Sober Story: Zoe

bar

Today's Sober Story comes from Zoe, a 64-year-old living in Auckland.

=========

Mrs D: How long have you been in recovery?

Zoe: 21 years

Mrs D: What can you tell us about the last months/years of your drinking before you gave up?

Zoe: I drank every day in a pub on K Road and looked down on all the people I drank with. For some reason I had a superiority complex although my self esteem was at an all time low. I was the first to arrive at opening time and had to be poured into a taxi in black out every night at around eight. My son who was 12 at the time often came up to get me because he was hungry, I would feed him take aways so I could get to stay on for just one more....

Mrs D: What was the final straw that led you to get sober?

Zoe: My son's father came to visit us and he was 9 months clean. He had been my "if I ever get as bad as him I'll give up" person ... and there he was bright eyed, funny, responsible, making sense, and straight. He had done a treatment in the South Island but had friends in the local Parnell Treatment centre and he convinced me to go for a "meeting" with the admitting person there. Something happened at that meeting - I surrendered and stopped putting up barriers. I gave in. Put my hands up and asked for help.

Mrs D: How was it for you in the early days? What was most difficult?

Zoe: In treatment it felt easy, I was cocooned in an environment where all I had to do was do what I was told. Eat 3 meals a day (I had stopped eating and got all my nourishment out of a Steinlager bottle), go for a very short walk in the morning, do writing to try and discover who I was, sit in groups, socialise with a small group of like minded people, do a few chores! It was when I left the support house and got my son back and we went back to living in our old house that things went pear shaped. I realised that I could not sit in my house 7 minutes away from the usual bars and where I scored my tinnies and stay straight. So my son and I moved to a caravan park out in Helensville - he had been attending Kaipara College and I thought best not to change his school again - so off we went. That was hard, it was difficult to attend 12 Step meetings as I had no car, I was isolated and lonely. I cross addicted to the pokie machines in the local pub, and my poor son could see no difference in my behaviour from when I was drinking in the pub. He still had to come and find me to get his dinner! That was my annus horriblus really. Worse than my last year of drinking. I had a solution but I was not living a clean life and certainly not following a 12 Step program. I did not relapse though and after the first year I got a proper house, a real job and a car and stopped gambling and things gradually started to improve.

Mrs D: What reaction did you get from family & friends when you started getting sober?

Zoe: When my father dropped me off at Detox he took me in his arms and sobbed. I was too self centered at the time to realise how much they worried about me. They had even contemplated getting CYFS involved to take my boy away to a safer environment. My mother died about 10 years ago and we had mended our broken bridges. My father is 91 and I spend a lot of time with him and he loves me and is proud of me. My son has grown up into a strapping, boat builder and surfer who leads a wonderful life overseas most of the time. He is also proud that I have managed to stay clean for all these years. He is a credit to himself!

Mrs D: Have you ever experienced a relapse?

Zoe: No! I was 43 at the time I came into recovery. When I think about why I haven't relapsed, I suppose I had had enough by the time I got here. I hear other people's stories of relapse and nothing has changed. I can have momentary visions of myself drinking "just the one" glass of champagne and looking all sophisticated and glamorous but I know I was never that kind of drinker. I have the disease of more....

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

Zoe: Physically I got well and put on weight within a couple of years. Mentally it's a work in progress. Emotionally I have needed counselling and all the help the 12 Steps can give me. Things have certainly calmed down but there is room for improvement.

Mrs D: How hard was it getting used to socialising sober?

Zoe: I have a few strategies, I go to a meeting before I go to a party or event, so I have the memory of my disease in the fore front of my brain. I generally only stay for about an hour and a half, or until the first drunk person starts to tell me how fabulous I am that I don't drink! We have a lot of events in recovery and I remember the first dance I went to in Treatment. I've always been a big dancer and I got up and danced and danced and had a lot of fun, not having to interupt the flow to get another drink...

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

Zoe: I really am a funny person. I thought I could only be funny drunk! I am very kind and loving and I make a great responsible member of society. I don't need to be a rebel. I don't need to tell lies to make myself sound interesting!

Mrs D: How did your life change?

Zoe: As above I didn't need to keep secrets from anyone. I could have a party and invite all the people I care about and not need to keep pockets of friends separate form others or my family. I am congruent.

Mrs D: What are the main benefits that emerged for you from getting sober?

Zoe: A career in an industry I love. A beautiful house to live in. My family back in my life and I take care of them now not the other way round.

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

Zoe: I sometimes wish I'd got here earlier but I am a product of everything that has happened in my life. My wisdom stems from my unique experience and that is valuable to others that I sponsor or befriend on the journey.

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

Zoe: Surender! Just do what you're told if you go into one of the wonderful Treatment Centres that are out there. Join a 12 Step Fellowship, people who have had similar experiences are your best advisors. In the beginning try and get to lots of meetings and get a Sponsor, someone you relate to who can guide you through the early days...

Mrs D: Anything else you'd like to share?

Finding a form of Spirituality to believe in has helped me enormously. I know it can be off putting and it has nothing to do with religion ... just something greater than myself so I don't go back to my old self willed ways. And if I remember I only have to do it - stay sober - for this one day ... life is much more manageable.

12 Comments
  1. SueK 4 months ago

    Great Sober Story Zoe. Thank you for sharing it.

  2. cdh1 4 months ago

    These stories are very helpful, thank you for sharing!

  3. skyfly 4 months ago

    Great stuff, good on you. Very inspirational.

  4. freedom1025 4 months ago

    You are an inspiration. Thanks for sharing

  5. JM 4 months ago

    Amazing Zoe, huge congrats on creating a life you love. x

  6. reginald 5 months ago

    Thank you Zoe for your very brave and inspirational story. Your family must have been so relieved when you “surrendered ” and so proud of how you have turned your life around. For me I think the key learning in your story is to surrender. After 30 years of failed attempts at sobriety i now get it. I have never fully surrendered. Thank you Zoe.

  7. suzy 3 years ago

    Thanks for your story Zoe. 19 plus years of recovery, one day at a time. I appreciate your courage and your honesty. And especially for speaking about the substituting the substances with the pokie machines. Cross addictions are very common and not much spoken of. Very helpful.

  8. booboo 3 years ago

    Thank you for sharing
    Love health and happiness to you

  9. Seizetheday 3 years ago

    I really love these stories that are shared. You are living proof of what can be accomplished. Thank you so much for the glimpse into your life xo

  10. justjane 3 years ago

    Thanks for sharing your story Zoe – such an inspiration! “The disease of more” – man, that hits home with me.

  11. behind-the-sofa 3 years ago

    nearly 20 years, nice : )
    I’ve been smashed on K road quite a few times myself…..
    You get to witness some quality behaviour round there on a Friday and Saturday night….
    ….lucky you got to leave by 8pm ; )

  12. jdadplus4 3 years ago

    Thanks for sharing your journey!!!!! What a great accomplishment…. 19 years!!!!! ☺️

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published.

©2019 The New Zealand Drug Foundation

Built with love by Bamboo Creative and powered by Flywheel

Forgot your details?

Create Account