This week's Sober Story comes from Marnie, a 52-years-old living in Scottsdale, Arizona.
Mrs D: How long have you been in recovery?
Marnie: My sobriety date is 01/10/09, I have 12 amazing years sober!
Mrs D: What can you tell us about the last months/years of your drinking before you gave up?
Marnie: Towards the end of my addiction my life was an absolute disaster!! My husband of 23 years walked out the door (frankly, I’m surprised he didn’t leave sooner), my three children were not speaking to me, and I was hopeless and lost.
Mrs D: What was the final straw that led you to get sober?
Marnie: The final straw was spending three days sitting on the floor in my bathroom. I was literally paralyzed with fear, I couldn’t move and I had finally had enough!
Mrs D: How was it for you in the early days? What was most difficult?
Marnie: I had a very difficult time when I first got sober. I spent 90 days in an inpatient treatment facility and felt like a frightened little girl when I came home. I was single for the first time in my adult life and my children were so angry and hurt they wanted nothing to do with me. I was spiritually, emotionally, and financially bankrupt! I was terrified to leave my home and even more terrified to go to meetings. I did of course because I had promised my counselor in treatment that I would get a sponsor within one week of discharge, so I did and that is honestly what saved my life!
Mrs D: What reaction did you get from family & friends when you started getting sober?
Marnie: For a long time in early sobriety I was viewed as the “identified patient”. Still to this day, family members will refer to me as the “messed up” one or “flakey”. I remember at about 4 months of sobriety a group of women from my children’s school and neighborhood approached me after hearing I had been in treatment. They told me I was officially kicked out of the car pool.
Mrs D: Gosh, that's shocking. The level of misunderstanding about recovery and judgement about addiction.
Marnie: At the time I was devastated but I remember thinking, “They’re kicking me out now? I’m sober! They should have kicked me out when I was still drinking and hungover driving their kids around”!
Mrs D: Have you ever experienced a relapse?
Marnie: At 18 months of sobriety I relapsed. Even though I had been going to meetings daily, I discovered that my husband was moving in with the woman he had been having an affair with. I used it as an excuse to drink, it wasn’t!
Mrs D: How long did it take for things to start to calm down for you emotionally & physically?
Marnie: Things didn’t calm down for me until I decided to calm down and fully accept that I am an alcoholic and I can never safely drink again. It was when I completely surrendered and truly worked the steps that I found peace at last. The first two and a half years of my journey I was still “fighting everything and everyone”. Acceptance was pure, joyful, blessed FREEDOM!!!
Mrs D: How hard was it getting used to socialising sober?
Marnie: Socialising sober was actually quite easy for me because I only associated with sober women from my meetings. I went to holiday picnics, AA round ups, sober retreats for women, and Big Book studies only for the first five years of recovery. I was terrified to venture out too far from my tribe, AA was my home and my safe place, so that’s where I stayed!
Mrs D: Was there anything surprising that you learned about yourself when you stopped drinking?
Marnie: When I stopped drinking I learned that I had a lot of trauma from childhood that had never been dealt with and was driving every decision I ever made. I also had ZERO coping skills. I used alcohol to cope for a very long time, it was the only coping skill I had. I had very low self- esteem and even lower self-worth. Alcohol created a false sense of reality for me, when I got sober I had to introduce myself to ME and for the first time in my life, I could identify who I was and what I wanted.
Mrs D: How did your life change?
Marnie: My life has changed DRAMATICALLY!!!!!! At around 3 years of sobriety I decided to go back to school. I was over 40 years old and had never been a good student and I was terrified. My sponsor suggested I begin with one class online. I signed up and aced it. She suggested I take two more classes online, same results! Next, she told me it was time to go to the big-girl campus and suggested I sign up for two classes at a community college. I was very insecure and felt “less than” as all the students were 20+ years younger than myself and much faster at typing and anything related to the computer. I kept moving forward, one step at time, one day at a time, until I had taken all the classes I could possibly take and had earned my Associates Degree. I registered at ASU the following semester and spent the next 3 years navigating a large university and dividing my time between ASU and AA meetings. It’s literally all I did! After completing my Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology I applied for a Master’s in Counseling program at the University of Phoenix. It took me almost four long years, but I also completed that program and today am a Master’s Level, Licensed Professional Counselor!!!! I recently opened a private practice called Saguaro Behavioral Health and have applied for licensure to run an Intensive Outpatient Program. I specialize in addiction counseling and work with individuals, couple’s and families. I am living a dream beyond anything I could have ever imagined!!
Mrs D: Epic! Can you pinpoint any main benefits that have emerged for you from getting sober?
Marnie: The main benefits that emerged from getting sober are self-love, gratitude, and humility. Every night when my head hits the pillow sober, I thank G-d for my blessings. I have learned to love myself and honor myself. I often will refer to myself as a sober woman in recovery in who lives her life with much dignity and respect!
Mrs D: Would you do anything differently given the chance to go through the process again?
Marnie: I would not change one thing in journey of recovery because everything that has happened, has brought me to where I am today!
Mrs D: What advice or tips would you have for those who are just starting on this journey?
Marnie: The only advice I have for newcomers is to stay close to the rooms (if you're doing AA), “do the next right thing” in front of you, and be kind to yourself through this process. Also, hold on to your hat because your life is about to get so good, beyond anything you could ever imagine!
You have no idea how much I needed to read this. Interesting I clicked on your story and found out you are exactly where I’m at in Scottsdale, AZ! Thank you for sharing your experience, strength and hope💙
Thank you so very much for sharing and inspiring.
Thank you for sharing this story–courage is contagious and yours shines through here!
Thanks for sharing your story Marnie. It is absolutely great to read about such a positive turn around. You have achieved so much sober you should be really proud of yourself. It is very inspiring. (You look super healthy too!)
Thanks for sharing your success story, it is very uplifting!
💕this. Truly inspiring. Thanks for sharing. I relate so much to your story around using alcohol as a coping strategy and low self-worth due to childhood trauma. I think this is the reason so many of us turn to booze (or drugs or whatever else blunt instrument) to numb. Thanks for sharing.
I get a lot of insight into this topic with Lisa A. Romano. She helps me understand how family systems and our survival within a dysfunctional system and how we leave ourselves behind. She has a great youtube channel with loads of videos x
What a great recovery journey. Congratulation to you on your journey. I have never heard do the next right thing in front of you. I like it. Thank you for sharing your story that has a smiley face at the end.
What a beautiful share. Thank you so much Marie xx
What a fantastic testimony! I hope to have a similar one. I am wondering about the “lack of coping skills”. I know for sure that that is an issue I have. As a child I was always told things like: Don’t wear your heart on your sleeve (like when a boy broke up with me and worse, cheated on my with my sister!) or “go to your room” and better, “go to your room, I don’t even want to look at your face”, and “why can’t you be more like so and so and “you should be ashamed of yourself” and of course…. “you’re never going to amount to anything”……. I seriously have zero coping skills yet I’m trying to teach these skills to my children.
I could sure use some help in this department.
That’s one of the hardest things – zero coping skills & trying to teach them to your beautiful children, knowing they are watching you ‘cope’ with drinking. Then living with the guilt 🙁