One year sober. One whole year.
This is the post that I never thought I’d write. A whole entire year free of the tyranny of alcohol. And it feels amazing. I am so proud. So thankful.
People told me it gets easier the more time you have under your belt and I didn’t understand how this could be true. Intellectually I understood it, and of course I trusted my sober friends, but I couldn’t wrap my head around how I could get through day after day after day without alcohol. Well I have, and it’s bloody glorious.
Here are a couple of things that have really helped me over the past year, some things I’ve learnt that spring to mind and gems of wisdom from others that have changed my mindset:
1) Being an alcoholic is not a moral failure-
for months and months of trying and failing to stop drinking I felt like I was a bad person for being in the grips of alcohol. Not true. It’s a powerful, “baffling” beast and it exerts a mysterious power that can entrap anyone, sinner or saint.
2) If you think you’re drinking too much, you definitely are- someone once pointed out to me that normal people don’t worry about their drinking. This thought, combined with the fact that trying to quit drinking took up vast amounts of mental space confirmed everything I needed to know: for me, stopping was the only option.
3) “You don’t want to drink, you just want to change the way you feel”- Lisa Neumann from Sober Identity said this to me very early in my blogging journey and it was probably the thought that had the single biggest impact on me in coming to terms with the knotty problem that is alcoholism. I hadn’t really considered that I needed to work out how to handle my emotions, rather than just focusing on quitting the substance. Reframing my cravings with this thought was absolutely invaluable.
4) Some people can drink, others can’t, and that’s life- I spent quite a bit of time wallowing in the “it’s not fair” stage of grieving for the loss of wine. Why could so many around me drink without consequence? I remember someone at AA with over 30 years of sobriety answering his “Why me???” wail with the simple answer: “why not?”
The more I look around me, the more I see a significant proportion of people for whom alcohol is hugely problematic. There is a spectrum, it seems, of problematic drinking and where I fall on that I neither know nor care, I just know abstinence is the only solution for me.
4) You never wake up thinking: “I wish I’d had a drink last night.” Self explanatory, that one.
5) Sobriety is its own gift- when I first realised I needed to get sober I was devastated. All I saw was loss. Little did I know how much I would gain. My life is unrecognisable and I am the happiest I have ever been.
6) Sharing is key- without this blogging community and the help of AA I doubt I would have got sober. My sponsor always says that when you share with another alcoholic, you are likely to be helping others without realising it. You have all helped me so much, so thank you for reading and keeping me stable when I needed it most.
7) Doing something daily really helps- weaving sobriety into the fabric of my daily life has been so helpful. By this I mean doing something every single day to acknowledge my alcoholism or to try to actively stimulate my recovery and growth. This can be anything- blogging, listening to the Bubble Hour, going to a meeting, reading some sober literature, saying a sober prayer of gratitude. By doing this, I am constantly forced to reevaluate and give thanks for my sobriety.
8) Being sober is FUN- I have done so much this year, partied, danced til sunrise at music festivals, dated, been to weddings, left jobs and started new ones, travelled, the list goes on. All of these were made MORE FUN by the fact that I was sober and could enjoy each experience.
9) Sobriety is an ongoing process- the battle with wolfie is never won, but never entirely lost. With each new day we can walk further down the sober path and grow, as long as we are vigilant. I’d probably say forgetting I’m an alcoholic is the single biggest threat to my sobriety. It sounds silly, but the more sober time I have, the harder it is to remember why I stopped drinking, which is why connecting with other alcoholics feels so invaluable.
10) If at first you don’t succeed…- sobriety took me a year of failed attempts to get. The only thing I did right during this period was to keep trying and to keep a careful eye on what had tripped me up.
This post is a little jumbled and a little rushed, and for that I apologise, but I just wanted to write something today to mark the big occasion that has passed. It feels amazing to finally have a year under my belt and I feel like the world is at my feet if I stick with my sober clan 🙂
Thank you bloggers and commenters once again for everything you have given me. What a lovely bunch you are.