Sober Story: Lizi

Wednesday 23 Aug, 2017, 10:41am by Mrs D 65 comments

Today’s Sober Story comes from Lizi, a 61-year-old living in Takamatua, near Akaroa.

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Mrs D: How long have you been in recovery?

Lizi: I’ve been in recovery just over three years.

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

Lizi: I was a southern comfort drinker for all of my adult life. 40 years of it. I absolutely loved drinking, it was like liquid honey going down my throat. I loved the taste and I loved the feeling. I loved the humour, the laughter, the music, the stories, the camaraderie. I loved drinking with friends out and about or sitting around at home. I was quite happy drinking by myself as well. The last few years I was sort of a moderator, bargaining with myself so I didn’t have to give it up altogether. I would buy a couple of litre bottles, and some diet coke. I’d pour it from the big bottle into a small 320 ml bottle and that would be my quota for the evening. Nearly every night. So that had me drinking about 2 litres of strong spirits every week. Plus more if I went out somewhere of course. And sometimes I’d be a brat and have a red wine or a Baileys or something afterwards, or a couple of glasses of champagne with a girlfriend before I even started on the Southerns. I felt like I was being an angel if I left a couple of nips in the bottom, which I did occasionally just to kid myself that I wasn’t all that bad! I’ve always had a kind of self-preservation or survival instinct, so I would do my best to give myself 2 nights off it every week. To give my body a rest. Sometimes I failed in this, but it wasn’t all that hard, as it was never two in a row, and at least one day a week I would have over done it enough the night before, that it was quite easy to just go to bed and watch a movie…feeling holier than thou for being so good to my body that day!

Mrs D: So what happened that led you to get sober?

Lizi: No big bad thing happened. I’d been very aware I had a problem for a long, long time. It was seeing Mrs D on the Sunday program in June 2014 that did me in. Tears rolled down my cheeks with the raw honesty of it all. I tried to hide them with my hair over my face till the ads came on, so my man wouldn’t see. I connected deeply. I knew in that moment that I would stop. That I could. I bought the book the next day, shelved it for a couple of weeks while I drank like a fish, then one Sunday night I started the book, read half of it, then made the decision that it would be my last night drinking.

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

Lizi: In the early days I just felt weird. I felt strong inside and determined. But the actual not drinking made a huge impact. I was pretty lost. On weekends I went to movies quite often the first few months, in the daytime, often by myself. It was winter. Or I hired DVD’s (as you did back then). What was most difficult for me was not socialising, as I am a very social person. Telling people was difficult. It would be almost like a joke to imagine me not drinking. So it was kind of embarrassing telling my friends what I’m trying to do. I felt very vulnerable, sensitive, and kind of exposed, raw.

Mrs D: Sounds like it was a huge deal.

Lizi: I think I need to say that it was absolutely enormous. The fact that I had given up drinking, for good, consumed my every waking hour. My thoughts and feelings were all over the place. The hugeness of it was almost overwhelming. My whole life for months and months was all about this huge thing I was doing. I sat down around 5pm with a nice drink in a fancy glass, my usual glass, but with mint, ice and cucumber and lemon slices and raspberry and soda. I got some nice cheeses and olives and I sat down and relaxed. Just like normal after a big day. I felt ridiculous at first. After two weeks I was honestly looking forward to day’s end and sitting down with my drink and snacks. Proof to me that a habit can be broken. I went to bed pathetically early. I felt cosy and safe in bed. I didn’t go there to sleep. I had my phones, my tablet, my book, my big screen TV on the mantelpiece, and I’d alternate between them all. I spent a lot of time on Living Sober website, it was my lifeline in staying sober and navigating the tricky feelings that surround it. I also wrote my blog since the very first day sober and it was there in blogland that I became close friends with our @Gilbert. We were both around in the sobersphere on the day this website launched, and have very happily and gratefully been here ever since. I doubt very much that I would have pulled this sober gig off without the tremendous support and connection I have here.

