Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Renee - How She's Feeling At Five Months Sober

*** Submitted by Renee, who blog at The Sober Party Girl

(note from Ellie - this was submitted in June, so the actual anniversary was then).

Today is my soberversary. Five Months. 
It’s funny…I remember when my kids were little people would ask how old my baby was and it begins with weeks, then months and then somewhere around two years, you switch from saying,,,”she is 22 months” to saying “she is 2 years old”. 
I think the soberversary’s are like that too. I remember how dumbstruck I was when I had been sober for two weeks. I really surprised myself with my determination. Then it was a month and then two and so on. Now, at five months sober, three months COMPLETELY sober (no nicotine or pot). 
I know, without a doubt, that I am going to make it a year. I said I would be sober a year and I will be. In the last few days I have found myself wrestling with the thoughts about whether I am an alcoholic or not, whether I will ever drink again or not. 
But this morning I committed to putting that internal dialogue to rest for the next several months. It doesn’t really matter one bit what the future holds. One of the main reasons I have been able to successfully quit drinking and smoking is because I told myself it was a game and that is would last one year. I have been exploring my own tendency to over indulge, not just in alcohol, but in EVERYTHING. I over-exercise, over-work, over-love, over-think, over-eat, I over-EVERYTHING. Figuring that out…the hunger I feel ALL THE TIME…is really what this year is about. Or at least that’s what it started out as. Now, things have shifted a little.
Sobriety is really more than simply the absence of alcohol. In order to be sober…at least for me…everything has had to change.
I can’t go the same places or hang out with the same people. I can’t numb the pain with a substance, instead I have to face it, I have to feel it. I can’t celebrate with alcohol anymore, instead I have to learn how to have fun without it. I have surprised myself on both of these accounts. It turns out that I am still fun without partying and even better…I can still  experience fun without it. And I have learned that I can deal with emotional situations without getting wasted. 
It is more difficult in the moment but in the long run, it is so much better. It is better because I haven’t done anything to humiliate myself in five months. I haven’t woken up once, wondering whether I did or said something stupid the night before. Dammit, I gotta tell you, that’s my favorite part of not drinking. That’s the thing that may keep me sober forever, the knowledge of never feeling that out of control, I did a bad thing, overwhelming shame. Opps…there I go again, thinking about forever. They call it “One Day at a Time” for a reason. 
Forever is a long time, today I can deal with.
The other surprise sobriety has brought is the realization of how disengaged I have been. I have been floating on the outskirts of my life. I work my ass off as a mom, as a wife, an employee. But generally, I have just been floating through it all, just on the edge of actively participating. It is a hard thing to change. I have only just begun to recognize the tendency I have towards this and I don’t know quite how to fix it.
I am reading a book I really like called: Cool, Hip and Sober by Bill Manville. It is a series of questions and answers from Bill’s radio show on recovery and addiction. I find it fascinating. One quote he uses several times in the book is “Live as if you were living a second time, and as though you acted wrongly the first time.” -Viktor Frankl after leaving Auschwitz
I like this quote because that is what sobriety feels like to me…a new life. A new opportunity to live life fully engaged. I suspect there are people who quit drinking and never do any work on themselves, the parts of their humanity that led them to overindulge. I hope the work I am doing to engage fully in my life will carry me into the next ten, twenty, and thirty years.
My final thought on my soberversary post is HALT. A friend mentioned this to me the other day and I liked it. Basically, it’s the belief that if you really want to be successful at quitting an addiction, you must never let yourself get too Hungry, Angry, Lonely or Tired. All four of these states can make it more difficult to remain sober. I can definitely see that on my worst days, I allowed myself to get hungry, angry, lonely or tired. I am actually tired right now. Feeling tired makes me crave cigarettes big time.
If you have stumbled across this blog and are worrying about your drinking, just quit. Tell yourself you are quitting for a designated amount of time and then do it. You won’t regret it. It has been the most important and smartest decision I have ever made. It has been hard. There have been days when I didn’t want to do it anymore. But there have been more days when I have felt fine, even happy at the way life looks through clear eyes.Writing about it has helped me. Some people really like AA. A few friends read and comment on online sobriety groups and that helps them get through it. Some people do it completely on their own…although I don’t know how they do it. I think that would be really tough.
But it’s good.
Sobriety is really, really good.
I can’t believe I said that.
Even more, I can’t believe I feel that.


  1. It's great to live without guilt and shame. You are an inspiration to me I am now just 11 days sober..... No, not JUST 11 days... 11 difficult but worth it days. Everyone difficult but soooo worth it. Thank you for your courage and for sharing it with all of us.

  2. This is my life right now! I want to quit so bad. I am scared and humiliated and just want to be better.

  3. Anon above, Quitting is better. Hard to believe I know but it really truly is. We're here to help you and to give you encouragement and help you turn those sober weeks and months into years and decades. You can do it.

    Renee, Five months in June equals seven months in August !~!~ I hope all is well and you are still hanging onto the goodness. I love it too.

  4. congratulations and thank you! This morning I told myself I will not drink today...IWNDT and will use that as my mantra.

  5. Congrats on 5+ months. This is a really great post! It will speak to many on the fence about quitting. At some point alcohol ceases to be fun and it's all about maintenance--maintaining an addiction that is no fun, costs money, ruins health, ruins your looks and eventually ruins your life.

    So grateful to be off the hamster wheel!


  6. Terrific post - wtg on some solid sober time!! Remember one day at a time. All we have is today. You're off to the races!!

  7. Wow. What a wonderful, wonderful blog. My sister just sent me the link tonight. We are both sober. The only thing I would add (though there are many schools of thought on this and some will disagree) is that though I got sober with AA, some of the dynamics of the program triggered severe anxiety in me and I am approaching 10 years sober without going to AA after the first few years. Through the grace of God and good insurance I was able to obtain a wonderful therapist whom I saw weekly who helped me tremendously with the underlying anxiety which I was self medicating. Due to my particular make up, it became more fruitful for me to see him on a regular basis than to be formally part of any AA Home Group. This is not true for everyone, and AA has done great things for people. But there are many schools of thought on this approach or that approach, and I for one have a good, solid sobriety that I maintain without AA. But I caution you that I don't think I could have gotten there without AA in the beginning. But if after going a while you find that the way it is structured does as much to keep you on edge as help you, I would search (keep searching) for a good, reliable counselor upon whom depend. It just depends upon what works best for you. Good luck. I am so very grateful to have all these years with my kids, who were too young to have realized my struggles and fears of dependance almost ten years ago.

  8. I feel so sorry for those that, like you mentioned, find sobriety without finding ways to make their life better. That has been the sustenance, the bonus, the fringe benefit, the thing that makes it all worth it for me. Being able to work at my life instead of floating on the fringe has been what erased the fear of sobriety for me, because now I can take responsibility for what happens or how I react in my life instead of letting booze have control and I didn't realize how much control it had until I sobered up. I knew my life had become a dangerous place, I just couldn't see how dangerous because when I got scared, I just drank away my fear but it always came back the next morning.

    I'm at 11 months sobriety and I don't wake up scared anymore. It is so worth it.

  9. Hi! I am sober again and your post really helps. I am so ready to make it past two months this time. Thank you!