In the sobriety/recovery community we are all on the same alcohol-free highway. Some of us just hopped into the car, and some of us are professional drivers with miles and miles of sober momentum. When do we stop counting the miles and the days? When does alcohol freedom become the new “normal”? Be hopeful, because at some undefined point, the daily frustration of being alcohol-free transforms to inner peace. Life without alcohol finds a new normal, where it is no longer front and center.
The first year of sobriety is like a road trip, where there is a toddler ( your booze brain) in the back seat. She’s kicking the back of your seat, saying, “Are we there yet?” over and over and over again. At first, you are calm and patient…. little kids can’t understand that sobriety is a life long journey. This little kid doesn’t want to notice what’s outside the window. Whether the kid is wearing a pointy wine witch hat, or has on a baseball cap promoting your favorite beer, this whining kid went from being “cute” to “pesky” after a day on this road trip.
“Are we there yet?”
“Not yet”, you say.
“How about now?” again.
At the beginning of your alcohol-free journey ( the first weeks sober) you placate this pouty creature who is demanding to be the center of your attention. You do everything to keep your sober momentum flowing. You offer treats and turn on some distracting music…. bad news: the hat is tilted and the sippy cup is empty. Somehow, you persevere and hop off the highway for a rest. As the journey continues, you tell your passenger: “Sorry, kiddo, I forgot your special hat and your sippy cup at the rest stop, but we’ll get by!” This puts the toddler into a crying tantrum, but you keep driving, despite the pleas to turn around and fetch them.
As the child is wailing about the missing sippy cup, you focus on the road ahead. You put the car on cruise control and trust the GPS voice that you are following the right path …. You are so focused on staying the course, so focused on that sober momentum that you aren’t really seeing the views outside your window. You don’t notice the cool stuff along the way… the beautiful leaves, the twisting roads, the deer staring back at you along the highway… No, you fail to see them, because all you see is what’s in the rearview mirror: the little whiny drink now voice bawling, sobbing that it’s NOT FAIR that you can’t have alcohol in the car! “I WANT MY SIPPY CUP!”. You grit your teeth and hold on to that steering wheel. You continue to drive. Sober momentum. Moving forward. Non-negotiable!
And at some point, between mile marker 3 and 365, the pesky whiny rascal fell asleep, and you start to feel calmness along the journey. You see the beauty along the way – the rolling hills that are growing into larger mountains, the majestic eagles soaring overhead. The car window gets rolled down and you enjoy the racing air and the sound it makes inside the car…. and then you realize that the radio is on, tuned in to your favorite radio station. You turn it up and find yourself singing along.
Maybe you can live with this smaller, peskier version of you, now that the sippy cup is long forgotten? When the nap is over and your mini-me wakes up, the wide-eyed child starts looking out of the window, too… no longer demanding to know “Are we there yet?”. Somewhere along the journey, there has been a gradual transformation. This sober child is filled with inquisitiveness, asking if that was a boy deer or a girl deer, and how do you know, and why do the bugs splat on the windows, and can we stop and see the waterfalls, and WAIT! Did that sign say there’s an ice cream shop up ahead…. can we get some ice cream, please, please, please?
When you are picking out lovely ice cream, you spot, out of the corner of your eye, an enticing display of new sippy cups… while you are on guard, the younger version of you doesn’t notice…. and the sanity within the car is protected. The new journey begins. As this better version of you sits comfortably in the driver seat, you glance in the rearview mirror. The child is enjoying this journey too- No longer kicking the back of your car seat. You are both at peace. The focus on the missing alcohol, the sippy cup, is gone. While you remember that the pesky brat once existed, you now see that this little child is truly a treasure. You have grown to love each other, enjoying and celebrating every mile marker, every day.
Protect Your Quit. ❤
I think of my drinking habits as simple as turning a light switch ON or OFF. Quietly, I recognized that my OFF switch is broken, period. But at about a week of being alcohol-free, the voice of temptation started swirling around in my brain, telling me I “overreacted” and that I could “moderate”…. well, there were many Day 1s, months ago, that were sabotaged by this voice. I am now strong enough to ignore this voice and to keep the switch OFF. No more internal debates.
Keep your oxygen mask on when the turbulent bumps shake you in your seat. Know that your plan to quit is stronger than a few bumps. You are on this alcohol free plane ride, wearing your mask and taking care of you first.
Look forward to the day when you can be the masked pilot, in control of your own aircraft, and maneuvering through the fluffy, well intentioned but dangerous clouds. As the pilot, you will see the best path up ahead and maneuver around the next bumps.
But even as a masked passenger today, holding on to your sobriety as the pilot negotiates the path for you, you are alcohol free, getting through the turbulence and seeing clear, sunny skies on the horizon. Sober momentum acheived!
Protect Your Quit.
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“I think I have a problem with drinking”
How do you go Alcohol-Free? ( more reading in blue titles)
B Be accountable Talk to Us We Understand
A Avoid alcohol like the plague Ideas Here
L Let yourself enjoy regular sober treats Ideas Here
A Allow yourself to cry when needed Ideas Here
N Nourish your body with good food Ideas Here
C Create happy & fun memories Ideas Here
E Enjoy the precious moments in your day Ideas Here
W Work hard to get what you want Ideas Here
O Organise things for less stress Ideas Here
R Realise you can’t control it all Ideas Here
K Keep going & prepare for success Ideas Here
S Sleep enough for body & mind rest Sleep Solutions