Kate's Blog

The Call To Be Sober: How I Knew It Was Time To Quit

How many times have you asked yourself, “Do I really need to stop drinking?”

Answering that question can be tough.
Towards the end of my drinking career, I found it helpful to hear about other people’s experiences and the moments that made them decide that enough was enough.
Life isn’t black and white, and sometimes the call to be sober can feel pretty subtle. Other people’s stories had more of an impact on me than filling out some online quiz, or going through a checklist of warning signs.
I thought this might be something you’d appreciate too – so a few days ago, I asked some of my Getting Unstuck students to answer a simple question: “How did you know it was time to quit drinking?”
Their responses are really interesting (and probably not what you’re expecting!)

“On Mother’s Day 2017 I invited my mum and daughter for Sunday lunch and was really looking forward to spending time with them. As usual I had lots of wine.

Before I dished up the meal, my daughter asked me if I was OK and I knew she could see I was drunk. I felt really bad. I don’t remember the rest but my mum and daughter were really sad for me and I felt disappointed in myself.
I knew then that I had to do something. I’m so glad I did – giving up alcohol was the best thing I’ve ever done, and my mum and daughter both say how proud they are of me.”
“I had a 2 week booze break before Christmas, but then I started again. I was horrified one night to find I’d drunk a whole bottle of wine in about an hour and a half, on a work night. I thought to myself… if a whole bottle is now not enough on a Tuesday night, where is this going? I knew I had to stop it.”
“For me it was no one thing, just a gradual acceptance that it couldn’t go on. I was moving into my 60s and worried about my health. I had tried to moderate – it didn’t work. One day I was scrolling through Facebook and The Sober School popped up! I thought ‘this is an omen and this is my time!’ 265 days later, it is the best thing I have ever done.”
“I’d been trying for 5 years to cut back and moderate, but things just seemed to be getting worse. The day after my best friends 50th birthday party was my decision to stop – it took me 3 days to feel ‘normal’. It just wasn’t worth it anymore and I deserved better.”
“I came home drunk from a work do again, having failed to meet my husband at the station as planned. A colleague had to put me in a taxi and to this day I don’t know who paid. The next day my husband said he’d had enough of my shit and if it happened again we would be looking at a divorce. That’s the day I signed up for your course.”
“I was supposed to wake up early to make my daughter’s favorite birthday breakfast. Instead I overslept due to drinking the night before. When she left for school, I went back to sleep and dreamed that my younger self was crying and begging me to take care of her.”
“For my birthday I got all alcohol related cards and presents – things like a make your own cocktail set, drinks glasses, bottle stopper, signs saying ‘in the garden drinking prosecco’. It struck me that to all my family and friends, alcohol was my thing. I felt shameful.
I’m 173 days AF now and the gifts I got for Mother’s Day made me realise how much my life has changed for the positive. My children see me in a much different way now.”
“I had known for years that I needed to stop drinking. The tipping point for me was when my grandson was born with serious medical issues and I realized that I couldn’t help care for him unless I quit drinking. I deeply regret that I didn’t stop drinking when my own children were young and equally needed an alert, attentive mother.”
“One day I looked – really looked – in the mirror and didn’t like what I saw. I was sick and tired of being sick and tired. It seemed the only thing I looked forward to was the end of the day, so I could hit the bottle… again.
I had to get out of the vicious cycle I’d been in for so many years. Googling ‘how much is too much’ etc, is how I believe you ended up in my inbox Kate. Lol.
The best decision I ever made was to trust your statement that ‘If an AF life was really all that terrible, I’d have gone back to drinking long ago’. I’m paraphrasing….but you get the gist. Turns out it IS amazing.”
“I knew that my drinking was escalating – I was alone and depressed after the death of my husband. Wine seemed like an answer but it was isolating me. Then there was the family dinner when my siblings all glanced at me when I opened yet another bottle of wine as the meal was winding down… Celebrating day 352 today.”
“I had some silly misunderstanding with my husband. After he went to bed, I decided I needed to go out partying in random clubs. I am like, 39, trying to be, what, 25? Random old dudes hitting on me and younger ones screaming NO!! to me trying to salsa with them…”
“Valentines Day coincided with the first day of Lent. I decided that it was time for me to start loving ME! My Heavenly Father gave me one body while I am on this earth – it is time for me to take care of it.”
“My daughter attempted to take her life. As I sat in the hospital with her the next day, listening to the psychiatrist talk to her, I knew without a doubt that my drinking had, in some part at the very least, contributed to my daughters despair. I also knew I needed to be sober if I was going to be able to support her back to full, strong, mental health. She needed a positive role model, not a pissed one.”
“Losing my Mum to cancer made me wake up to the fact that I was wasting and probably shortening my life.”
“I tried and failed to moderate for the whole of 2017. When I looked at my New Years Resolutions for 2018 – with the moderation ‘rules’ included again – I knew that however much I wanted them to, they wouldn’t work… Sober was the only way forward.”
“The main thing for me was that I could not moderate my drinking, and thinking about drinking was consuming every moment of my life. I was reading books, feeling like so much was wrong with me, but mainly I got tired of worrying about it. I heard Kate on The Bubble Hour and signed up for the course. It has been so helpful and I am grateful to have found the way for me to stop!”
“I made some bad decisions whilst drunk but those were rare occasions so I pushed them to the back of my mind. It was realising that I struggled not to drink every single day that made me feel utterly pathetic and worried for my health. Now I feel like the old me is gradually coming back.”
“My 9 year old son asked to drink from a wine glass. When I asked why, he said he ‘needed to get used to it, coz wine is what adults drink’. I signed up for your course the next day.”
“Too many things to mention! But the massive wake up call was going out with the girls from work, getting absolutely plastered, coming home and falling over twice. I woke up the next morning at my brothers house, because my partner had rang him to come and get me as he couldn’t cope anymore…. it was so embarrassing.
I had a choice… give up the booze or lose my relationship. Day 256 today and I love living AF.”
“I was literally sick and tired of looking at my face in the mirror and making the same deal that I wasn’t going to drink today… to then fail again at 5pm!!! I celebrate one year next week of not having to make that bullshit deal.”
“I realised that alcohol was taking much more from me than it was giving – it was beginning to affect my health, my energy levels, my job performance, and most of all, my relationships with those closest to me.
One day at the middle school where I work, I saw a colorful bulletin board advertising this year’s senior slogan, ‘Today I choose to be the best version of myself’. I was ashamed to realize that I wasn’t choosing that, and hadn’t been choosing that for quite a long time.
I made the decision right there in the hallway that I wanted to make a different choice going forward. I wanted to stop wasting time drinking and start living the active, exciting life I knew I was capable of living, and that I believe I was born to live.”

