This week’s Sober Story comes fro Wendy, a 70-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 9 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 of my drinking 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, I was 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. 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 for a long 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: 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.