Sober Story: Maria

Today’s Sober Story comes from Maria, a 55 year old living in Australia. She describes herself as a full time traveller who has been living on the road with the love of her life for almost 5 years now.

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Mrs D: How long have you been sober for?

Maria: More than 3 and a half years.

Mrs D: How bad did things get before you gave up?

Maria: The year prior to quitting the booze was our first year on the road and our first year of retirement. I treated every day as a Saturday and was drinking every single day. However I have been a heavy drinker since I was 15 years of age.

Mrs D: So what finally made you stop? 

Maria: I didn’t have an ‘aha moment’, I just knew that the booze was getting the better of me and I needed to do something about it. If I am honest with myself I was an alcoholic.

Mrs D: Was it hard at first? What did you find most difficult?

Maria: It was tough; I won’t sugar-coat it. I honestly didn’t think I would see the week out, let alone an entire year. My original plan was to take a year off the booze, but as time went on I realised that it was going to be a lifetime decision. One of the first things I did was to recognise my drinking triggers – socialising with others was a big one. And cooking dinner was the other one. I realised that I always opened a bottle of wine when I cooked dinner. I also came up with a coping plan for when the ‘wiwis’ hit (will I, won’t I?). My coping plan entailed writing down how I was feeling, talking to my husband, and pouring myself a glass of tonic water in my best wine glass. After a few weeks I heard about Hello Sunday Morning and signed up immediately.

Mrs D: How did people around you react to you quitting drinking? 

Maria: Mostly they were supportive, and a few of them were quite surprised at my decision. Some said that they were worried about us socialising together as our relationships had been built on the shared love of drinking. Some were sceptical that I would see the year out as everyone knew me as a big drinker.

Mrs D: Did you ever relapse?

Maria: No. I have been tempted a couple of times but have resisted the temptation. My toughest challenge was when my beloved brother-in-law passed away last year and I was with him when he passed. After he died the family drank fine malt whisky in his honour. I had a bowl of ice-cream instead. It did the trick!

Mrs D: Ice-cream always does the trick! How long after you first stopped did it take for things to calm down emotionally & physically?

Maria: Physically there were many changes for me. I immediately started to lose weight and have now lost 30 kgs. I have reduced (and in some cases eliminated) medication. I no longer take HRT as the hot flushes disappeared after I quit the booze. My skin has cleared. My hair feels healthier. My nails are stronger. So many aspects of my physical being have changed for the better. I can’t say giving up the booze had an emotional impact on me as such. I did mourn the loss of my friend white wine, but I didn’t get emotional over quitting the booze. I think I was just surprised when I realised how much of a problem it had become.

Mrs D: 30kg that is awesome!! Well done. Did you find it hard socialising without your ‘friend’ white wine?

Maria: I was determined not to hide myself away and still went into pubs and clubs. It does take a bit of getting used to, but I had my coping plan in place. I have been to my first wedding sober, and that was a fantastic experience for me. There are times when I do feel like the odd one out, but I relish that feeling!

Mrs D: It’s quite fun going to weddings sober and watching the whole proceedings with a clear head I find. Was there anything surprising that you learned about yourself when you stopped drinking?

Maria: I learned that life is so much more fun when you are sober! I wish I had have realised this many years ago.

Mrs D: How did your life change?

Maria: Immensely. I have achieved so much since quitting the booze. I have written a book; I have become a tarot card reader; I have done a stand-up comedy routine on stage in a pub; I have done abseiling; I am teaching myself calligraphy. None of these things would have been achieved if I was still drinking because the booze always came first.

Mrs D: Stand-up comedy and abseiling, wow! Can you pin-point what the main benefits have been for you from getting sober?

Maria: My health has improved. I have lost weight. I have saved so much money. I am happier. I am a better person.

Mrs D: Fab. Would you do anything differently if you could go back and do it all again?

Maria: No, I wouldn’t change a thing. I just wish I had have done it years ago.

Mrs D: Any advice or tips for Living Sober members who have just recently given up?

Maria: Stay strong. If you relapse just get back on that horse. It will all be worth it in the end.

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

Maria: I used to drink between 1 and 2 bottles of white wine per day. Wine has approximately 630 calories per bottle. Here are my stats based on 1.5 bottles per day and based on $10 per bottle.

Three and a half years = 1277 days.
1277 days x 1.5 bottles per day = 1915 bottles of wine I have not consumed.
1915 bottles x 630 calories = 1,206,450 calories I have not consumed.
1915 bottles x $10 per bottle = $19,150 saved.

Pretty sobering, wouldn’t you say?

