Sober Challenges – My COVID-19 Move & Job Change

sober challenges village in England

A precipitous move and job change …

The last 3 years of sobriety have thrown many challenges at me, but 2020 threw the biggest ones yet. At the start of this year I was unhappy in my job. It was causing me stress and reigniting some of my depressive behaviours. I talked to the bosses within my company, and managed to get offered a position on another team. And I gratefully accepted. I was due to start my new role on the 1st of April, but COVID-19 hit the globe, and the world stopped.  


My COVID-19 Sober Challenges

I had been thinking about buying a new home for my son and me for some time. Previously, I lost my family home as a result of an emotion breakdown – divorced, lost my job, and downsized. We moved into a rental property, which was lovely, but was absolutely a house not a home. And because it was temporary, I felt the constant sense of being in “limbo”.  


For me, “limbo” is an awful and unsettling feeling. I struggle to sit with it. And I have to work really hard on my program to get through. Old behaviours pop out when I feel unsettled. Including issues with food, men (the wrong ones) and testing friendships. 


Job changes and no house to call a home. The world on hold with COVID-19. And ALL my destructive traits were heightened. It’s a pure miracle that I did not pick up a drink.


Sober Wisdom? Let’s Buy a House!

In my infinite wisdom I decided that lock-down was the time to buy my own place! Talk about sober challenges. Putting down roots filled me with fear but I longed for stability. I wanted my own home. Somewhere I could be proud of. Near where I lived in my rental, houses were being built that allow people on low income to buy. It felt meant to be.


After some discussions around my finances, I learned I could buy one of them. And so, I laid my claim. It was then that I had to steer myself in the right way, as everything happened quickly. In the same week I started my new job role. 


As we all know, two of the most stressful things to do (in a pandemic or otherwise) is buy a house and start a new job. And I did both these sober challenges within a week. My head was struggling and I started to withdraw. I pulled into myself, stopped talking, and felt real exhaustion.   


Once again, I realized that I was not doing what I should be doing. I was living on sugar and not sharing my feelings. My mood dipped and I could feel depression kicking in. I thought, I should be happy – I have the two things that I have always wanted!  So, I didn’t want to admit how I felt to anyone. I was totally overwhelmed and trying to do it all by myself.


But that’s when my program kicked in …

I shared my feelings with a close friend who had just gone through a similar experience, and she totally empathized with me. What a huge relief that allowed me to get back on track and share how I was feeling. There was then an outpouring of help and caring from my community. And I could feel the power of the fellowship holding me up.  


With the new job, I focused on training and learning my role. My pride was back, which was lovely, and I wanted to show the new team I could add value.


I upped meetings, and for the first time in my life I reached out for help. Talking and talking, I went through a range of emotions from elation, to fear, to distress. But thanks to the lock-down, I had time to manage my emotions. I could feel the feelings and rationalize my thoughts. 


Buying the house should have been easier, but me being me (an alcoholic) … I wanted to control the whole process.  Chasing everything until the day I got the contracts to read. It was then I realized I couldn’t physically read them. I would look at the words, and flick through pages, but none of it was going in. It was still too much for me.  


It was important that I checked my contracts, so called my same friend for help. She read them, checked I was happy with the content, and split out what was necessary and what was extraneous. This small act was huge for me. It took away a world of pain and allowed me to influence the last piece I could. And once I handed into the solicitor, I made the decision to surrender in general.


The next day was spent doing yoga, meditation, and handing over everything else that was left. I started to feel better. I knew it would all be okay. Everything else seemed to fall into place. 


I Got the KEYS!

Finally, I got my keys and had time to paint and personalize my new home.  When I physically moved in, I had help from my fellows who went over and above. They asked for nothing in return other than some fuel costs and a few cups of tea – the British cure-all.  


sober challenges dog lying on couch

What sober challenges? Wallace in his new home.


I am now in my house and writing this from my sofa, with lovely Wallace asleep at my feet. I have a huge sense of serenity. From pain does come growth, and I feel that now more than ever. To own my home has always been a huge part of who I am, and to lose that was so difficult for me. Now that I have put down roots, I can truly live. And am a very grateful recovering alcoholic.



Nicola Lee

Nicola Lee had it all - a successful career, 2 children, marriage, car, house... She found herself at alcoholic rock bottom on the 5th December 2015. Nicola says, "After some time in sobriety, I decided to write down my journey through recovery and finding a way to live happily and sober. By writing my truth I hope to dispel some of the myths around what defines an alcoholic." Nicola Lee lives in Hampshire, England. She writes a blog at called 365 'Days a Year' and also writes for the Huffington Post UK.