Gayle Macdonald is a mum, teacher and sobriety coach. She relocated from the UK to Andalucia, southern Spain in 2004 and enjoys living in rural Granada with her husband Mac and two sons Joshua and Nico. Gayle is the founder of Sober Bliss, assisting modern day mums achieve sobriety for a more healthy, full-filling lifestyle.
Hi I’m Gayle, Mum, Teacher And
Living A Life Of Sober Bliss.
I love my family, sleeping, meditation, long walks, tea, food, loud rock music, nice scents, autumn, the rain and Spain. I am happy in myself (grey hair and all), content with my life and everything it throws at me and I am finally at a place I want to be for the rest of my life, a life free from alcohol and full of so many beautiful, crazy, inspiring and laugh out loud moments.
But, it wasn’t always like that
In 2004, I moved to Spain to start a new life with my husband and our son who was two years old at the time. We wanted to escape the rat race of our life which was, for me, a secondary school languages teacher and stay at home Dad for my husband. We were tired of never seeing each other during the week and never having enough left over at the end of the month to enjoy family life, treat ourselves or socialize very much with family and friends.
I suppose that’s when out drinking started really, I would need to unwind at the end of the day with a glass of wine and would continue during bath time and of course I needed it to do the marking and planning for the next day. We couldn’t afford the time or the money to go out much so we became house drinkers – probably the worst kind of drinker.
After moving to Spain, renovating our cave we settled right back into the same old routine, but this time we were able to do our drinking on a more social scale – after all Spain is the land of beer and tapas, where it is quite normal to see workmen supping a beer with their bocadillo at 10am during their breakfast break. Then there are the fiestas and ferias which see people drinking and socializing from lunchtime to the wee hours of the next morning. Our village, which only has around 1100 permanent inhabitants boasts 8 bars which between them are open 24 hours a day so we took advantage of this to practice our Spanish, meet new people and adapt to our new way of life, after all conversation flows much easier after a beer or two!
Trouble was, we carried on when we came home. It was unheard of for us not to have a crate of beer and a box of wine in the house at all times. After a break of just over a year during pregnancy and early months of our second son’s arrival, I picked up where I left off with renewed vigor. It was lonely, hard work, boring and stressful. Even though we lived in a great place, had two lovely sons and a lifestyle many people envied, we retreated into our own bubble and closed the doors on life. We had our own business which was slowly falling and I blocked it out with beer. I escaped from the humdrum of daily life, did as little as possible to deal with the situation and turned to wine and beer for a solution. My drinking day would start at 2.30 when we got back from the school run, sometimes earlier if there was time to stop for a quick beer before school finished and so it would continue through lunch, homework, dinner time, bath time and bedtime until I would relax with another drink to reward myself for getting through the day and there I would stay until I fell into bed or passed out on the sofa.
The weekends and holidays were worse as the drinking would start as soon as it was midday and carry on right through the night. If we visited friends or had friends round I would do as much as I could to make sure they stayed until the early hours so I didn’t have to face the normality of home life.
Looking back I don’t know where it all came from really. My parents didn’t really drink but my Dad smoked – a lot. My mum died when I was little so I was terrified it would happen to me too. I was a normal teenager who didn’t really drink, I was far too sensible for that. In fact I hated it, that and smoking. Yet there I was years later with a family of my own and doing all the things I swore I would never do.
Before I knew it I was stuck in a cycle of start drinking at 12 or 2, have a nap, wake up do some mumsy stuff, start drinking again, have tea, get the kids out of the way, drink some more, go to bed, wake up at 3 feeling like hell full of dread and regret, fall back asleep wake up, get the kids to school and so it would start again.
I never had a rock bottom moment, there were plenty of bad moments but nothing so terrible it snapped me out of the cycle, but for years I constantly felt rubbish, looked terrible, had no energy, no zest for life. Something had to change. Trouble was I didn’t know where or how to start. Local support groups were not an option because local actually meant miles away and all done in Spanish of course. I read all the books, blogs and sites but they didn’t help (probably because I was reading while drinking)
I wanted a plan to help me rediscover who I actually was without the alcohol. I needed a way to not only remove the alcohol from my life but to create a long lasting path for my own journey through my own life as me and a mother. I couldn’t find anything that fitted me so I began learning and teaching myself new skills, new ways to cope, new ways to live and here I am in that happy place again with all of the zest, energy and love for life I had lost.
I have achieved so much since I began my own personal journey and I am experiencing so many wonderful things I only dreamed of before and thought were beyond my reach. I have my own business, I work with amazing people every day, I have a new found confidence, I enjoy heavy Spanish rock concerts till 5.30am and wake up feeling great, I go on long walks and do short runs, I read books and watch films with the added bonus of remembering them afterwards, I cook great meals, I picked up my guitar again, I’ve saved a shed load of money and I am fully present in the lives of my children every day.
If I can achieve this then so can you and my mission is to help you get the life you’ve always wanted – a life of Sober Bliss
Through my one to one coaching program, resources on the blog, weekly newsletter and closed social media group we can help you become the happiest you’ve ever been and rediscover your true self.
I want this space to be an inspiration for you if you are wondering what it’s like on the other side, if you want to leave alcohol behind but don’t know how, if you’re curious, scared, determined or just want to take that first step but can’t.
Together we can take that first step.
Start before you’re ready and amazing things will happen.