It’s a secret…

I figured that as most of my drinking was done in secret, it would be a bit weird to shout about my new-found sobriety. So that’s why no one knows that I’ve stopped drinking yet. That is, apart from all of you wonderful people out there in the sober blogosphere.

On that note, I wanted to say a big thank you to everyone who has contacted me and offered advice, support and inspiration. I don’t want to go to any kind of AA group, not at the moment anyway. But I’ve realised I do need to talk about what’s been going on. My drinking has been such a big secret, a big burden. It’s felt very isolating at times, but not any more.

Anyway, back to life away from here – part of me is proud of what I’m doing and wants to tell everyone, in a hey! Please be happy for me! type of way. But a much bigger part of me is very worried about telling people. Because that would mean admitting there was a problem in the first place. 

Over the years I have put a lot of effort into hiding the extent of my drinking. My friends think I drink like they do: a bit of wine with dinner, cocktails out with the girls. Getting silly and a bit tipsy but never fall down, black out drunk. They all grew out of that at uni. What my friends don’t realise is that when we go out, unless we get really smashed, I will need to drink more when I get home. Because, you know, it’s hard work pretending to drink like a normal person all night. 

Of course, there have been a few slip ups. There was the time a colleague asked me if I thought the lift we’d just got out of had smelt of stale alcohol? There’s the time my sister came round to watch a DVD but I drank so much I passed out and she couldn’t wake me. She’s younger than me and I know this scared her. Then there’s the time I had to explain to a housemate why a night in front of the TV had led to me getting so drunk I’d been sick everywhere. And who can forget last year’s Christmas party, when I pulled a friend of a friend and we did a LOT of snogging in front of a room full of pretty sober colleagues – and my boss. I still cringe at that.

There are countless other embarrassing memories but I won’t go into them now. What I was going to ask was – what are your experiences of telling people you were no longer drinking? I’d appreciate your thoughts.

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18 thoughts on “It’s a secret…

  1. ellenbroudy April 13, 2013 at 4:31 am Reply

    I just stepped onto your blog, and I have to first say congrats! It’s a big step to want to get sober, whether in secret or not. I’m 23 and have been sober for 1 1/2 years and I used to hide that for awhile (even though everyone knew that I had a problem), because it was something I was ashamed of. Now though, I don’t need to publicize it and tell every person I meet, but if someone asks, I just say I don’t drink. If they question more, I have no problem saying I’m in recovery and sober and happy. It is a touchy subject though, especially within a work environment. But I trust you’ll figure it out and be okay! Best of luck!

    • soberjournalist April 13, 2013 at 9:10 am Reply

      Hi Ellen,
      Congratulations on being sober for so long! I wish I had made the same decision when I was 23. Thanks for the advice. I have some friends who I think will be fine about it and won’t really care. But others will be a bit surprised, suspicious even. But I’ll deal with that when it happens!

  2. carrythemessage April 13, 2013 at 6:20 am Reply

    I identify with your comments about not drinking a lot in front of others (looking “respectable”) and then drinking after. I was the kind of guy who needed a mickey of vodka just to leave the house, go the social event and have a few glasses of wine, then go home and slam another mickey of vodka or bottle or two of wine. Now that, my friend, is drinking! Ha ha. We isolate because we fear what others will think and say about our drinking if they knew how we really liked to drink (which is the truth, and we don’t want to hear the truth…at least I didn’t). So I went underground with my drinking. Hiding bottles, stashing empties, drinking on the sly, drinking at work, on the bus, on the subway, etc. I always had a water bottle with vodka in it. I had many wine-stained travel mugs and my knapsack always smelled of booze (spilled wine stinks). So, I understand where you come from.

    Now as for telling others – that is totally your call. i was fearful of telling people about my alcoholism, namely my wife. I knew that I needed help, but was too afraid to tell her that I was an alcoholic. So, of course, my alcoholism came out in full light, when I got arrested for drinking and driving…with my 3 yr old in the backseat. I was in full blackout too. So that cat got out of the bag. So obviously my close friends and family know. And my work knows (only HR and my boss, as they did a background check on me and found my pending court case). I go to AA (don’t worry, I won’t tell you to go, I mention it only to tell my story), so of course they know. But other than that, I don’t advertise it. There are many friends that don’t know, but many ex-employers know because I have had to go out and make amends to certain people. In the end, I don’t really care who knows at this point. But I don’t tell everyone because frankly a lot of people don’t care. I guess for me there is still a part that doesn’t need to broadcast it. My views might change one way or another. But for now, it’s not anyone’s business, but if they ask me point blank, I wouldn’t lie.

