This week’s Sober Story comes fro Wendy, a 64-year-old living in the Minneapolis, Minnesota area, in the US.
Mrs D: How long have you been in recovery?
Wendy: September 4, 2014 is my recovery date, so I just passed my 3 year mark!!
Mrs D: Hey, congrats! What can you tell us about the last months/years of your drinking before you gave up?
Wendy: In the last few years, I was driving drunk, hiding small bottles from my husband, sneaking drinks, running to the bar after work then lying to hubs about it, arguing with hubs, running away to a hotel at night, in short, a mess.
Mrs D: What was the final straw that led you to get sober?
Wendy: It was a public humiliation, at my yoga studio, where I showed up drunk for a massage, so drunk I found out later I had driven there blacked out. They took away my car keys, and called my husband to come get me. It was horrible. I had to go back and tell everyone I was sorry the next day, my husband was furious, and I was full of shame and guilt.
Mrs D: How was it for you in the early days? What was most difficult?
Wendy: At first I had horrible physical urges, and almost went on antibuse. Then one day they got much better. The hardest part for me was untangling the thread of romance from wine. I never thought I could go out to dinner with husband and be romantic and not drink. Small dinner parties with good friends were also very hard. They still all drank, and I felt sorry for myself.
Mrs D: What reaction did you get from family & friends when you started getting sober?
Wendy: I was lucky, in the fact that I received overwhelimg love and support. I found many people in the yoga community who were in recovery, and in fact one of my yoga teachers helped me a lot. My husband decided to stop drinking to support me, and he didn’t need to!
Mrs D: Wow that’s pretty cool. Have you ever relapsed?
Wendy: 3 years before I finally got sober, I was drinking all day with friends, and blacked out, and had to be taken to ER. I put myself into treatment, but relapsed about 7 months after treatment. Then it took me 3 years to finally make it this time.
Mrs D: How long did it take for things to start to calm down for you emotionally & physically?
Wendy: I’m not really sure, as I also lost my hearing and got a cochler implant, as well as retired at the same time, so it was very mixed up. It took longer than I thought, so maybe up to a year.
Mrs D: How hard was it getting used to socialising sober?
Wendy: Really hard, and even after 3 years, it still can be. It depends on the situation. In a big party, I have no problem, but it’s still the small parties that make me anxious. Most of the time, going out to dinner is not a problem, as hubs and I focus on food, and fun, and holding hands.
Mrs D: Awww, he sounds like a keeper. Was there anything surprising that you learned about yourself when you stopped drinking?
Wendy: I learned that I had way more social anxiety than I knew, and realized I used drinking to help with that at times. I learned I am stronger than I think. I learned I still carried some of my childhood scars with me.
Mrs D: How did your life change?
Wendy: I found that I had to find something to deal with the losses of drinking, co-wokers, and hearing, so at first I was very isolated. But I looked around for AA meetings as well as starting a sober blog, and I found so much joy in those circles! I finally found a place to volunteer, at a Foundation that helps people with opioid addiction, and that has made a world of difference.
Mrs D: What are the main benefits that emerged for you from getting sober?
Wendy: I have to say, freedom and peace of mind. I no longer lie, no longer hide, no longer worry about the police stopping me, no longer run away. Pure freedom and peace.
Mrs D: What advice or tips would you have for those who are just starting on this journey?
Wendy: I wish I had some mind-boggling tips, but the things that helped me the most was support and never giving up. I found on-line support as well as real life support, and I realized there are so many people in recovery! I could tell my story, and no one flinched. They all understood me. Time was my friend. Writing helped me heal as well.
Mrs D: Anything else you’d like to share?
Wendy: There is joy in recovery. My recovery friends are funny. My marriage is stronger than ever. I am so much happier now, than I was when I was drinking.
What an inspiring story for me. Today is the 2nd day of my sober journey and even though it is just the 2nd day I already fell much better. No headaches or fogginess and actually looked forward to waking up and facing the day. Prayers for many days ahead.
Those first days were exciting and scary for me.
But I always love waking up sober, and knowing I am guilt and shame free!
Thank you for sharing!
Thanks Wendy for sharing that – what strength you have shown. I also love that I no longer run away. I was constantly ‘running away’ when drinking.
But now we can take things as they come, even though we may struggle.
Well done you xo
Thank you! It’s the best thing ever, to take things as they come. It’s just a wonderful way to live life!
Hi Wendy, Before my last sober attempts I read your blog Untipsy and followed you, I kept thinking if she can do it maybe i can! I loved your honesty and enthusiasm for life too. Thanks so much for coming to LS and sharing your story, it helps. I used to run away too to drink so I understand that so much. It’s an awful feeling to wake up that way and that’s whats keeping me sober this time around. Take care and thank you for being there for us, the people just starting out.
Thank you so much!
All the voices in recovery make up the WE, that support each other on this interesting and loving journey.
Thank you for supporting me!
Thank you so much for your story! I went to your blog and have read through some of your days and look forward to reading through more. You are such an inspiration. “pure freedom and peace”, those words are so powerful and meaningful when describing sober living. They sum it up beautifully! xo
P.S. I live in a suburb of Minneapolis and loved looking at your pictures on your blog, many familiar places 🙂
It’s a great place to live, that’s for sure!
Thank you for reading my blog!
“freedom and peace of mind. I no longer lie, no longer hide, no longer worry about the police stopping me, no longer run away. Pure freedom and peace.”
Such amazing benefits, Sobriety IS freedom isn’t it? I used to think that it gave me such a ‘cool edge’, but in reality those edges were sharp, and were tearing me apart!
I love how happy you seem in your recovery Wendy, congratulations!
Thank you so much! I really am.
Interesting about your social anxiety…. I think that’s one of the main reasons I drank and drinking made it worse ultimately too cause you don’t learn how to deal with situations…. good for you having a supportive spouse…. hope you find even more peace and fufilment in the future.
It is still very hard for me to be in big groups of people that I know, which is interesting.
Part of that is my hearing.
I find more peace in one on one conversations, or a group of four.
Hi Wendy, thank-you for sharing! I love that line ‘the hardest part for me was untangling the thread of romance from wine.’ And you did it. You sound very happy, it’s inspirational. : )
Oh that romance and wine. I think so many women struggle with this.
Stopping drinking did change our nights out together, and the one thing I had to come to terms with, is they were shorter.
I also had to be sure our waiters didn’t hurry us just because we weren’t drinking.
But now, I am at peace with that.
Yes, wine and dancing for example. However, I find I still want to dance if the music lifts my spirits.
Thank you for sharing your experience of dealing with addiction. Wonderful to read. To hear about a partner who continues to support you in a loving way is so good.
I truly hope the implant has enhanced your life. This so much reminds me to be understanding when with my Mum who has hearing loss.
Also to read that even though our lives are greatly improved with the clarity that comes, that sometimes it is not easy, just way preferable.