A bit of a plateau

I’ve not been feeling the need to blog so much lately. I still check in every day to read other blogs, but I don’t feel like I have much to say about my own sobriety at the moment.

For the most part, I think this is a good thing. Sobriety is not dominating my life in the way it was six months ago. It just is what it is. When I met Belle in London a few weeks ago she said to me something along the lines of “you’re not going to slip and accidentally land in a drink anymore are you?” I forget the exact words but that was the gist of it and it was a good summary of where I am at the moment. I think – and hope – that these days I would recognise that Wolfie voice before it took hold. And I really hope I haven’t jinxed myself by writing that…

The only downside to this stage of sobriety is that it’s a bit, well, boring, if I’m honest. Secretly, I think we alcoholics like a bit of drama and chaos. In the first few months of sobriety you’re kept pretty busy with all the ups and downs, milestones, pink clouds and sober firsts. In the first 100 days you do a lot of learning. Epiphanies left and right centre, the works. But I’m on day 206 now and it doesn’t feel like a great deal has happened in last hundred days. I’m just getting on with not drinking. And that’s ok … I guess.

I’m not as broken as I once was but I’m not as fixed as I thought I’d be by now. Take, for example, the re-wiring that goes on in your brain when you stop drinking. When I first quit all I could think was ‘Why can’t I have just one drink? Life is going to be so boring otherwise.’ But after a while I got into the habit of thinking through the drink and I now accept that for me, one drink will never be just one drink. And yeah, there were some fun times, but there were a lot of bad times too. Gradually, I seem to have stopped asking myself the ‘just one drink’ question because my brain has learnt the answer.

So there’s an example of some progress. However, I feel like I have tons more rewiring to finish. I just don’t know how to go about it. Do I just wait and see if it works itself out?

The other day I was on a train, alone, and feeling a bit miserable when the food and drink trolley came round. Lots of people were getting wine and beers. I did briefly think, why not? No one will know. Which is crazy because I live on my own so can drink in secret anytime! In the end I decided against the drink, not because it was the right thing to do, but because it looked like the wine only came in those really tiny miniature bottles. I knew one bottle wouldn’t be satisfying enough, but I didn’t have much cash on me and whilst I was on the train it’d be hard to get hold of a decent amount.

It annoys me that after 206 days of sobriety that was the kind of fucked up logic I used to steer clear of the booze. Of course later I did think about all the other, more normal reasons not to drink (like, you’ve come this far so don’t throw it away now on something stupid) But all in all I feel pissed off that after all this time I am still thinking things like “I’ll say no incase there’s not enough booze for me to get properly drunk.”

When do you reach the point of never even contemplating having a drink? I hate to admit it, but when I see people drinking and having fun I still feel a bit envious. Not in a let’s-pack-this-in-and-have-a-drink type way, but seeing other people enjoying the good aspects of alcohol makes me wish I could drink normally. Ah, to be normal! Why do I crave that so much? My life has got significantly better since I stopped drinking. I should be happy with that. Most of the time I am. I know I can’t drink like a ‘normal’ person but sometimes I still wish I could. Thinking like this can’t be doing me any good, yet I can’t seem to stop it.

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22 thoughts on “A bit of a plateau

  1. byebyebeer October 29, 2013 at 8:32 pm Reply

    Saw an episode of Intervention once where an alcoholic woman carried those mini wine bottles around in her purse and found the idea of that nervewracking and impractical. My clear dissatisfaction with a normal serving size of wine is enough to tell me I’ve no business going back. These out-of-nowhere thoughts like you describe still disturb me when they happen, but soon afterwards I find them oddly comforting or reassuring. Hope it always feels this way.

    206 days is a nice chunk of time…congratulations on your progress and always nice to read your posts.

    • soberjournalist October 30, 2013 at 11:09 am Reply

      The funny thing is, I quite often bought those small bottles of wine! In fact at the height of my drinking I would go to the supermarket and buy 5 or 6 of them (so the equivalent of at least a bottle and a half of wine, maybe 2) but I would tell myself that buying the small bottles would make it easier to control how much I was drinking. Total rubbish of course as I would just sit there and drink them all anyway.

      I like what you say about finding those out-of-nowhere, crazy wine thoughts reassuring – they certainly highlight why we needed to stop drinking in the first place. I hadn’t thought of it like that, so thank you.

  2. Anonymous October 29, 2013 at 8:46 pm Reply

    Still struggling to get to day 2. How did you manage it?

    • soberjournalist October 30, 2013 at 5:01 pm Reply

      I had lots of day twos… Everyone stops and starts to begin with. For me, focusing on the 100 day challenge was a big motivator. I read lots of books, like Jason vales’s kick the drink. I also bought myself a lot of treats and ate a lot of ice cream! You will get there.

  3. soberandawkward October 29, 2013 at 9:22 pm Reply

    Sigh. I know how you feel. Will we ever not have those thoughts? Day 171 here. Still envious at times. Still angry at times. Sometimes I’m relieved when I think about all the stupid shit I did, or how many days I spent sick with two day hangovers. But I still think…what if? Why can’t I? What about going on vacation? And part of me is terrified to relapse or have a drink. I think after what I’ve been through, I should be scared! But the voices in my head…I wish they had a mute button.

