(Well actually today is Day 32, but I’ve been busy!)
I had a really crucial conversation with my daughter (who is in recovery as well) right around the time I quit drinking. I’d been toying with the 30 days thing but, as I shared with her, the last time I pulled off 30 days, it was only a matter of a few weeks before I was back to old form. “How long does it take,” I asked her, “before quitting stops being a total drag?” In her experience, and in common lore among the NA/AA crowd, it seems that the 3 month mark is a bit of a turning point.
I took a deep breath. “I’m thinking about doing 100 days this time,” I said. Saying that out loud for the first time, I felt like I was making a commitment. My daughter would not and has not asked that of me, but I know that was the moment I made the commitment to myself.
Part of this was fuelled by solidarity. It was a way I could quietly support my kid, who is still in fairly early days herself. But part of the commitment was sparked by genuine curiosity: What would happen at the three-month mark that didn’t happen in the first thirty days? Maybe nothing. But maybe something. I guess I’ll find out.
My first thirty-day sobriety bout was more difficult than this has been. I counted *hard.* I toyed vaguely with permanent abstinence, and attended Women for Sobriety meetings, but I just couldn’t get my head wrapped around whether or not I actually needed to quit drinking. And I never seriously visualized or thought of myself as a non-drinker.
I think what is different this time is that I am much, much more open to the (growing) possibility of ongoing sobriety. Before, I was (figuratively but sometimes literally) drumming my fingers and pacing, waiting for the thirty days to be over. I expected white-knuckling, and that’s what I got. This time, I’ve spent these past thirty days observing how I feel (lots through this blog), and actively practicing sobriety.
What does practicing sobriety look like for me? Well not a whole lot different on the outside except I find I need to keep myself busier in the evenings, which — surprise! — is less difficult when I’m not sitting on my ass all night. I’m going to bed earlier, and giving myself permission to have dessert. I’ve been experimenting with and embracing non-alcoholic beverages like drinking vinegars. (I know that sounds revolting, right? But they are freaking delicious.) Instead of just coping with not drinking, I am thinking in terms of changing the habits that accompany my drinking.
Most of the practice of sobriety in on the inside though. It is “trying on” the sober identity, like you’d try on something you never thought would look good on you. It’s bringing some patience and mindfulness to cravings instead of just feeling pissed off or sorry for myself that I can’t have a drink. A lot of it is just not judging the experience, if that makes any sense. I’m not expecting it to be great, or awful. It just is what it is.
I still feel a little stupid committing to 100 days instead of sobriety forever. I still feel trepidation using “drinking” in the past tense, or saying I “quit drinking” with finality. I’m scared I will sabotage myself if I start thinking “never again.” I’m feeling very positive about one hundred days. But the real goal, in my heart of hearts, is to finish 100 days with the desire to keep going. Maybe this is just my way of doing the “one day at a time thing.” It’s a weird little mind game, but its working for me.