Today’s Sober Story comes from Sadie, a 35-year-old living in Hawkes Bay.
Mrs D: How long have you been in recovery?
Sadie: I have been in recovery since July 2011.
Mrs D: What can you tell us about the last months/years of your drinking before you gave up?
Sadie: The last few months of my drinking were utterly agonising. My drinking began earlier and earlier in the day until eventually I was an all day drinker. I vowed when I woke each morning not to ‘pick up’ but undoubtedly succumbed to the bottle. I was hiding my drinking from my husband, my family and my friends. I was hiding bottles around the house and recycling days were a mad panic to remember where they were all hidden.
Mrs D: What was the final straw that led you to get sober?
Sadie: The final straw was rather drawn out actually. It came for me when my husband caught me drinking at 11am one morning. I told him I thought I was depressed and I would get some help, which I really only said to appease him. It took another six weeks until I was again caught drinking during the day that I realised that alcohol really was a problem in my life. I’d hit my rock bottom and it was only then that I knew I had to do something drastic about my drinking. I also came to the realisation that if I didn’t do something about my drinking I would lose my husband and children, and this really scared me.
Mrs D: How was it for you in the early days? What was most difficult?
Sadie: In the early days I found it most difficult to deal with how ashamed and embarrassed I felt. I’ve learnt that these are very natural and common emotions when giving up alcohol.
Mrs D: What reaction did you get from family & friends when you started getting sober?
Sadie: My family and friends have been unbelievably supportive throughout my journey. They are all really proud of me.
Mrs D: Experts say relapse is often a part of recovery, was it a feature of yours?
Sadie: No, relapse hasn’t been a part of my recovery. I do have a very healthy respect for relapse as I realise I am only one drink away from it. I have to remind myself daily that I am an alcoholic but today I have a choice, and today I choose not to pick up a drink.
Mrs D: How long did it take for things to start to calm down for you emotionally & physically?
Sadie: Physically it probably took about six months for my body to recover. I lost quite a bit of weight which was a welcome bonus! Emotionally I feel it’s an ongoing process. I feel I’m obviously through the acute stage of my recovery but we all have bad days and now that I choose not to drown my emotions in alcohol I actually have deal with these emotions.
Mrs D: How hard was it getting used to socialising sober?
Sadie: Initially it was really scary getting used to socialising sober as it was so foreign to me. I have learnt to now really enjoy socialising sober. I find it empowering to say no if offered a drink. I was given a couple of ‘tools’ to deal with social occasions as it is important for me to feel comfortable, keep myself safe and of course sober. I was advised to always have an escape plan from a party, which means that I now always drive to social occasions even if transport is provided/offered and can leave whenever I want or need to. I also had a discussion with my husband in early sobriety and made an agreement that if I ever feel I need to leave a party, he knows that he is absolutely more than welcome to stay, but that when I need to leave it is now and not after he’s finished his drink or conversation or when the footy games finished etc. Its a tool I’ve had to use on three occasions and on all three he has just walked out the door with me.
Mrs D: Was there anything surprising that you learned about yourself when you stopped drinking?
Sadie: I have learnt that I can be completely myself and live an amazing life without alcohol, something I never thought would be possible.
Mrs D: How did your life change?
Sadie: Everyday life continues however I now feel unbelievably ‘present’. I have so much more time, as before I was constantly thinking about my next drink, when I could have my next drink, how I was going to hide my next drink…. It was so time consuming and exhausting! I remember when I first got sober sitting in my children’s rooms and just watching them sleep (which I still sometimes do!) and just getting the most immense pleasure from it. In the past I wanted to get them to bed as quickly as possible in order to sit down to another drink. In my first year of sobriety I really noticed the change of seasons and again got such a buzz from it. And still do….. Autumn leaves are so pretty!
Mrs D: What are the main benefits that emerged for you from getting sober?
Sadie: I am now more open and honest not only with those around me but most importantly myself. I am more confident. I sleep so much better. I have a clear head every morning. I am more energised and motivated. My skin looks clearer. I feel I am a better wife. I feel I am a better mother. I feel I am a better friend. I am living the life I want to live.
Mrs D: Would you do anything differently given the chance to go through the process again?
Sadie: No. I have learnt that everything that has happened in the past has shaped me into the person I am today and I’m happy with that.
Mrs D: What advice or tips would you have for those who are just starting on this journey?
Sadie: There are amazing people, resources and tools out there to help you on your journey in recovery (such as this amazing website) Use them! Some days it really is just putting one foot in front of the other but please remember you are not alone!