    • soberjournalist October 30, 2013 at 5:15 pm Reply

      Congrats on you 171 (172?) days! From the comments I’ve had on this post I’m beginning to wonder if we need these negative thoughts to keep us on the straight and narrow … Otherwise we get too complacent and think we’re fixed? When I get the urge to down a bottle of wine it is annoying, sure, but it’s also a good reminder of why I should’nt drink – because it’s not normal to contemplate drinking a whole bottle of wine…

  4. Anonymous October 29, 2013 at 9:31 pm Reply

    Reading your post gave me an interesting piece of insight… our wolfie voice tells us we “just want to be normal drinkers”. But when we give that thought a bit more attention, we discover that it’s a lie, and we actually want to get drunk. On the other hand, our new sober selves know we really don’t want to get drunk at all… we would just like to be normal drinkers… and on and on it goes in an endless circle of lies and twists that would make you really crazy if you indulged it. My new mantra is “thank god I never had to drink alcohol again.” That’s working for me right now.

    • Lilly November 5, 2013 at 7:19 am Reply

      This is brilliant! So very true.

  5. Drunky Drunk Girl October 30, 2013 at 2:52 am Reply

    Honestly, I saw a big change in contemplating wine as “fun” around 9 months. Like, all of the sudden, these blocks seemed to open in my mind–I could remember how shitty hangovers are (up until then, it was really hard for me even to conjure up the “feeling” memory of them, as if they existed only on the outside somehow); I could really see that drinking isn’t actually “fun,” mainly because I always want more, and I never want to stop. Yeah, I still do *think* I want to drink sometimes, but in come the thoughts that reflect reality and facts: the buzz will be ruined by that damn PULL to drink another, and then another. And, then the worry about the consequences, which I will disregard at 3 drinks in. And shit will go down. All for a short buzz that is quite frankly, sort of meh? Now…I actually can say that I don’t really even want to drink; sometimes I can feel really annoyed or hurt or frustrated, but for some reason, the urge to fix it by drinking has sort of gone. So, holy smokes, it can actually happen. Maybe it’s just my pink cloud (about 16 months late)?

    • soberjournalist October 30, 2013 at 5:10 pm Reply

      Maybe I will notice a difference in a few more months then? When bad stuff happens I do still instinctively think ‘let’s fix this with a drink’ or ‘it’s a shame I can’t escape all of this by downing a bottle of wine’… I still want that escapism. Then if I think about things a bit more I remember that oh yes, drinking doesn’t solve anything… Ever…

      • Drunky Drunk Girl October 30, 2013 at 5:18 pm

        Yes, that is exactly what I’m talking about that has just sort of gone away, really died down–this “knee-jerk” reaction to the bad stuff with a desire to fix it with wine (or a drink). I mean, I was pretty sure I would have to battle that forever–like, it’s not horrible, and I can, like you, think my way beyond it, but it was always just there, niggling, heavy, bumming me out. But then…THEN! I’ve been finding myself like, 80% of the time, when bad stuff happens, I don’t actually immediately feel like drinking or feel like drinking at all. So, I think that yes, just a few more months and you’ll be experiencing this, too. Just keep working that sober muscle, and one day, it’ll just pop, like whoa, I’m totally buff and can hold up a table with my pinky finger!

  6. carrieonsober October 30, 2013 at 7:54 am Reply

    I too wonder if we will always have these thoughts. I certainly had about a million more of them when I was drinking and I really don’t want to invite that noise back into my head. I think there may always be a bit of grieving over wine with rose tinted specs on from time to time, it stabs you, you have a sharp intake of breath and you accept than you can’t change the situation. When I am accepting of that, I cope better. It is what it is. I can’t drink.
    I thnk also that the whole sober road calms down after the six/seven month mark but I am really aware that if I think I’ve got this (and I am not saying that is what you are doing) I won’t make it in the long run. I am happiest in my sobriety when I am closer to the support network that got me this far. I need to fill the hole booze left behind as when it left it took so much more than just wine time with it.
    Hope you are ok x

    • soberjournalist October 30, 2013 at 11:48 am Reply

      You’re right and I do recall reading somewhere that if you think you’re “fixed” then a relapse is never far away. So maybe I am hankering after a state of mind that wouldn’t actually do me any good. Sometimes those crazy thoughts remind me why I don’t drink anymore and I am glad for that. Othertimes they just really annoy me! Anyway – apart from all that I am fine thanks. Glad to hear you had a fun weekend x

  7. carrythemessage October 30, 2013 at 1:27 pm Reply

    “I’m not as broken as I once was but I’m not as fixed as I thought I’d be by now.” Good insight here. We certainly do enjoy the drama and stuff that comes with active alcoholism and early recovery. And once the balloons and confetti blow away in the wind, we are left with…us. And that’s a scary thing, as we drank to run away from us as much as possible. You are not the first nor the last to declare sober living as “boring”. lol. But we are in a new phase of our lives – we get to discover who we are, what we love, what makes us tick, helping others, growing and stretching into our true potential, make new friends, etc. That’s not boring to me. Yes, we are more settled. Drinking tea at 8pm while watching the telly might be a big night, but it beats the scrape ups, the puking, the things said that we can’t take back, etc. We are calmer, more settled, growing up. It’s an adjustment we all go through. But you’re doing well – the voice of booze isn’t so strong, you’re getting into the stream of life now. Embrace it.

