Coping with life’s ups and downs

Wow. It’s been a long time since my last post. I seem to have got out of the habit of blogging recently but rest assured I’m still here – sober, drinking tea and eating ice cream.

My life got a bit crazy at the end of May, whenΒ I found out I needed major surgery to remove an ovarian tumour. I’d been admitted to hospital with unexplained, excruciating stomach pains. (I’m no wimp but I’ve not known pain like it). A scan revealed a cyst the size of a large orange. Although ovarian cysts aren’t that unusual – and most are totally benign – the doctors weren’t sure about mine.

I was told countless times that it was very, very unlikely to be cancerous. But it’s hard not to be scared when you’re allocated a cancer support nurse and talked through exactly what will happen if the results aren’t good.

When I first stopped drinking I often wondered how I’d cope in future if something very bad were to happen. Were there exceptional circumstances in which it was ok to relapse? Perhaps if something happened to my family, or my house burnt down? What if I found out I only had a few days left on the planet. Would it be ok then?

Well I’m pleased to say a brush with cancer didn’t rock my sober boat. And that’s all it was, thank goodness. A near miss. The results were all totally clear. It’s hard to describe what a relief that news was. I’ve been left with a great big ugly scar up the front of my stomach and I’ve lost an ovary. But that’s all. And that seems a pretty good outcome in the grand scheme of things.

In the run up to the operation, drinking didn’t really cross my mind. Once or twice I did think ‘this would be a good excuse for a relapse’, but I didn’t feel that pull to drink. Besides, I had so much other stuff to do – like move house. I was warned that post op I’d need six weeks off work, lots of rest and I wasn’t to lift anything heavy. So all of a sudden there was a real rush to get as much done as possible before life was put on hold for a bit. It was incredibly stressful at the time but looking back I think being busy was a good thing; the night before the op I was up late cramming my belongings into boxes.

My family were brilliant during this time and so were my friends. I was lucky to have lots of visitors both times I was in hospital. Surprisingly, many of the people who came were actually friends I felt I’d drifted apart from, because of being sober and not going out as much.

Before the op I did wonder if my drinking history had played a part in my illness. I guess I’ll never really know the answer so there’s probably no point dwelling on it. In hospital it was comforting to be sober – I had to fill out countless pre op questionnaires and it was very satisfying to answer the ‘how much do you drink?’ question with a big fat zero. Post op I feel that by being sober I’ve given my body the best chance of healing properly.

It’s exactly six weeks since my surgery now and I thought I’d have written about all of this a lot sooner, but somehow I just didn’t. I guess sobriety isn’t dominating my life in the way it once did. Does that make me sound complacent? I hope not – I think it’s a good thing. Sobriety is a bit like driving; it’s hard at the beginning but you get better with practice. I don’t feel like a learner driver anymore, but I know I’ll always need to keep my eyes on the road.

I was catching up on some episodes of the Bubble Hour yesterday and it was just so lovely and familiar and comforting that it prompted me to write this. The awesome thing about the sober blogosphere is that it’s always there, just waiting for when you need it. And I definitely still need people in my life who get what it’s like not to be able to drink normally.

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45 thoughts on “Coping with life’s ups and downs

  1. Debbie July 19, 2014 at 5:53 pm Reply

    Missed you! Glad you are back and SUPER glad you are doing well {hugs}

  2. lucy2610 July 19, 2014 at 5:54 pm Reply

    Sorry to hear about your illness Kate and that you are recovering well. It’s nice to see you back πŸ™‚

  3. sobermalarky July 19, 2014 at 5:54 pm Reply

    Great to have you back x

  4. soberp82 July 19, 2014 at 6:28 pm Reply

    Glad to hear you got the all clear; must have been a huge relief!! Hope you’re back to 100% soon πŸ™‚

  5. 6yearhangover July 19, 2014 at 7:00 pm Reply

    Great to see a new post from you. So glad your health is intact and that you’re still sober and blogging. XO

  6. DE July 19, 2014 at 9:52 pm Reply

    I’m so sorry to hear of your cancer scare. I work with cancer patients and have often thought about whether I would drink again if I got terrible news? I’m pleased that you are well and sober. It’s good to hear from you x

    • soberjournalist July 23, 2014 at 10:15 am Reply

      It’s been a ‘good’ experience in that I feel stronger for it now. But it’s not something I’d want to go through again in a hurry! x

  7. Lilly July 20, 2014 at 3:35 am Reply

    Honey, I’m so sorry I haven’t emailed you for so long. I’ve been meaning to and thinking of you and hoping you were recovering well. I’ve been absent myself around here (for less good reasons as you’ll see if you read my recent posts) but I’m so happy to see you post and know you’ve come out the other side ok and so wonderful that you had such great support from friends and family.

