Sober Story: Nancy

This week’s Sober Story comes from Nancy, a 58-year-old living in Louisiana, USA.

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Mrs D: How long have you been in recovery?

Nancy: 20 years on October 28 of this year.

Mrs D: What were you like at the end of your drinking days?

Nancy: I was totally miserable. Too scared to quit, but sick of hangovers, disappointing others, hating myself.

Mrs D: What was the final straw that led you to get sober?

Nancy: My (now-ex) husband threatened to leave and take our sons with him.

Mrs D: What was it like when you quit?

Nancy: It was a terrible rollercoaster of emotions. I felt like a turtle without a shell – very vulnerable and very afraid of living life sober. The most difficult thing was knowing that I was almost 40 years old and my only coping skill – drinking – was gone. I had to change my lifestyle completely. I avoided family members who still drank (including my twin sister) and venues that served alcohol (including wedding receptions), and instead structured my days around AA meetings, step work, and counselling.

Mrs D: How did your family all react? What about friends?

Nancy: My (now ex) husband told me that he was falling in love with me all over again. He told me 6 years later he didn’t like me sober and asked for a divorce – but I liked me sober so out he went! My best friend and drinking buddy was shocked; she didn’t believe I was an alcoholic.

Mrs D: Did you ever relapse?

Nancy: A thousand times before I went to AA, never since – one day at a time.

Mrs D: You described those early days as a rollercoaster… how long did it take for things to start to calm down for you emotionally & physically?

Nancy: Physically, about 6 months. Emotionally, two years. I was crazy in the first year and I still have my journals to prove it! Still very alcoholic in my thinking.

Mrs D: What does that mean?

Nancy: I believed everything I thought, and that feelings were facts. I had a lot of black and white thinking, and a terrible habit of assuming and mind-reading; I was wrong more often than not, which led to a lot of miscommunication. Also very rigid. I had a hard time relaxing and being spontaneous. In other words, once the alcohol was out of the way I started seeing the real problem underneath: ME!

Mrs D:  So there was a lot of ‘internal’ work to be done. What about ‘external’ work in terms of going out and socialising?

Nancy: Very difficult. I changed the people I hung out with, changed the places I went. I even had to change the type of gifts I bought for people which had centred around around alcohol. But I had ready-made friends and places to go in Alcoholics Anonymous, which made it so much easier.

Mrs D: Was there anything surprising that you learned about yourself when you stopped drinking?

Nancy: That my own thinking was my biggest problem.

Mrs D: How did your life change?

Nancy: My sons loved spending time with their sober mom, and were very proud of me. My kindergartener even took my sobriety chips to “Show and Tell” at school, unbeknownst to me! I also tapped into a tremendous creative energy and began making jewellery, mosaics, taking writing classes. Then I went back and got my Master of Science degree in Counselling Psychology and became a counsellor. I work with addicts and alcoholics and their families and every day is absolutely joyfully filled with seeing people in early sobriety come back to life. And I married a wonderful man who is also sober; he is truly my soulmate.

Mrs D: Wow! What a fantastic turnaround you’ve had. Could you summarise any main benefits from getting sober?

Nancy: Loving and accepting myself and others, rediscovering God and the beauty of nature. And finding true meaning and purpose in my life through service.

Mrs D: If you could go back in time and change anything, would you?

Nancy: I would go to rehab this time, to give me a faster foundation in the principles of AA and recovery. I refused to go to treatment but did got to 90 meetings in 90 days, which was a wonderful suggestion and started me on the right path.

Mrs D: Do you have any advice or tips for Living Sober members who are in the tough early stages of recovery?

Nancy: Persevere! It gets better and better! Your future is spotless!

Mrs D: That’s great advice! Anything else you’d like to share?

Nancy: Every day sober is a blessing. I’ve become the person I always wanted to be: loving, creative, honest, dependable, enthusiastic about life and delighted to wake up every morning! Today, I can say that I’m genuinely glad to be a recovering alcoholic.

11 Comments
  1. Nancy Tracy 3 years ago

    Hi Gabby, Congratulations on 8 weeks of sobriety!! I’m struck by your statement that “the dullness of the day ahead permeates.” This prompts me to ask several questions: are you working the 12 steps? Are you attending AA meetings? Are you reaching out to other newcomers in sobriety? Are you finding one way a day to be of service to someone else? What gives you meaning and purpose in your life? Any of these would make your day brighter. Also, you may need to see your physician about an antidepressant, as many alcoholics/addicts have underlying issues with depression and anxiety. I hope this helps. Hang in there, and don’t give up before the miracle happens!

  2. GAbby 3 years ago

    I’m 8 weeks sober, but not really waking up every morning delighted. Whilst I am sleeping better and feel better, the dullness of the day ahead permeates. Wondering how long it will take for the fog to lift?

  3. Anonymous 3 years ago

    Thank you for sharing! Your story gives me hope!!

  4. suzii32 3 years ago

    Thanks for your honesty and sharing. You are an inspiration!

  5. Flourishing 3 years ago

    Love this…”Every day sober is a blessing. I’ve become the person I always wanted to be: loving, creative, honest, dependable, enthusiastic about life and delighted to wake up every morning!”…thanks so much for sharing. x

  6. Diane 3 years ago

    What an encouraging and motivational story Nancy. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and the approach used to remain sober. God is Good!!

  7. Nancy Tracy 3 years ago

    Thank you for reading and commenting!

  8. janabel 3 years ago

    Thankyou Nancy for sharing your truly inspirational story with us.

  9. enzedgirl 3 years ago

    Fantastic story and so cool to hear that you are able to give to other people struggling with addiction in your new career.

  10. Sparkes 3 years ago

    That story bought tears to my eyes – thank you

  11. reena 3 years ago

    What a sober legacy, Nancy, I could feel the vibrance and joy in your words. I loved how you took ownership so fully of your part in your drinking, I know that must have come with a ton of work at self awareness for you and I admire that tremendously. Thank you for spreading the good word that life goes on and becomes wonderful if you work at it.

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