The first year of sobriety can be slippery, regardless of how committed you are to not drinking. It doesn’t matter if you attend AA or Smart Recovery meetings, if you’re paying a sobriety coach, or participating in an online community. Slips happen everywhere. There is no perfect program that magically removes the possibility of drinking again. Community support can help, but in the end staying sober is up to you.
Many people find that they have multiple day one’s before settling into remaining alcohol free. While one last drink, one last time, may sound romantic or feel cathartic even, losing sober momentum can be dangerous. To get to the point where you hold on and don’t let go you have to dig deep and stay honest with yourself, not only about your history as a drinker, but about your reactions to people who are still drinking.
It’s taken me a long time alcohol – free to rid myself of the jealousy I felt when others continued to drink. I had to dig deep and talk honestly to my community about the truth of my experience with alcohol. It helped to be anonymous and private, and to have the flexibility of being able to talk online. Talking deeply and honestly about the effects of alcohol on my life has helped to keep me from slipping and sliding.
The Beginning of my Sober Story
At this time last year – following the lowest point in my life, I had just received the keys to my new home. I had been driving past this house and its beautiful big eucalyptus tree for the past ten years. Once I received the keys to my new home, I thought that everything was finally going to be okay in my life. So I celebrated- with endless bottles of champagne. I would wake in the mornings, hopeful for a new start, and again that evening I would toast that new start with more champagne.
Unfortunately, buying a new house didn’t solve my problems at all. The thought that a new home would be a new start was nice, but I soon found that a lovely home is just that, it is not an answer to problems. So, I began drinking more than ever.
Fast forward to November and I decided that it was time to stop drinking. I felt like crap and couldn’t trust myself anymore. With the alcohol dulling my senses, I couldn’t clearly see what problems needed fixing.
I drank a bottle of wine and felt yuck. I’d been working so hard not to drink that I was strangely relieved even after the horrible feeling that the wine had given me. Two days after this, I decided that it was a bit extreme to never drink again, so I drank a little bit of wine each of those evenings. When I slipped, it was like a switch had been flipped off. I knew that if I continued to drink, the switch would stay that way. I would be back in the darkness of just surviving, I wouldn’t be really living.
After those two nights of drinking, I didn’t feel right. So I came back to my online community and posted a list of times that I’ve been drunk and irresponsible. In AA, this is called a moral inventory. I shared my moral inventory on BOOM and as I read my list, I realized that my memory had failed me. I thought that I had only been drinking daily for a little while, however it turns out that I’ve been drinking daily for a lot longer than I thought. I also realized that some of my drunken behaviors were pretty bad.
So, I cried. I knew deeply then that drinking has never served me well. That the drinking part of my identity was based on something false. I was That Drinker. I decided then and there, no more denial. I haven’t had a drink since.
Sober Suits Me !
But is holding onto this luxurious freedom from the need to drink easy ? Absolutely not. People slip all the time and sometimes when they slip they slide.
Something interesting occurred to me as I was writing all of this down. I’ve recently found that I feel annoyed when people post about having slipped in our online community. I think there are two sides to this reaction. The initial layer of my frustration when people in my community slip is about doing the hard work. Sometimes it feels like we are a team and we invest in each other and when someone drinks it can feel like they are a less committed team player on some level.
Or I can get annoyed with the view that people might think it’s somehow easier for me.
But, it isn’t !
I think that there’s more to it though. I started to realize that it’s jealousy.
I’m jealous of your slip!
I would love to have me one of those slips and just pick back up and carry on the next day.
I miss drinking sometimes. Like REALLY miss it, but I don’t trust what would happen if I drink. I worry that if I have a slip, that’s it. My sober phase would be done and I’d exit my community and carry on like I used to.
All of this would just become one of several phases in my life, this one penned ‘my sober phase’.
Stopping drinking is a HUGE life change. I understand the high relapse rates and don’t consider myself a massively judgement person – so my reaction to other people’s slips has bothered me. Now that I can recognize the jealousy – I can rise above it.
A wise friend recently described overcoming jealousy in the best way. He said jealousy is awful because it makes us small, and we have to get big in order to overcome it. I know in my heart that for the vast majority of time, I love being sober. I am absolutely NOT one of those people who can drink without consequence! Talking deeply and honestly about the effects of alcohol on my life has helped immensely to keep me from slipping and sliding. I need to protect my quit, and that means no slips allowed. Knowing this makes me bigger than my petty small-minded jealousy.
You can keep those fragile glass slippers. I’ll need something a bit more comfortable for the long haul. Why not grab a chair ? I’ll roll out the welcome mat and invite you in to chat.
Sober Suits Me !
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Read More from our Boozemusings Blog
The most inspiring stories I know are from the people who slipped and slid and but kept fighting
Their stories are worth reading