New Zealand has an interesting alcohol culture and Le Petite Mania has discussed this before. Lisette in particular found it really interesting when she went on her OE to see how different cultures drank alcohol. She was surprised at how boozy New Zealanders seemed compared to places in Europe.
To me, alcohol is like a Frenemy. You think that they are nice, fun, sophisticated, loving and have your back but really they don't care about you and can often make your life difficult. They secretly try to sabotage you and they leave you feeling a bit crap - or a lot crap.
So when I saw Lotta Dann on 'Sunday', I was really intrigued. To give up the booze, she started an anonymous blog called 'Mrs D is Going Without.' The blog was a huge success so Lotta did something super brave - she came out as herself to the big wide world. The thing about Lotta is that she is so relatable - she is cute and funny and a mum and a wife - and an alcoholic. But the reason she is so relatable at the end of the day is because so many women have tumultuous relationships with alcohol.
I was excited to catch up with Lotta Dann as she has a new book out titled 'Mrs D is Going Without.' I can't wait to get my copy and sit down (with a cup of tea!) and soak it all up.
LD: Green. Just painted my kitchen Resene's 'Tree Frog'. Look it up, it's neon green.
LPM: Star sign?
LPM: Favourite TV show (if you have time to watch any!)
LD: Real Housewives of New York or Beverley Hills. (Not the OC or Jersey..)
LPM: How scary was it to 'come out' as an alcoholic?
LD: Very scary coming out to the wide world through the media interviews organized by my publishers to plug my book. I was very nervous just because it was so exposing (to masses of people I don't know all at once). But I 'came out' as a problem drinker to people around me the minute I gave up. Right from the get-go I was brutally honest and said to friends and family 'I've stopped drinking because I can't control it'. It was part of my process.. strip myself back to the truth. I was sick of having this hidden problem.
LPM: We are major bookworms at Le Petite Mania. Are there any good books you would recommend to someone trying to quit drinking?
LD: There are some great memoirs ("Unwasted: My Lush Sobriety" by Sasha Scoblic and "Drinking: A Love Story" by Caroline Knapp to name just two). But the two best books for really getting inside my head and helping to kick-start my brain retraining were Jason Vale's "Kick the Drink, Easily!" and Allen Carr's "Easyway to Stop Drinking". Those dudes are persuasive.
LPM: When Mrs D became Lotta Dann, what kind of reaction did you get?
LD: Overwhelmingly positive. Lots of people saying I'm brave and amazing (they don't realise that talking about the beast in my brain helps me diminish its power). Also hundreds and hundreds of people have reached out to me privately (through email and private Facebook messages) to confess they're 'just like me'. It's been intense, heartening, heartbreaking (at times) and very strengthening. I just so want people like me to know that they're not alone. There are so many of us and the more that we talk to each other the better.
LPM: Why did you decide to quit on your own using your blog rather than go to somewhere like AA?
LD: I think because I'd been quite alone in battling my addiction when I was trying to moderate.. I set out to battle my new mission to live sober on my own as well. I started blogging because I'd been writing letters to myself in the lead-up to quitting. I thought the blog would be a series of letters to myself that no-one would ever read. If the wonderful community of support hadn't grown around my blog I probably would have gotten myself to meetings… being able to share your experiences with a like-minded community of people who 'get it' (addicts) is vital.
LPM: What is your message to women who are trying to cut back or give up the sauce?
LD: Don't hide from the truth. Believe that change is possible. Find your community. Know that you will get to a place where you don't miss it at all.
LPM: After you quit drinking, how did you go at parties and places you would normally drink alcohol?
LD: At first I felt like a total freak, uncomfortable and weird and very out of place. But the more I went out the more I realised I could find the fun in all the elements that were inherent in the event, and not in the liquid that was in my glass. Also that no-one else gave a toss if I was drinking or not.
LPM: How is your life different now that alcohol is no longer a part of it?
LD: I'm healthier, happier, calmer. I love my new sober life, heaps.
LPM: This might not seem relevant but we are starting to ask all our interviewees this question: Do you consider yourself a feminist? Why? Why not?
LD: If being a feminist means believing that all women are amazing and powerful and strong and vibrant and special and precious and worth the highest regard and equal rights to men then yes, I'm a feminist.
LPM: It must take a lot of courage to do what you have done. Are you scared that you will ever start drinking again?
LD: Nope. I will never ever touch alcohol again my entire life. It has absolutely nothing to offer me that I don't already have. It does not help me have fun, it is not capable of relaxing me, it does not help me deal with my emotions, it does not enhance my vibrancy or increase my worth, it tastes horrible and wastes precious dollars I could be spending on fresh flowers.
LPM: You have quite a high profile husband. What role has he played in helping you give up alcohol? What about your kids? What do they say about it all?
LD: Corin has been like a pillar of concrete standing beside me, supporting me while I transitioned from being a miserable boozy housewife into a self-respecting sober woman. He never criticized me for stopping drinking or tried to tell me what to do. He has just listened and listened and listened and supported me in what I was doing. He's been perfect in his steadfast support/hands off attitude because in truth there was nothing much he could do other than stand by and be supportive. It was me that had to do the 'getting sober' myself. Only the drinker can stop the drinker drinking (if you know what I mean).
The kids know that mum doesn't drink alcohol because she can't control it.. and dad does because he can. They are going to grow up knowing that there is an element of danger surrounding alcohol (as well they should because there is). What they choose to do regarding alcohol when they are adults is up to them but at least we know we have sent them out into the world with all the facts.
Lotta Dann's book is available at all good bookstores and you can check out her interview on Sunday here.