Tuesday, 23 February 2016

Round 3, Day 161: But if I add it all up, it's been more than two years! And every day counts.

Thanks for all the kind words on my most recent post. I so appreciate the support of the blog community. I have been a bit madly busy and therefore it's taken me longer to get back to people, so I apologize. I read other people's blogs every day, and I read any comments I get here (though I know some people have said it's tricky to leave comments on Blogger and I have yet to sort out why that's the case.) But when I'm busy I read on my phone while I'm on the bus. and my phone typing skills are abysmal. I have very small hands but typing on the phone makes it seem I can neither read or spell and as though I am using a single large club instead of my otherwise useful hands to hit the teeny little keys.

Anyway, hello! Now I'm writing a post before I get to the list of school things I need to get done today, because it's best for me if I don't leave the blog world for too long.

On my last post, Rebecca left a comment about the more solid kind of confidence I said I'd been feeling lately. She said she had a similar experience, but had taken he a couple of years to reach that. That got me thinking about time and being sober. At the risk of entering the Great Debate About Counting Days, I want to talk about this a little.

Back in June, 2013, I had hit a kind of wall. I saw a counsellor, but didn't want to quit drinking as much as I wanted to get in touch with my ability to feel, which I kind of knew was a problem for me. I saw the counsellor, and I even talked about the drinking issue. (That is to say, I admitted to a real person that I drank too much! A huge step for me!) By July, I had decided to take a break from drinking, something I'd done many times over the years. I'd usually stop for a few weeks or a month, and the previous year I'd stopped for most of a semester. But this time I also took a lot of downtime while I did it, and I came across the world of sober blogs. During the week of not drinking, I'd started to feel better, and I thought, for the first time, about taking an extended time without drinking, not as something I had to give up, but as a gift to myself because I didn't want to to feel so crappy anymore. (I wrote about that here, in my first post, if you're curious.)

If you've read my blog for long (and if you have, thanks!!!) you will know that twice during the past two years and seven months I decided to try drinking again. Once was a few weeks after the 100 days was up, (I drank on and off for 2 1/2 months) and once was last summer, after about 500 days sober, when I drank for almost 4 months before deciding it really didn't work anymore. Both stretches had some fun times drinking (usually early on) but both times I decided that, on balance, I was doing much more damage to myself than I was enjoying myself, and I quit again. That's why this is Round 3, and this time it's been 161 days since I drank.

But here's what I got thinking when I read Rebecca's comment: Really, for me, it's been over 2 1/2 years since I started this process in earnest.  During this time, I have been sober for 2 years and one month. ( I just counted it up to see if I could and I got 773 days, though I'm not fully sure that's exactly right, and I don't care enough to dig out calendars and add it up carefully. Certainly it's within a few days of accurate.) I found that you just can't unlearn what you've learned. When I went back to drinking, I sure did question the idea that drinking was bad for me, and I resisted what sometimes seemed to me to be the easy certainties (and the sometimes easy camaraderie that went along with it) that the sober world seemed to have. As I've said far too many times, I had to find my own way. So I kept learning what worked for me, and what didn't, and it was rough going at times, and often lonely, both when I stopped blogging because I was drinking, and when I stopped drinking again. Either way it seems you leave a world of people behind. And as someone who probably spends too much time alone, leaving the few people I connect with, or radically changing whether I feel I belong to their world, well that was painful.

So why am I writing this? I got to thinking about how stop-and-start the quitting process is, and how sometimes you're moving along and learning and getting somewhere, even when it seems you're not. I was thinking about bloggers who quit blogging for a while and then drop away from the community for a host of reasons, sometimes because they are torn about drinking and it doesn't always feel like a place you can say, "Sometimes I want to quit, but sometimes I still want to drink, and I don't know how to resolve this, and all the answers I'm reading just don't cut it for me. But I'm still thinking." And I was thinking how when we count, it's almost like we are adopting an economic model of recovery, where every day added is one more coin that's yours and drinking makes you lose them all again, and having the most coins you can get is the goal of it all. I know no one really thinks like that. It's just that it starts to sound like a competition or something.

But we all know it's not a competition. Every day is its own day. Still, what I have found is this: from when I started this path towards quitting drinking, I've kept learning and growing, and I did so even when the path wasn't the clear, straightforward route that others were helpfully showing me.

So I guess I wanted to say hi to anyone who's trying to quit, whether its working for you right now or not, and whether you are stringing days together or managing a week or two sober before drinking again, or whether you are feeling that this time is the one that you are really doing it and you're leaving the drink behind for good. That's what I think these days, but what do I know? I wanted to say that I'm proud of my 161 days, and of my 773 (I think) days, and I think they help me live well today. And somehow, the periods away from being sober helped me get here, too.

OK, that's what I have today. I'm heading out tomorrow to travel across the country again to another grad school interview. I have not yet chewed my arm off coping with the worry or uncertainty about it, and I'm still managing to avoid substituting sugar as the worry-crutch. I don't know if I'll be accepted anywhere, and if I am, I'm not yet 100% sure picking up sticks and moving is the right thing to do. But I am moving forward, and even if it doesn't work out, it helps me figure out what I'm doing. Sometimes I wish I'd done all this in my 20s, or even 30s. But I didn't, and if I had I wouldn't be the me I am today. And I'm pretty dark OK with who I am. That's something I don't know I could have said a decade or two ago.