Hi, I'm Kate

I founded The Sober School to show you there’s another way out of your shame that doesn’t involve AA or rehab. 


51 Responses

  1. Wow, I can relate to so many of these. Alcohol is interfering with my marriage, my health, my happiness and even my work. I worry about how my drinking will affect my children. I am not ready to quit forever yet, but I am so ready to stop. I really need to stop.

      1. Hi Brenda and Liv – it’s spring, so the perfect time for a fresh start. You can do it – life’s too short to let alcohol hold you back from your best life. If you need more help to make this click, my six week course is a great place to get some support, accountability and a step by step plan to follow: https://thesoberschool.com/course/
        Keep going… you deserve to find out what alcohol free living is really all about! 🙂

        1. I need help, on Sunday I lost my wallet, broke my phone, made poor choices to have a guy over. I’m done. I’m so done and sad.

          1. Hey Michelle,
            Nothing happens in the past!! I am pushing 50 (i’m actually 48 but time is flying) and am a week in my fourth attempt to keep this drug outta my life and embrace sobriety. I have made many, many poor choices over the years because of alcohol and it could be really easy for me to look back at my past with regret. But that is not helpful at all.
            One of the things I did like about AA was the Serenity prayer “grant me the serenity to ACCEPT the things I cannot change….” This is a big one for me and can be applied to many levels of my life. Not only is it about accepting that I cannot change what I have done in the past (alcohol-fueled days, nights, weeks, drink-driving, drunken sex, arguments , risk taking , etc etc), what others have done to me (sexual violation, rape, physical violence), I need to ACCEPT that I am who I am (ie I am someone who has to live with an alcohol addiction) Maybe not fair… but it is what it is. Use Sunday night as a stepping stone to better things, to reinforce why you want to live a sober life.
            I am thankful I haven’t ended up killing myself and/or others because of my drinking.
            Your wallet and phone can be replaced, if you need to go get an STI check up, go get one (all are treatable) and please DON’T BEAT YOURSELF UP.. (The world is FULL of others who are prepared to do that)
            Chin up girl and soldier on xx

    1. I agree that Kate’s course is a great place to start! I have been happily AF since taking the course in October 2017. Do try it…the peace of mind I have found is priceless.

