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I was Ashamed to Stop Drinking for Fear of Stigma

Gayle Macdonald
6 min readJul 3, 2019

Why the opinions of other people kept me stuck

When I stopped drinking over a year ago, I didn’t tell anybody except my husband who also stopped drinking at the same time, and of course I explained to our kids that we were having a break from beer, that’s it, no big deal.

I had no idea at the time where this journey would take me, I thought that it would just be a break to see how things went but as the time passed and I began to feel increasingly better in myself and more proud of my achievements I just had to keep going.

You might wonder why I didn’t say a word to anybody else in the beginning. Was it because I was scared I would fail, was it because I was worried that I couldn’t do it?

No, the reason I kept it all to myself was because I was scared of the reaction of other people. Those four little words, “What will people think?” held me back from being open, sharing my story and asking for help. I also believe that this fear of being judged is also what kept me stuck in an unhappy cycle of drinking for so long. Obviously I hid the extent of my drinking from everybody, I hid the fact that I was worried about it, I hid the fact that I was scared that I couldn’t stop drinking, I hid my fear for my health, my guilt about my kids and my shame. This same fear kept me from being open and honest about my sobriety too.

When people hear I don’t drink, even now over a year on, I can almost hear them thinking, ‘she’s an alcoholic’ or ‘she must have a problem.’ And that, is the problem. That is what stops so many of us from speaking our truth, sharing our wins and asking for help when things get tough. It was bad enough having to deal with my own shame and regret surrounding my issues with alcohol, let alone putting the opinions of other people in the mix too.

Why is it that in today’s society if we go out and don’t drink people assume we are either pregnant, driving or on antibiotics? Why can’t we just say that we are not drinking tonight or forever for that matter and be done with it? People always want to know the ins and outs, the whys and the whathaveyous they automatically come to the conclusion that there must be something wrong with us and want to know if we did something terrible (I did actually as you can read…

Gayle Macdonald

Gayle is a tea drinking mum of two, life and sobriety coach. Gayle helps women to quit drinking & feel good..