An Honest Post About Sobriety: It’s not always easy.

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I’m having one of those moments. You know the moment. The moment where you find yourself thinking “Do I really have a drinking problem?” I’m coming up fast on 10 months of sobriety. I’m focused on that big 1 YEAR mark, and I’m really excited about it, but the “Then what!?” creeps in. I’m not going to lie, sometimes it’s just the Milestone that I think is what keeps me going. What will I count down to once that 1 year milestone has passed? Let’s face it, two years doesn’t have the same ring to it.

I gave up drinking on 6/3/12. I never had a slip up, a “just one drink”, or a hidden drink that no one saw. Sometimes the fact that I’ve easily surrendered to sober life makes me think “really? Was it that bad?” Sure, I had times where I blacked out, hurt myself, and did/said really stupid and or embarrassing things. To be honest though, it wasn’t always like that. There were times where I was able to have one or two drinks when out it was nothing more than that. When does sobriety start to feel like a permanent thing? When does it feel like it’s realistic to keep this up forever? I didn’t hit any bottoms, lose my family, or end up in jail (not that anyone has to do that to realize they have a problem) but I think it does add a bit of a blurry spot to my vision.

I really don’t know why I’m struggling right now. I think the fact that St. Paddy’s is lingering around the corner is certainly one reason. This was my favorite drinking holiday. We are going to a party on Saturday, and I’m likely to be the only sober person there. I feel like a little kid being punished, and even though I can see the GOOD that has come from being sober, I still feel like I’m being cheated out of a good time. I’ve had a few friends say “I really miss when you drank” and it hurts a little. I’m just different from everyone now and it’s not fun to be around me. I make everyone uncomfortable. I mean, come on! How many sober 26 year old people do you know? They don’t mean it in a mean way, more of a reminiscent way. As sad as it is, drinking was what made me feel part of a group, a part of people who cared about me. When I was in school, I never had friends except for a few (who I am still friends with, and respect my decisions) but I always longed to be part of the “cool” crowd, part of something bigger than just myself. I felt that for the first time when I started going to bars. For a while, I was even friends with the “cool “ kids from high school, and they liked me! We’d dress up, and go out and I just couldn’t believe it. I had “friends” to hang out with. Slowly, that first group of friends I would go out with, deteriorated when I found out they were just using me for a ride, and to pay for beer. This left me feeling worse than I did to start with. I did eventually meet a new group of friends, who I adored. We went out every week, and going to the bar was like coming home. It was a safe place. We wouldn’t miss it for the world.

Since I’ve become sober, I’ve seen that group of people maybe twice. I’ve been told they would all make bets about how long I’d last. I’m not sure if they just missed me, or they were calling me a drunk. Who knows. No one has the time of day for me anymore. I’m the black sheep, and I’m right back to where I started… feeling “uncool” and alone.

I have learned in my sobriety that I don’t need to drink to be a social butterfly, which I always believed to be true. I’ve learned to come out of my shell, and that there is a person deep down that I didn’t know was in there. And while ultimately I don’t want to drink ever again, because I know it’s really what’s best for my life (and my addictive personality), it’s hard for me to imagine an entire life without another sip of alcohol. Vacations, weddings, summer nights by the pool.. THIS is what I struggle with. Our entire society is LARGLY based around alcohol. We have wine to “relax” and we have beers to celebrate, and drinks to mourn. We drink for holidays, days off, days we are stressed out, a drink with dinner.. the list goes on and on. Every commercial is about alcohol and drinking. Most social events I’ve attended are based around alcohol. Hell, there are movie theatres that allow you to drink during movies! How do I NOT feel like a misfit?

I get lots of praise and compliments from sober people, and drinkers alike. You think this would make things easier, and it does most of the time. Today is just one of those days I’m questioning fruit of my efforts. I guess this is why they say to take it day by day.. thinking about it years down the road, is just too hard.

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33 responses »

  1. You are doing well. Your way of thinking is normal. Your way of thinking will gradually change.

    Try not to look too far ahead. Take everything in your stride.

    Be proud of what you are doing and what you have achieved. There are millions of people who cannot do what you are doing. You have already demonstrated that you are a cut above the rest, and that you are capable of going the distance.

