One year!

It’s been ONE WHOLE YEAR since I had a drink. Can you believe it? I knew today was The Day but I still checked my sobriety app just to make sure. I swear it winked back at me. Hello, it said. I’m still here. You don’t check me very often any more but rest assured I’ve been here all along, quietly counting every day. And today is a real milestone.

It’s true, I don’t count the days anymore, because sobriety is the new normal. If you’re reading this from the sidelines, let me tell you – it’s pretty awesome. I am happier, thinner and richer. I sleep better. I have more control over my life. I don’t have as many secrets or as much guilt. I have more time to do stuff. If nothing else, life is just simpler. Controlling my drinking was like trying to keep the lid on a can of wriggly worms. I had to put so much energy into keeping the lid closed, but every now and then it would blow right off and I’d be clearing up for weeks.

When I first stopped drinking, one of the things that scared me most was how I would find my ‘off switch’. Before, drinking an entire bottle of wine had seemed like a pretty good way to close down my stressed out, racing brain, or turn off any unwelcome emotion. Alcohol allowed me to check out of life for a bit when things got difficult.

So what happens when you take that option away? Really, your only choice is to man up and start tackling things head on. It’s hard at first. Really hard. But if you keep doing it again and again you build emotional muscles that Popeye would be proud of. When you finally get ‘it’, and you do something like go to a party and mingle and have fun it’s a great feeling because that is the real you doing it. There’s no falseness.

It’s not always rainbows and glitterballs, but that’s because life isn’t like that. We all have crap days, but they’re easier to deal with when you’re sober. A hungover, emotional, miserable person does not always make the best choices (that’s what I’ve found anyway!). I’ve been quite ill this week. I think it’s the first time I’ve been poorly since I stopped drinking. It’s been a timely reminder of what it’s like to have a hangover. I am not used to operating at less than 100% any more and god, it is horrible.

I’ve made quite a few changes in my life over the past year. I’m in the process of buying a flat right next to a beautiful national park. I always thought I was a glamorous, city girl but actually I’ve realised I need green spaces in my life. I want to live near cosy cafes and fresh air, not clubs and kebab shops. I’ve got a new part-time job and have put a lot of work into making myself happier in my career. Change is happening slowly, but that’s ok because I’m pretty patient.

Of course, I couldn’t have done any of this without you lovely people. This big, supportive, sober blogosphere has got me through the hardest of times. Everyone needs a support network and if you can’t find the help you need in your day to day life I think it’s brilliant that you can get it here. When I look back on my previous attempts at stopping, it seems crazy that I thought I could do it all on my own. So, I want to end this with a big, big thank you to all of you out there who read and comment and blog. You rock.

xxx

 

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71 thoughts on “One year!

  1. wheatism April 19, 2014 at 11:48 am Reply

    WoW! Congratulations. I am just starting my journey and so am glad to have found your blog….inspiring in this scary time! x

  2. Anonymous April 19, 2014 at 5:52 pm Reply

    Congratulations. I want what you have, and I am damn well going to get it. Day one.

  3. Rare Herb April 21, 2014 at 5:09 am Reply

    Aloha Sober Journalist,
    Congrats on your first year of sobriety. What an accomplishment! May the good days outnumber the bad. Keep it up.
    Rare Herb

  4. 6yearhangover April 21, 2014 at 3:42 pm Reply

    Hello. Your blog has been very helpful over the past week. If you have the time, I’d like very much if you’d follow mine. I could use the occasional words of encouragement. http://6yearhangover.wordpress.com/

    • soberjournalist April 21, 2014 at 10:49 pm Reply

      Hang on in there – the first few weeks are the hardest. It sounds like you’re doing just fine. Kx

