The last night

It’s 11pm. I have just woken up from a deep sleep. For maybe a second or two I have that warm, cosy feeling, when suddenly confusion hits me. My mouth is dry and I have no idea what time or day it is. I can smell vomit and my head is pounding.  That anxious feeling, that familiar dread, takes its place in the pit of my stomach and I begin to sweat. I hear my friends Lex and Corli, outside, listening to Elton John; they sound like they are having a good time but shame hits me like a sucker punch.

This is not how my night was meant to look. Right now, instead of waking up smelling like vomit with an all-body hangover, I was meant to be tucking all of our kids in to bed. The other kids were meant to come for a sleepover, to watch a movie and eat popcorn. I was meant to be the doting mum tucking them all in for the night while my friends went out for a romantic dinner. But that’s not the scene that is playing out. I flashed back to earlier that afternoon. We met up for a drink where I would take the kids home with me and they went on to have a night out. Let’s ‘we’ have a quick drink? Shall I make it a double? Why not?  

God knows how many doubles later and the last thing I recall is falling out of a taxi at my house and vomiting all over my shoes and in front of the kids and my friends. 

Then I guess I passed out in bed.

I do remember my daughter Sunny coming in and patting my head and her feeling bad for me because ‘I had eaten something bad’. How did this even happen?

 I could cry just thinking about this. I could cry at the shame I felt when I woke up hours later and that feeling that I had let my friends down, but worst of all that my kids had seen me like that.

What was I doing to myself? What example was I setting for my kids? And what sort of friend and mother am I? 

I was so sick of asking myself these same questions. The same story where I tell myself what a failure I am and how this was not going to happen again.

That was the last time I had a serious binge drink. That is the night I am so grateful for because it was the driver that got me to take the most honest look at myself and was the catalyst to taking the steps to really change. Months later I made a pact with a group of friends to take 12 months off drinking and set about on a path of self-forgiveness, self-love and discovery, and I have never looked back.

So many nights started off as a few drinks with friends and spiralled into nights of epic drunkenness ending in a blur of over-sharing, inappropriate verbal diarrhoea and behaviour.

I am an over-sharer by nature (which is something I am currently working on), and mixing that with excessive alcohol consumption always leads to some extreme cringe-worthy moments.

I would drink and tell endless stories about, well … my everything, the internal workings of my marriage, the internal workings of other people’s marriages, my deepest secrets, the state of my vagina after childbirth, my sex life, what I ate for breakfast, my opinions on what you are doing with your life. I would leave no stone unturned. No room for people to get to know me. No boundaries and certainly no air of mystery.

At the time it all seemed like a bit of fun, but that waking-up the next day and laughing it off to hide my embarrassment, or sending out apology texts, wasn’t a barrel of laughs and I knew something had to change.

A friend sent me a photo a few days ago of a particularly drunken fiasco taken when we were young and really drunk. A photo that I would have boasted and laughed about years ago, now makes me cringe and I instantly deleted it. It’s funny how sobriety changes your perspective on things. I used to own my drunken actions after the fact and tell the story that it was something I did to be funny, that it was intentional or part of my wild sense of humour. When in reality I was simply trying to justify an action that I just happened to do in a haphazard way, purely as a result of being too drunk.   

One of the greatest gifts of sobriety is not waking up with that cringe factor. Sure, I am still somewhat of an over-sharer and it’s probably why I have a podcast and a blog, but I can use that as a tool to show vulnerability rather than a way to try and impress people (and who did I think was actually impressed anyway). Alcohol blurs the boundaries and slows down the activity in our prefrontal cortex. This part of the brain is what helps you to think clearly and make rational decisions. Alcohol makes it harder for the prefrontal cortex to do its thing, disrupting decision-making and rational thought. This is why alcohol can make you act without considering your actions or consequences. Not great for a chronic over-sharer.

If you are waking up with that feeling of dread in the pit of your stomach, sending apology texts, or feeling a little ‘cringey’, it might be time to take a look at your relationship with alcohol and how it is affecting the way you feel about yourself.

