Sober Story: Sarah

Today’s Sober Story comes from Sarah, a 52-year-old living in  Cambridge, UK.

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Mrs D: How long have you been in recovery?

Sarah: I have been sober since October 28th 2013.

Mrs D: What were things like for you in the lead up to quitting?

Sarah: Well, where do I start? I had been drinking heavily for many years – since the age of 16 really. I was that person who was asked to leave the party, who couldn’t remember anything the next day, who was constantly full of shame and remorse, and whose friends gradually drifted away; but of course, it was their fault, not mine – how dare they treat me like that! After a failed marriage and two long and painful relationships with alcoholics (clearly I was as drawn to them as they were to me) I met my current husband. Of course, I continued as I was and he spent several years telling me I was drinking too much, arguing with me about my intake, and leaving me a couple of times because he simply couldn’t take it. Each time when he came back, I was sorry, sad, and promised to do my best to moderate. Naturally this failed! By 2013, after we had been together for 12 years, I was at the stage of hiding bottles, hoping he would take the kids out in the evenings so I could drink and going to bed every night unable to remember doing so. Somehow I held on to my job and functioned perfectly well in every way – but then we rarely went out so I could get drunk alone at home, with no one to really annoy. The youngest children were 13 and 7 – my eldest was 23 and had left home many years previously. She had been the brunt of my drinking for too long – the guilt I feel is immeasurable but we now have the most positive and close relationship … she has forgiven me – although will never forget…

Mrs D: Oh that’s fantastic to hear. What happened that led you to finally put the bottle down?

Sarah: In October 2013 we had a rare opportunity to go out and stay at a hotel for the night. We decided to go to my sister’s home town – a few miles away and arranged to meet her and her partner in the hotel after having spent the day shopping and walking round the town. Unfortunately, we saw a pub and I persuade my husband to stop for a drink. A drink turned into an afternoons drinking and by the time we met them I was so drunk I could barely stand. Despite this we went for a meal and…well that is the last I remember until waking up the next morning in the hotel. I had no idea how I got there or what had happened. One look at my husbands face though told me all I needed to know. I had screamed at everyone in the restaurant, staggered out, tried to hit him and then finally passed out when he got me back.

Mrs D: Oh dear.

Sarah: This was a new shame – a dreadful shame I had never felt before – I mean everyone knew I had a problem but I had managed to cover it up – now my sister really knew and I had embarrassed her and her partner and of course, myself. I called her and she was cold and clipped. I cried all the way home and went to bed for most of the next week.

Mrs D: And that was it? You just quit then? How was it for you in the early days? 

Sarah: I hadn’t really made a concrete plan to stop for good at that point but as the weeks went on, after the dreadful, painful psychological agony of that first week when I could do nothing but cry, I felt that this was a time to try. I had loudly announced so many times before that I was stopping – and once lasted 7 months – but somehow this time felt different. I told no one, just didn’t drink and each day was a new one to start again without a drink.

Mrs D: Was it hard work?

Sarah: It was difficult, yes. Paul bought some gin over Christmas assuming I would want some and I just ignored it – watching the family having a few glasses wasn’t easy but my eldest daughter’s face, full of hope and belief in me meant I simply had to continue. Sometimes I was tempted to have one, but then I counted backwards. I had been a (slow) runner previously but now I went a bit mad. Every time I wanted a drink I went for a run! Sometimes I felt I could have run the 60 miles to the coast the urge was so strong, but the feeling when I got home was my reward.

Mrs D: What about your friends and family, how did they react to you getting sober?

Sarah: Initial disbelief and wry cynicism – I had promised so many times and failed. Seven months was my record and then I decided to ‘moderately’ drink (although going on an all-inclusive holiday the day after my seven month anniversary may not have helped…). After the first Christmas though, I think there was a subdued and careful belief in me…my younger children, who hadn’t been as aware began to notice that mummy was nicer and calmer and of course my oldest daughter was over the moon. I managed to spend time with her and properly talk through the times I behaved so badly, to apologise for the mess I had made her childhood and to finally get her unconditional love back.

Mrs D: That’s so great. Did you ever relapse?

Sarah: Luckily not

Mrs D: How long did it take for things to start to calm down for you emotionally & physically?

Sarah: I would say between six months and a year; having said that though – there are still times I experience weariness and intense emotion (could be my age though….!)

Mrs D: Oh, same here! How hard was it getting used to socialising sober?

Sarah: Our socialising had calmed down a lot – we weren’t going out anywhere near as much as we used to – so the first few times in a pub were slightly tricky. I just found myself getting bored by drinkers and bored of the horror that greeted me when I said I wasn’t drinking! A lot of people though, were very relieved!

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

Sarah: Having spent over 30 years being a short tempered, sensitive rage flying into person, I was astounded to find I had reserves of patience and kindness; I am actually quite pleasant! My husband still talks about how much nicer I am. I used to be constantly angry and on edge and the one who would cause the arguments – now I find myself stopping them…

Mrs D: How did your life change?

Sarah: I became, and am still becoming, fitter – I actually ran a 10k race after being a year sober. This achievement was so huge, so life shattering to me that I still can’t quite believe it (but I have a medal so it must have happened!). I have more faith in myself now. I have started writing for a local magazine and have had 40 articles published; I get up early and want to do things; I have a new grandson who I can spend time with ( I doubt my daughter wold have allowed me near him in the past); I go for walks with my younger children; I play with them, I laugh…

Mrs D: All so fantastic! Are there any main benefits from getting sober that you can pinpoint?

