Sober Story: Michelle

Wednesday 31 Jan, 2018, 8:16am by Mrs D 26 comments

Mac007

This week’s Sober Story comes from Michelle (a.k.a @mac007), a 55-year-old living in North Otago.

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Mrs D: How long have you been in recovery?

Michelle: Nearly 3.5 years.

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

Michelle: I loved drinking but started to learn drinking didn’t love me! A few years before I gave up I was aware that I needed to cut down. I had this little voice in my head saying ‘you are heading in the wrong direction, stop before it gets worse’. I really didn’t want to listen to that nagging. I moved south, left my old life behind to start a new life with my new partner. However, my drinking hitched a ride too. Spirits, wine and beer …I’d drink anything, I loved it. I loved the way it relaxed me. I would get up with no hangover but felt guilty as hell, still nothing would stop me and I’d back into it again the next day! It wouldn’t be difficult to drink 2 bottles of wine and a couple of beers a night! Around the last year or so I cut back to just drinking 6 beers or so after work. I had to do something as my relationship was on the edge. I tried moderation. I hated it. Because I hated that ‘control’ I rebelled and started to drink more! I suppose I’m an all or nothing person! The voice came back, but it wasn’t just in my head this time, it was also the concern and fed-up voice of my partner. So I said I’d stop, but it didn’t take me long before I was drinking on the sly. What the hell was I thinking, that no one would realise? Who was I kidding?

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

Michelle: I had a sneaky drink and was confronted by my partner – I had to choose the bottle or her. After an argument, I got in the car to drive away and got as far as the drive and a huge voice said ‘STOP’. I still have no idea where that came from but I slammed on the brakes and went back inside. I was scared, I didn’t know how I was going to do it right this time. I needed help but didn’t want to go to AA. Then I remembered reading about Mrs D, and in my pissed state that night, I emailed her saying I thought I was going mad! The next day as I walked along the beach with my dog, I checked my emails and there in my inbox was Mrs D, saying “get your ass over to the Living Sober site”. At that moment my dog came out of the bushes with her first ever rabbit! She was so proud of her catch as she marched up the beach with it. She had been trying and trying for about a year and finally her perseverance paid off. I looked at the email and looked at my dog and thought anything is possible, if you want something you just need to try harder! I got my arse over onto that site!

Mrs D: Ha ha, I remember your email! How was it for you in the early days? What was most difficult?

Michelle: I started with a hiss and a roar. This was a breeze….the first day ok. The next ok and then the reality that I couldn’t drink ever again just hit me! Fuck!! I jumped on the site as much as I could and thank goodness for the wonderful support of fellow LS members I managed to get over my fuckedness each time! I also found burbling on writing posts helped. Helping others helped me! Most nights I would say to my partner “I would love a drink” , but I’d get on to the site instead. Breaking this long time affair with booze was a really bad habit and it was difficult to stop doing what I was so used to. My body was screaming out for a drink. Replacing the 5 o’clock drink with a soda was the most difficult to master. As each day passed eventually there were weeks in-between before I would say “I love a drink.” The habit was being broken, bit by bit.

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

Michelle: I could see their lips saying it’s great but their eyes had doubt. I know they didn’t believed me that I was serious this time. Why should they? They had heard words similar to this before and it didn’t happen. As time went by many told me how proud they were and still tell me today.

Mrs D: Have you ever relapsed?

Michelle: Not since I joined LS 1241 days ago! Over my many years of drinking I gave up for short periods and started again. Nothing serious, until I gave up about 18 years ago for a period for 2 years or so. Over this time I ‘came out’, left my marriage and entered into a new relationship in a different world but this included a drinking partner. Thinking then I would be ok to moderate because I was living the life I should be. But booze doesn’t work like that. And I ended up drinking more! More shit to follow and then more work needed to be done before I wanted to stop.

