This week’s Sober Story comes from Nika, a 44-year-old living in Taranaki.
Mrs D: How long have you been in recovery?
Nika: I’ll be sober 4 years on the 8th May 2018.
Mrs D: Congratulations! What can you tell us about your drinking history?
Nika: I began drinking as a 15 year old, I always drank to excess and found it difficult to ever be just a social drinker. I would get fall-over drunk and have blackouts from when I first began drinking. I had breaks in my adulthood while being pregnant and breastfeeding… but once the children were older I began drinking again and often. I left my husband 5 and a half years ago. This was tough, and now there was no one to answer to either. My drinking got out of control and I was also on a high dose of anti depressants. Sometimes I would drink out of a coffee cup to hide it from my children. I would drink most nights during the week and sometimes would drink 2 bottles of wine in a single sitting. This drinking was all done alone. I was still able to hold down a job (working from home caring for preschool children) and would never drink until I had finished work but looking back I was probably often still drunk in the mornings.
Mrs D: Did anyone around you notice what was going on?
Nika: My family, friends and boyfriend were all telling me I needed to do something about my drinking. I listened to some degree and tried to cut back, and was drinking less often, but when I did drink I still drank to excess. I couldn’t leave unfinished alcohol in the house.
Mrs D: What was the final straw that led you to get sober?
Nika: There were a few things: a night when I got drunk and did something really dumb (about 5 days before I had my last drink), my brother and sister showing me a video of me drunk (about 5 months before my last drink) and my boyfriend giving me a really hard time about my drinking. Basically I had come to see that drinking was interfering in my personal relationships and had become a problem in my everyday life. My last drink was a glass of wine on my 40th birthday.
Mrs D: How was it for you in the early days? What was most difficult?
Nika: It was hard! Most difficult was socialising. And evenings at home with just my children home. Most difficult was for the first time in a long time I had to deal with my thoughts and emotions instead of drowning them or clouding them with alcohol.
Mrs D: Yeah, I can relate. What reaction did you get from family & friends when you started getting sober?
Nika: To start with people were pleased I had stopped drinking but when I told people I didn’t drink anymore they kind of laughed and joked about how we all drink a bit too much. But then when I’d say “no, I’m a recovering alcoholic” they kind of took a step back and were shocked.
Mrs D: Have you ever experienced a relapse?
Mrs D: How long did it take for things to start to calm down for you emotionally & physically?
Nika: A LONG TIME. And sometimes I still get shakes and salivating mouth and sweaty when I think about drinking. That is a physical response – my body wants the drug but my mind doesn’t. When I am having a tough time in my life I still think about alcohol as something that would make me feel good, but only so I don’t have to think.
Mrs D: How hard was it getting used to socialising sober?
Nika: To begin with I just didn’t really socialise. If I did I made sure I was the one driving so I knew I couldn’t drink even if I felt like it. I banned alcohol from my house for about 9 months. If anyone came to stay they weren’t allowed to bring alcohol.
Mrs D: Was there anything surprising that you learned about yourself when you stopped drinking?
Nika: I don’t need alcohol to be fun and to have fun!
Mrs D: Amen! How else did your life change?
Nika: I lost weight. I gained the strength to make some tough decisions. I built stronger, more genuine relationships with people including my own children.
Mrs D: What are the main benefits that emerged for you from getting sober?
Nika: Weight loss! And motivation to exercise and focus on my weight loss journey. Better relationships with my children – they are so proud of me for giving up drinking. Clarity for my life – being able to think to the future and plan for the future.
Mrs D: Would you do anything differently given the chance to go through the process again?
Nika: I don’t think so. Part of what I’m proud of is that I made a decision and stuck to it.
Mrs D: What advice or tips would you have for those who are just starting on this journey?
Nika: If you need support get it. If you need to go to meetings go. If you need to read a book read a book. If you need therapy get therapy. Basically if you make a choice to quit drinking then do whatever works to support you through it, because it’s hard!
