Living Sober member Lizi Reese talks about the role alcohol played in her life and her long road to sobriety.
Drinking sort of became a thing with me at about 18. I just didn’t know when to stop. I didn’t do terrible things like sleep with strangers or fall over in gutters or pee on the streets. I never flaked out. I seldom threw up. But if there was anyone to party with, I’d be there. That carried on through my whole adult life.
While I knew in my early 20s that I had a problem, that didn’t make me want to stop. I had my son at 30 and my daughter at 34. In my late 30s, I was happy and running a successful fashion business from home and was married with children. But I thought I could be so much better. I arranged for a friend to help look after the kids and take business calls for a few weeks, and I went to the doctor to tell her I wanted to stop drinking.
I cried and I told her I was ready. She didn’t laugh at me, but she said there was nowhere really for me because I was too highly functioning. I said OK, I can function. I can look after my children, run my business, run my home and everything else, but I still get really drunk every Wednesday, Friday and Saturday night. By Sunday, I need a rest, and then I make myself not drink until Wednesday. I’m stuck in this pattern, and it makes me miserable.
It was so big for me to go to the doctor that day. I was ready to face it, but there was no help. She sent me to some place where I answered thousands of multiple- choice questions for their research, but no one spoke to me personally. That place was really more for them than me. I was totally disillusioned. I went to one AA meeting to kind of reinforce to myself that I’d do it alone. I didn’t like it there, and after a short time, I thought, “Fuck it,” and gave up.
I used to drink because I loved alcohol. At the end of my busy workday, it was nothing less than I deserved. It was like my little friend, my comfort zone – having fun and playing music and swanning around the kitchen. Some people are haters on alcohol, but I’m not. I will never forget how much I loved alcohol, but it did me no favours.
I was generally a fun drinker. I’d drink from about 4 or 5pm till about 8 or 9, and sometimes I’d kick on until midnight. I didn’t get completely messed up every time.
My children knew about my drinking. They saw me give up for four months once in recent years. I had no intention of giving up permanently. It was just to see who was boss. They’d seen me give up for 12 months once with their father. I had actually never been happier in my whole 19 years with my husband. I was sober, clear headed, living in the country and completely devoted to my family. Business was booming. But the year ended and we drank again, and he fell in love with my new friend. So there ended the marriage. My world got really shattered, and I thought, “Fuck giving up alcohol. That didn’t go too bloody well!”
When I saw Lotta Dann on the television two years ago talking about being a recovering alcoholic, I thought there goes a younger me. She gave me the courage, and the next day I ordered her book. Then I put it on the shelf for a couple of weeks and got a bit of drinking in. Then one Sunday night, I thought it’s time. I sat down by the fire, and I read the first half.
I finished what I was drinking, and I never drank again.
Living without alcohol is so different that it’s sometimes hard for me to come to terms with. It’s quite lonely becoming a sober person. I have been very social all my life, and I’ve found that I still am. It wasn’t just the booze. It’s also a comfort to discover I still sometimes make big, blundering, blonde errors. It’s a relief to find I’m still me. But I found a lot of my friends were really more drinking friends. Why invite me to something where everyone will be drinking except me? Maybe I’m just not on the scene as much, so I’m a little bit more forgotten about. It’s no one’s fault, it’s just how it is.
Not drinking at the end of the day was really hard to get used to at first. I replaced alcohol with soda water, ice, mint, lime juice and stuff like that. At first, I’d think, “Fat lot of fricking use that is!”
I used to hate soda water and the people who drank it! But it really did help to have that little ritual, a drink to sip on, some snacks, a little unwind time. I’d just think how my body’s thanking me. Gradually, I started thinking I’m not tipping poison down my throat any more. I don’t need it now.
The gains are so much bigger than what I’ve lost. I’ve gained self-respect, complete clarity and a sort of very genuine confidence. I’m grateful for my children, for my home, for my life, my business and my abilities. I sleep better, and everything about my physical body is healthier. It’s worth every single struggling moment for how proud my kids are and what they have said to me. All my relationships are better too.
I’ve logged in to Living Sober every day. Sometimes, I’ll just go on and say, “Good morning and have a happy day.” Sometimes I’ll have a little pearl of wisdom to impart for all those who are struggling – to tell them just hold on and why it’s so worth it. They’re my tribe, and I care about them.
What I have found is that I am not alone.
01 September 2020
During lockdown, the Drug Foundation launched the successful Best Bubble campaign encouraging Kiwis to re-evaluate their relationship with a...
01 September 2020
David Hanna is the Director of Wesley Community Action and a champion of community-led solutions including ‘P’ Pull, which grew out of Wait...
31 August 2020
In a deeply personal reflection on his childhood and the alcohol-soaked environment he grew up in, Eugene Carnachan describes how drinking i...
31 August 2020
Sobriety advocate and author Lotta Dann talks to Ruth Nichol about her new book, how the alcohol industry specifically targets women, and wh...
Back to top