    By the way, you have not realised it yet, but without even reaching a year of sobriety, you have already become ultra-cool. You are in a class that is very special, because both sober and drinking people have respect for you and what you are doing.

    It is natural to get despondent. Keep going as you are and you will be fine.

    Ronnie.

  2. Very well put. I feel the same way. I dont think people realize that even though life is a 100% better its still tough to not just follow the crowd. Its easier to just go with the flow. So stay strong, I totally respect what you are doing. In the end do what makes you happy, even if it is the harder decision. Good things come from hard work and this is hard work. It will get easier and easier.

    • You are right. It is easier to go with the flow, and on the other hand it’s nice to be able to be my own person. I just wish my social life didn’t fly the coop beause of it! Society as a whole does everything around drinking. I need a friend to go hiking with! haha!

  3. You did a great job capturing the crappy resentful feelings most of us feel toward alcohol sometimes. Yeah… we all have them. But you know what? They pass. Eventually. That’s the voice of addiction talking to you. Normal drinkers don’t black out hun, that’s what I have to remind myself of sometimes too.

    You wrote something interesting:
    I’m just different from everyone now and it’s not fun to be around me. I make everyone uncomfortable.

    No. You don’t make anyone feel a certain way. They let themselves feel. If they feel uncomfortable, that’s on them, not you. And if they’re not happy for you, screw ’em. I mean do you really need friends like that?

    And what comes after one year?
    One year and a day.
    Then another day.
    And another.
    And before you know it, you’re knocking on two years.
    And somewhere between that year, you lose track of days and you think, “holy shit, is it almost two years already?”
    It will happen.
    As long as you don’t drink, it’ll happen. 😉

    Hang in there. I believe in you.

      • Well you know what they say about feelings… they aren’t facts. Our minds can twist that stuff all around, that’s for sure. I’m so glad you wrote about it–I think it will help others facing the same feelings. I’ve reblogged it on my site too. Thinking about you… Have a good weekend!

  4. Oh love, this is a hard time for sure. Funnily enough I remember 10 months being a hard time for me too. I still get ‘was I really that bad’ moments combined with ‘I’m a fraud because it’s been so easy’ moments. Fact is I was addicted to wine as a life choice and now I’m not. Fact is I have to face every single moment in my life sober from now on. Celebrations, yes. Stresses, yes. Sadness, yes. Relief, yes. But am I discovering who I really am? Yes. And am I slowly gathering the right kind of people around me? People who love me sober, who don’t fucking say to me ‘I really miss when you drank.’ Yes. I have had one friend say that to me and I mentally and emotionally retreated from her at that point because quite frankly she can’t really give a shit about me if that’s her reaction to my announcing that I’ve got a problem with alcohol and am going to try living without it. The fact that you are 26 years old and able to step up to strive to live the best life you can being the best most strongest honest clearest woman that you can is fucking amazing AND NO-ONE CAN TAKE THAT AWAY FROM YOU. Sorry for yelling. xxxx

  5. Great post.

    I hear what you are saying. I hear that a lot from those early in recovery, or those who are struggling. I guess for me it’s all about perspective. The perspective that everything in our society is alcohol based, that people only have fun when partying (drinking), that we can only be accepted with a glass in our hand, and that we are only cool when we are out with the gals or guys. There is often a sense that in sobriety we are being *deprived* of something, that we are being punished in one way or another. I would counter this by saying the only punishment we had was the punishment we put on our minds, emotions and body when we put alcohol in our bodies. I punished my family, my employer and my neighbours with my drinking. I punished any one around me when I drank.

    All the labels we place on others (cool) and on ourselves (black sheep) are in our heads – like you so wisely pointed out. I was very, *very* much about labels. I labelled myself horrible things. I didn’t like myself, so thought that everyone else didn’t like me either. But it was all self-propelled. I don’t hang out with my old drinking buddies. I have a new set of social friends…those who know and respect my decisions and don’t care either way about my drinking. I have interests that aren’t based on booze. I have places I go to that aren’t conditional on being wasted, or even having a drink. For me, it was the shift in thinking – I had to stop thinking that I was going without and that everyone else was having fun and realize that the party is with me. I am where I need to be. As are you. You are where the party is…drinking or not. It’s hard to see this, especially in the first year. We are still making adjustment (I still am!).

