Sober Story: Michelle

woman driving

This week's Sober Story comes from Michelle, a 44-year-old living in Auckland.

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Mrs D: How long have you been sober for?

Michelle: 8 years

Mrs D: What was it like for you before you gave up?

Michelle: I never had a drinking problem and never understood people who did. Until I was 26 I thought people who drank at home were sad alcoholics. But then my mum got cancer and passed away. She was in her early 50's. I couldn't come to terms with it. So I drank and kept drinking for the next 10 years. I'd stop drinking temporarily with my pregnancies but as soon as baby was sleeping through I'd be dying for a drink. I loved wine. I used it as my escape from boredom as a stay-at-home mum without realising that was the reason I was bored. If I wasn't drinking I'd be able to do things that required brain power, but wine dumbed me down. Anything was an excuse for a drink - from hours on end of Dora the Explorer, not enough sleep, bad day, good day, it really didn't matter.

Mrs D: I hear you. After I had babies was when my drinking really bedded in. What happened for you that you finally quit?

Michelle: A few things really. We'd been on a family tropical holiday and I used the holiday as an excuse to drink heavily (luckily my partner was there to help look after our 3 year old and 1 year old!). I realised that each morning I'd not remember what I had eaten the night before. I had never experienced memory blackouts before. When we came back I started drinking more during the day. To my shame and my deepest regret, I drove to kindergarten to pick up my older child with my toddler in the car over the limit several times. I had recurring 4am nightmares of being arrested for drink driving and the repercussions that would have in my life. I had never driven drunk in the past. I was out of control. I hated it. So I quit.

Mrs D: Good on you! How did did you find it at first, not drinking? What did you find most difficult?

Michelle: The hardest thing was getting past the idea that I could have a good time without wine. And coming to terms with the fact I could never drink again.

Mrs D: What about your friends and family? What reaction did you get from them?

Michelle: Everyone told me I was overreacting. Nobody thought I had a problem. I hadn't told anyone how badly I was drinking so they didn't understand why I was taking such a drastic step. I got a lot of "go on, one won't hurt", or "just this once" comments.

Mrs D: Have you ever relapsed?

Michelle: No I'm way too stubborn! If I was having a hard time with it I'd just think about how I'd feel afterwards. Or I'd go to an online forum and read back on my posts, or read the posts of people at day 3 or 4. I've never considered myself an alcoholic. I just chose the wrong tool to deal with my issues for 10 years and now I know better.

Mrs D: Nice way of looking at it. How long did it take for things to start to calm down for you emotionally & physically?

Michelle: Probably more than a year for sober to feel normal and natural.

Mrs D: What about socialising and going out. Did you find it hard to get used to being out and not drinking?

Michelle: So hard for me! I'm a terrible introvert. And I've always hated drunks. Honestly it took me over 3 years to get used to it.

Mrs D: Was there anything surprising that you learned about yourself after you quit booze?

Michelle: I went through some huge self-realisations when I stopped drinking. I was having suicidal thoughts during the last few months of drinking and I thought stopping would help. It didn't. I went to the doctor and got some antidepressants and a referral to a psychologist. It was really helpful. I wouldn't have been able to open myself up to that if I'd kept drinking.

Mrs D: Oh that's great. How else did your life change?

Michelle: I got into gardening and cross-stitch. I learned how to knit and crochet. I exercised more. I took a night course. I didn't have to prepare so much the night before for the kids - lunch boxes and clothes for the day were much quicker to organise in the morning if I wasn't hungover. My sleep normalised. I dropped weight. I spent my wine money on massages and new clothes.

Mrs D: Wow cool! Can you pinpoint the main benefits that have emerged for you since you got sober?

Michelle: A much closer relationship with my partner and kids, and really just living my life more honestly.

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

Michelle: No, I wouldn't change a thing.

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

Michelle: Take life 10 minutes at a time. Take a few deep breaths and go for a walk if the cravings get bad. Have at least one trustworthy friend you can be brutally honest with.

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

Michelle: A few years ago we went on a holiday to Italy & France. These were my favourite wine areas. Before we left I had a bit of anxiety around how I'd handle the long flights without drinking, and whether I'd feel I was missing out by not drinking. When my partner ordered glasses of red wine I would've killed for in my drinking years, I would have a micro-sip. To my great relief and disgust they all tasted like vinegar to me. It was nice to go back to my Diet Coke!

