This week’s Sober Story comes from Lesley, a 64-year-old living in Tauranga.
Mrs D: How long have you been in recovery?
Lesley: 6 and a half years (Mid-May 2011 was my last alcoholic drink).
Mrs D: What can you tell us about the last months/years of your drinking before you gave up?
Lesley: They were pretty awful. One of the things that sticks in my mind is the way my daughter used to look at me while I was drinking. Even when things were hazy I can still see that look. I felt I needed a couple of drinks to loosen me up when we went out but of course we don’t stop at a couple do we!
Mrs D: What was the final straw that led you to get sober?
Lesley: I gashed my leg and ended up in hospital with it ulcerated, for 10 days (I’d had a couple of wines). It gave me time to look at myself and quite frankly I didn’t like what I was looking at. And of course I started remembering….. OMG!!
Mrs D: How was it for you in the early days? What was most difficult?
Lesley: I attended AA for the first couple of months which was a real eye opener and I certainly didn’t want to end up as bad as some of the poor people there. It provided me with a lot of focus. AA along with the support of my family and some very good friends meant it went okay. Although that jolly bottle of wine – white wine – was still calling my name especially at 5pm when getting dinner ready – I found that really hard. To cope I used to prepare dinner before lunch some days or early afternoon.
Mrs D: What reaction did you get from family & friends when you started getting sober?
Lesley: My immediate family were delighted and so supportive. My husband attended some of the AA meetings with me for the first month. I told my closest girlfriend and still have her support. I remember when I told her I was attending AA meetings she cried. She still tells me how proud she is of me ☺
Mrs D: Experts say relapse is often a part of recovery, was it a feature of yours?
Lesley: No. I have never had even a sip. A smell but not a sip.
Mrs D: How long did it take for things to start to calm down for you emotionally & physically?
Lesley: Probably about 6 months and after 1 year I knew I was going to make it. It got me through a summer. Summer and white wine go together – but now summer and other drinks go together.
Mrs D: How hard was it getting used to socialising sober?
Lesley: I found it very hard in the beginning and we have lost one friendship due to this. But I don’t regret my sober life at all. At the end of the day the people that matter the most are the ones you can count on. My best friend has a friend who has been sober for about 30 years and he has been a great mentor for me. I phone him on occasion and have a chat.
Mrs D: Was there anything surprising that you learned about yourself when you stopped drinking?
Lesley: Just how strong I am…..
Mrs D: How did your life change?
Lesley: I’m able to say what I mean and remember it, which is quite something. I’m able to do things – just everyday things – and finish the task whatever it maybe. I’m not only in control of myself now but I’m also a more positive person.
Mrs D: What are the main benefits that emerged for you from getting sober?
Lesley: Being able to look after my grandkids. Being able to look my girls in the eye and know they were happy at last with their mum which makes me feel really good. And of course my husband – I’d forgotten just how great he is.
Mrs D: Would you do anything differently given the chance to go through the process again?
Mrs D: What advice or tips would you have for those who are just starting on this journey?
Lesley: Ask for help. I emailed my girls when I made the decision to be sober and asked them for help that way. I think there is no right or wrong way- just ask. If you need to attend meetings especially at the beginning do. These people don’t judge us. And just take one day at a time.
Mrs D: Anything else you’d like to share?
Lesley: Yes. Recently my husband had a Big birthday. I stood up in front of approximately 55 people and spoke. I could never do this before as I knew the booze would be speaking. My family and close friends were al so very proud of me and once again my best friend was reduced to tears ☺