    So be proud of where you are at. As mentioned, not many people make it this far ever in their lives. And as for the what happens after a year? I love what runningonsober said – one year and a day. Then another day. Then you’re stringing together great sober time, your life continues to grow and stretch and you are slowly becoming the person you have always meant to be. We are all on that journey.

    Congrats on your 10 months…what a trip!

    Blessings,
    Paul

  6. You my darling child are an inspiration. At 26 you are not a child. I know that, but at 51 I look back and wish I had the courage and self-awareness you possess at your age.

    My husband and I agree those milestones can be daunting. But they are not your goal. Celebrate them but please don’t focus on them or use them as anything other than markers on your journey.

    Life involves challenges. There will be good days and bad days.

    Your goal, if you feel you must have one, is daily sobriety. One day at a time. That is all we have.
    xoxoxoxoxxoxo

    • I like the idea that 1 year of 2 years or whatever are just markers on our journey. It’s sobriety that matters, and taking it one day at a time really helps.

  7. Nice to hear from you! I really like Mrs. D.’s comment: I was addicted to wine as a life choice. For me, not drinking is becoming more about how I choose to experience things and less about whether or not I drink. We don’t *need* to drink, and that’s liberating. I’m sure no one really thinks you’re boring, and if they do, it’s definitely on them. They’re trapped, imprisoned in a sense; they’ve got a decade yet before they’ll be in your place. You’re ahead of the curve. The fact is, drinking doesn’t make it more fun–that’s the illusion. If you really think about it, do you really have more fun when you’re drunk? I mean, significantly more fun? Even I can say to myself that wine does not alter my sense of perception SO MUCH that things are WAY more fun, no way. Plus, I’m seeing events with alcohol in a whole new light: no one is paying attention to anyone but themselves! That’s why we drink, deep down, all of us: to escape the socializing (social lubricant), rather than truly engage with that other person. That’s how I see it, anyway. You’re doing great, and of course it’s your choice to drink, but I think at the end of the day, you’ve come way too far. Wait until your year, and then decide. 😉 Go, you!!!

  8. In many ways, it was a relief to get past a year because I didn’t have to remember those monthly anniversary dates anymore. And I know these doubts you talk about, and they must be harder in a 26 year old. I definitely struggle with feeling “not fun” at times, but when I’m laughing and carrying on with others who are drinking, I know they’re not giving any thought to what I’m not drinking. So I think this comfort around people who still drink just gets easier with time and comes more in the second year, at least for me. Unfortunately, time also puts distance between me and the memories of how much I suffered (hangovers, bad decisions, regrets, etc) from my own drinking. When I start to think “was I really that bad?” I remind myself that yes, it was bad and now I’m undeniably happier and healthier.

    It’s not always easy, you’re right. But hang in there – you’re doing a beautiful job.

  9. Reblogged this on Running On Sober and commented:
    ThirteenPointOneAndOne got sober at 25. She writes honestly about approaching the “big” one year mark, her mixed feelings about sobriety, being sober in her twenties, and living in a society in which alcohol has such an ever-looming presence. Check it out, especially if you are new to sobriety or love someone who is. The comments are extremely helpful too.

  10. Thirteen Point,
    What an honest post. Be nice with yourself, that’s all I can say. I wrote a similar post to this one last week, on my own sobriety (Paler Shade of Beige). I’m with you. Hope you have a good support system around you.
    Eric

  11. Well. You channeled my thoughts and experiences quite perfectly, thank you very much, with the exception being that you’re 20 years ahead of the game compared to me. When I hit one year, I marked it by writing down two words: “What now?” It was decision time: was this just a lark, some exercise in self-discipline with a dated target or was the calendar no longer going to rule me in my decision. Two days ago, I hit two years and nearly forgot all about it. Your friends will continue to unintentionally harass you for a little longer (“You’re STILL not drinking?”) but they’ll get used to you just as you get used to you. I wrote recently that for people like you and me, who never had a huge public meltdown or crisis, giving up drinking is just like giving up meat — except without the smugness.
    I hugely respect your decision at your young age. You are tougher than I can even imagine. What a gift to be able to actually remember your 20s…!