These days I ‘over-share’ in a much more considered fashion and I very rarely have cringe-worthy moments. My confidence has soared as I have rebuilt myself and I have become the person I intended to be. I am far from perfect but I feel good about my actions; I am a really great mum, a reliable friend and worthy enough to have healthy boundaries. While I still may not yet have an air of ‘mystery’, I am in a much happier and less cringe-worthy place thanks to sobriety.  

I have now been alcohol free almost 3 years. What started as a 12-month challenge became a transformational experience. Once I had made the decision to stop, I went at it with everything I had. I journaled, I wrote gratitudes each day, I listened constantly to podcasts or books with an inspirational message. I made sure if I had a social event I was stocked-up with AF drinks and always gave a time limit.  I became friends with the words ‘no thanks’ and I had a very clear vision of the sober person I wanted to be. I exercise more, I love myself, I eat good food and make great choices for myself. I still have a great time and feel more connected to people than I ever have. I am proud of who I have become and I love Sunday mornings. 

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  • Thank you for sharing.

    By DONNA WHITE
    |
    December 10, 2020
  • This resonates so strongly with me! The shame, the self-condemnation, playing it all off for a laugh when in reality I had no control. It took too many such wake-ups before I was ready to really Wake Up, but I am so glad I did and I enjoy so many more little events (and big ones, too) sober. Best of all, my inner self is so much happier and loving.

    By Sharky
    |
    December 10, 2020
  • Thankyou so much for your honesty Danni. I am yet to last more than a few days before I drink again-yet I so, so want to feel what my life would be without alcohol.
    Reading your story is the beginning of another ‘day one’ for me, and who knows I might just make it this time!

    By kimaree
    |
    December 10, 2020
  • Very nice story nice writing too !

    By Leann
    |
    December 10, 2020
  • Dear Danni – thank you for being an over-sharer! I am at the start of my sobriety path so reading your story is a bighelp. I too am SICK to death of waking up to the shame. I take great heart from knowing that I am not the only one!

    Thanks again and big love to you and your family for a SOBER and very very happty Christmas. xx Di

    By Dianne Peacock
    |
    December 10, 2020
  • Wow, well written and very inspiring! Thanks for sharing.

    By Sarah
    |
    December 10, 2020
  • Wow what a powerful story. I can certainly relate to many actions in the blog. Inspirational, Thank You

    By Tanya
    |
    December 10, 2020
  • Excellent read, thank you for sharing your experiences. So very relatable.

    By Robyn
    |
    December 10, 2020
  • I am at that crossroads you were at – but it’s like for many – taken a few times to reach this place. I am a private drinker – it’s my numbing mechanism- I tend to not overindulge socially but haven’t had much of that this year for many reasons.
    Lost the off switch
    So then don’t turn the switch on at all seems the only solution. I have done 3 months alcohol free and felt fantastic but slowly let it creep back – then Covid and family pressures and work got all consuming- anyway I enjoyed -for want of a better description- your blog. Very well written and helpful

    By Gillian
    |
    December 10, 2020
  • Good on you.

    By Rebecca
    |
    December 10, 2020
  • Thank you for your sharing.
    I certainly felt some link points and saw some good techniques to reset habits.

    By DedeG
    |
    December 10, 2020
  • So inspiring thank you!! I love the ” I became friends with the words ‘no thanks”

    By Sarah
    |
    December 10, 2020
    • Oh I agree, this is a great line and one I am going to take!

      By ACJ
      |
      December 11, 2020
  • That is by far the best sobriety story I have ever read. Thankyou for being you – don’t regret the journey that led you to where you are. I’m grateful you shared as much as you have, as I relate to 99% of your story (I just never vomited.) You have reinforced my yo-yo-ing sobriety for today, and made me grateful for my sober future ahead.

    By Rachael G
    |
    December 10, 2020
    • Agreed this is one inspiring story

      By Virginia Kharel
      |
      December 10, 2020
  • Hi,

    Thanks heaps for sharing.I will be coming up to 12 months Alcohol Free on 5th Jan 2021.I found and thought drinking would numb the pain for my depression but it was making it worse.So I decided on the 5th Jan this year I would bite the bullet and give it up.It’s been hard at times but as time went on I was starting to feel a lot better.I still suffer a little with depression but no where near as much as I was when I was drinking . Onwards and upwards for the future 😀

    By Stuart Russell
    |
    December 10, 2020
  • You are a great inspiration to us all. Thank you so much for sharing. I know I can relate to it.

