Hola Sober April 2024

My binge drinking continued until I decided I needed to lose some weight, so I ditched the booze and the food I was better off without. I white-knuckled it a lot of the time but the weight fell off and I achieved my goal of looking good in a pair of jeans - it had nothing to do with health. It was during this time I fell pregnant with our third son – as I had had undiagnosed gestational diabetes with my previous pregnancy (hence massive baby) I was on a very strict eating plan. Jack came into the world as a SVD (spontaneous vaginal delivery). I was happy about this because my other sons had been forceps delivered. It’s funny about what you remember about birthing! Once again I suffered with post-natal depression, but this time I got the help I needed. In case you’re wondering – yes Australia does have a functioning health care system!! We moved to a different part of the country and my drinking took off from where I’d left it. We’d purchased 20 acres of land, relocated a house, and plonked it in the middle - it was hot, dry and isolated but we managed. We had cows, sheep, pigs, chickens; we grew our own veggies, we killed our own meat, I spun wool, tanned hides and made slippers. We were pretty self-sufficient AND we brewed our own beer. This was great because it meant we didn’t have to drive 20 minutes down the road if we ran out – sometimes we even drank it not long after bottling! My husband was working shift work at the time and his job was a solo one. This suited him well because come Friday night he would get his job done quickly so he could come home early – for a treat we would have ‘bought beer’. But this was also a time in my life when I started questioning my drinking, although having said that, I think I’ve always known my drinking was a problem – it just hadn’t sunk in yet. I remember going outside some nights in a drunken stupor – I would lie on the bare ground and cry. I wanted Mother Earth to take me to a better place. I was 38.

In seeking guidance for behavioural problems with our eldest son, I connected with a councillor who, unbeknown to me, was recovering from heroin addiction. We bonded and she crossed her professional boundary - we became friends and she introduced me to AA. At my first meeting I managed to introduce myself and then just stood there crying. The room was silent while I wept and then everyone thanked me for sharing. It was probably one of the most humbling moments of my life. From there I went to a few meetings and, although I could relate to so many stories, I couldn’t get my head around the 12 steps. So I continued to drink – it was easier. On my 40th birthday I suffered a nervous breakdown. We’d just eaten pavlova when everything started to feel surreal – my body went into spasms, and I thought I was going to die or go mad or both. I thought it was the sugar but it wasn’t – it wasn’t alcohol because I hadn’t been drinking. It was a panic attack. I spent the night sweating and crying and the next day I went to the doctor where I recall sitting in the waiting room rocking backwards and forwards. I didn’t care if they locked me away, I just wanted the nightmare to end. Panic attacks and depression moved into my life like I had never experienced before. I was petrified of my own shadow. Most days I couldn’t even leave the house, and I was even too frightened to drink. Recovery, a different sort of recovery, took years and I was sober throughout, but I didn’t want to be. I was what is known in AA as a dry drunk. So eventually, when I had ‘recovered enough’, I started drinking again. My 50th birthday was equally as memorable except there was no pavlova – just family friends and lots of booze. It was August and we were living in Brisbane, restaurants and bars a five-minute walk from the house. It was pouring with rain, and we were all very drunk. I was 50 but I could party like I was 20. I remember we went to a a club in a shady part of town. I laughed because the bouncer on the door asked for ID. Coming home, my husband drinker.


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