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

Michelle: Now this is a hard question. I wanted to write this story six months ago but I felt I couldn’t. My health has been shit for about 4 years and got worse after I gave up. I didn’t want to put a damp squid on the story of the healthier me but I think it is important to share. I thought giving up the booze was going to make me this fit and healthy 50 something woman. I was looking after myself finally! Supportive partner, started a new business, eating well and NO DRINKING! BUT truth is, I felt like shit. I felt like someone had run over me with a bulldozer, every day. After many visits to a specialist and trials of different medicines treating arthritis, which nearly killed me, I still didn’t know what was going on. Eventually after a couple of years the specialist diagnosed Fibromyalgia (something I would have in common with Lady Gaga, so I found out later!) There is no cure for fibromyalgia and it is very hard to diagnose. The medications they prescribed may or may not work as there is no medication for Fibromyalgia. It affects everyone differently and some days are much worse than others. No written rules there. At night I’d be woken by pain and to move was a huge effort, then in the morning it was a lucky dip to see where I was sore that day.

Mrs D: That sounds incredibly hard to live with.

Michelle: The way Fibromyalgia works is this: imagine the day after you have run a marathon and things ache all over but in this case I haven’t ran that marathon! It turns up the control of pain levels on the nerve signals. So after I stopped drinking I had pain, was constantly very tired probably from lack of sleep, and had brain fog and it was getting worse! No wonder resentment set in. “Why don’t I just drink again at least that would numb the pain?” I thought that many many times. Then depression and anxiety jumped on the wagon too. I knew I couldn’t start drinking again because the drink makes you depressed and where the heck would this all lead to if I already felt depressed!! So telling my 3 year sober story a few months ago was not right timing for me. I wasn’t even in a good head space to go on to LS and share anything. I was managing to keep my business going by cutting down the hours I was opening and doing what I could when I could. My partner was being as patient as someone could be but I could feel it’s affect on her as well. I felt ripped off. I had stopped drinking and got this?

Mrs D: How did this affect your thinking?

Michelle: The ‘Poor me’, started to creep in. I didn’t want to accept this diagnosis. Part of me wanted to blame the booze or lack of it. The questions that went through my head, was it withdrawl? Is this the payment of years of drinking? Would I have given up if I knew I would feel like this instead? I wonder if I had a drink it would all feel better? I know the main reasons why I didn’t roll over on my back , give up and neck a few drinks is because of the many beautiful strong friends I have meet here on LS and what great accomplishments they have achieved since I’ve known them. Apart from nailing it and giving up the booze some have run marathons, built castles, moved house, ditched bagged luggage , found new partners and some have married them, new careers, new babies, new hips, started new businesses, written books, overseas trips and the list goes on. All huge positive events, all achieved without booze and some have achieved more than one of these listed! That is powerful and very inspiring. I’m now trying another treatment and this is helping me amazingly so. Mood and anxiety especially. It’s early days and time will tell but I’m enjoying my life more now. I am enthusiastic again and making plans to go places and socialise again.

Mrs D: I’m so happy to read this. If you can think back to the earier days of quitting.. how did it impact on your social life?

Michelle: Where I live and my work probably kept me sheltered away from boozy situations in the beginning. Also I never was a pub drinker anyway. When it came to gatherings with friends many chose not to drink that night for my sake, but I always said to them they didn’t need to as I felt ok with them having a drink or two. I suppose most of my friends, by then, hardly drank anyway! I love going to concerts and not having to pee every 5 minutes. I also couldn’t get over the number of people that had paid for a ticket and spent their time going from their seat to the bar and back and then to the loo and back to the bar again! Watching that made me feel sad for them and grateful I was no longer that person.

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

Michelle: That I was stronger than I ever thought I could be and that I didn’t need the drink to have confidence. I also have got to know myself much better and I’m still learning about me too, I suppose I have a bit of catching up to do!

Mrs D: How did your life change?

Michelle: I was finally in control of myself. No more booze filled haze control. I run my own business for the last 4 years and have the confidence in my abilities to do so. I had wasted a lot of money, time and energy to booze and now I use all of that to have more positivity in my life.

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

Michelle: I’m still with my partner and it has made our relationship stronger. My children, partner and family and friends that know me have a new found respect for me that I know has come from me getting sober. I dealt with this recent health issue with strength I wouldn’t have had if I was still drinking. Also I have meet many lovely LS members that have become wonderful life time friends. Without them my getting sober would have been much different.

