(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.