    By PJ
    |
    December 10, 2020
  • I am inspired by this idea of a 12-month challenge! My neighbour has done a similar thing – he reaches his year in Feb. I think this could be a great way to begin 2021.

    By ACJ
    |
    December 11, 2020
  • Listen to Danni’s podcast!. “How I quit alcohol”. It’s fantastic!

    By Sues
    |
    December 11, 2020
  • I can relate to this story very much only I haven’t drunk super heavily like that for a long time, I just know I need a break and find it hard to get the staying power to give myself an alcohol free life. I have found one thing that helps is that, as a big sharer, writing is a great way to express those big generous thoughts. Being a big sharer is NOT a negative thing so I would not call myself an over-sharer, just learning to manage my generous spirit. Generosity may not be the norm but neither is it a fault.

    By Kate
    |
    December 12, 2020
  • My husband and I are two months into a six month alcohol free in preparation for him having heart surgery next year. I’ve never gone more than a month alcohol free before and he’s not done it for more than a week. It’s been a revelation. I have also thrown myself into this ‘project’, writing a blog https://secretsoberyogi.blogspot.com/ and reading other people’s blogs. It’s been a brilliant journey so far and completely unexpected in so many ways. I feel so confident that this six months will turn in to twelve, and then we’ll see..

    By Cal Stevenson
    |
    December 12, 2020
  • You are awesome, well done.
    Very inspiring story and I can relate, especially to the over sharing!

    By Jackie
    |
    December 15, 2020
  • I had a very similar experience to Danni 2 months ago,I decided that enough was enough. I found “How I quit alcohol”by Danni and decided to take on the 12 month challenge. I am doing so well and have not felt this good in years after only 2 months, a little challenging the first month,however, the mind settled down and stopped barking “have a drink”. I have tried to quit in the past and failed. The reason and fuel for inspiration and success this time is because of Danni’s honesty, choice of sobriety and, yeah ha, success!. Thank you Danni for inspiring others like me to get our lives back, and how wonderful it is!

    By Les Byrne
    |
    December 16, 2020
  • It’s Sunday morning here in Adelaide, a beautiful summer’s day. I woke up early, spent a couple of hours on the porch reading the paper watching the sun peek out from behind the trees. I reflected on my week and two months in how I successfully managed to navigate two Christmas work functions without drinking a drop. I had to approach them differently and I’ve written about it here
    https://secretsoberyogi.blogspot.com/
    I’m feeling great. Love these stories of inspiration. Thanks so much for sharing Danni.

    By Cal Stevenson
    |
    December 20, 2020
  • Excellent article. Well done you.

    By Sue Rafferty
    |
    December 23, 2020
  • Thank you so much for that ! I see so much of myself in your story . The oversharing part is particularly true of me as well . I overshare when I’m sober & when I’m not … eeekkkk ! I have found your story to be the most resonant for me . I could’ve written it ! I think you’re an inspiration & thank you xx

    By Tracey Dixon
    |
    December 23, 2020
  • What an excellent article!! Very inspirational!!! Thank you!

    By Joanne
    |
    December 24, 2020
  • Only 2 weeks in but feeling so strong and your podcast of guests is so helpful…. we all have the same story with different highlights. I’m 63, feel 40 and given up many times… this time for good.. as you say “I’m done”. Something helpful I say out socially to myself when I see a glass of wine… first I visualise a red X in front of it, then say to myself ” alcohol is a highly addictive, carcinogenic poison that makes you sick mentally and physically “. Works every time 🙏

    By Annie
    |
    January 25, 2021
    • Thanks for sharing the stories and the replies. I am learning so much about my addiction and hopefully on the road to a better me. L

      By Diane
      |
      February 4, 2021
  • Thank you Danni for the work you do and for your vulnerability and honesty. I hope I can look back at this difficult time and be able to say with a clear mind that I was able to conquer the sneaky b***h. ❤️

    By Jess Collins
    |
    March 22, 2021
  • Well written, thank you for being “so open” with us.

    By JEM
    |
    April 24, 2021
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