Mrs D: Anything else you’d like to share?
Nika: A few months into my journey of sobriety I read a book “A million little pieces“, it is what help my journey a lot. It’s a novel based on fact and it helped me put a concept around the feelings I felt when I wanted to drink. It’s a hard core story but it really helped me. I have never been to an AA meeting and didn’t seek out counselling or any other professional support for giving up. It’s possible to do it alone but it’s hard! If people have the option of support then take it!
Nika, your drinking habit sounds exactly like mine. But the best i’ve ever managed is 23 days last year. Every day I wake up feeling rotten and every day I tell myself it is day one, but by 5pm I’m back pouring the wine. I’m sitting her now with a cup of tea reading your story and wishing for the will power to not drink tonight or ever again…
You aren’t alone. I thought your words “will-power” and “ever again” were tough ones for feeling empowered. I found Kristi Coulter’s words in Medium essay and in Off-Dry blog very helpful… she realized she was trying to stop “wanting” to drink when what she needed to do was to stop drinking. That seeming word-play was big for me as it changed the focus from something I can’t control to something I can. Perhaps you’ll find a similar message that is more empowering for you personally. I find “will-power” a bit unreliable and the only thing that seems doable is not drinking today. And then again tomorrow. Wishing you well!
Deborah, you will find your way if you keep looking with an open heart and mind. The online sober community has lots of resources and you have the freedom to pick and choose without having a strict dogma or inflexable meeting times. You are not a failure– you’ve got 3 days and counting! Don’t quit before the miracle!
Thanks! Day 17 and counting!
Awesome on your sobriety! I am a die hard A.A. member and swear by it. Each person has their own plan when it comes to the realization that alcohol controls you and not the other way around. The sense of belonging and support I get from my A.A. family is priceless to me. Again, congrats to you and 4 years!
I’m day three of stopping. I am in New Plymouth. Its hard. I’ve tried counselling and AA but it didn’t last and I always felt like such a failure at them. I’m trying on my own this time. This is the longest I’ve lasted. I feel blessed to have stumbled upon the Mrs D book and this site. Interestingly enough despite counselling and A and D and going to AA I had never been referred to this. I am one of those superwoman high functioning alcoholics Mrs D talks about!
Day 17 now and I feel I have come so far already….the second week was much easier than the first.
AA was devised in the late 1930’s by and for ; white, middle-aged, middle class, christian, american, men. So don’t be surprised that you don’t find it a good fit! Still, it is harder to stop drinking alone than with the support of others around you. Keep looking for where you can get help from… all help is worth having. Take the bits that fit you and ignore the bits that don’t.
Don’t stress about AA. Your’re not a failure. There’s no one way that works for us all.
It’s taken me years to find a support group that works for me but I have and as a result I’m now at day 125. This site is also brilliant. It offers so much great advice/support. It’s made me realise that there are so many of us superwomen out there all with the same problem.
Thank you so much for sharing – a LOT of your story I can relate to (which means there is still hope I will lose weight, ha ha!). Congrats on 4 years, what a great milestone x
Well done! Just keep making the choice every day to not drink
A million little pieces really did help me… and he wrote a second book ” my friend Leonard ” it follows his life sober… it’s a good read. Thank you for your comments
4 years is so amazing. Thank you for your story Nika and like you it’s about sticking to that decision xOx
Very inspiring Nika. I also spent my 40th birthday sober as it fell in my ‘100 day challenge attempt’ after a 25+ year boozing habit. Since then I have done a ‘little more research’ before quitting completely 17 days ago. Thanks for writing your story down. I always learn something new from all the stories I read. Well Done! 🙂
This story hit close to home. Thank you for sharing and you’re the first one I have heard mention A Million Little Pieces. Still took me a long time to accept and still struggle but that was the fist in your face “you are not a normal drinker and never will be”, Need to go back and reread. Good for you on your journey to inner peace!