      1. LizFR, thankyou for you for saying “peace of mind”. touched me. one of the many reasons I drink to excess, is to give me peace from my overworked busy mind. I don’t know you, but from you just saying that, I appreciate you. beautiful lady.

    2. Well I can relate to many of these especially – Lynne, Liz and Sharon! Wine has become like a bad boyfriend telling me I need him (wine)when he (wine) does nothing to make my life better. It’s a viscous cycle and I want out!!

  2. It’s time to put ME before the alcohol…I can relate to so many of these stories. I’m just tired of looking at my puffy face and body in the mornings and making promises I fail to keep… that THIS is the day I stop. Then 5 o’clock comes…

  3. I’m back on day 1. I’m disgusted I let myself drink on Saturday night. One is never enough for me so I drink until I pass out. I spent the day yesterday with a terrible headache, trying to enjoy the sun but I just couldn’t. I don’t want that life anymore. I want to enjoy the sunny days without a hangover. I see all these strong women who give up alcohol and I can’t wait for that to me.

    1. It is day one for me. I really want to do this as I am s sick of feeling ill. I checked out the info on the AA website. not sure it is for me, but is this part of my denial?

      1. Nope – AA really isn’t for everyone. Many of my students come to work with me because they’ve tried AA and not got on with it. (I touched on some of the reasons why that happens in my blog last week.) By all means, try AA if you’re curious, but if it doesn’t feel like a good fit, there are plenty of other options. My six week course is a very empowering way of getting sober and creating a life you love. Join us for the next class if you’re curious – it starts soon!

      1. Thank you I have just watched your video link. It’s not going to be easy but it is something I’m willing to do just so I can be happy. Alcohol doesn’t make me happy. It’s just hard being 23 and still living at home surrounded by others who drink every night. I’ve been alcohol free for a month before and It felt great. The cravings just get to much sometimes.

    2. I can relate to so many of these stories, the feelings of letting my daughter down, falling asleep on the sofa every evening, making myself promises every morning that I’ll stop and then not. After trying to moderate for a very long time, without success I’m realising I can’t moderate. This year is to be all about health and wellbeing and while I’ve aced it on diet and exercise, I continue to drink! I decided to try a month off for May and of course last night the 1st of May decided to use up the wine I had left and have ‘one more bad night’ – I could have poured it down the sink. Anyway now on day one and not making any promises even to myself – but trying.

  4. I have achieved many months of alcohol free time but keep getting dragged back in to it with ideas of being able to moderate (which I manage fine to start but then slip back into drinking too often) I’m in two minds re my drinking although I love being alcohol free I enjoy a drink with friends but cannot seem to stick to just that. How can I get back to my previous levels of motivation to be alcohol free? Help please

    1. It sounds to me as if you’re romanticising alcohol and giving it credit for things it doesn’t do – the idea of moderation always creeps back in if you think you’re missing out on something. Moderation often works initially because your tolerance to alcohol is so low after a break. But it doesn’t last, as you know.
      If you’d like some help to stop drinking and actually feel good about it (which is how alcohol-free living should feel!) then I’d be very happy to support you with this. The best way to work with me is via my six week course. The next class starts soon – here are some details: https://thesoberschool.com/course/

  5. All of the above stories resonate with me and i know i have to stop drinking. Ive tried to moderate before only to fall back into old patterns. I have a young child and dont want to waste my time with her. Incidentally tonight is the night i had planned to start again and Im hoping that seeing the email pop up with these stories about when people knew it was time to give up is an omen that the time is right. Ive certainly drawn some strength from reading them…thank you.

