Fall, Winter, Spring and Summer, or Four Seasons of Sober

Yesterday I reached my first soberversary. This has been one of the weirdest, most enlightening, most frustrating, and generally coolest years of my life. It doesn’t all have to do with being sober, but sobriety has been there the whole time, weaving its magic into each day of my life, doing its sparkly and magical thing.

‘Cause being sober makes things possible. It changes your daily intention, if you are into that ‘law of attraction’ stuff. You manifest differently sober than you do when you are drinking.

It was really, really hard at first not to take a drink. More than that, it was unbearably hard to imagine a life without alcohol. None ever? Whaaaat? How is that even possible?

It gets easier, it gets better, and then it gets hard again. PAWS is real and it beat me up a little bit. It might not be done beating me up. But the hard times have become fewer and further in between and I’ve started working on the stuff underneath. The stuff that makes me want to drink in the first place. That is where I am now. Finding out things about myself that make me slightly crazy, and figuring out how to manage them without an escape.

But honestly, if you are thinking about sobriety and feeling unsure about the hugeness of it all, you don’t have to worry about that stuff yet. There will come a time when you naturally begin to feel more clarity about who you are and what you want out of your life. You will understand better who you were when you were drinking. It just happens…. and it’s not really all that scary when it comes down to it. In fact, not drinking is much less scary than drinking if you have a drinking problem. So, there is nothing to fear.

Even after a year there are still some hard times, but I don’t sit around thinking about drinking very much at all anymore. I know for a fact that drinking did not contribute anything good to my life. My friends have accepted the fact that I don’t drink, and many of them are back in my life after an initial period of protective space- the sober bubble that I needed to keep myself safe from temptation during those tender early months. Now I decide who I want to see and whether I can handle a specific event or not. I’ve (sort of) learned how to say no to protect my sobriety. I dropped some folks who drink way too much and are bad influences for me to be around. My life is precious and it comes first.

In the past few days I have felt a niggling frustration that things haven’t changed enough in the past year. I have been feeling impatient. I am still the same person, with many of the same problems.ย  Life didn’t magically shape up just because I quit abusing a drug. The difference is in how I handle the problems, as well as the good times. I hold my head higher, face my fears more directly, and practice gratitude. Life used to be a constant game of comparison where I always felt lacking. Now I know that I am loved and cared for, and I feel cocooned in the of safety of being sober. I am no longer fighting an internal battle about drinking, with the drinking side winning. I am no longer engaging in self-defeating behaviors. The end result is a safe feeling, a feeling of belonging in my skin and in the world, at least most of the time. Sometimes frustration and impatience is a part of life, sober or not.

The past few weeks have found me exploring vegan cooking, something I never have had an interest in before. When I first quit drinking I needed the snacks and sugary mocktails to get me through the witching hour. I craved my pieces of chocolate at the end of a tough day. I am finally getting to a place where I don’t need those outside comforts as much. That’s the weird thing about recovery… it shifts and changes, and in the end you change, too. I am realizing that I am a totally different person than I thought, while in many ways still the same. It is massively comforting.

Last week a new friend offered me a beer from her six-pack. I tell her no every time she offers, but she keeps offering anyway. I finally got up the nerve to be honest with her, and said that I hadn’t had any alcohol in almost a year. She was really and truly surprised. People really don’t care what you are drinking most of the time.

Yesterday I spent my official soberversary acting as the designated driver for a good friend’s bachelorette party (the last of the year). A couple of the girls brought non-alcoholic champagne and gave me and my one year anniversary a little toast, in the midst of the wine tastings scattered throughout the rest of the day. It made me feel good to be acknowledged, and I genuinely felt happy to be sober and capable of helping my friends by ensuring their safety. This weekend my husband and I will celebrate properly with good food, chocolate and naps. I feel like I have accomplished something this year, and I am proud of that fact.

On to year 2. I can’t wait.

28 thoughts on “Fall, Winter, Spring and Summer, or Four Seasons of Sober

  1. I love your summary of your year as ‘weird, enlightening, frustrating and generally the coolest’!

    so much learnt in what seems both an age and an instant, yes? have just been looking back at some of your early days posts and it is wonderful to see how your voice has changed. it is so great to hear you meeting life’s challenges, feeling comfortable in your skin and being comfortable going out with your friends in your new guise.

    an enormous well done on your year, Jen – have loved reading about it all and look forward to hearing the next chapter! xx

  2. What an amazing accomplishment! Congrats, and here’s to many more celebrations of this particular anniversary. ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. Huge congrats!
    Year 2 was a good one for me…I think you’ll see a lot of internal change and growth. Things really gained a lot of clarity for me…
    So happy for you!

  4. Well done on your anniversary! I can totally identify with the idea of expecting or wanting more – and then having to go back to the idea of patience and persistence.

  5. jen!!! it brought a tear to my eye reading about your friends bringing the non-alcoholic champagne and toasting you! how fantastic and what good friends!! congratulations! it is so worth it and i can really relate to your summary. aug 19 is my one year and reading along with you has so helped me immensely. thank you so much for all your blogging efforts and for being there. it has made all the difference to this journey. to year two! keep the fire burning!!! amy

  6. I’ve been reading thru some of your older entries–particularly to see where you head is around the same date mark as I am at now (7.5-ish) and just wanted to say congratulations for making it so far. Your attitude thru the way you write is really inspirational.

  7. Huge congratulations on a year well done.

    So much of this post resonated with my own recovery.

    Learning that alcohol is not the root cause of my problems, and instead there are root causes as to why I even consume alcohol in the first place.

    That expressing gratitude even exists!

    Oh the sugar cravings! I still battle with those, but am at present living an almost vegan life minus the sugar, wheat and the other poisons that stand side-by-side with alcohol.

    Keep on keeping on.


  8. Congratulations! I think we are about the same age and I will be one year sober in a few weeks I think these similarities gave me an early feeling of connection to your experiences. I really enjoy reading what you share with all of us, it is so insightfully well written and has helped me this first year!

  9. Congratulations on your first year, Jen! That is so fabulous ๐Ÿ™‚ And I loved reading your thoughts on how it has all gone, how the changes seem slow at times, but are there, and how you feel so much more comfortable in your own skin. I was so scared when I first quit, I didn’t know how to live life without alcohol, but as you say, it’s so much less scary not drinking than it is drinking. I look forward to reading more about your journey in year 2! xx

  10. Congrats, Jen! I love what you say about changes–it’s huge, and still it’s easy to get impatient. From here it looks like you’re doing so great, and that’s fantastic! Here’s to a great next year and beyond. xo

  11. congrats on one year~ i hope to be exactly were you are in 7 months. i just realized at first i just needed time, time away from the booze so things can clear up and then i can work on steps and what is underneath. it takes a while just to get out of the fog. hope you had a great weekend w/ treats and naps. so glad your husband joined you. best wishes in year 2! xoxo

  12. One year! I am so proud of you. You have accomplished something- something big. And saved your life at the same time: and maybe not from certain death, but definitely from certain misery and regret. Brave, brave you. xoxoxoxo

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