Not so long ago, I couldn’t imagine going a day without drinking. I drank 1-2 bottles of wine a night (or more). I remember feeling “proud” of myself when I came down to find that I hadn’t quite finished the second bottle, an inch of wine still left. What restraint I had shown! On a good day, I woke up foggy. On a bad day, I woke up ill, full of shame and regret, checking my phone to see who I might have called or texted even though I had no recollection. I knew I was drinking too much. I knew that long before I was ready to do anything about it.
I loved going out to dinner. But really, what I loved about going out to dinner was going out to drink. Cocktails, wine, after-dinner drinks…so much variety. But there was never enough. The pours were too small and they never came quickly enough. Halfway through one glass, I was strategizing on how to get the next, debating if I could order a third glass (or a fourth) without looking like I was drinking too much. Comforted by the fact that I could (and would) go home and have more.
Then one day, I blurted out to my doctor. “I’m worried about my drinking…” Why was that so hard to say out loud? The shame, the guilt…like admitting to a crime. I told her (honestly for once) how much I was drinking. She told me to try to cut back slowly – no more than a bottle and a half a night. Instead of feeling the significance of the fact that she was weaning me off the poison I had built up a tolerance for, I rejoiced that my doctor had given me permission to drink a bottle and a half of wine a night. She also suggested I speak to a therapist, so I made an appointment.
And that’s where the rubber hit the road. The therapist was kind but blunt. She pointed out in the first session (quite accurately, I might add) that my drinking was clearly not because of a love for wine or for the discovery of the nuances of food pairings with the right vintage. I was drinking to self-medicate, to zone out, to deal with life… It was clear her best professional advice was that I quit drinking. Quit drinking alcohol. Forever. I went home and drank two bottles of wine and 3 beers that night.
I thought about never going back to see her. She knew the truth and so I would shut her out. Ignore that session. Go back to the way things were. It was tempting, but for some reason, I did go back. I just kept trying to do the next right thing. Trying to trust what I was hoping was a process. She suggested AA, in-patient rehab, out-patient rehab, lots of ways to get support.
Nope. I wasn’t ready for any of that. She suggested I listen to the recorded lectures of Dick Prodey on alcoholism. Ok…that I can do.
I can sit in my home and watch a few videos. And so I did. And slowly, slowly, the process marched on. Step by step. In hindsight, I can see that this time was different because I was preparing…building a foundation, brick by brick, but I didn’t know that at the time.
Then, on June 18, 2019, I was going out to dinner with my family and a good friend and I made the “bold choice” to not have a cocktail before dinner. This was HUGE. (My plan was that I would still, of course, have wine with dinner.) But one thing lined up and then another, service wasn’t great and there was no real opportunity to order a glass of wine, and so I went the whole dinner without drinking. The whole dinner. This was literally unheard of for me. When I got home, I decided I would not have an after-dinner drink and thus go the whole day. So…a Day 1. (Yes, I say “A” Day 1…I’d had many in the past). But for some reason, thank goodness, this one was different.
After 10 days or so, I found the Boom community online and decided to do “Dry July“. I counted those first days so very closely. Each one was a milestone. I read the quit lit that Boomers were suggesting. I read people’s posts and they sounded like mine. I felt like I wasn’t alone. I still remember hitting 100 days and how very proud I was! Boom friends celebrated with me and I was happy. I saw someone hit 1 year sober. She posted her app showing the 1-year mark. I got that app, hoping that one day I would be able to make a post like that.
And I did.
Numbers have always been significant to me. My last Day 1 was June 18, 2019. Today marks three years sober. Early on, I recognized that this date — 61819 — has rotational symmetry. In other words, if you turn it 180 degrees, it still reads 61819. I did not choose that day in June to be my Day 1…it just happened to be that day. So I see it as a sign. It’s the day I turned my life around.
On that day, my last day 1, the idea of “sober forever” was unimaginable to me. It can be daunting, for sure. I remember in my first few weeks AF suddenly thinking, “I won’t be able to drink at my children’s weddings!?” Keep in mind, neither of my children is getting married…or is engaged…In fact, they are both in high school. So I’m not sure whether or not I will drink at their weddings is my most pressing worry.
But I digress.
Back to forever.
So I, like so many others in our Boom Community, have seen forever as this looming, daunting, seemingly impossible goal. And then a friend in the group posted this… “Forever is actually a relief to me.” And suddenly, for a moment, a switch was thrown. What if forever is actually a comfort? What if, instead of viewing the enormity of forever as something I need to conquer, I view it as a part of my journey, a positive force that brings relief.
I can have sobriety forever! I can be AF forever! What a relief!
One-month sober challenges have become a great focus for people who want to step out of the cage of gray-area drinking and try life alcohol-free.
In our BOOM Rethink the Drink Community we host a month-long alcohol-free inspiration challenge 12 times a year! Come check us out
Open the video below with more thoughts from our BOOM Rethink the Drink Community on why you might want to try Dry July.
Perspective is a powerful thing.
Dry January, A Tuned in February, A Momentous March, An Alcohol-Free April, A Marvelous May, A Joyous June, An Arid August, A Sober September, A No-vember or a December you CAN Remember
What is Dry July?
Dry July is a fundraiser that is run annually in New Zealand and Australia. It encourages people to go alcohol-free in July to raise funds that provide invaluable services for cancer patients, their families and carers. This is the link to the official Dry July Website: Dry July Foundation
Since its inception in 2008, more than 290,000 participants have collectively raised over $73m AUD, helping to support more than 80 cancer support organisations across Australia and New Zealand. Wikipedia.org
What if you’re not in Australia or New Zealand? Why Try Dry July?
A 30-day alcohol-free challenge can be a lot easier to tackle than the idea of being sober forever. There is also a lot of extra motivation to stay Dry in July in our BOOM Rethink the Drink community. Many of our founding members met in an Australian web community called Hello Sunday Morning and Dry July is an annual event we first shared there that inspires us all. In a world where there is tremendous pressure to drink daily and see that as normal, Dry July gives us another focus for thirty days. How to enjoy life as a community WITHOUT the booze.
Join us –
It helps to have a community behind you in a world where alcohol is the only addictive drug that people will question you for NOT using. Join us for Dry July and beyond
If you’re “sober curious” … If you are drinking too much too often and want to stop or take a break…or if you have stopped drinking and are trying to stick to sober! Talk to Us.
We are an independent, anonymous, and private community who share resources, support, and talk it through every day.
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Come Try Dry July!