    1. Complete sobriety is so much easier than trying to moderate. It’s much more freeing and fun too. Go for it Laura 🙂

  6. I’ve got no confidence even in some family situations I stay in the background,I found after a couple of drinks I’m a different person I’m so much more confident and I like myself so much more,I wish I could be that person without a drink.

    1. It’s a bit of a myth that alcohol makes you more confident. (Looking at the science on this, we can see booze actually does the opposite.) Check out this blog of mine about dealing with stress sober – I talk about anxiety within this piece: https://thesoberschool.com/manage-stress-without-alcohol/
      You’ll be a hundred times more confident without alcohol holding you back. Alcohol doesn’t boost your confidence – it robs you of it. You deserve better 🙂

  7. I’m drinking too much and it’s caused me to hate looking in the mirror. I need to quit and tomorrow is a new day. I can manage the shaking for two days (so they say) but the emotional crutch is the hard part. These comments are too real.

  8. I have loved reading these comments. I quit on the 30th Dec after seeing a “social” picture of me having a great time. I looked dead behind the eyes and so so sad behind the fake alcohol smile. It’s been hard at times, but I truthfully feel wonderful and 100% present in my life. I would wholeheartedly recommend an AF life.

  9. I once was sober for almost three years. Then I feel into a deep depression and relapsed. For the last 6 years, I have been trying to live alcohol free, but I haven’t made it to any period longer than 6 months. I keep succumbing to cravings anywhere from 4 to 6 months sober. It’s very hard not to listen to those voices as they get louder telling me that drinking will feel good, that I can “get away with it,” and that I’ll only do it for a day or two. It’s always a disaster when I drink. The last time I drank on January 8th and 9th and missed my twin step-kids’ 14th birthday dinner on the 9th because I drunk. My husband took the kids out to eat and left me at home in my pitiful state.
    I really want to stay sober, but this last week thoughts of drinking are creeping back in, largely because my family will be out of town for a week in July while I have to stay here working. I’m already thinking how I can drink. I know it won’t end well. I feel like these kinds of thoughts will start to go away when I have enough sober time and that they’re just part of early sobriety trying to woo me back to drinking. Hopefully, if I can get to a year again the thoughts will be fewer and farther between. I keep telling myself I can live with the thoughts of drinking but not the consequences.

    1. Hi Louisa,
      Do you have a sober toolbox? Sober friends? Recovery books/blogs/podcasts? I can see how much you want to get out of this vicious circle, and it just sounds like you need a little support. Just remember that alcohol is addictive, and that sweet siren song is a big fat lie that is going to bring you nothing but pain. You know this. Congratulations on your sobriety. You have done really well. Keep writing, reading your words is so helpful to newbies like me. <3

  10. Yesterday it was two years since I decided to stop drinking. I drank my last glass of wine while talking to a friend who told me she had just quit. I discovered the sober school later and well, have been just free-riding on the posts for reinforcements. But one of the most precious things I learned here is that you don’t have to be an “alcoholic” or what people associate with alcoholism to quit and appreciate the results of quitting. You can actually preempt hitting rock bottom and save yourself the embarrassment of going through it. So many wonderful things happened over the last two years that I wouldn’t know where to start. I will say this: “quitting was actually harder than staying on target because the results of quitting are palpable immediately, starting with how you look in the mirror, like a week later!

  11. For me, the trigger is work. When I have a break from work I can go alcohol free for ages. I’m wondering if I just need a new job as I hate my job (that I’ve been in for 7 years) so much right now.

    1. Hi Anna
      I think if you hate your job and have been there for 7 years you’ve been there long enough! Try to find some time to think about your passions and what you enjoy in life and see if you can find a job more suited to them. I know it’s not easy to quit a job, but maybe if you do one positive thing a day towards changing it’ll not only be steps in the right direction but will help you feel there’s an out.

  12. I never took Kate’s course, instead I chose to hit my rock bottom before deciding to stop completely after years and years of attempting to moderate but if I’d have known there were people out there who could help me without that happening I would definitely have gone for it without a doubt.

