  12. Maria 2 years ago

    Thanks Behind the sofa. I’m not religious either but I will take all and any blessings from wherever they may come! Many universe blessings to you and to all brave souls living (and especially to those out there wanting to start living) sober.

    We can do this together x

  13. behind-the-sofa 2 years ago

    I’m not religious…. but god bless you : ) xxx

  14. Maria 2 years ago

    Thanks Bobby! Even now washes of shame and guilt can rise up with surprising clarity, knocking me momentarily for six. I just breathe and try to let it wash away. Why don’t all our achievements and moments of sober satisfaction do that too?? We have to work harder to give them their proper place in our new lives. Good luck to you in yours. Thanks for reading. It means a lot.

  15. Bobby 2 years ago

    ‘Shame and guilt are dangerous fellow travellers on your sober journey ‘. That is an excellent sentence, I love that line and will remember that.

  16. Maria 2 years ago

    Sorry folks I’ve managed to post all out of sync with my replies – apologies – I’m new to this!!

  17. Maria 2 years ago

    Hi Morgan – please think of me and the 9 wasted years if that “wine escape” ever calls your name again! It’s hard to feel all those feelings when you’ve numbed them out for so long. But as you say being able to ride the lows with a clear head is a far better way to go. In the early days i used to continually play the tape forward to how I would feel the next day if I drank again, how one drink would lead to another, one night turning back into many lonely nights still sat there in that chair! All that shame and guilt returning to plague me…Ugh….

    Take care of yourself and try not to work too hard. There’s a lot of wisdom in notion of staying away from being hungry, angry, lonely and tired. Thanks for reading. It means a lot to me that people have taken the time to listen. Hope it help anyone new and struggling out there.

    Goodnight from Ireland where I’m breaking my rules and being up to 12.35 :/

    M xx

  18. Maria 2 years ago

    Hi JM – thanks for reading! Yes this AA saying still strikes a deep chord with me. I intend to stay sober for the rest of my life but I take nothing for granted. I know alcohol can take everything from me if I go there again. I’m glad I sound happy – I am. Happy and content and rolling with all life’s punches AF. Well done on your 21 months. Great achievement!

  19. JM 2 years ago

    Hi Maria! Thanks for sharing your story and tips to stay sober! That will resonate in my mind – I know I have another drink in me, I don’t know if I have another recovery. I’ve been sober for 21 months, and I’ll think about that if I think about when I can/will drink again! I love how happy you sound. : )

  20. Nic1963 2 years ago

    Thanks Maria. Great stuff. You sound happy and content. Like you I just wish i had given up earlier.

    C’est la vie. You can’t push shit back up a donkey.

    • Maria 2 years ago

      That’s so funny Nic – never heard that one in Ireland but I know where you’re coming from lol! Thanks for reading and commenting. I feel so lucky to be here, happy and healthy. All the best to you too!

  21. Freyfreya 2 years ago

    Congratulations Maria on achieving your long term sobriety. I am so interested in the early days as I found the first 60 difficult. Just so unwell and tired. A timely reminder from you that I can’t fix several years in 60 days xxx

    • Maria 2 years ago

      Hi Freyfreya – congratulations on 60 days. It does take time but it’s so worth it isn’t it? Even at 60 days your body will be recovering. I remember getting some blood tests back at around that stage and was so glad to see the indicators all moving in the right direction. When you think of how we treated these bodies…..it’s just amazing when we are able to pull it back. I’m glad we’re some of the lucky ones. Not everyone gets another chance, I’ve had a few and I’m not stretching that luck any further. Keep going Freyfreya 🙂

  22. morgan 2 years ago

    Thank you so much for telling us your inspiring story. I was feeling quite low, doing some long hours & having some stupid thoughts about how nice a brief wine escape would be. Ridiculous, so destructive. Way better to wait for the low to pass naturally, enjoy a clear head. You reminded me where that ‘brief’ relapse can go., even for moderaters, a long slow energy killer.
    Wonderful you turned it around again!!!

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