Today I am one year alcohol-free. My coffee cup says #1 Dad. What made me #1 to my kids? Well, it took some work, but today I can say that I am the most Grateful Sober Dad ever!
I had my last drink one year ago today. It was a Rolling Rock. I was on a golf course with a coworker and a client and I knew I shouldn’t drink. I knew I had a problem. I still felt like garbage from a few nights earlier. I was still feeling intense shame. I knew I had promised myself I was done. I knew I had promised my wife I was done. I don’t even know why I took that drink. I immediately regretted it, but still finished it. I didn’t have another.
A cold beer on a golf course. I knew it would be momentous but didn’t think much else. I knew that a few days earlier I had hit a new low and that it was only a matter of time before I’d need to stop. A few days earlier, on that night I invited a new friend over for drinks. I got a bit nervous to hang with someone new so I drank a few beers by myself to take the edge off of my nervousness. I finished an additional 6 beers, and a bottle of Jamieson. Just after midnight, my wife woke me up from a passed-out haze on the floor outside of my kids’ bedroom. I didn’t want to face it but I knew I felt like a shitty person, inside and out. Sure enough, the next day, my partner approached me and asked me point-blank whether I snuck drinks from the bottle. The answer was clearly yes, but I still lied about it.
That was the day that caused my partner to confront me. That was the day I realized I had a problem. That was the day that changed my life. That was the day that I woke up and knew that I’d passed the point of no return. Since then it’s been a rollercoaster but so far the car has stayed on the track. It’s been tough sometimes, choosing my sobriety. I’ve had alot of temptation and struggle.
Which relationship with my kids do I want? Fun wholesome game nights or putting myself in a situation where if they had to get a drink of water in the middle of the night, they would probably trip over me. It seems like a bit of a stupid thing to even be asking but it sure as hell re-inforces priorities. What I am starting to understand about alcohol is the true danger is not just it’s physical effects on me, but on the subtle underlying grip that it has. Somehow, when faced with such an obvious choice, there is still a debate about whether I can manage “just one”.
When my wife and I have disagreements now which are inevitable after 15 years of marriage (or 15 minutes), we deal with our issues. We talk. We argue and sometimes we even yell. But? There is no name calling. No regrettable words used in a haze. Our issues, whatever they are, seem to be easier to resolve.
I had a great long chat with my wife the other day. She asked 1. Do I consider myself an alcoholic and 2. Am I done drinking forever.
1. I don’t like that terminology. “alcoholic”. There is so much connotation with that word. My answer is “probably” but I wonder why I have to be defined. I choose to believe that it’s good enough to say that I am one who chooses not to have a drink today because it’s best for me. I’m good with that. Isn’t that enough?
2. Am I done drinking forever? I don’t know what my life is going to look like with absolute certainty in 3 months, 6 months or a year. Really, I don’t even know what I’m having for breakfast tomorrow. What I do know is that sobriety feels good. I will choose not to have a drink with my lunch today. I am confident in my current strength that I will make the same decision for dinner. I hope and trust in myself that I will make the decisions that are best for me tomorrow, but let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves. One Day At A Time has gotten me to one year sober.
I am an unlikely sober dad. My life has been so tied to booze. I started drinking when I was still living at home. When I moved away, it was for school and I spent those next 7 years, somehow getting 2 degrees largely in a haze. For the first time, I feel like I am discovering me. Who I am. What I like. How I deal with conflict, joy, sadness.
Take a look at the reality of how you’re drinking and where it leads then think about how life might be better sober.
Sober Dad Inspiration!
Day drinking always seemed to be so much fun but always led to the need for an afternoon nap. The “fun” is now outweighed by being present for my children.
Sober Dad Inspiration!
Guys Night In?
Once upon a time, Wednesday nights were a standing date with me a Jim Beam. My wife has a routine appointment which, pre-Covid took her away for the night. After I got the kids to bed, it was either a baseball or hockey game, depending on the season, a glass and a bottle. Honestly, not sure why I even ever bothered with the glass. Probably my way of staying classy and pretending I wasn’t going to drink the whole thing, or ignoring that I had a huge problem. Anyway, fast forward – kids are in bed, game is on, and here we are, stone-sober with zero regrets.
Waking up clearly, being able to make Sunday morning pancakes without making excuses for why I slept until 11 am makes me feel like a better father.
Sober Dad Inspiration!
“Relaxing” after a rough day at the office usually turned from one, to two, to etc. If I managed to stay awake, I was never really my full authentic self. True relaxation now happens when I can have actual conversations about what made the day so rough, stay awake long enough to have those meaningful conversations, and to remember them tomorrow. Sometimes, on really tough days, we’ll eat a DQ Blizzard (although with 4 kids, I may need to take out a second mortgage)
Sober Dad Inspiration!
I used to stumble my way through weekends, prioritizing Friday and Saturday nights that translated into Saturday and Sunday morning hangovers. One of the nicest things about my new world is being present. Being present to read Harry Potter together, present to help with grade 5 science experiments, present to learn how to make healthy meals, present to just be with a sick kiddo and not feel like garbage myself.
My wish for my kids is to know that life can be fun and amazing even when they’ve got problems that feel insurmountable in the moment. I want to lead them by example and am trying me best to do that (especially over the past 4 months of sobriety).
If I can offer anything to those just starting out on your journey. Have faith. Not necessarily in the religious sense, but in yourself. You CAN do this. It will be hard as SHIT! The road will have bumps. Sometimes you’ll feel it giving way underneath you. But, that road leads somewhere. The landscape is indescribably beautiful.
It is a journey worth taking, and the destination is pretty damn amazing!
Take it from the world’s most grateful sober dad!
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