  13. I can identify with all of these comments…I’m 61 my mother was an alcoholic and died from heart disease at 55yrs….You would think that would be enough but ohhh no i was trapped into the 2 bottles a day..Now have one grand daughter and another one due in June, i haven’t even had the first one to stay overnight because of my drinking…It’s destroying me, i need to stop….I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in 2000 and I’m on all sorts of drugs which you are supposed to limit your alcohol to…haahaaaa doesn’t make a difference….I’m signed up for the next course on April 9th which incidentally was my mothers birthday..It’s a sign!!!

  14. I too feel that its time to stop. The negatives aren’t worth it any longer. I read a great quote recently. “Everyone must choose one of two pains:
    The pain of discipline
    or the pain of regret.” My new motto.

    1. Holly, the moment I read your quote, I actually let out a gasp. It is so very perfect for what I’m going through. I’ve written it on a sticky note and read it several times a day. So thank you!!!!

  15. Kate Kate Kate, how I heartily recommend your course! It’s such a great life not even thinking of old Al. My new life surprises me…so good. I credit your knowledge and ability to put it all together with such brilliant style.

  16. March 26 is my birthday. 60! I relapsed the night before as all my friends including my partner drink. So I am wondering is it possible to stay sober and keep my partner (he wouldn’t quit).

    1. Hi Gloria
      I know how you feel. My partner drinks but is fine with days off, some big days some a few some none. I’ve been trying to moderate and have days off but he doesn’t feel I’ve a problem and keeps buying me wine! Once it’s in the house the temptation is too much. I’ve now asked him to promise me he won’t buy any wine this month, in the hope I can stay sober….. he can drink what he likes :).

  17. I first entered AA when I was 24 years old and stayed sober for three months. But it didn’t last. Over the last 30 years since then I have had the odd week here and there “dry” but my drinking has escalated to between 2 to 3 bottles of wine a day. My day looks like this: wake up blurry and hungover, drag myself to the shower, and the voices start. “you really have to get a handle on this” “look at you: fat, bloated, puffy and killing yourself” and then the promises to myself starts: “I wont drink today” “today is the day I will stop” and by lunch time somehow I think its a good idea to have a couple of wines with lunch. Then by 5.00 p.m. the cravings and the thoughts convince me that maybe one bottle of wine tonight won’t hurt, but then I buy two bottles on the way home from work at the bottle shop thinking, I won’t open the second bottle…….and I always do. And this scenario repeats itself every single day of my life. And I hate myself for it, because I am better than this. I am an alcoholic and I am married to an alcoholic, who has absolutely zero interest in giving up drinking. I am certain I will die if I don’t. I have already been diagnosed with alcoholic fatty liver, and yet my drinking has escalated since the diagnosis a year ago! How stupid am I?? I have signed up for Kate’s course on April 9…..but even as I write this I wonder if I have the strength to follow through, because nothing has worked so far.

    1. Hi Cathryn, what an honest post, the first step is done – you’re on this page! I did the getting unstuck course this January and it was great. Since then I have read Annie Grace’s book The Naked Mind. One of the most useful things I learnt from all of this is that cravings are controlled by the unconscious mind, ending up drinking after promising yourself you wouldn’t today is not a personal failing it is how the mind works. Do the course, immerse yourself in all the info and you will learn so much. You are completely worth it and your honesty about your situation is a great starting point, all the best

  18. Cathryn, I was exactly where you are for years and years. The quantity of alcohol, the fatty liver diagnosis, alcoholic husband and especially the broken promises to myself and the ensuing self-loathing. I was also being treated for anxiety and depression, was suicidal and on the brink of losing my job.
    I quit drinking with the help of Kate, Jason Vale’s Kick the Drink Easily, and constant reading, research and introspection. For the first time in my life, I am hopeful. Not everything is perfect, but, my God, my life is so much better. And I am improving every day, because I am finally prioritizing my health and my happiness.
    I am not special, or unusual or particularly strong. If I, who was such a mess, can make this change, anyone can. You can. The course makes it easy. All you have to do is show up and read every day and commit to not drinking for 6 weeks. You have already proved that you can do dry weeks all by yourself. With Kate’s help, I’m sure you can go for six. Think of it as six weeks of self-love, a psychological vacation. And keep talking and writing to your classmates. You are going to find a lot of love and support. And If you stumble along the way, and many do, this support network will pick you up and get you on the right track again.
    Just show up. It is the greatest gift I have ever given myself. You can have it too. I wish you all the best in the world. Take good care. X

    1. LizFR,
      What you have written here is so brave and uplifting, and no doubt will be very encouraging to anyone who reads it. It moved me deeply. Thank you

    2. Thank you Liz, it is good to know that others like yourself have crawled out of the abyss I find myself in. Yesterday was alcohol free and I intend today to be as well. I have started. Thanks for your support.

