This week's Sober Story comes from Taryn, a 36-year-old living in Victoria BC, Canada. She runs the organisation She Recovers with her mum, Dawn.
Mrs D: How long have you been in recovery?
A joke in our family is that I have been in recovery since I was 4 years old. My mother entered recovery when I was 4, and my earliest memories are attending 12 step meetings (back in the 80’s when the rooms were filled with cigarette smoke!). But, I have been in recovery for 6 year.
Mrs D: What can you tell us about the last months/years of your drinking before you gave up?
Taryn: I wasn’t a daily drinker, but I was a binge drinker and my drinking was usually accompanied with drug use, as well. The last months of my drinking/substance use were very chaotic. I was drinking more often, avoiding certain friends and family, not getting work done, and my emotional hangovers were eating me alive!
Mrs D: What was the final straw that led you to get sober?
Taryn: I couldn’t handle the shame and guilt around my use anymore.
Mrs D: How was it for you in the early days? What was most difficult?
Taryn: I am surrounded by so many amazing people in recovery. So, I am very fortunate that my early days were filled with hope and inspiration. I was so excited that I finally got honest with myself. I genuinely convinced myself that I was “ok” so it was such a relief to come out of my denial and start making the changes. The most difficult was learning how to deal with feelings that came up without using substances to cope. Learning how to be comfortable being uncomfortable.
Mrs D: What reaction did you get from family & friends when you started getting sober?
Taryn: I was so lucky to have the most amazing support from my family and friends.
Mrs D: Have you ever experienced a relapse?
Taryn: Yes, I have. I had several periods in my life where I would abstain and then start drinking again. And the reason for that was because I didn’t actually like drinking – or who I was when I drank. But, I thought I was a “normie” and would start drinking again and think my drinking was “normal” until I got sick of it and then would stop for awhile. But, this last time I finally got real and honest and realised I did have a problem and need to never drink again!
Mrs D: How long did it take for things to start to calm down for you emotionally & physically?
Taryn: Physically – right away. Emotionally – a few months? Depends on the day still though 😉
Mrs D: How hard was it getting used to socialising sober?
Taryn: It was easy for me! I spent a lot of time being sober at parties and at events – before I realised that I had a problem and needed to be abstinent.
Mrs D: Was there anything surprising that you learned about yourself when you stopped drinking?
Taryn: Two things surprised me: feeling my feelings won’t kill me, it will make me stronger. And that I am all of the things that I thought substances gave me: confident, outgoing, spiritual, etc.
Mrs D: How did your life change?
Taryn: I am so clear. I didn’t realise what a fog I was living in with my binge partying!
Mrs D: What are the main benefits that emerged for you from getting sober?
Taryn: I am living authentically. And it feels SO great. I had imposter syndrome for so long, and nothing feels better than living and speaking my truth. Shame and guilt – GONE!
Mrs D: Would you do anything differently given the chance to go through the process again?
Taryn: Not a single thing.
Mrs D: What advice or tips would you have for those who are just starting on this journey?
Taryn: Be gentle with yourself. Use a holistic approach to your recovery – body, mind and spirit. Do yoga, meditate, therapy, nutrition, etc. And surround yourself with other amazing beings in recovery. You can’t do this alone.
Mrs D: Anything else you'd like to share?
Taryn: Recovery is possible – and you are so worth it.