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

Lizi: My family and friends were supportive of me, and some expressed pride in me, and all gave me respect. But they weren’t THERE! I found it to be a very lonely business, especially in the middle of winter when we mostly stay at home anyway. But friends didn’t really know what to do with me anymore, coz mine was a good house to call in at and have a few drinks and laughs, on the way home, or on the way out, or anytime really. I always loved my girlfriends dropping in and we had so many laughs, it was always warm and funny, but real and communicative as well. They left me mostly alone. That surprised and hurt me quite deeply. It has taken me years to come to terms with the changes in my friendships and how to feel about those changes. I’m okay now, it is me that changed, not them. And they are still my friends and we still love each other. Truth is, it still hurts. I just don’t fit the same into their worlds. I mainly just see them when there’s something big on now.

Mrs D: Have you ever relapsed?

Lizi: No. I am too afraid to relapse. I am the type that will either have one day one, or one relapse.

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

Lizi: Emotionally it took me a good few months, maybe longer. I parted with my partner of 5 years at about 2 months sober. He wasn’t a big drinker and was a lovely man who treated me well, but this was so huge for me that I decided it would be easier for me to do it alone. He really didn’t get it, how big it was for me to be quitting something that I’d done for 40 years. He did not know how to support me and as a result he irritated me. I guess he did try, I know he was proud of me, and I guess I was impatient and impulsive. Never mind. It was like I could handle a relationship which wasn’t particularly communicative (on his part) when I was getting pissed and having fun, but it felt a bit more empty of any real magic when constantly sober. Even though I am still alone three years later, I am glad I let it go. I would rather be alone forever than to settle for less than I desire and require of a relationship. I feel I am in good company for now.

Mrs D: I know you’ve already touched on this but can you talk some more about how hard it was getting used to socialising sober?

Lizi: It was very hard for me but it was made easier by the advice you give in your first book Lotta. To consciously think about the event for what it is. Is it a birthday? A BBQ? A chance to dress up and feel good, see friends, listen to nice music, have good conversations, eat nice food. That helped immensely and I still do that to this day. I felt so weird the first time I went out though. My friend Helen took me to a party for a well-known Christchurch lawyer who was turning 80, so it felt pretty safe and was high on a hill in a nice home overlooking the sea. We stayed about 3 hours. That was quite long enough. I enjoyed the food and met some very interesting people and had some nice conversations but I felt enormously weird.. The next thing was a wedding, I lasted about three hours and then slipped away feeling like a miserable failure. I went to some nice jazzy afternoons on a friends’ front lawn and found them quite enjoyable and easy to cope with. Then there was a big party out in the country at a friend’s house,100 people, all catered, and some seventies bands playing with original members. It was there that I clicked into the groove. I’d taken my own nice glass, ice, lime, mint, lemon slices and soda, and I could see people looking at my lovely drink with envy, and I carried it with pride. I told Billy the host on the quiet, what I was up to, and he hugged me tight and said he was so proud of me, that what I was doing took real guts and we all should do it, and I got some tears at his kindness. It took me quite a while to realise many others really don’t drink all that much. That every outing is not all about drinking for them.

Mrs D: Ha ha I know! I thought everyone was always boozing merrily like I was. Nope.

Lizi: Some people really do go out to see friends, be social, enjoy conversations, music, eat food and go home feeling like they’ve had a good time. Who knew!!!

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

Lizi: There have been many things I’ve learned about myself. Surprising things? Ummm….I’ve learned that I have kept myself perpetually busy all of my adult life, with businesses, family, friends, other people’s problems, and when not busy I’d want to be drinking. I have avoided myself. Even though I have been a seeker and searched the meaning of life since a young age, and read many books, had thousands of in depth discussions, studied and developed my intuition for a year, I have actually just coped well, got through, managed efficiently all my life. I have not ever slowed down enough, for long enough, to really know myself. I have learned that I am enough. That I am interesting and fun and good company just being myself. I have learned that I am patient, and that I have a lot to give. I have learned that solitude is a beautiful thing, and if it comes along in life it should be cherished, and enjoyed wisely because it is just one part of a life. I have learned that when it comes right down to it, there is only one person in this whole wide world that I can count on absolutely, always, and that person is me.