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

Michelle: If I knew how booze was going to rule my life and destroy things I wouldn’t have started drinking at the age of 15. I thought it was the normal and harmless thing to do was to grab a drink to feel more confident , to relax after a hard day, when feeling sad , during a happy event or any time no matter what the excuse. I wish I knew HOW to handle feelings much more differently back then.

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

Michelle: If you have made your mind up, and you really want to stop, just do it. STOP. It will be hard, bloody heck if it was easy it wouldn’t be a problem would it? Be strong, dig deep when needed. Keep reading and posting on LS because you aren’t alone. There will be times that you question everything and want to drink but stop and listen to what you are thinking and ask yourself why you maybe feeling the way you do and what might be a trigger for you? The booze monster is cunning and watch it as it will kick you when you are down so beware of that! You can bet it’s hold and get sober. Give yourself this chance, you deserve it.

26 comments

  1. I just signed up today. So unbelievably grateful to be here right now. It’s a very scary day 1 for me, but this time, having hit rock bottom, I’m ready to admit that I’m absolutely powerless when it comes to alcohol. And I simply can’t thank you enough, Mac, for sharing your story. I was continually nodding while reading and a voice inside of me was screaming out “yes, that’s me, that’s me … I’m not alone … I can do this!” I’ve been drinking since I’ve been 15 and I’m now 46. I’m tired of the friggin hamster wheel of going no where fast. Start drinking after work, sleep-deprived & sick in the morning, nurture a hangover all day while trying to perform at work, starting to feel better by 3:00 just in time to hit a liquor store on the way home, and repeat. Plus trying to hide all the bags of ‘empties’ from family (as if they don’t know). I feel like an actress by day and a drunk by night. During the day, I am exhausted from trying to complete tasks and fulfill responsibilities while ‘acting’ like I don’t have an addiction. Meanwhile, all I can think about is that first drink. At night, like clockwork, my exhausted miserable self succumbs to the bottle. Last night was my last binge. I’m done. I’m too tired and sick to keep going. I want what you have and I’m rolling up my sleeves to get it. Thank you once again for sharing. Much love to you and everyone on LS. So glad to be here.

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    1. Thank you @mrs-h and welcome to this fantastic site.
      You have made one of the best choices you ever can do for yourself and those around you.
      One of the biggest things to know is you aren’t alone.
      We all have one thing in common, we loved alcohol but alcohol didn’t love us back.
      So stick around and if there is anything you want to know just ask, there is always someone here to talk to. And vent if you ever need to, we do understand.
      It will be hard but very empowering when you get through those tough moments.
      You can do this! :)

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    1. Hey @flourishing, thanks for reading my story and I hope it helped you out today!
      What I forgot to add to my story was I loved ice-cream in the beginning. My Sweet tooth come out!
      I had the best selection of tip top ice-cream flavours any ice cream shop would be proud to have!
      When my adult kids came to visit I would display the whole range after dinner and say take your pick!
      They said how come when we were kids you only bought cheaper Pams ice-cream and it was always only vanilla? Ha ha ….
      I figured I would do anything to help my new sober self and get through the early days. Even if it took 7 flavours of ice cream to do it. Plus a few lollies!
      I do have to say I didn’t sit down and eat a whole 2 litres at a time just a rolled cone at night after dinner! Lol.
      The sugar top up seemed to be a natural thing my body wanted and I had stopped pouring the liquid alcohol fuel type down my throat so no alcohol sugar didn’t seem so bad.
      I feel in the beginning we all have to be kind to ourselves and patient and not beat ourself up because we are craving the sugar.
      Giving up the alcohol is huge in it’s self and thats the most important job at hand.
      Eventually I found I got down to 1 or 2 flavours and now I hardly eat ice-cream.
      But I will still have one if I want because I can and it’s ok if I do!
      I think the trick is…
      Be kind and patient with yourself and know everyone has different ways to cope and if it helps from picking up a bottle then that is ok! :)

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      1. Omg that is me……hubby and I now have ice cream EVERY night! We both really really really look forward to it…….we are early days, Day 26 for me and Day 20 for hubby. We know it’s really bad but I feel we will wean ourselves off eventually. Thanks you for mentioning that, I don’t feel as guilty anymore …..perhaps I should ditch the choc covered ginger that I sprinkle over the top lol!!!! What the hell, better than two plus bottles of wine that’s for sure.