    Listen to your heart on this one. You may have close friends ask about your new (non)drinking habits, and you will have to figure out what you want to tell them.

    Regardless, I wouldn’t worry about that so much right now. Focus on you and what you need to do, rather than what you need to tell others.

    Keep it up…


    • soberjournalist April 13, 2013 at 9:02 am Reply

      Thanks Paul. I guess I should consider myself lucky that I’ve never got caught drink driving, never been outed in that kind of way.

      I definitely won’t be making some big kind of announcement about it. My friends know I’m quite into my fitness, so I might say it’s a health thing to start with. Anyway, as you say, there are other things I need to be concentrating on right now, so I’ll cross that bridge when it comes!

  3. Grace April 13, 2013 at 1:21 pm Reply

    Hi Kate,

    One option, which I’ve found people can accept/understand a bit easier than mention of recovery, is “I can’t drink, alcohol just doesn’t agree with me anymore.” they either accept that or say “what?” and I close it off with ” It makes me really ill these days, so I can’t drink.”

    I’m telling the truth, because I do feel ill (physically, emotionally, mentally) when i drink and/or after i drink AND the phrase reminds me why I am not drinking. People usually just focus on the physical, and most seem to accept physical illnesses with less judgement than mental/addiction issues. And nobody really has any right to know why i’m not drinking any more than i have the right to know why they ARE drinking.

    Your idea of the health thing is awesome too, whatever works for YOU.

    take care,


    • soberjournalist April 13, 2013 at 1:55 pm Reply

      ‘Alcohol no longer agrees with me’ is a great line to use – and as you say, it is actually true too! x

    • healthappinessober November 26, 2013 at 5:05 pm Reply

      I am here, poking about on my third day of sobriety, and I have to say thank you – I love this line! “Alcohol no longer agree with me.” So true, and brilliant. I shall certainly be using this at Thanksgiving here in the States (wish me luck…it’s on Thursday) xx

  4. runningonsober April 14, 2013 at 4:45 pm Reply

    Hi Kate, it’s nice to find you! Congrats on the decision to get sober, that’s awesome!

    I’m not sure I ever shouted it from the rooftops, but I never hid it or lied about it either. I just stopped ordering it when we went out, and if someone offered, I either just said, “no thanks” or “no, I don’t drink.” Not many pushed me on the “why”, but if someone did ask why, I just said I quit drinking for my health or because it interfered with my running.

    Most people are too wrapped up in their own lives or own drinking to worry much about your drinking or not; I think *we* think it’s a much bigger deal than anyone else does. So just treat it like it’s not a big deal…

    There’s a great book called “Sober For Good” by Anne Fletcher (available on Amazon). It has a lot of other options in it than just AA, and it also has a big section on what others say when asked about their drinking–I’d highly recommend it.

    ~ Christy

    • soberjournalist April 14, 2013 at 6:05 pm Reply

      Hi Christy, I think you’re right, telling people seems a much bigger deal to me than it really is. Thanks for the book recommendation, I’m going to order that now. Congrats on all the running and staying sober. I’m doing my first half marathon later this year and know staying sober will definitely help with my training programme!

      • runningonsober April 14, 2013 at 6:09 pm

        Ooh good luck with your half! Running really saved me at the beginning of my sobriety. Love those endorphins! Feel free to talk running with me any day.
        And enjoy the book, I hope it will be a helpful resource.
        Enjoy the rest of your weekend, Christy

  5. Secrets | Loosing Control April 23, 2013 at 11:01 am Reply

    […] It’s a secret… ( […]

  6. mumz December 31, 2013 at 6:25 pm Reply

    I am currently working on abstaining from secret (and sometimes not-so-secret) drinking. My ah-ha moment involved my 4-year son old remembering an overly emotional evening that I had with my husband….following a fun night out with family, which I decided to follow-up with wine at home…and a black-out. He remembers…I do not. My husband remembers…I do not. I don’t want my child’s memories of me to be like that. It was not bad…but is very scary to me, as a normally great mom, to not remember. I wish you well on your journey. Thanks for writing this blog.

