Today's Sober Story comes from Molly, a 61-year-old living in the USA.
Mrs D: How long have you been sober?
Molly: My recovery date is April 6, 2014.
Mrs D: What was your life like before you quit?
Molly: On April 5, 2013 I worked my usual 12 hour hospital shift, never dreaming that it would be the last day of my career. I should have appreciated more, listened more carefully. It was my very last day of hearing most sounds. My granddaughter’s babble, my husband’s heartbeat would all soon be just a memory. I was not scheduled to work the next few days so I most likely had a few glasses of wine that night, which was the usual, drink to relax at the end of the work week. I came from a family riddled with alcoholics and I was always very careful, very aware of the risks. I used alcohol moderately to relax and to help overcome crippling social shyness. On April 6, 2013 I awoke and could not hear. It is impossible to describe the terror, the anguish. My hero Helen Keller describes it best, “Blindness separates people from things; Deafness separates people from people”. The next weeks brought visits with specialists near and far, painful treatments which gained no improvement. Fitted for hearing aids to help regain balance, some sounds get through, pots and pan noises only, no voices, no music, no tinkles of laughter. Isolation quickly set in, my world became smaller and smaller. My alcohol moderation function completely quit. Drink, drink, drink, hiding it all quietly in my home alone days. I was shocked to see a calendar and realise twelve horrible months had passed. I had pushed the pause button on my life. Shaky, red faced, exhausted, unhealthy, I had built myself a very dark place. I knew in my heart I would never learn to really live again if I continued to drink.
Mrs D: So you just stopped?
Molly: On April 6, 2014 I stopped drinking. I saw the calendar that morning and realised a full year had passed. I was stuck in a boozy hell. Frightened, guilty, and confused. How had I let this happen?
Mrs D: That's so strong and admirable of you to just act like that. Bravo. How did it go?
Molly: I confessed all to my husband, no judgement, my champion showed only love and concern. He so wanted to fix this for me but of course couldn’t. Each day seemed to last a lifetime. Searching for help, praying, knowing that I couldn’t communicate face to face, so no possibility of AA, or face to face meetings. I miraculously came upon some on-line sober blogs. Like a healing rain, their words drowned me in hope, adding a salve and clean white bandage to my wounded soul. They were my lifeline, my salvation, their words saved me. Within a few months a new site Living Sober was created by the brave and kind Mrs. D/Lotta Dann. This group has become my circle of strength, they get it, they understand. I suddenly was not alone.
Mrs D: So glad you found us! How did your friends and families respond to you quitting?
Molly: Not much of a reaction at all. I had been way too successful in hiding my drinking. I still get the odd comment or two..."still not drinking???" I always try to respond positively, "nope, quite happy without it".
Mrs D: Have you ever relapsed?
Molly: No relapse.
Mrs D: How long did it take for you to feel recovered both physically and emotionally?
Molly: Physically, I feel that I was healed by about nine months. Just slowly felt better and began to look and feel healthier. Emotionally it's still a bit of a process for me. Mostly due to the deafness, it really mucks up the healing process.
Mrs D: I bet. What about going out and socialising when not drinking, how is this for you?
Molly: Again, this is a bit of a challenge for me, I used to drink prior to socialising due to being very, very, shy. Deafness has made this a much bigger handicap. Being sober is better for me. I can concentrate on speech reading in a quiet corner of a party, I have found that I am now a magnet to other introverts!
Mrs D: Oh that's rather lovely. Was there anything surprising you discovered about yourself after quitting drinking?
Molly: Two main finds, the first, I still love to learn! My husband and I have learned sign language and I am learning speech/lip reading
(although the words naked and bacon still look the same to me…funny story there!). I have also found that although I am no longer healing people with my medical skills, I can still help to heal with kindness. Encouraging others who are getting sober is a great source of comfort to me!
Mrs D: How has your life changed?
Molly: I am again laughing each day, finding delight in expanding my world. Looking back at my wasted year with Kindsight instead of Hindsight, instead of saying "what was I thinking?", change it instead to, "what was I learning"? I have learned that you can’t recover or grieve while drunk. By not drinking you create a life where alcohol does not appeal. My world is still quiet, but no longer dark.
Mrs D: Would you do anything differently given the chance to go over it again?
Molly: I think my drinking was a mask. A mask to hide severe pain and anxiety. I do wish I had stopped sooner, but I think that is almost universal amongst us!
Mrs D: Any advice for the newly sober?
Molly: If you have recently stopped drinking or are thinking about becoming alcohol free, please check in the Members Feed section of Living Sober each day. There is a member here dealing with the same hope, fear, longing, dread, or joy. Together we can help each other build a brighter, healthier, happier future. One last note, a favourite quote from St. Francis, "Start by doing what is necessary, then do what is possible, and suddenly you are doing the impossible."