    Your sobriety sounds pretty rock solid and that is amazing. Hope you’re settling into the new house (so exciting!) well too. Let’s email chat soon when you have the time and head space.

    Big hugs to you.

    Lilly xo

    • soberjournalist July 23, 2014 at 10:17 am Reply

      Lilly! Email me. I need to know what’s going on in your life! x

      • Lilly July 24, 2014 at 12:21 am

        I will! xx

  8. carrythemessage July 20, 2014 at 2:26 pm Reply

    Glad you’re back and that all is well.

    Like you, my sobriety isn’t contingent on external matters.

    I am really happy for you that things are moving along well, and that life (LIFE!) is happening for you. Yes, we don’t get as focused on our recovery as we did at first, but that doesn’t mean complacency either. It’s a balance πŸ™‚


    • soberjournalist July 23, 2014 at 10:16 am Reply

      Hey Paul, nice to to hear from you. Glad you’re doing well. I think you’re right – it’s all about balance…

  9. Mrs D July 21, 2014 at 5:30 am Reply

    Great to hear from you SJ and pleased that you are on the road to recovery. Boy that was a big test – and YAY you passed! (in terms of the getting through that and not drinking).. I often wonder if Mr D was to die would I drink..? (the worst thing I could imagine happening to me) and I always imagine myself getting through it without touching alcohol. Alcohol is shit and it does nothing to enhance, support, or help with our lives. Great to hear from you xxx

    • soberjournalist July 23, 2014 at 10:21 am Reply

      Hey Mrs D – or should I say Lotta – I’ve been meaning to email you for ages. I’m so proud and excited hearing you talk about your book. I haven’t read it yet but as soon as I work out how to get hold of a copy I will do! I heard you on the Bubble Hour the other day, you were fab. I imagine the last few weeks have been pretty intense, but you’re doing great. Big hugs xxx

  10. readingcreature July 21, 2014 at 10:28 am Reply

    Hi, sorry to hear about op; but you do sound very calm and strong amidst the storm. Wishing you a swift recuperation (bio oil is good for minimising scars) and lots more happy sobriety.

    • soberjournalist July 23, 2014 at 10:22 am Reply

      Thanks so much for the bio oil tip! I’ll give it a go x

  11. Rebecca A. Watson July 21, 2014 at 11:10 am Reply

    Sorry that you had to undergo surgery like that. Ugh, what a scary thing to deal with. But SO happy you are OK and healing and that you feel steady in your sobriety. It’s great to read something like that because life isn’t perfect, it’s life, and to know that you can do it means that I can do it too πŸ™‚ Hugs to you! Wishing you a smooth recovery.

    • soberjournalist July 23, 2014 at 10:23 am Reply

      Thanks for your lovely message. Hope all is well with you x

  12. MareBear July 21, 2014 at 12:54 pm Reply

    I’m sorry to hear about the surgery but glad that you came through well and sober. I was so glad to get the email notifying me that you commented on your blog. Yah!

    I got sober 59 days ago and thanks to your blog (which I read from beginning to end), I realized there was a whole universe of sober support. I was able to connect with other blogs and groups of online support which has really helped me stay sober.

    I hope you recovery fast and keep writing on your blog. Thanks for your help in connecting me with this wonderful community.

    • AER July 22, 2014 at 10:06 pm Reply

      Day 60 for you MareBare! Congrats πŸ™‚ Milestones are so important for newcomers and all those who attend meetings. I love chip meetings and love listening to what individuals have to say about their sober journey when they go up and take a chip or a cake. Keep it up!


    • soberjournalist July 23, 2014 at 10:26 am Reply

      Wow, congratulations on your 59 (61 now?) days – that’s brilliant. I had a similar experience when I discovered the sober blogosphere, it was such a relief to find people I could relate to. Keep up the good work!

  13. AER July 22, 2014 at 10:03 pm Reply

    Your post resonated with me. I’ve oft wondered whether I would stay sober if bad things happened in the future – aka: losing my bf, losing my job, just random what-of scenarios I’ve thought about during my sobriety. But reading your post brought home a good point I hear over and over in the rooms – that we never ever have to pick up and use again. It will always be a choice we can make. I choose to live my life one day sober at a time no matter what may come my way. Thanks for sharing!

  14. AER July 22, 2014 at 10:04 pm Reply

    I also hope that your recovery is going well!