  12. I have no words of wisdom fro you except to say I feel exactly the same. I think thats why I drank after 5 months last year and, although not drinking now, I am finding it very difficlut to “commit” to the thought of forever.

  13. How brave and courageous you are to tackle this at this point in your life. I wonder how different my life would have been if I had gotten sober in my twenties rather than my late forties…no matter. All that matters is that we’re sober TODAY.

    What you are feeling is very, very normal. Those of us who abused alcohol differently from the people on Intervention wonder this a lot. At least I did. Was I really THAT bad? Could I ever drink again? How in the world will I live the rest of my life without alcohol?

    All I can say is that eventually I came to realize that my true life didn’t really begin until I removed alcohol from the equation and made room in my head and my heart for the real me.

    Namaste.
    Sherry

  14. Congratulations on your journey so far. It’s not until you get sober that you realise that everything around you seems to focus on drink and until ‘not-drinking’ is the norm it is something you will always have around you. But be kind to yourself and look at what you have achieved so far. Be proud of yourself 🙂

  15. I loved this post! I so can relate to what you have said, I have over 10 months and I no longer hang with friends. All of my friends drink and sometimes it is lonely. I am loving the time I get though to focus on me and my recovery. I get to figure out who I am, it’s nice! I realized that I never liked being alone so I drank, now I’m learning how to deal, and that is fantastic! Keep on rocking! Sometimes we all get sentimental for things that have passed, remembering the good forgeting the bad. I always try to remember there’s a big reason I quit drinking, that’s important.

  16. Beautiful post! Thanks so much for your honesty. I’m coming up right behind you (after relapsing once) and you describe many of the feelings I used to have. It’s hard, but I finally had to make some changes in my life. For me sobriety became my new “normal.” I’m in my mid-thirties and a lot of my friends still go to bars, however, I don’t. If my husband and I are invited to a party where I know there’s going to be a lot of drinking, I skip it. The key for me was finding new friends (in some instances) and new passions to replace the old habits. If we don’t have a legitimate reason for being in a place or situation where’s there going to be drinking, than best if we just skip it. Your true friends will understand and support you on this journey. Sobriety opened my eyes to a whole new, wonderful world – I wish the same for you. Thanks again for this post and know you have a whole community cheering you on!

  17. Reblogged this on Life Corked and commented:
    An honest and vulnerable post by a young woman who is coming up on her first year sober. Something for all of us to keep in mind as we ride this wave of recovery. Great insight and comments from others who have been in her shoes.

  18. What a fantastic honest post! I really loved Saint Patricks Day too. When you wrote, “I feel like a little kid being punished,” I completely relate. Sometimes I just don’t feel like being all strong and sober, you know? But I’ve learned enough about how alcoholism works and I’ve learned a little bit about myself and so times like these times when I’m looking for the meaning behind all this work God reminds me that he’s got a plan…there are people I can help. There are children to raise. There are relationships to grow… So then we get through and tomorrow morning when we drink that first cup of coffee we remember oh yeah I like this sober thing.

  19. what a great and honest share ! i so relate to where you are at. I’ve been trying to get sober for a couple of years. Third time and I’ve just got to the milestone “90 days” which has always been unobtainable for me.

    that’s been my now what milestone!

    Now in an uncomfortable limbo space. Have been isolating away from drinking ex life and haven’t quite got a sober life sorted yet. I also never ended up in rehab or had a “high” bottom as it’s called.

    could sometimes manage a few drinks, more often not. I’ve let go of most of my old pre-sober life, but haven’t got to the grateful mecca I hear of yet.

    I hear what you say about being uncomfortable. I’ve been feeling that and have thought that I am the one feeling uncomfortable – not the other people !
    thanks for your honesty.

    D
    X

  20. Amazing…just amazing – and honest and real. It helps those of us who are not as far along on our journey that there are going to be times like this. For you to keep on keeping on amidst the difficulties speaks volumes of your character and your integrity. You ROCK!!!!

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