  5. Claire April 21, 2014 at 6:39 pm Reply

    Congratulations one not drinking for a whole YEAR!! That is amazing. Ive been reading your blog since last October, and it has been so helpful to me, although I have still not been able to quit drinking for more than 2 months. I left my absusive alcoholic husband and took my little girl across the country (Im American) to live with my widowed mother, because we couldn’t afford to go anywhere else. I hardly drank when I was living with my husband, because we had a hound child and one of us had to be sober. Then I moved in with my mom, who I live very much, but she is extremely stressful and very judgemental to me. I started just having a glass or two of wine after putting my daughter to bed. Then it became 3 glasses…and so on and so on. I’m an artist and got a part time night job as an art teacher for adults, and everyone brought wine and liquor. I started drinking almost every night. Ive cut down a lot, but have to take anxiety medication because living with my mom is so very stressful. Luckily, I recently got in touch with a man I met when I was married, who I really liked and was very attracted to. He lives alone on a beautiful farm (his children are grown) and after visiting each other several times, he’s invited me and my daughter to come live with him. He is a very laid back caring man and hardly ever drinks. I know it might sound like Im using my mom as an excuse for my drinking (which could be partially true) but I know living in the country and having a peaceful quiet life with a great man will make it much easier to get sober and stay that way. Anyway, I didnt mean to tell you my whole life story, but I want you to know reading your blog has been very helpful to me, and it will continue to help me as I make this transaction. I hope you keep writing your blog, I can see that I am definitely not the only person you’ve helped. Good luck, keep up the great work!

    • Claire April 21, 2014 at 6:42 pm Reply

      Sorry for my typos! Im trying to cook and type at the same time! I meant “young child” and “love my mother”.

    • soberjournalist April 21, 2014 at 10:54 pm Reply

      Thanks for your comment, it was nice to hear your story! Sounds like you’ve been through some very difficult times. I hope the fresh start gives you the chance to leave alcohol behind. Don’t forget to put the work in though – read as much as you can. Things like ‘kick the drink’ by Jason vale will help retrain your brain. Alcohol offers you nothing, you will be much better off without it!

  6. James April 22, 2014 at 4:35 pm Reply

    Congrats indeed. I just popped by again to say thanks – I’m on day 102 and the thing that started me down this whole “no, you really can’t drink normally” (I was trying – again – the whole ‘I can moderate, really I can’ approach in the new year) “maybe you should stop trying to drink at all for a bit and see if that’s better” path was that blurb the BBC did on you back in January. You’re definitely having quite an impact, at least from where I sit. Well done.

    • soberjournalist April 24, 2014 at 11:53 am Reply

      Wow, that’s really nice to hear. Huge congratulations on reaching such a milestone. It just keeps on getting easier from here on in, I promise!

  7. hopeforanxiety May 5, 2014 at 9:14 pm Reply

    Hi, I just wanted to write a comment as I came across your blog following the BBC article. I really related to this post, not because I’ve given up alcohol for addiction reasons but because I have recently suffered with terrible anxiety and over the last year I pretty much gave up alcohol as I realised it just made my anxiety so much worse. Over that time it’s been a bit of a revelation. I love being ‘myself’ at social events and no hangover the next day but I marvel at the number of people who say “oh it’s such a shame that you’re not drinking” (shame for who?!). It’s also made me re-evaluate who I thought I was. I thought, like you, that I was a city girl who loved doing the bar thing after work but I moved out of London when my anxiety was bad last year and I now know too that I love wide open spaces and taking part in actual activities (pilates, walks etc) rather than just whiling away my evening meeting friends in bars. Even though I’ve had no problem not drinking it’s been hard finding ways to find my place with old friends, for who the norm is still to go out getting merry.
    Anyway, I’ve rambled but just wanted to congratulate you on your milestone, a great achievement and to wish you luck in your new home with lots of green, open spaces (v envious it sounds lovely!).
    All the best,
    Emily x

  8. Joe May 9, 2014 at 1:35 pm Reply

    Well done! A month late with my congratulations but nonetheless a great achievement for anyone with a booze problem. I know believe me.. I thoroughly enjoyed reading your thoughts.Believe me I understand the true nature of addiction and the need for escapism. It was ( in my opinion) mental illness that drove me to use. I am a soldier of recovery for over twenty years now (truly blessed) but there was a time in my life I didn’t have a choice. I had to use and abuse alcohol or I would have topped myself. However, I could not do it without A.A. and the help of the 12 step recovery program.