    3. I agree 100% with LizFR, was in Oct 2017 class. Should mention also what is posted above in this blog about me and when I realized it was time to quit. I signed up for the course the next day!!
      It was also to me the greatest gift I have given myself. Kate’s class is positive, it uses actual data, there are other women who have had similar experiences but also are in similar situations that I could relate to.

  19. For me, a bottle and a half in and I realized I don’t feel anything anymore so why am I doing this? I was sick of feeling nothing all the time and numbing out my “stress” was numbing out my happiness and everything else. I’m 39 and have the emotional depth of a rock. Time to change. 51 days AF.

  20. complete honesty. I am an independent parent of a beautiful lad. I had a wonderful life with my husband living in his country. I’ve always “liked a drink”. We moved to my country, smallish city, things went tits up quickly, after a couple of years. He went back to his country. Just disappeared. He just couldn’t adapt. For a few years he came back & forth. Our firstborn died, which we’ll never get over (medical misadventure) BUT we were blessed with a perfect son! Who could ask for more!! I was left with a 40 grand debt I didn’t know about, but I nailed it & paid it off. I’m so alone. I’m very lonely. I have a large family but I am still, lonley. I have a great high level job I love. I’ve bought a house, I do my own diy, I pay everything. Still, I am lonely. My husband, in his depression, called me names, & those names still ring in my ears, and I still believe them. In 8 years, no other man has shown the slightest interest in me, so when I go to work, go anywhere, I go with the mindset that I am ugly, pathetic, useless, worthless. I’ve worked super hard to change this mindset. I do not “need” a partner, but at 45, I think it’s ok if I do get to share my life with someone, not necessarily get married, just mutual respect, companionship. My son is my world.
    I drink, a lot. Everyone at work thinks im awesome. they have no idea! I drink because I am in charge of everything, because I am lonley, because it’s a stress relief, because everyone (son excluded) takes from me & I get nothing back. Then I feel guilty because there are way better single beautiful women in the world, who deal with worse, who just nail it with grace and decorum. I drink too because I feel guilty. I’m lonley. Yes, pathetic I know. I feel guilt about this first world pathetic whinge, the guilt of whinging will make me drink, shortly.

  21. Oh Kirsten hang in there! It makes me sad to hear you refer to yourself as feeling guilty, pathetic, worthless. I, too have a wish to improve my relationships with others as part of my sober journey and I am finding that I need to work on loving and respecting myself first. Build yourself up through tons of self-care (eating well, sleep, whatever makes you feel pampered), dig into motivational books, blogs, podcasts, Ted Talks about self love. Find things you’re good at (baking? Knitting? Basketball?) and do them for your own pleasure. No guilt. Don’t be afraid to seek out a therapist or support group if it’s all too much. And stop comparing yourself to those you perceive as the “way better single beautiful women in the world.” Guaranteed they are carrying around their own hidden baggage, too! I think that learning to truly love and respect ourselves is one of the best gifts we can give our children. And it will bring strength and power to everything else you do. It has been a cornerstone to sobriety for me. Sending positive thoughts your way… You can do this!

  22. My drinking has just made my world get smaller and smaller. I have a good career and have lived all over the world so have had every opportunity in life. I don’t know how I have ended up like this. I used to like drinking when I was with people now I can’t wait to get home to be by myself to drink or for the weekend when I can just stay mid-level pissy all day. A not unusual life story…a couple of relationships which haunt me, feeling stuck in a career and city I don’t want to be in trapped with big financial commitments, my friendship group getting smaller and smaller due to letting friends drift away as they concentrate on their families. People think I’m fine and independent but I’m totally dependant on booze. I can see myself getting fatter, older, drunker and increasingly bitter. I feel quietly out of control and a self-indulgent fool for what I’ve made of my life.

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