Mrs D: Can you summarise how your life has changed since you quit?

Lizi: The biggest way my life has changed is I have spent more time alone since being sober than the whole rest of my 61 years put together. This is not just because a few certain girlfriends don’t drop in much anymore. It is because of where I am at in my life. I ended a relationship. My daughter moved out of home. My son built me a house in the country by the sea which I’ve recently moved into. All these changes are just the natural course of events for my life, and choices I have made. And I am sure it is easier for me with only myself to please most of the time, than it is for so many of you who are managing husbands and families. I take my hat off and bow at your feet!

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

Lizi: The biggest benefit of all and the one I am most proud of is that after 18 months my gorgeous rapper son, Rory, looked at my life and how happy and together I was, and he wanted it for himself. He has given up alcohol and smoking dope for 20 months now. He is 29. He is awesome. My daughter Georgia still has a few wines but she’s a normie and I’m not too worried. My son was pretty heavily into the weed, more so than the alcohol, but when he did drink he did it robustly!! Chip off the old block! I feel happy with myself and proud to have given it up. I have lost the daily feelings of guilt, nagging worry, sometimes shame, procrastination, and negativity. I am on point at all times, with a clear brain. I have always had good relationships with my children, but I absolutely love that they are proud of me, and never worry that I will embarrass them by saying some loud mouthed or sarcastic thing in front of their friends, or just by being pissed and stupid. I look forward to being a fun Granny who smells of lemons instead of booze and cigarettes. I gave up the ciggies nearly two years ago now so add in the booze and that’s at least $200 per week I’m saving, and that’s before going out anywhere. The gains are endless when you strive to be your best self. I have made some beautiful friends through the Living Sober website. The people on this site know more about my thoughts and feelings and struggles and triumphs than anyone in my day to day life. I suppose the loveliest thing is Contentment. It is such an elusive state for most of our lives. We are endlessly striving to be more, get more, have more, do more, give more. I think I have stopped. I think I am just very quietly being me now. For now.

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

Lizi: No, I don’t think I would. Because this is me and the way I have done it. I would not question or second guess that because it has worked. I did read at least 10 good sober type books in the beginning and that was very re-enforcing and I’m sure it helped me a lot. Oh yes come to think of it I guess I would not have embraced so enthusiastically the sudden love of sweet things. All manner of them! Never before have I been interested in desserts. Maybe on Christmas day only. Or chocolate. I would go a whole Easter without even eating any! Now I adore everything sweet, cakes and slices of any type, and desserts. Cream cakes were my thing in the early days OMG give me a brandy snap or a chocolate eclair. I have put on a good six kilos which I can’t seem to shake off, and although my eating habits are now under control, it has done damage. I have high blood sugar and very high cholesterol. I am trying to work on that.

Mrs D: Any advice or tips for those who are just starting on this journey?

Lizi: My thoughts here are just to believe strongly in yourself. Your inner voice. The one that Knows. Courage…..grab it by the teeth and don’t let go. Get in touch with that deep part of you where determination, guts, and stamina reside. Acquaint yourself fully with these feelings and just hold on. It is a lot about trust and loyalty. Trust yourself. Be Loyal to yourself. Give yourself this Gift of sobriety and you will gain the trust and loyalty of all of those who love you, and those you are yet to meet. You have one life. Make it one to be proud of. Make it count.

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

Lizi: I’m sure if anyone has got to here they’ve read enough by now! But I will thank you for the opportunity to write my story because in doing so I have learned quite a lot about myself!