14 Comments
  1. Hellsbells 1 week ago

    I totally relate and wish Id been a more sober parent to my now 30 year old daughter. Ever grateful that she sees the strength in me, not the drinking and that we have stayed close, but it could have gone either way. And ever grateful that shes not a problem drinker. Nice work honey.

  2. MrsCoffee 2 weeks ago

    28 days AF. thanks for sharing – exactly the same parenting stories for me … how embarrassing if i had got found out drunk at a school pick up… could have so easily happened … parenting drunk was the norm, making lunchboxes, dinners, housework … stupid. feel strong 28 days without, mostly feel empowered, last night was a first time i really really wanted a drink. but i didn’t. now i know the reason i wanted a drink was i just abit bored. so i went home to bed and today feels awesome for not giving in.

  3. Esmeralda 2 weeks ago

    I’m 10 days AF which isn’t really that big of a deal for me cuz I was mostly a weekend drinker and I could go a couple weeks without it. but once the pandemic started it turned into an almost nightly thing. And I just didn’t want to do it anymore. The last two nights I slept straight through is the first time in months I’ve been able to do that. I’ve been working 12 14 hour days in my job so it’s been really hard and this morning even though I felt really good I just woke up and started crying. I think it was just the pandemic and how hard work is and how bad everything is going right now in the country. but I felt pretty happy because if I’ve been sitting there crying and I was hungover it would have been about the drinking instead it wasn’t about the drinking it was just about how hard things are now. To finish crying and felt a lot better. I haven’t had any urge to drink at all.. but it does help me to read what everybody’s writing keeps me with my eye on the goal.

  4. CarolineS 2 weeks ago

    Thanx for sharing, very inspirational, interesting how your tastebuds reacted to the taste of wine while in Italy. That’s brilliant!
    Me too have taken up crosstitch, embroidery and crochet. Am just as much a beginner at that as I am socialising sober..
    I still have a long way to go but really good to read Your story, Thanx for sharing.

    • Hitman 2 weeks ago

      Hi Michelle, Thank you for your story. Inspirational reading. We have lots of learning to do when we become sober. It is a totally new approach to life, as being drunk was how i did life since my teen years up into my later 40s so it is very different indeed. I used to have a goal to visit every pub in New Zealand at least once and have a pint in each. But all the time with this constant nagging in the back of my mind telling me i have a drinking problem…
      Anyway, thanks again and keep up the great work.

  5. truthangel 2 weeks ago

    I wished I stopped sooner. My kids had grown up. Honestly, what I’d give to go back in time and parent sober. I wished it was really bad for me. I didn’t drink as much as a lot of problem drinkers I read and heard about.. it hijacked me and my family. It did it’s damage undercover, distorting my thinking so slowly.
    I realised I was an introvert and very deep. I can’t do parties. Not because of alcohol. I really don’t enjoy them. I’ve become a hermit and need a lot of alone time to regroup after being around people. You are so fortunate to parent sober.

  6. Citygirl 2 weeks ago

    Thanks so much for sharing your story, I can totally relate.My drinking started after the loss of my mother too. And also being a stay at home mum/boredom. Motherhood is so much better sober x

  7. joe o connor 2 weeks ago

    Good for you michelle/Im just trying to get some penfriends or blogs were I can talk to sober people/Thanks for shareing I can relate to the introvert part for sure.

  8. Hunterga 2 weeks ago

    Sure can relate to this. Thanks

  9. JR 2 weeks ago

    Inspiring story, thank you for sharing! Kiss on those sweet kids and your partner.

  10. Jo 2 weeks ago

    Relate relate relate. I too got worse after having my baby gal. Genetic predisposition is powerful in this area. I’m so glad to hear it took over 3 years to get used to others drinking! I’m a few months over my 2 year anniversary and have white knuckled through the cravings and ‘missing out’ stages, thankfully, only to enter into this weird intolerance stage/phase. I have become the hermit I always wanted to be I think 🙂 great relatable story thanks so much for sharing.

  11. 11.11 3 weeks ago

    I love when you say “take life 10 minutes at a time”. That is sage advice, and I’m going to try to start doing that.

  12. Mari135 3 weeks ago

    Thanks heaps for sharing this! So much gold in your story left and right. xoxo

  13. Hammer123 3 weeks ago

    What a lovely post. I am so glad you stopped as early as you did and got to spend those great early years with your kids. Getting sober doesn’t solve all your problems but it does give you the ability to begin to tackle them. Thanks for sharing your journey it is very inspirational.

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