    Congrats on you 200+ days – as BBB said, that’s a pretty damned good chunk of time 🙂

    Love and light,
    Paul

    • soberjournalist October 30, 2013 at 5:05 pm Reply

      Thanks Paul. I agree with everything you’ve written here. I think I have a tendency to just see the downsides when actually a lot of the time things are pretty damn good, I just don’t always see it… Tea and tv in the evenings? I’d much rather be doing that than passed on out on the sofa or making a fool of myself in some bar…

  8. […] Actually, this post from Happier Like This says so much that I realise is true about me too.  Stopping is full of drama and determination. There are new beginnings and feeling better.  Staying stopped is the hard thing.  Even the pros (200+ days!) like Sober Journalist acknowledge that. […]

  9. Amy October 31, 2013 at 12:02 pm Reply

    I can totally relate! I thought that after I quit drinking things would just sort of start to line up just right and that I would be OK for the most part.

    Life has been harder for me in the past 6 months than it ever has. That sounds more dramatic than I mean it to, but I just mean that getting sober made me aware of my life. And of me. I think it’s totally normal to feel the ugh and meh of change. Life is different, and we won’t get used to it just because we don’t drink anymore, it takes time. Which I suppose is something drinkers hate: obvious passage of time. Since we used to drink to make it all a blur, and now that things are in focus it’s too easy to still keep concentrating on the bad/boring parts rather than the parts that totally rock- because that’s what we’re used to.

    Congrats on your big fat 200+ days!!!!!

    • soberjournalist October 31, 2013 at 9:38 pm Reply

      Yes! I think you hit the nail on the head there – I am more AWARE of my life now. That means no more hiding, drinking and sticking my head in the sand when things get tough. So sometimes it feels that life has got harder since I stopped drinking, because I can’t get drunk and escape anymore. I thought everything would just magically fall into place when I stopped drinking but annoyingly life isn’t like that. On the plus side, I do feel I enjoy the good times more now I’m not numbing everything with alcohol!

  10. Lilly November 5, 2013 at 7:18 am Reply

    Once again, I think we are in a similar place at the moment. This is totally how I am feeling though I would much rather be at the ‘sober is the new black’ and ‘all the cool people are sober’ phase that Carrie and Mrs D have found – and hence are my idols.

    I totally want to get to that place of just never contemplating a drink. How do we do that? I can only think maybe we need to work harder at focusing on how GOOD a thing this is and how all we are really being deprived of is drinking too much and feeling fucking horrible. Easier said than done but I want to try and take a leaf out of their books but am still struggling with all this exact stuff.

    Anyway, yes, I am a bit bored by it all at the moment too and also romanticising the booze from time to time. But I agree that thinking it through has become more of a reflex and this is surely HUGE progress?

    I also know that when I think about drinking what I crave, honestly, is getting really drunk – drinking an entire bottle of wine on my own. Downing several martinis, probably followed by more wine. That is not normal. Even after six months off I don’t think a glass or two would be nice – I want a WHOLE BOTTLE. And when I went to a dinner thing recently with lots of free booze I was so very aware of how much my friend drank, how much I would have drank in the same time frame, how easy it would have been to get plastered on the free booze – that we were so close to the top up station – bottles to hand. I even found myself mentally kind of counting “I would have had four glasses by now, maybe five”. And overall I took it as a reaffirmation of why I shouldn’t be drinking because the obsession is still so clearly there even after all this time off. Like your train trip – it just shows nothing has really changed and drinking wouldn’t be any different/better and if it was so great why have we put all this work into quitting?

    Let’s share sober holiday tips – I’m so going to need them too. So lovely to hear from you and see you post. (I will email you back soon too!)

    Lilly xo

    • Kate November 11, 2013 at 4:24 am Reply

      I’ve been struggling the last two weeks and this post has brought me back up out of depression I am on day 112 and I related to every word of this post. Thank you please email me.

      • soberjournalist November 11, 2013 at 4:33 pm

        Well done on your 112 days, that’s a huge achievement! I think we all go through highs and lows. If I can help with anything don’t hesitate to email me at soberjournalist@gmail.com

  11. AsJimSeesIt November 22, 2013 at 11:29 pm Reply

    “downside to this stage of sobriety is that it’s a bit, well, boring”…
    Yes, sometimes there’s very little difference between “Serenity” and “Boredom”.

    I called up my sponsor at about a year sober and said: “I’m bored!”
    He said: “What are you doing right now?”
    Thinking he was going to invite me to the game or something I said: “Nothing!”
    “That DOES sound boring!” Click

    The wistful feeling when seeing other people drink CAN leave you. It is my opinion that it probably works better if you see it MORE often rather than LESS..

    Good luck. You’re doing fine.

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