When I started this sober journey, I was shooting for a 30-day “alcohol reset.” But I made it to 30 days and figured, why not keep going? I had made it to 45 days last fall, how about I shoot for 46 days so I could set a new (recent) personal best?
45 days came and went, so I said, why not try for 60 days? But close on the heels of that thought was, 60 days is two-thirds of the way to a 90 , why not go for 90? And close on the heels of THAT thought was (yes, I am a little competitive), 90 days is SO close to 100… and triple digits sounds so very cool! Why not go for 100?
And here I am. 100 days without a drink (of alcohol, of course, I have consumed other beverages; otherwise I would have died long ago from dehydration, LOL!). This is a little surreal for me as its the longest time I have gone without drinking … well, since I began drinking. I am in uncharted waters here, at least for me.
Boom. 100 days Alcohol-Free. There it is.
During my 100 day journey, I have compared my sobriety to a little car (thanks Belle for that metaphor), a little sober rocket, and even a little sober race car. Of all those, I think the little sober rocket is the most appropriate; the early days trying to become Alcohol-Free take SO much energy, it’s like a rocket trying to escape the pull of Earth’s gravity. But if you can get past those early days, whether by finding new AF activities, finding new AF friends, spending countless hours on an online community like BOOM reading and writing posts, or simply white knuckling it until I those awful cravings pass, it starts getting much easier. I wish I could remember who said it, but I read a very wise comment once, “it’s a lot easier to STAY Alcohol-Free than it is to BECOME Alcohol-Free.” so very, very true.
But, sitting here at Day 100, it occurs to me that sobriety is really like a garden.
Earlier in my life, I planted many seeds for the things that were important in my life: flowers to help me appreciate the beauty in the world, vegetables to help provide professional and financial security, peppers to remind me to experience new things in life, herbs of delightful conversation and company to sprinkle on life’s meals and roses to represent the truly important relationships with my wife, my children, and my closest friends.
Over time, I started to neglect my little garden. Days, and then weeks, would pass without me visiting my garden and over time, the soil grew hard, my flowers, vegetables, herbs and roses began to wither, and weeds began to take over. It should have come as no surprise when I went to visit my garden, and I found my hopes and dreams were stunted and dying, and the weeds of apathy and indifference were everywhere.
Then, on January 29th, I started the long process of cleaning up and clearing out my garden. The task of pulling all those weeds has been long and time consuming. Some weeds came up easily, but others had grown very deep. When I tried to pull those up, all I managed was to rip out what I could see on the surface. Those pernicious roots are still there and I must be forever vigilant; they will return to the surface and when they do, I must be ready and aware of the threat they post to my precious garden.
Now I am churning up the hard soil of my neglected garden and I’m adding new soil to provide a place where my hopes and dreams can again grow and thrive. I’ve added a little fertilizer to make the soil rich and I have planted new seeds: a whole section of flowers: orchids, daises, lilies, columbine to remind me of the beauty in the world. I have planted tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, carrots and radishes to remind me that my professional success and financial security will take a great deal of ongoing HARD work; there will be no shortcuts. I have planted bell peppers, jalapeños, and habaneros to remind me that life is so much better if it’s lived with passion. I have planted parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme (thank you Simon and Garfunkel) to remind me of the joy that comes with being fully present in each moment, and I have planted white, pink, yellow, and of course red roses to remind me that the important relationships in my life are what truly give it meaning.
My little garden looks very different today than it looked 100 days ago. Thank you to this community for their kindness, support, wisdom and humor during this journey. You have all helped provide the “Farmer’s Almanac” that has allowed me to replant my precious little garden. I may have neglected it in the past, but no more. My garden will thrive again.
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