Sarah: Without a doubt, getting my daughter back in my life. I had no idea how much I had hurt her, how much pain I had caused her.

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

Sarah: I don’t think so – I would have done it years earlier of course, but then it happened when it did because it needed to.

Mrs D: What advice or tips would you have for those who are just starting on this journey?

Sarah: It is going to be hard, and it is going to be annoying; you will want to give up and you will feel cheated and angry for some time; you’ll feel sorry for yourself – you’ll shout ‘why me?!’ and you will hate yourself and the world; but just start each day new and you will get there.

Mrs D:  Fantastic advice. Anything else you’d like to share?

Sarah: Just that my life is 20 times what it was. Things still go wrong; bad things happen and life is hard – but it is so much easier to cope with everything looking away from the bottom a glass.

sarah

24 Comments
  1. Omkarime 2 years ago

    That’s a very powerful story Sarah, I can identify with lots of it, well done !

  2. Alison Maddox 3 years ago

    Thank you Sarah for sharing your story. I feel the shame of chronic long term drinking and have had many embarrassing moments….today is my day 1. For the last 2 days in the evenings my oldest daughter has sobbed….mainly because school has been very hard this week. I am realizing that I cannot possibly help her if I am drinking…I am not teaching her a single healthy coping mechanisms by drinking incessantly. It is wonderful to hear your success story and that you and your daughter are connecting on a new level. Hard work, but inspiring
    thanks to all those starting for sharing your stories, the day 11 and day 15 people. We all have to start somewhere, it is nice to know others are also facing this challenge during the holiday season. I think I Will join you

    • juju 2 years ago

      Alison, so wise what you say about not teaching your daughter healthy coping mechanisms. This is one of my main inspirations to become af.. thank you

  3. Sarah Colwell 3 years ago

    Thanks everyone for your kind comments (especially the one about looking too young to be a granny!!!) It is the best thing I have very done and every day gets better
    Never give up xxxx

  4. jaywagner 3 years ago

    thanks for sharing! it’s very encouraging!

  5. Anonymous 3 years ago

    Thanks for sharing ….running is my saviour too.
    I ran my 1st marathon a couple of months ago, but I feel off the wagon ..
    Getting back on board-
    Back at day 1

  6. sophia2 3 years ago

    I loved your story. Thanks so much for sharing. xx

  7. Ducky 3 years ago

    Lovely to hear your story Sarah, thanks so much for taking the time to share it with us,

  8. J.C. 3 years ago

    Thank you for sharing your story, Sarah. You’re an inspiration! 🙂

  9. Ang75 3 years ago

    Morning sarah

    Wow what a story, this made me feel really emotional. It’s just when you said how your daughter looked proud of you when you stopped drinking and that encouraged you. You have done amazing!

    I feel like my daughters (7 &10) are my driving force behind going af, I’m only on day 11 And they are so proud of me so far. Especially my eldest who is becoming more aware of things and how alcohol can change me, she’s said in the past that it worries her. That makes me sad, I shouldn’t be causing worry for any of my children.

    Anyway day 11 onward and upward!!

    You should feel so very very proud of yourself and your lovely family xxxxxxxx

  10. barnmomma 3 years ago

    Thanks so much, Sarah, for sharing your story with us. My eldest son, wife and 4 grandkids are coming for Christmas and I am just today on my 15th day of sobriety. I really am looking forward to their visit, and for the chance to apologize to my son for the years I drank too much and wasn’t totally present to my kids. He seems to be the one that was most affected. I also started running recently (glacier speed) and it is really helping me manage stress and cravings. Maybe someday a 10K? Anyway, congratulations on your new life, and thank you!

  11. Sarah Colwell 3 years ago

    That was a wonderful holiday in Greece with Paul. Our first holiday alone for 16 years. Bliss!

  12. Sarah Colwell 3 years ago

    Haha! Thank you!!! He is a joy and a delight xx

  13. Wvlheel 3 years ago

    Thanks for sharing your story Sarah. I enjoy these. Whenever I feel a little wobbly I can find a story like yours and it reinforces me in all the right places.

  14. Elyn 3 years ago

    Your picture says it all – the face of true joy. : )

  15. Rosieoutlook 3 years ago

    Thanks Sarah for sharing your inspiring journey. Congrats on being a Grandma ……You look too young to say you’re a granny;) xx

  16. Sarah Colwell 3 years ago

    Running saved me! I hate it sometimes – get ready to go muttering and moaning but once I’ve started it really is worth it

  17. Sarah Colwell 3 years ago

    Thank you! It is a whole new life – one that still surprised me every day!!

  18. Sarah Colwell 3 years ago

    It really is!

  19. enzedgirl 3 years ago

    “Life is twenty times what it was”

    Amen!

  20. Jellybaby 3 years ago

    Thanks so much for sharing Sarah x

    I am Day 7 and I should have given up long ago. The longest I have been without in 2yrs is 18 days 🙁
    Thank you for the advise of just starting each day new…. also I have been thinking about running so maybe I should put those sneakers on!

    • MtCowgirl 3 years ago

      Put ’em on.

  21. Liberty 3 years ago

    Powerful story, thanks so much for sharing Sarah. xx

  22. Prudence 3 years ago

    Thanks so much for sharing your story with us Sarah. So glad for you that your life is back on track and those you love are still close. Once we’ve got over the trauma of actually stopping, it’s a no-brainer really isn’t it! Congratulations on having the wisdom to become the winner that you are xox

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