  15. Brittany Lynn Page July 25, 2014 at 11:23 pm Reply

    I am happy to hear your recovery is going well. I am only on Week 1 of my sobriety but it really is refreshing to read other peoples blogs about being sober. Thank you for sharing your experience. I have started to document my own sobriety at and I am hoping I can make it as far as you’ve come. One day at a time. Happy Sobriety!

  16. historictreme July 29, 2014 at 2:34 am Reply

    So happy to hear the surgery went well and you’re ok.

    I have missed your writing but I know I’ll get to the point where thinking about how I am ‘handling’ getting through each day won’t take so much focus.
    Wonder what I’ll be spending my energy on instead?
    I still have a lot of archives to read. Thanks.

    I like the part where you could put zero on the intake form! What a great victory that would feel like. I never thought of that, how I always have felt guilty answering it, with a certain indignance. . . lying.


  17. Paullita July 30, 2014 at 6:04 pm Reply

    I was so delighted to read your post and hear how you are doing. And how wonderful that you are doing great – despite the surgery. I read all of your blog and it has helped me to be sober (along with the lovely Belle’s blog). On day 26 now (I think).Do you really think there are people who can drink normally ? I’m not so sure.

    I hope you will post now and then to let us know how you are are. Wishing you a speedy recovery and lots of luck in your new house. Hugs.

  18. Flynn July 31, 2014 at 6:40 am Reply

    Thank you.
    When I typed the words ‘feelings about alcohol’ on the google page, it informed there were millions of results to choose from. Thrilled at first, but soon disappointed as most were about alcohol and its affect on people’s feelings, emotions, etc. Another few hundred pages regarding the angry feelings toward alcoholics that non-drinkers tend to “bottle up” … Funny/ironic term.
    Then I found your blog.
    Thank you
    Not sure if I fit in, never been much of a drinker, certainly never struggled with it, just never had the stomach for the stuff, but will confess, have had a social relationship with it my whole life. As stated, it’s a national pastime, daresay, a global one. Greetings from the west side of Canada.
    At oftentimes I’ve probably been identified as the evil and self-righteous non-drinker by friends, acquaintances, and enemies alike. Although I say very little about alcohol and/or drinking, I fall under that category. Perhaps because alcohol is the social norm, the anti-norm is just as evil. Castor and Pollux, the drinker and the non drinker, entwined by the vine…sigh
    So here’s my dilemma
    My daughter is getting married and everyone has participated through gift giving, or helping to pay for an aspect of the festivities. Because I work abroad and am away for weeks/months at a time, almost everything has already been sorted in my absence.
    ….almost everything. That’s right, someone’s got to pick up the booze tab.
    Now, my daughter, like me, is not much of a drinker. She’s actually quite a health philosopher in her daily life. Vegetarian chef, athletic, yoga instructor. This extends in her approach to life, as she like to do good things for people, she enjoys making connections between her actions and their effect in the world. She is the most thoughtful person I know. I want to honour this. Afterall, it’s her wedding, and in light of the fact that everyone has had the opportunity to have their participation or gift giving be a reflection of either themselves or their love of this couple, I cannot for the life of me resolve my feelings about having to buy the drinks for a 120 people under the holy banner of it being my daughters wedding.
    My wife is pissed at me for even having feelings about it.
    First off, I could care less if anyone has a drink.
    Second, although I would give my daughter anything, it would be nice to be able to give something that is reflective of either her, the act of marriage, or of myself as her old blue collar dad. Like a car, or a really cool vacation. Hell, my daughter would be happy with a card and a few thoughtful words about love and family and friends and life.
    It’s taken me half the night to write this, and I do apologize for taking up so much of your blog with my ramblings, but in doing so, you have helped me to stumble upon a possible solution.
    There is a little winery in the town where she launched her career. A very special town, which we both love dearly. It’s an organic winery. I think I’ll take her there and buy a 120 bottles of their finest. At least if they’re all going to get drunk, it can be with some thoughtfulness and good healthy cheer.

    Thanks again, and keep up the good inspiration. Your words are helpful to people far and wide.


  19. Alyce July 31, 2014 at 8:31 am Reply

    Sooo Im just day 2 of my new sobriety lifestyle. Please check out my blog, I will be updating you all on my journey πŸ™‚

  20. willmo1967 August 3, 2014 at 6:25 pm Reply

    Countless times i’ve searched the net googling ‘am i an an alcoholic?’ ‘How to stop drinking’ etc I’ve also been to an AA meeting but i felt out of place as i wasn’t at rock bottom and didn’t drink all day or every day. I drink to escape and at my happiest if drinking alone watching rubbish on the box. 6 bottles of beer,2 bottle of wine then i go to bed battered yet amazingly i can get up every day and go for a run or hit the gym. At last i have found you! I’ve read your blog today from start to finish and i at last have found that i wasn’t alone in my confusion of the term ‘alcoholic’ . Thankyou for the time it has taken you to write all these posts and i am so going to use you as a role model. My wife and i have put tomorrow as our ‘start date’ and that’s it….no more drinking. you are an inspiration.. Ian