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  2. Oh mac I loved your story, I love that you’re still here, still toughing it out with all that real life stuff. What an honest and inspiring read. And what you didn’t mention was your amazing ability to keep your sense of humour through it all. I have a friend with fibromyalgia and she suffers greatly. But of course from the outside looks fine and healthy.
    Keep plodding forward, don’t ever go back to that boozy place where so much is jeopardised.
    Big big hugs you special thing xo

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    1. Thank you for taking the time to read my story @seizetheday . It is interesting you mentioned that I kept the sense of humour. Definitely inherited and I think this has an important asset to have, no matter how weird it may come across at times to some people. No matter what the situation, finding the funny things and having a laugh can be the best medicine. I probably had never really thought about it before but I do feel if I didn’t have that warped side I would have been a very sad genie still stuck in her bottle! Glad to be herewith you. :) xo

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  3. Mac007 you are a true inspiration and I am so happy your are on a medication that is working for you. . It’s such a sucky feeling to have to live with an illness with no cure. You’re a strong wonderful Lady. Your posts help me s lot in my early days and I look forward to catching up with you again inMarch xxx

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    1. Gidday @kerris ,
      And I will say the same right back at you too, lovely lady. xo
      I’m really looking forward to our catchup in March. It will be full of much laughter I’m sure of that!
      The friendships we all have made from this site are unbelievable!
      See you soon xo

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  4. Hi Mac,
    I am not new here and I am starting my sobriety and recovery today for the 900th time, hoping now to achieve it after all the years of trying. I really appreciate your story and admire your courage to deal with fibromyalgia. I had a huge problem with it during my child bearing years but I’m a senior now and with that, my flare ups are gone. I live in the U.S. but find that this wonderful website and Mrs. D offer such great support and sincerity. I look forward to staying on board here and getting better each day. Thank you again and congrats on your sober journey. Hugs.

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    1. Hi Marsha and thanks,
      You may not be new here but you are here! This time is the time, OK?
      This site helped me, without joining it I’m sure I wouldn’t be writing this!
      When the specialist diagnosed my problem as fibro I went into denial. I did not want to have something that couldn’t be ‘fixed’!
      I was ‘fixing’ myself, living more healthily , booze free and all! ………Then what the fuck? This?
      What I came to realise was menopause was adding to it all. The depression, anxiety, hot flashes etc.
      So the fibro was magnifying the symptoms of the menopause, on top of what else it had already magnified!
      I’m still in denial about the fibro and saying it’s menopause! Lol. That gives me light at the end of the tunnel!
      Like you said your flares up have gone so this gives me great hope that mine will too settled down and climb under it’s rock again!!
      Back to beating this booze…. Triggers are a huge thing. What I found over the time is when I had the overwhelming thought I needed a drink I would stop and ask myself why? What was going on that is driving me to NOT deal with but to drown instead? A pattern soon popped up. Finding out these things is a huge learning and then it allows us to see why the pattern continues. It was a way to cope, just drown it! But as you and I both know that doesn’t work for long and it does kill our life in the end.
      Please keep staying on the site and give yourself this chance to live how you should have before booze.
      It is never too late for anyone!
      See you here again Marsha :)

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  5. thanks for sharing your story. I have only 3 days, and you are an inspiration! Man these early days suck, and I hope I have the strength you had to stay sober. Thanks again :)

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    1. 3 Days is fantastic @goldie . Yes the early days do suck but ride it through. It will be 4 tomorrow and 5 the next. You stopped 3 days ago and have taken charge of your life. Be very proud of yourself. Have a think what you like to do before you got entangled in drinking. What turned your wheels before alcohol ? Keep yourself busy with a different interest. I found changing my routine, my habit, around ‘drink time’ helped with the urge to drink then. It’s about retraining the brain. It will be hard but you will do it :)

