I’m on a train, which means I want to write. Writing and trains go together like toast and jam, bangers and mash, gin and ton… Nevermind.
For the first time in sobriety, I have nothing new to write about. Up until now, every day has been a new lesson or given me a new sober experience that I’ve wanted to shout from the rooftops about. Not today, or yesterday, or the day before that.
This is excellent news. It means that I’ve finally settled into sobriety. It’s no longer a battle not to drink. I don’t get the cravings very often and if I do, I know how to quickly and painlessly deal with them. I don’t worry about being envious of other people drinking, as I value what I have in sobriety far too highly.
When I was in my first 90 days, I felt like I had a little man running round in my head going ‘THIS IS SO HARD, WHEN DOES IT GET EASIER?!’
Belle told me that somewhere between 30 & 60 days of sobriety something would shift. She was right, but it was still very hard. At 60+ days sober, I worried that I wasn’t ‘getting it’- as far as I was concerned, this sober lark was still hard work. I really wanted to drink quite often. I met some lovely sober bloggers and we sat outside on one of the first sunny days of the year drinking coffee and talking about sobriety. The whole time I was there I felt a niggling urge to drink. Even when these brilliant ladies, with more sobriety under their belts than I had, were telling me how great it was further down the road. Oh alcohol…Cunning, baffling, powerful.
At around 90 days I was thrilled to have made it that far, but I was hugely resentful of everyone else around me who seemed to be able to drink and just enjoy it. WHY ME? My inner Kevin piped up (moody teenager from 90s Brit culture: http://www.youtube.com/channel/UC7NQro3lpCck5-xphZWnZkQ
) and I threw a bit of an inward strop about poor little old me not being able to get drunk over a sunny bank holiday weekend like everyone else.
Well, I’m on 116 days today and I feel not the slightest desire to drink. It’s not a battle anymore, it’s just a new and delightful way of living. I was thinking of all the things I’ve done in sobriety: first sober holiday, wedding, leaving do (mine), endless drinks after work, birthday parties, first sober clubbing night, first gig, first sober train journey (I used to drink ALOT on trains… for shame…) and they have all unquestionably been more enjoyable because I’ve been sober.
NOT ONCE have I woken up and thought “my GOD I wish I’d had a drink last night..!”
I’m not quite sure what I set out to say in this post, but I think my message is this: if you’re in early sobriety, hang in there, it really does get better. Trust the process. Trust the discomfort and feeling of helplessness and the sneaking suspicion that the pain might not be worth it. It is. I promise. The pain is a necessary part of the transition to something better.
The lesson I learnt last year is that for sobriety to really work, it has to be continuous. I laboured under the misapprehension that if I drank again after a period of sobriety it would all be ok and that I could pick up my sobriety again where I left off. Not true. You can’t ‘have a break’ from sobriety in my experience. It has to be an ongoing process. Every Day 1 I had set me right back to Square 1 with each drinking experience being more horrific than the last. Funnily enough, I never had terrible drinking experiences until I started trying to get sober. I had the strong sense that I was drinking too much and the depression that accompanied bad hangovers, but the nights where I publicly did something stupid were almost unheard of. When I started drinking again after periods of sobriety, it was truly horrible and embarrassing. I simply could not control my intake. It’s like the fabled ‘Wine Witch’ had laid dormant, building up an insatiable hunger for booze that was unleashed when I took the first drop. This was when I knew that breaks from drinking weren’t enough. I had to abstain completely.
It’s good to remind myself of this, at this point where I’m feeling pretty secure in not drinking. One thing that experience has taught me is just how easy it is to forget the extent to which I have a problem. I’m going to an event tonight where there will be wine galore, forced into my hand. All I need to do is remember not to take it. Then I’m safe. But if I take that drink, all bets are off.
So today I’m grateful for the gift of contented sobriety. I raise my elderflower cordial to THAT! Cheers and Happy Sunday 🙂