Lizi

65 comments

  1. @prudence Hi Lizi.. I’ve just spent the weekend with our mutual friend Brenda in Motueka and she told me you’d written on here. I’ve joined this community to help me through this new journey. Lots of good reading on here . Looking forward to healthier times. Jan

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    1. How fabulous @Moonwillow and I’m so sorry I haven’t seen this until now. I was reading Marylyns sober story and just had a quick peek and noticed there were some new ones, I haven’t even looked for weeks. YOu are certainly in very fine and exquisite company if up in Mot with Brenda. I miss her heaps. I can’t speak highly enough of the difference it makes having this website full of friendly understanding people who are so generous with their support. How are you doing? It honestly just keeps on getting better. It’s amazing. Take care xo

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  2. Finally catching up on reading your Sober Story Lizi. You’re an amazing warrior woman and I admire everything you’ve been able to overcome and accomplish. Your lamp has glowed brightly on the path. My only regret is that I didn’t quit when I was as young as you are! :) Thanks Lizi for your continued support. xxx

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  3. Aw @prudence I only just read your beautiful sober story , true inspirational queen you are and I’m honoured to have met you especially when I was just entering this new way of life , you’re one cool lady can’t wait to catch up again ! Much love and major respect to you xxx

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    1. Thank you @oceania and I have major respect for you too. So wise to be doing this while your children are young. What you are doing is going to make such a huge iimpact on your future, and theirs. I look forward to catching up with you again soon oxo

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  4. @prudence you really are an inspiration. Your story moved me and I relate to so much of it, it really is a journey of self discovery. Your support has been an important part of my recovery, I was so nervous about meeting you all that first day in Hagley but I’m glad i did, it is amazing to connect in real life. You’re a special lady Lizi and I’m glad you are in my life and that we have both found our way to sobriety. It’s wonderful that your sobriety has rubbed off on Rory and shown him that there is a different way. Looking forward to seeing you soon xx

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  5. Thanks for sharing your story @prudence. This site would not be the same without you. I love your posts, your support, your honesty and understanding. Looking forward to catching up again soon xxx

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  6. Beautifully said @prudence, with style and warmth and sparkle as always. You are articulate and like a piece of sunshine on the site, as many comments testify. :) Special woman.
    I can’t help missing Denise at this moment, I reckon she’d love reading this.
    Thanks for your story. xx

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  7. Always enjoy your posts Lizi, and loved reading your story. You never fail to inspire, love your frankness. And so happy your son joined this path too. Than you so much!

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  8. WooHoo!!!! Finally someone who took as long as I did to get sober!!!!!
    Thank you for sharing! I loved reading this and have a lot of the same reactions!!!!

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  9. How did I miss this wonderful story telling?! Beautifully told, and I feel so privileged to have seen the way you have faced the different life, the hurts, the joys, the long quiet Winters, the bursts of exercise mania, and a slow but sure emerging into a deeper sense of who you are – I love the part about finally slowing down enough to really know yourself. I love the way we are so different, yet have learned together along the way, I think ever appreciating different aspects as we get to know ourselves and each other in more depth.
    You enrich my life in many ways. Love you XXXX Morgan

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  10. Beautifully written my lovely friend and I have read all the comments by others with pleasure and you deserve every kind word. I still marvel that you were able to kick fags AND booze. This is massive and unless someone has been addicted to both it’s impossible to know how strong those cravings can be. You are a marvel.
    Having only ever known you as a non drinker I am proud to say you were my very first sober friend. I struck gold. You are a special part of my life. Love ya to bits xox

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    1. Aww @Gilbert you gorgeous girl, our friendship means a lot to me too. I’d love to get up there again to see you but no holidays for me in a hurry. Gotta make some swift moves to try and get this mortgage down a bit. Next holiday will be Easter next year for The Blues Fest at Byron Bay. Got the flights and stuff booked the other day, so we can’t back out. Going with my sober friend Sue (she did a sober story for Mrs D once, she is a drug and alcohol councillor now, been sober 20 years).
      You are the amazing one Charlie, just look at all you’ve had on your plate and all you’ve done about it. They should make a movie about you to inspire others facing crisis in their lives. You looked for the opportunity in the crisis. You found it good! Not only did you find your true calling, but a damned fine husband into the deal as well hahahaha I love it xoxo

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  11. Thank you @prudence for sharing your story with us. I found it comforting, warm and affirming. This sober life can be lonely sometimes but I loved hearing how you’ve built your new life for yourself – a great reminder too that this life we’ve chosen enables us to become the happiest version of ourselves we can be!