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  6. Hi @mac007! One of my hero’s from those early white knuckle days back in 2014 when posting here and reading posts kept me from going crazy whilst I battled the wine witch and booze hound with you and all the crew. Your story is a powerful one. Giving up something to regain our health and happiness does not gaurantee that life will be happy ever after. You have navigated stormy waters with your health and have come to a place with it all that you can share about it and inspire. You have my love and respect that’s for bloody sure. Love Pearl xxx

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    1. Thank you for lovely kind words @pearl . We have all navigated a storm or two during our time together. Thank god we are all bloody good at sailing now. :) love to you wonderful lady xo

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  7. Hi Michelle! Thank-you for sharing your story, honest and inspiring. Some people (like me) may think that all of their problems are solved if they can stop drinking. Which is true in many ways, but it’s as you say, life continues and you have to figure how to handle stress, ups and downs, bad days – learning new ways of coping has been so eye-opening + freeing. Huge congrats on 1241 days!!

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    1. Thanks JM ,
      Life doesn’t stop and it continues on and throwing things at you just to see how you will cope, sober or pissed! At least it is easier to catch it coming when sober!! ;)
      Retraining our brains to do things differently is a huge thing to learn after many years of it being on auto pilot.
      It is very freeing, I totally get you. :)

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  8. Thanks Michelle, love your story. I am really sorry the path has been hard, but really pleased you have found medication that’s working. Your an inspiration running you own business; living life on your terms. I have just commenced AF living; thanks for the inspiration.

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    1. Thank you @bluewren . When I first started my new life of AF I got inspiration from many members on here. Some were only ten days ahead of me, back then ten days seemed like months apart. Grab any help you need and never feel you can’t ask. You will find being AF will give you wings to fly in the direction that makes your heart sing. :)

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  9. My Beautiful Mac007 ( Michelle ) . Thanks for this inspiring insight into your life. I never knew that you were going through so much hell when you always managed to sound so upbeat in your posts etc. I am proud to see myself as one of your many good and supportive friends since 2014 at LS. You are the reason for my successes on this journey. I Admire you and Thank You xxx.

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    1. Thank you my lovely friend @elliott, you definitely helped me along the way. And I will never forget your ‘gentleman’ ways in doing so. And I’m glad you are sinking those putting shots and not the other along with me! Go well my friend. xo

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  10. Our own dear Mac, castles, marathons, new love, travel and so on are all some of the cool things lots of us have done. The battles of health are the toughest because without health nothing else matters. We wouldn’t swap it for all the riches and glory. I totally admire and respect you in lots of way but especially for managing this shitty hand you got dealt after getting sober. You have tried different things to help yourself and hopefully you’re on the right path now. Then the battle for inner health and peace come next. I for one didn’t have a clue how much growing I had to do. Finding calm and peace within and managing stress is everything to those of us who drank to numb social anxiety and still our inner voices. We have found new ways and we are developing strength by the day. I am proud to be your friend and on the journey with you and I have enjoyed your posts over the years. Many more fun memories to come,starting real soon,whoop! Much love buddy xx

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    1. Gidday my beautiful friend.
      When I joined here nearly 3 and half years ago my focus ( if you could call it that!) to be here was purely for my own benefit. I needed help. I was struggling and I couldn’t do it alone. How could anyone know what it feels like to be me?
      Many many me,myself and I’s in that sentence !!!
      When I joined LS I never imagined the friendships that would flow into my life from that day.
      The true grit friendship, the no bullshit type ones, the caring and understanding type of friendship.
      These new friends are honest, open, strong, intelligent, beautiful and bloody hilarious people and I have meet and spent time with many of them.
      I learnt that they knew exactly what it felt like dealing with this bloody beast sitting on your shoulder. How hard it can be to kick it away and how important it is to have someone that ‘gets’ it and to know you aren’t alone.
      @normaleelucid you were and are one of these beautiful people, right from my start you were dealing with your own stuff but also unselfishly helping me and many more in your supportive posts. Thank you heaps. :)
      I’m so proud to call you my friend.
      We will continue creating more fantastic memories with great hilarity I’m sure of that.
      See you soon my friend :) xo

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    1. Thanks @mari135 and it is so uplifting to see you and the many others here changing your life for the better when it is bloody hard in the beginning and a challenge at times to stick with the plan. Love sharing my goat track with you :)

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