Introducing Tribe Sober Member Jo who has bravely volunteered to do a member share – thank you Jo! 14 questions for you!
First of all tell us a bit about yourself. Where do you live? Married? Single? Age bracket? Kids? Worklife?
I live in Johannesburg and am a single mom to one son. I love to ride horses and I also work with them as a Certified Equine Specialist.
When did you start thinking you had unhealthy relationship with alcohol?
I always felt I was an all or nothing person. I found I could easily give up alcohol for a month or two, but always knew that I would go back to it. I knew that I was using wine to escape from the realities of my life that I wasn’t really facing.
What were your objectives when you subscribed to Tribe Sober?
I had already given up wine when I joined Tribe Sober. I gave up in Sept 2017 and went to the workshop in March 2018. I decided to become a subscription member to stay on track and to maintain connections with other non-drinkers.
What have been the main benefits of Tribe Sober membership for you?
To me Tribe Sober is a safe environment to embark on a journey that is so individual. It is supportive and allows each person to proceed at their own pace with the added support of others walking the same path. Everyone is so honest because there is no judgement. No matter where you are in your journey or what you are facing, there is someone who has been there before you, fallen off the bus before you. I also love being able to perhaps help others who are struggling.
How long have you been Alcohol Free – and how do you feel?
On 17th Sept I was AF for 3 years, and during that time I have faced many challenges that could have sent me back to drinking wine. Sobriety has made me realize how incredibly toxic alcohol is for the body. My gut improved, my anxiety decreased, my sleep improved and my blood pressure returned to normal. Mentally though, I was shocked at how much time I spent planning my wine drinking. The shame and embarrassment about the bottles, the purchasing of wine, the slurring. Worrying about what I did while drinking – these were all unexpected benefits of no longer drinking.
What made you decide to give up alcohol? If you had a “rock bottom” please describe.
My rock bottom would be the phone call from my best friend overseas to ask me if I knew that my son had contacted her about me. I knew immediately it was because of my drinking. Admittedly I used to fall asleep on the couch most nights – but my son was worried. My best friend was crying and I realized that (as I knew deep down) my drinking was out of control. The hard part was thinking I needed to give up for ever. I got rid of all the wine in the house and stopped that day. I apologized to my son and haven’t drunk since. I can now have wine in the house with no problem.
What was your first month of sobriety like?
My first month was finding my feet regarding what I would do with all my extra time, what I would drink instead and how I would tell all of my friends and family. Not many people felt I needed to do this as I did a lot of drinking alone (loneliness). I started telling people it was for health reasons. When I finally started telling people I drank too much, it was such a relief, as I finally realized I was being authentic. I started to own my life and it was an incredible feeling of freedom.
Did you have to go back to “day 1” often or did you stay firm once you had made your decision?
I was very lucky to stay the path first time around. I had the support of my close friends, my son and my GP. My GP asked if I needed to go to Rehab. I got quite a fright and was very aware of withdrawal signs. Luckily I got none. The hidden advantages soon outweighed not having wine. I also realized that whatever problem made me want to drink, would always be there after the glasses of wine. Alcohol never gets rid of a problem, it just dulls the anxiety for a while.
What are the best things that have happened to you since you stopped drinking – and the benefits of being alcohol-free?
So many. Being clear headed and not worrying about where my next glass is coming from. Knowing that the real me is being presented to the world and being proud of that person. Also owning my thoughts and feelings. I have always hated being out of control, but it didn’t stop the drinking. Now I have no excuse. I also examine my feelings with a clear head. I love that people have responded to my decision at times and sought help with giving up themselves. I never advise people to give up, just lead by example, I hope. By being open about my struggle and victory, I find it can open a door for them. On 1 or 2 occasions I have felt judged for giving up but I suppose I quickly realize that is more about them than me. I have also tried to make it clear that “inviting me over for a drink” is not going to send me straight to the wine bottle.
What do you say when offered an alcoholic drink?
I just say I don’t drink and alternate between “it doesn’t agree with me” to a more in depth discussion if they go there. Often if a discussion does ensue, it’s because the person themselves wants to cut down or wants a loved one to cut down.
If you could go back to a time when you were drinking what would you tell yourself?
You don’t need a glass of wine to make a view beautiful or the sea blue. The sea is blue and the view will be beautiful. Also I would list the hidden benefits of my AF life. I firmly believe it’s an individual journey alongside others.
What would say is keeping you on track?
Those hidden benefits of health, no guilty conscience and not letting my son down. I enjoy chatting to other Tribe Sober members on the WhatsApp group. Also alcohol never took any problems away, it just delays your dealing with it. There are other ways of dealing with that empty feeling.
What have you learned about yourself since you gave up drinking?
I am so much stronger for it. I am authentically me now and that pounding heart that I used to experience in the morning is not self-inflicted. I can enjoy myself without having wine, and waking up and wondering what I did the night before is no longer an issue.
What would you recommend to newbies?
-I do not like the word alcoholic. Just because you give up alcohol does not mean you have a label. I firmly believe that the use of that word actually stops people looking at their consumption of alcohol.
-Remember that this is your journey and no one else’s.
-If you need to, find something that takes the place of your “glass of wine “at night. I drink Toni Glass tonic with fruit and ice in a red wine glass. It works for me. When I am out, I do the same with normal sugar-free tonic. It’s becoming easier and easier to do.
-Treat yourself to something special with money you save.
-Use the Tribe Sober groups. You will always find support on there because everyone is at a different point in their journey and who knows, your share may help someone who is too shy to.
-If you have been using the alcohol to fill a gap in your life, try and figure out what it was. Identify your triggers. Mine were anxiety (alcohol made that worse) and loneliness. Now that I am not sleeping on the couch (as a result of the wine) I am using the time to recharge even if it is watching TV.
Know that if you are reading this, you have made that first step………..
If you would like to know more about Tribe Sober Membership please click HERE.