    • Sue April 14, 2016 at 5:02 pm Reply

      Hi…just coming to terms with my heavy drinking myself. I am in the middle of divorce proceedings from my husband of 28 years (my choice, not his…no infidelity involved on either side) and while I’d like to blame it on this, I have to admit to myself and all of you that I’ve had a problem for years. Self reflection is so hard…I have denied it forever. It’s not as thought my drinking interfered with my job or other responsibilities, but looking back, I can think of many, many instances when I should clearly have drawn the line in having another drink and did not. I even went so far as to stop drinking for a year to prove to my (soon to be ex) that I was not an alcoholic. But started drinking again…and it all just snowballs. I have driven while intoxicated and THANK GOD no one was hurt. My “ah-ha” moment came last night, and this morning, when after not drinking for a month at the request of my adult daughters who were concerned (I showed up smashed a month ago after drinking and driving during St Pat’s celebration) I poured myself a big glass of wine to go with my yummy lasagna and my daughter left the room angry. She means the world to me and has been through a lot with the divorce, etc and I am now wracked with guilt over that pour. Truth is, I also had 3 glasses of wine at the bar while waiting for my take out pasta. What was I thinking? How could anything be more important than her in my life? And if I don’t just stop, I know I’ll lose her and her respect.Obviously, I could go on. Point is I don’t want my kids to have that image of me either.

      Keep your fingers crossed for me all.

  7. Probably fooling no one anyway April 1, 2014 at 3:05 am Reply

    Kate, you are so inspriational – I’ve read all of your posts today but was moved most by this one. I’m a bit of a old fogey compared to you I guess, so I’ve been struggling with the wolf silently for around 15 years. I’m always proud of myself when I make it a week, which usually leads to a secret personal celebration involving “just a couple” with my wife at dinner – “here’s to my freshly evolved mature drinking!” ….you know the drill. My biggest worry was my friends and what they might think….friends of 25+ years who I’ve been bending with for most of those years. While I’ve had plenty of these moments, Saturday and Sunday were the worst: Saturday dinner out with my wife, she believes I had the “one” at dinner, but she obviously missed the cleverly consumed NINE other beers that day. She was curious why I asked her to drive home after my “one”. Sunday started with the killer hangover at church, then my insistence on taking the girls to dance so “I could run while they practiced”, which I did. What I failed to mention is that I kept two ice cold tall boys in a small cooler in my car which were quickly consumed after my 7 mile run, then off to the bar to watch NCAA games and consuming 3 more. Then pick up the daughters and drive home under the influence. Jesus help me – guess I’ve got a bit more to worry about than my pitiful friends after all. I’m at the end of the line – today is day 1….

    May God richly bless you for your candor – it has already blessed me.

  8. Anonymous May 8, 2014 at 8:41 pm Reply

    I had another embarrassing day yesterday due to alcohol. I woke up today and I realized that I do have a problem. I’m also worried about being judged, mostly because I’m already judging my self. I too would like to live my life sober! I think your blog is going to be good help for me

    • Probably fooling no one anyway May 11, 2014 at 3:12 am Reply

      Anonymous – good for you. You won’t regret it, I sure don’t! I sleep better, have lost weight and exercise without the joy of acid reflux. Keep reading, there is great stuff out here….certainly helped me.

  9. Rachel December 9, 2014 at 5:12 pm Reply

    Hey girl, I just came across your blog and I want to tell you how excited I am to find another person going through what I am.
    I wish I was already at 1.5 years sober. What a feat! But here I am all the way down at these older posts realizing that you, too, were once where I am now… And I’m so excited to see your progress.
    One day I plan to be that long sober. Alcohol is a crutch, and I don’t want it to be anymore. I’m so glad to see your life going so on track, and I’m so excited to be able to look back on this next year and actually remember it! Sobriety is more beautiful than it’s given credit for!
    Keep up the good work, and keep us in the loop! It’s so helpful and encouraging! 🙂

  10. Janet August 22, 2016 at 2:06 pm Reply

    Hi I’m Janet and this is my second day without a drink after passing out and drinking 2and a half bottles of wine now I’m at. My parents house looking after there dog and my dad has left me a three page letter saying he’s worried about my drinking and so forth and he doesn’t want to lose another child my brother took his own life 2 years ago and it’s been difficult for us all I know I need to quit but can’t announce it cause of my job I hope I can keep goin for me and my mom and dad I can really relate to your story about drinking alone and passing out on the couch I hope I can make it too thanks for your story

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