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    1. Thanks @April, I am often thinking of you and admiring your courage in the face of huge adversity. So very proud of you for doing what you need to do and looking after your family the way you are. You are doing so well. Really feel for you. xoxo

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  12. Such a treat getting to know and love you Lizi. Your big beautiful open heart has been a gift to so many members here. You’ve built a fabulous new home, but more importantly, a fabulous new life!

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  13. Lizi I loved reading your story, I love your grit and determination to push forward, I try to have that too. We travel this goat track together, thank you for being such an encouragement along the way xo

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  14. I just decided to nip on to living sober to check up how many days – 89 days without booze. No problem at all. Love feeling clear headed. ‘On point’ always (love that! ) I loved your story. Thank you for sharing. The biggest change is my close girlfriends seeming to not be comfortable with my not drinking. It’s so sad. Things are definitely ‘different’. I know they are ‘avoiding’ having the usual Friday wind down (wine down) and other usual alcohol fueled get togethers because they don’t want me to be tempted. I’ve asked them….please don’t feel awkward around me. Please feel free to booze away!….but it’s like I’ve put a dampner on get togethers for them. Part of my being sober and facing emotions (that had been hidden by booze filled weekends then followed by the next Monday to Friday trying to recover…only to do it all again the next weekend), was that I actually admitted to myself I was homesick. (Much as I ADORE NZ)…. 4 years since I’ve seen my mum and dad in Ireland…..way too long. So I’ve booked a flight home…..word has gotten around over there….the friends and relatives have….guess what……booze filled nights all planned for me apparently….Holy shit…..Maybe I didn’t think that through! An Irish homecoming without booze…now that’s a new one…but one I know I can and will do. In a twisted way. I look forward to the contorted faces…….You’ve WHAT??!!……given up the booze??!!…..followed by the usual barrage of questions….are you insane? ill? Etc etc! Oh God sorry, I’ve waffled on. You’ve given me hope that it’s all gonna be ok. Thank you and wishing you the best of luck xo

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    1. I’m glad I give you hope @Freya and I wish you a fabulous time on your trip back home. If I was you I would be sending word across that you don’t drink no more. Even if you get ridiculed on arrival, at least you’ve warned them………could maybe get some daytime plans in place. Yeah it’s got to be hard going home to Ireland sober. Walk tall xo

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  15. Wow @prudence this is a fabulous read. You know what? You are enough!! It’s awesome the wonderful self realisations that come when we give away the booze. We actually add in so much more. Your story is true testament to this. Thank you and well bloody done!!

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  16. So lovely to see the journey captured in one small place – you’re living well friend, and have always been one of the rocks of our community and were a huge part of many of us getting past those first few days and look at us now! All warm hugs and hearts!

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    1. @Jessi it is you and your staunch bravery getting through your illness sober and your positive take on it all, even when you were terrified and uncomfortable, that made me think “well if Jessi can do it with all that crap going on, I’ve got no excuse what so ever to cave in”. So in a round about way you are responsible for my success xoxo

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  17. What a sparkling positive take on life you have Lizi, you can see it in your face, so unique, you just want to sit down and have a good deep laugh with this person i see here.
    How can I say how much your perspective on getting sober and relying on yourself has effected me. I keep your quotes on my computer desktop, they are what I want to remember about not drinking alcohol. Not the sad alcoholic type scare tactics on getting sober but what a beautiful, full, authentic life can be had by taking a pass on the piss as Prudence says. It has been so very meaningful to me and so many here at LS.
    Thanks so much for this Mrs D and Prudence.

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    1. Thank you @Reena for your very kind words. Today was a powerful moment when I said I see you as a Phoenix rising from the ashes, and earlier that day you had bought yourself a small phoenix. This sort of connection, esp, intuition, whatever the heck it is excites me and I love it when it happens. So pleased if anything I say is helpful to you. You are stronger than you know and you’re going to feel like the winner you are, as soon as you are ready to look yourself in the eye and Trust yourself fully. xo

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