If you're still here, thanks for reading. I very much appreciate your company as I write to figure out how to live. If you're sober, hooray you! If you're trying, hooray you, too! Today I am feeling filled with love for everyone, and the sun is shining, so I'll send a big virtual hug to anyone who could use a hug. Peace and joy to you.


  1. I like those thoughts. I do think AA places too much emphasis on time, experience, coins and fear.

    That said, I also think sober momentum is a precious commodity and that holding on to it is important.

    I don't really like AAs program. I do like meetings where I hear real stories. And I like the honesty that comes out about loneliness, disconnection nad sadness that seems universal.

    Every day at we feel we have lived well is a good day. I'm not saying you have to accomplish anything, or even be sober. You just need to be content with life as it is.

    If you aren't (I mean the generic you, not you, lol) then it's time to reevaluate.

    There is no one way to live. There is no simple recipe. Find your joy. Live it. Peacefully.

    That's what I am trying to do.


    1. Thanks, Anne. I agree, I find people's stories are always interesting and helpful. I also agree that something like "momentum" is helpful when you're getting and staying sober. I guess what I wanted to say is that you don't lose all of it when it sometimes seems you have, because you always learn and change. Sometimes that surprises me, because I thought I was starting over from scratch 161 days ago but now I see that I had already learned a lot and grown a lot and that's all still part of who I am. Lovely to hear from you, and lovely to see you find your way, too! xo

  2. Dear Thirsty,
    I read your first post!
    I love that poem! It's awesome!
    I am a person who thinks everyone has to find their own way in recovery. And everyone is different.
    I found I needed a bunch of things to keep me sober.
    And I didn't get it on the first or second try.
    I am also glad you still have your arms!

    1. Thanks, Wendy, Glad you likes the poem. Isn't it wonderful? Yes, still have both arms and no gnawing allowed! I love that we're all different, though it's infuriating at times feeling that way. Nice to hear from you! xo

  3. Great post Thirsty. I agree with you about momentum and not losing days. Obviously if you are counting and you drink you go back to day 1, but that doesn't mean all those sober days behind you don't count for anything. It's all a learning curve. You learn and grow the further along you try. Everyone's journey is different but they are all equally important. Congrats on 161 days around this time. And 773ish days is awesome too!! A x

    1. Thanks, Angie. And what a learning curve it's been for us both, that's for sure! I really appreciate your support xo

  4. I agree. All that we learn along the way counts and builds and adds to the momentum. Primrose once said to me that our journeys are not all upward lines; for some of us it's a gentle spiral, coiling up like a tornado. And there's equal strength in that.

    1. Thanks, Bea. I'm so glad you agree. Primrose is my hero, and she's right about so many things! Lovely to see you here. Hope you're doing well xo

  5. Helloooo Thirsty! I'm so glad to have found your blog again! And yes, each one of your 773ish days has played its part in bringing you to where you are today, right here, right now. All the best for your interviews. These are exciting times for you! Love from The Sober Garden x.

    1. Thanks, SG! I'm glad you found me again, too. Good wishes much appreciated xo

  6. hug received with thanks and appreciation! also nice words in your reply to Bea ;)

    your coin reference made me think of a passage from Gretchen Rubin, where she refers to the effect of performing a repeated action as adding not one, but TWO coins to a heap: one coin for the value of the action itself, and one coin for the value of forming the habit of repeating the action. (I am probably misquoting her dreadfully but cannot find specific words online and am too idle to go through her book to find it.) these are all riches, yes? and indeed even the 'missing days' are valuable too.

    I was so pleased to read your words that you are proud. as I read it I wondered if that was a realisation that you had come to while writing the post? it seemed like the sort of realisation I have whilst writing, that's why it occurred to me.

    I read once somewhere that rather than putting our energies into worrying whether we are making the right choice, we could put our energies into ensuring that we have made the right choice.

    which works within certain parameters, I guess. because there are choices which are by their nature more 'wrong' than others, and thus more difficult to 'make work'. (I am thinking of a particularly ghastly hairstyle I had in my teens, here. shudder!)

    but if it's a 'this job? this city?' choice, then maybe you can make whatever your choice is BECOME the right choice? love to you and best of luck with the interviews! xxx

    PS - you're my hero, too!

    1. Hello Prim! I like the two coins analogy. Forming the habit is an important part of the doing, i agree, and that's why the repetition matters, People sometimes talk as though every act is thought out individually, but so much of what we do is habit, and structuring our lives so that we are following the habits that support how we want to live is part of the trick, I think.

      I really like what you're saying about choice here, too. I am in the midst of having to make some tough ones--will write about it--and making things work instead of finding perfect abstract solutions is important. Sometimes though I can try to stretch what works too far, and that's not always best for me.

      I wish I had pics of some of my 1980s hair fiascoes. Those were some bad choices, though at the time I though they were just grand. Big love to you, too! xo