Maria

21 Comments
  1. Maria Dunn 3 years ago

    Thanks delgirl68! Yes, we have a caravan and travel fulltime in it around Australia. We are currently in the Kimberleys enjoying the lovely warm weather! I still go to happy hour or sundowners each night, but I take along a tonic water or a cup of tea. I love socialising with campers and hearing their stories, I just choose not to drink alcohol when socialising these days. So nothing has changed – I still drink, just not alcohol.

  2. delgirl68 3 years ago

    Thanks so much for this interview! You have given me some inspiration today when I could really do with some! I love to travel and find it difficult to imagine being on the road without booze. I assume you are travelling Australia in a camper or caravan or something? I spent a few months doing that with husband and kids (not sober) and everyone drinks once they set themselves up – its the travelling ritual, and the way to meet others and share travel stories. So I think its awesome your’e not one of them! Perhaps pulling out your calligraphy pens and practicing as the sun goes down for the afternoon, with your tonic water! How fabulous! Your story helps me to remember why I quit drinking too so thanks for sharing, and happy travels xxxxx

  3. Maria Dunn 3 years ago

    Thank you Wvlheel! I am glad you found it inspiring!

  4. Wvlheel 3 years ago

    Thank you for sharing your inspiring story.

  5. Maria Dunn 3 years ago

    Thanks MrsP! We have ridden this journey together and still are!

  6. MrsP 3 years ago

    Brilliant interview Maria. Everything you said is absolutley true. Life is so much more fun sober x

  7. Maria Dunn 3 years ago

    Hi Reena! Thanks so much for your lovely comments. My life is so much better without the booze, and I am certainly embracing it all! I was determined to not change when I quit the booze. In fact I tell people that I still drink, I just don’t drink alcohol anymore. I am pleased you found my story inspiring.

  8. Maria Dunn 3 years ago

    Thanks so much gypsylady! I am glad you enjoyed the interview. From one gypsy lady to another!

  9. Maria Dunn 3 years ago

    Thanks Awip! The photos were taken over the last 4 years and I was quite surprised when I lined them all up together. I feel so so much better these days. Good luck with your journey. If I can do it, anyone can do it!

  10. Maria Dunn 3 years ago

    Hi Glennis, I did reply to your comment, but my response ended up somewhere else on this page! Sorry about that!

  11. Maria Dunn 3 years ago

    Hi Janabel! The hot flushes were awful when i was drinking. I felt like my head would catch on fire, they were so bad. I still get warm, but not like I used to. And quitting the HRT was a great feeling. The benefits of quitting the booze are immeasureable.

  12. Maria Dunn 3 years ago

    Hi Chloe! My stats are pretty alarming, aren’t they. I keep them at hand so I can see how far I have come. Good on you for putting half of your not-drinking money away. It will add up in no time at all! Good luck and enjoy those holidays!

  13. Maria Dunn 3 years ago

    Hi Chloe! My stats are pretty alarming, aren’t they. I keep them at hand so I can see how far I have come. Good on you for putting half of your not-drinking money away. I will add up in no time at all! Good luck and enjoy those holidays!

  14. Maria Dunn 3 years ago

    You are most welcome Glennis! I am glad you enjoyed it. Sobriety is certainly the new black for me!

  15. Chloe 3 years ago

    I LOVED this interview!!

    The amount saved in dollars and the amount saved in numbers of bottles drunk IS sobering! I plan to put half of my not-drinking money into a separate bank account and go on holidays (lots and lots and lots of holidays!). We could never ‘afford it’ before!

  16. Glennis 3 years ago

    Maria, What a heartwarming, encouraging story! Thank you for sharing and your courage to make a change inspires!

  17. janabel 3 years ago

    You look fabulous (great legs by the way). What a fantastic story, all the benefits you have enjoyed by ditching the booze. I am glad you mentioned giving up HRT, i can see that alcohol could be a major cause of hot flushes. Thankyou so much for sharing your happy story with us Maria xx

  18. gypsylady 3 years ago

    Thank you for taking the time to talk to us all. So very inspiring!

  19. Jasminasper 3 years ago

    That’s fabulous ! A great interview asking all the questions … I’m nearly at 2 years sober and this story is inspiring . Enjoying life doesn’t need booze along for the trip 🙂

  20. Awip 3 years ago

    Wow what a transformation ! You look great. Makes me even more determined to push on with my own journey. Thanks for sharing your story. A true inspiration.

  21. reena 3 years ago

    What a transformation, inside and out I would say! You have an interesting life Maria, I am glad it didn’t change when you got rid of the wine in fact, you say it improved and opened even wider. Congratulations on a wonderful life that you have created! Thank you for your story, it’s inspiring in many ways. And thank you for the photos too, you look healthy and happy.

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