  21. Annie August 5, 2014 at 11:56 pm Reply

    I’m so glad you’re alright. What a nightmare that sounds. I have fallen over since I last contacted you, and am right back in a miserable place. But your blog is amazing, and it really helps me, so thank you. Annie xxx

  22. Jade August 11, 2014 at 1:05 pm Reply

    Sorry to hear what you’ve been through. Imagine if you were still drinking throughout this time… Thank goodness you have turned your life around!

    I have been reading your blog for a while, and it has really helped me get into the mindset of not drinking. I haven’t taken the plunge yet, but I have cut down and I am working towards it.

    I’m curious to ask, have you lost much weight in the last year? I have noticed I lose weight even in the space of a week without drinking! I ask because our drinking habits sounded similar. I’m hoping it will help my finances and work productivity, too

    You’re a real inspiration to me, so thanks for blogging! I plan on setting one up. I’m a little bit younger than you at 25, so I’m hoping I can do it a bit earlier. I’m just so bored of living like this.

    I wish you continuing success in your sobriety, and every aspect of your life

    Jade πŸ™‚

    • soberjournalist August 12, 2014 at 9:35 pm Reply

      I lost quite a bit of weight to start with, then last year I put a bit back on (I did eat a LOT of icecream….) But this year I’ve lost it again. So overall it’s a loss, but it wasn’t quite as steady or predictable as I’d have liked! What I’ve found is that when you stop drinking it’s easy to replace that crutch with food. But it’s still so so worth it – your health and productivity will improve so much. Go for it!

  23. James August 13, 2014 at 5:53 pm Reply

    Hi Kate, I just stumbled across your blog and it’s very inspirational. I’m on a one-year target to start with – actually I want to give up for life but need a more measurable time frame at first. I’m now on day 106, pretty proud of myself so far. I’ve only read a few of your early and most recent posts but will be coming back to read them all. I appreciate your honesty and you have a very easy-to-read writing style. Not elementary, it’s just easy to identify with. Thank you for taking the time to share your experience. I’m going it alone at the moment, just a few friends and my wife know that I’m going dry. I haven’t found the courage to go to AA and am just the same as you were in constantly wondering, “Am I an alcoholic?” and feeling that I’d be out of place at an AA meeting, as I decided to stop drinking over three months ago, and found it’s not SO hard. But I’ve been thinking a lot about my drinking and am probably at the same level as you were, “Almost Alcoholic”. It’s a definition that resonates with me – or “At Great Risk of Becoming Alcoholic”. Anyway, I’m rambling. Thank you for sharing – the Internet, forums and blogs such as yours are providing me with just the right support I need at this stage. James

  24. thesobergarden August 14, 2014 at 10:39 pm Reply

    Your positivity’s an inspiration. Thanks for sharing your insights! Here’s to keeping our eyes on the road. x

  25. Joey August 23, 2014 at 7:06 am Reply

    This blog has been a quiet inspiration, a subtle reminder that getting sober was the right thing to do. I’ve had the web page open in my phone’s browser for two months, getting a quick look at it before I open a new tab to surf. Yeah, I wanna say thanks. Thank you for being a tiny pillar of support. You’re a hell of a writer too.

  26. roisinmmurrayRoisin Murray August 30, 2014 at 10:22 am Reply

    This is really enlightening! I’ve just started my own blog – – would love to have your opinion…?

  27. freddy c September 1, 2014 at 12:08 am Reply

    Thanks so much for taking the time to write this blog!! Its been incredibly helpful to me. Got a friend reading it now too.
    Freddy C in Ohio

  28. Achieve Sobriety September 9, 2014 at 6:19 am Reply

    I’m Brett and I’m a recovering alcoholic/pothead with three years of sobriety. I created a website where people share their stories about achieve sobriety on camera. I founded because when I looked online to watch videos of people talking about getting sober on Youtube and there were very, very few videos. I was in serious disbelief in my discovery or lack of a discovery.

    One year later I have launched and there are already 7 videos for people to watch with more to be regularly released. Since I’m one who regularly bites more than I can chew the website has more than just videos. The website has a blog and I was hoping if I could post some of your blog posts on my website? I’d really appreciate it.

    Thank you for being a voice about an incredibly taboo subject.

    -Brett Taylor

  29. A.P. November 11, 2014 at 7:15 am Reply

    I kind of love you. Thanks

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