This week’s Sober Story comes from Fiona, a 67-year-old living in Dunedin.
Mrs D: How long have you been in recovery?
Fiona: I have been in recovery for 33 years and am now enjoying retired life to the full.
Mrs D: What can you tell us about the last months/years of your drinking before you gave up?
Fiona: I was going through a messy divorce when I started drinking – bourbon and coke was my tipple. I started with a little bourbon and a lot of coke and slowly the mix turned into more bourbon than coke. My divorce came about as I knew I was transgender and my ex-wife could not accept that I was dressing as a female. Alcohol did become a crutch and so did gambling but I gave up both cold turkey. It was hard for a while but I came through it in the end. It was a lot to go through emotionally when changing gender but I did have and still do have supportive friends.
Mrs D: What was the final straw that led you to get sober?
Fiona: The final straw that made me get sober was when I was driving drunk and almost had a crash. Fortunately there was no one else involved. I did know booze was a problem before I almost crashed but I didn’t crash fortunately.
Mrs D: How was it for you in the early days? What was most difficult?
Fiona: It was about one and a half years before things started to calm down. I did have cravings but Praise the Lord I don’t have those cravings anymore. Life was full on as I was coming out as transgender and trying to give up the booze, but I didn’t self medicate with drugs or any other stuff. It would have been much harder for me to become who I am if I had kept drinking.
Mrs D: What reaction did you get from family & friends when you started getting sober?
Fiona: My friends were really great to me when I gave up the alcohol.
Mrs D: Experts say relapse is often a part of recovery, was it a feature of yours?
Fiona: I was fortunate that I didn’t relapse as I had my Christian faith to keep me going but some days it was really hard.
Mrs D: How long did it take for things to start to calm down for you emotionally & physically?
Fiona: It was about one and a half years before things started to calm down.
Mrs D: How hard was it getting used to socialising sober?
Fiona: It wasn’t hard to socialise after I became sober as I started fishing again and which I am doing now but not in the depths of winter here in Dunedin.
Mrs D: Was there anything surprising that you learned about yourself when you stopped drinking?
Fiona: I learned you don’t need alcohol to have fun. I still do mad (but legal) things when I am sober.
Mrs D: How did your life change?
Fiona: After the divorce it was hard but I did have supportive friends in the North Island when I was living there. I am back home in Dunedin now and enjoying life to the full. I stick to ginger beer or sparkling red grape juice these days.
Mrs D: What are the main benefits that emerged for you from getting sober?
Fiona: My penchant for writing poetry came back although I haven’t written anything for a while.
Mrs D: Would you do anything differently given the chance to go through the process again?
Fiona: I would probably have asked for help sooner as alcoholics don’t recognise their problem.
Mrs D: What advice or tips would you have for those who are just starting on this journey?
Fiona: For people who are starting their journey to becoming sober I would ask them to get their sober friends to help them and get them to Alcoholics Anonymous sooner rather than later.