It gets harder before it gets easier, and it’s getting harder now.
I remember the first time(s) I quit drinking, two days was an incredible feat. Just like is often told, I was white-knuckled and grieving, and all I wanted to do was end my day with my wine lover like I had grown so fond of doing. It was a painful breakup with an abusive boyfriend, and I wanted him back. That’s why AA gives out a 24-hour chip. It’s a really big deal.
Then there was five days…Wow! Five days was a common fail day for me, and I hear for others too. I’m guessing that’s because it also often fell on a Friday for all those folks (including myself) whose Day 1s were Mondays. And Fridays were big venting days. A release of all the stresses of the week. The payoff. A chance to lift off from this planet and sail into oblivion.
So, when I made it through my first weekend I could hardly believe it. Seven or eight days had stretched out like the calendar was printed on a band of elastic. Sober days had become like dog years, and seven days felt like weeks. The weight of the length of time itself became daunting. If seven days feels like this, how am I going to make it…forever?
Then ten days — double digits. My sense of sober time was changing. Ten days became easier. Something I could do without really trying too hard.
Then 15…19…26…34… I don’t think I ever made it past 34 before starting over. So many expanses of weeks, and only to start the clock all over again.
And I know what happens, because it happens each time: It gets harder. Everyone who has made it any length of time (past 60 days? 90? 100?) will tell you IT GETS EASIER. And I actually do believe them. Eventually. But the stage I’m in now is when we really start to earn it, slogging through the dimly lit gauntlet, dodging obstacles and objects whizzing past our sober heads while trying to keep sight of that wee wee light at the end of the tunnel, which is only lit by the hope of other sober people who have come before us.
And man, that tunnel can feel long.
I really am holding out some giant-sized hope that I don’t still feel like this at 100 days.
Day 10. Enough days to know the alcohol is out of my system, I’ve got some momentum, I’m still using all the tools, but my proverbial sober legs are getting heavier and I have to remind myself over and over (and all day long on FB and with blogs) why I have to do this. Why I stopped drinking. Why this is so important. Why I truly believe it means the difference in the kind of future I will have.
I can repeat a million times that red wine is poison, but the thing that is really going to make a permanent difference is the bigger story. My story.
And I have to remember that when I’m tired and alone with my Bub, and I just want to be soothed. After 10 days, as real life sober starts to finally settle in. This is when my sober muscles are exposed as having atrophied since I was in high school, the last time I went without booze for any stretch of time. Once I discovered wine coolers and Seagram’s and Diet Coke in college (barf!!), I never went for more than a few days without some alcohol ever again. And let me say, college was a very long time ago.
As anyone who has gone through this knows, I’m learning how to live again.
So, I breathe. I tell Wolfie to FUCK OFF out loud when I’m walking into a grocery store and the wine bottles lined all along the window are SCREAMING at me. I do what Belle said and I get into bed (or on top of the covers, fully-clothed) and read a great book. There are so many great books! I eat ice cream, even though I’m trying to lose weight. (I know, I know…this is verboten, but I have promised myself that I choose sobriety above all, and if it starts to all feel “too hard,” I will choose eating what I want over drinking.) Tonight I ate ice cream and named it my Sober Treat. I will write about how I’m feeling here. I will post multiple times a day to the private sober groups I follow on Facebook. I will remind myself that there is no moderation — I know that now — and if, after 100 days I decide to drink again, it would be because I’m choosing a life of drowning in the bottle, because that’s what will end up happening. Eventually. And I know I don’t want that.
And I breathe. And I get to bed early. And I try my best to be kind and compassionate with myself, and to listen to what my heart tells me I really need. (The jury is still out on the rowing [see yesterday’s post]. I’m going to go tomorrow night to practice and see how it feels.)
And I’m going to have hope. And faith. And patience. And persistence. And courage.
And I’m going to scream my bloody head off into my pillow if I have to. I swear I will. I’m going to try it.
And I have to remember to dance in my living room. I forgot tonight. Tomorrow, I dance.
I keep reminding myself about the sober dog years (same goes for dieting): the days seem long, and time seems to pass so, so slowly, but one day follows on the next, and the next, and they just stack up. They just keep adding up. This is sure true for other things — whether it’s growing older, moving past a trauma, waiting for that amazing trip to finally start, or even just the weekend — and it’s true for being sober too. The days cross off, one-by-one, and time keeps marching on. I’m finally starting to really GET what people mean when they say that it is really just about staying sober TODAY, because if I keep doing that, the days, the time, it will take care of itself.
And then, at some point, it will start to get easier.
I will be happier sober. I know it. I am finally to the point where I choose to believe what everyone says and hold on. Some days I’ll be holding on with white knuckles and howling at the moon, some days (like tonight) I’ll be burying my head in my book to distract myself until I can turn out the light. Some days I’ll be happy as a clam with a cup of tea and Game of Thrones (because: DRAGONS!). But Wolfie can fuck off if he thinks I’m going to give up, even if my legs are starting to feel like I’m walking through a vat of brownie mix. It’s just for now. It will pass.