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The first morning of my sobriety

August 27, 2017

Nineteen years ago this morning I had an epic hangover and was trying to piece together what had happened the night before. Shards of drunken memories filled me with so much shame and guilt that I picked up the phone book.

“This sh*t has got to stop,” I thought. “What if my little girl came home and found the front door wide open and her mother passed out?”

My best efforts to control my drinking – repeated over and over for years – had failed. I wanted these hangovers and mornings of piecing together the night before to stop. I was sick and tired of being sick and tired.

I was done. I found the number for Alcoholics Anonymous and called. I stumbled in to a noon meeting – late – and found a seat at the table furthest from the speaker.

So it began.

I didn’t like going to meetings but I liked the meetings more than the hangovers, so I stayed. I put my little girl on the bus at 7:20 am and rushed to the clubhouse for the last half of the 7 am meeting.

At night I put her in her jammies and grabbed a blanket. She slept on a couch as I sat through the 8 pm meeting. A kind man picked her up from the couch after the meeting and carried my sleeping 7-year-old to my car.

Eventually I came to like the meetings. I made new friends and slowly my self-esteem seeped through the layers of guilt and shame that had smothered me for decades.

Nineteen years later I still wake most mornings racked with guilt and anxiety – the feeling I awakened to every morning after I was drinking. My brain is still programmed to awaken with those feelings. I have to tell myself every morning that I am not a bad person. I did nothing wrong the night before. Feelings aren’t facts.

Still, I feel compelled to do acts of kindness and generosity, hoping that someday I will acquire enough karma to awaken feeling clean and good. Some days it happens. Most mornings are still filled with anxiety from phantom hangovers.

You hear a lot of things at meetings. One that has stuck with me for years is this: Getting sober does not mean your life will get better but your ability to deal with life will.

I have had wonderful things happen to me during the last 19 years. And I have faced very painful tragedies. But I did not pick up a drink or drug. I know in my heart I am a good mother and I am eternally thankful that my drinking did not take that from me. I am clean and sober.

One day at a time.




The first morning of my sobriety

Christine Stapleton

Christine Stapleton has been a journalist for 35 years. She is now an investigative reporter for The Palm Beach Post. In 2006, began writing a blog for PsychCentral called Depression on My Mind. Her latest blog, Addiction Matters, draws on her 19 years of sobriety and her coverage of the drug treatment industry in South Florida.

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APA Reference
Stapleton, C. (2017). The first morning of my sobriety. Psych Central. Retrieved on March 23, 2019, from


Last updated: 29 Aug 2017
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 29 Aug 2017
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