Published On: April 21, 20231605 words8 min read

I did it my way! Sue Wood has been sober for 7 years so read about her journey here.

Frank Sinatra performed “My Way” live from Madison Square Garden in 1974.

… And now the end is here
And so I face that final curtain
My friend I’ll make it clear
I’ll state my case, of which I’m certain
I’ve lived a life that’s full
I traveled each and every highway
And more, much more
I did it, I did it my way

… Regrets, I’ve had a few
But then again too few to mention
I did what I had to do
I saw it through without exemption
I planned each charted course
Each careful step along the byway
And more, much, much more
I did it, I did it my way

… Yes, there were times I’m sure you knew
When I bit off more than I could chew
But through it all, when there was doubt
I ate it up and spit it out
I faced it all and I stood tall and did it my way

… For what is a man, what has he got?
If not himself then he has naught
Not to say the things that he truly feels
And not the words of someone who kneels
Let the record shows I took all the blows and did it my way

Sue Wood did it her way too! She has learned a lot in her 7 years of sobriety, reached this week on 18 April, and she is proud of it. This makes her 2553 days sober since that fateful day on 18 April 2016 when she stopped drinking.

“I woke up that Monday morning with my third hangover in a row and said to myself, ‘I am done, I cannot do this anymore at age 57!’ and I wondered how I would make it stick. I knew a guy at AA so called him and he came round for a chat and told me, ‘You have to really really want this, it’s not easy.’ I was up for it, I went to AA meetings and never looked back – I threw myself into AA doing service and I really got into it. But, eventually, after a year and a half the novelty wore off. I was not going to be a ‘recovering alcoholic’ for the rest of my life and go to meetings for 30 years like others were, nor did I want to be miserable all the time.”

That was when Sue found Tribe Sober, then called World Without Wine when it popped up on her Facebook page in February 2018. Being Sue, she jumped right in, emailed Janet Gourand and offered her help. Janet being Janet invited Sue to meet with her and now we all know Sue as our steady mentor, Zoom chat friend and constant connection at Tribe Sober.

She has been loving her time with Janet and Tribe Sober as she is learning new things every day about the website, about membership and about people and their drinking issues. Connection with others turns into a whole lot of life coaching too when people start to discover the deeper reasons for their drinking in the first place. They then call Sue!

What Made Sue Stop Drinking?

Her story begins in early 2014 when she was 55 and had just moved from Johannesburg to Kommetjie in Cape Town. This complete change of scenery made Sue feel as if she was on holiday all the time and she joined the National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) as a volunteer. This team comprised plenty of young people who would all meet up in the evenings at the local pub and drink lots, including shots.

“I loved Kommetjie but it was not a good time financially or emotionally as I could not find work and I was enduring an abusive marriage,” remembers Sue. “I used alcohol to opt out and not deal with things. I got smaller and smaller, I lost my self-confidence and mojo, and I was isolated. I had no real friends there but I had a drinking buddy but that made things worse.”

Sue tried what we all tried, to set rules – no drinking in the week, only at weekends. But when it got to Wednesday and her then-husband came home and said, ‘I am having a Scotch, can I pour you a glass of wine?’ of course Sue relented. And off it went again. Sue cut out red wine when she realised it gave her worse hangovers and blackouts, but she stuck to white wine spritzers. She also never drank spirits but had a thought one day to maybe stop drinking wine and try vodka and lemon to see if it would help. She didn’t like this drink (luckily!) and went back to wine. The thing is, she was still drinking all the same.

At the beginning of 2019, Sue and her husband moved back to their farm in Johannesburg and she loved being there – although her husband was drinking a lot and their relationship was not doing well. And then Covid 19 hit the world and the lockdown in South Africa changed all the rules.

“When alcohol sales were banned, I was so happy I was not drinking or I would have been in a panic like lots of people were – including my ex-husband who was drinking at least half a bottle of Scotch a week,” remembers Sue.

He lost contracts with businesses in the tourist industry that closed down because of Covid which created that vicious spiral of no work, depression, and drinking more and more. In August 2020, he returned to Kommetjie to assist his son who was busy with clients and Sue then enjoyed 3.5 months on her own which was a much-needed time for reflection. She returned to Kommetjie after selling the farm but that only lasted 2.5 months.

“I left my husband in March 2021 – I just got up that morning and left! It took me nearly 5 years of sobriety to have the courage to leave – I just knew ‘NOT THIS’ for the rest of my life. Now I have my mojo back and I am my right size, being the best version of myself. My self-confidence is back and life is good, I have no more drama!”

We all know Sue on her daily Zoom call where she really connects with people who have stopped drinking and need that personal support from someone who totally gets them. I have always had a great connection with Sue who is straightforward, honest and loyal. She calls a spade a spade so if she thinks you are being an idiot, she will tell you so! I like that!

What I Know for Sure – 7 Years Sober

Read my story first, my goodbye to alcohol letter, which took me a while to write.

  1. It is not easy to get sober

If you decide to stop drinking, others think you must be an alcoholic or why else would you want to stop!!!!!

The first 30 days are hard – we need to do the work to change our thinking about drinking. We need to push through the tough times and find reasons NOT to drink rather than excuses to drink.

  • Listen to podcasts
  • Read the quit lit and blogs
  • Watch the YouTube videos
  • Do a Zoom workshop or online course
  • Check out the website members-only area and work through it all
  • Use the tracker – see the big picture
  • Throw the book at it and make it stick
  1. Connection is the opposite of addiction

Watch the famous TED talk by Johann Hari here. What really causes addiction — to everything from cocaine to smartphones? And how can we overcome it? Johann Hari has seen our current methods fail first-hand, as he has watched loved ones struggle to manage their addictions. He started to wonder why we treat addicts the way we do, and if there might be a better way. As he shares in this deeply personal talk, his questions took him around the world and unearthed some surprising and hopeful ways of thinking about an age-old problem.

Sue notes:

  • Work your Tribe, share, connect – there will only ever be support and encouragement
  • We are superwomen – operating at 80% when drinking
  • We are independent – we don’t need help BUT we do, we need support and a tribe that gets it.
  1. Sobriety is about self-care, self-love and becoming our own best friend

  • Set boundaries
  • Stop being your worst enemy and biggest critic
  1. Nobody ever said, ‘I wish I had not stopped drinking!!’ Why?

When we stop drinking, according to Sue, we have more time to be who we are meant to be.

  • We can be more present
  • We can be doing less and stop chasing the next thing
  • We create our own contentment, peace of mind
  • We focus on being the best version of ourselves
  • We find freedom from alcohol controlling our lives.
  1. The sober journey is an ongoing journey of self-development and learning

Look at the Tribe Sober members-only area and find the pages where you fit in, the 30 days to 6 months sober, the 6 months to one year sober, the over a year sober, and so on.

  • Discover who you really are and what brings you joy.
  • What do you want for the rest of your life? (Path to Purpose)
  • You have the opportunity to start your life over – rediscover the unexpected joys of the ordinary
  • What did you do years ago before your life revolved around alcohol?
  • Take time to be creative, try arts, crafts, exercise, running, walking, cycling, outdoor activities, music – do whatever brings YOU joy.


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