    Most people don’t understand the true nature if addiction. Whatever your drug of choice. I have heard it said that Philip Seymour Hoffman chose to stick a needle in his arm. Bullshit! True, it’s sad that Philip Seymour Hoffman died the way that he did but some of us have to in order for the rest of us to live.

    Addiction is a choice today thank God i know this now. It wasn’t always like that for me or my family. My father, mother and older brother have all died from alcoholism. My father was sober in A.A. for 11 months and lifted the first drink at a wedding. That day he died (alcoholic poisoning) at the ripe old age of 41. I have a brother who is wheel chair bound because of his alcoholism and will quite possibly die from the disease very soon .I have a younger brother who is also a practicing alcoholic who no doubt may die if he continues. None of these people decided to become addicts. I’m sure it wasn’t their chosen career path.

    Nonetheless they have and are destroying their lives with this deep seated insidious disease.No one chooses this as a way of live. Who in their right would? Addiction is horrendous, degrading, humiliating, shameful and disgustingly powerful. With out help it is too much for us! Stay focused. no Recovery. No life..

    Check out this recovery blog please loads of helpful recovery stuff:

    http:/www.essentialsofrecovery…

  9. Sam May 22, 2014 at 10:35 pm Reply

    Im not sure if you still take a look at these newer comments… but I swear It could have been me writing this blog.
    Day 2 for me.

    Thank you so much for sharing your journey.

  10. Janine June 4, 2014 at 5:17 pm Reply

    Hi, I’m new, my name is Janine, I was sober through 1 and a have years because of beast cancer. Mom thinks that I can’t do any thing right….I married a second RAging Alcoholic and I know C= cancer. I don’t know why I keep on hurting myself? I have 2 beautiful boys , 19 and 23. They have to threatened to section me. I did it on my own before. I’m too embarrased to go into a re-hab. I did it once before by myself, please give me some advise on how to get there again! Thank you!

  11. Jogru June 9, 2014 at 8:18 pm Reply

    I’m starting day one again for the 100th time. I’m running out of options, I keep going down the same path in the same cycle. Your post is inspiring but I am doubtful for myself. I need to change because now my drunk actions are affecting others including my wife and son. The only way for me to stop is to check out of life for a while and stay in bed. I can’t stand the thought of being around other people, especially in a social situation. I’m ashamed and I’m lost. What do I do?

    • Lee Davy June 11, 2014 at 11:21 am Reply

      Jogru,

      My name is Lee Davy and you can contact me on needy helper@gmail.com and my site is http://www.needyhelper.com. I have been in your situation and did indeed lose my wife and son, but did manage to quit drinking. I would like to try and help you. So get in touch and we will see what I can do. Lee

      • Jogru June 12, 2014 at 12:47 pm

        Thanks for reaching out Lee I definitely could use support. I’ve completed 4 days for the first time in a year so it’s a move in the right direction but I have also been off from work the whole time. I go back today and I watch my son from 7am till I go in at 3pm then work till midnight, sometimes later. Do it again and again. Pile on top all the things that are wrong with my house that needs fixing and my time. This leaves me exhausted and extremely stressed. My feeling is I have no time for myself to unwind so I have earned that drink. The problem is one or two most certainly turns into 6 or more and things get unpredictable. I need a different mindset or a different outlet. What did you do?

      • Lee Davy August 27, 2014 at 3:02 am

        Hi Jogru,

        Apologies.

        WordPress wasn’t set up to make me aware of the replies to my posts. Send me a message to needy helper@gmail.com if you still need some help as I see this was 75 days ago.

        Lee

      • Lee Davy June 13, 2014 at 7:21 am

        Hi Jogru, 4-days is a great start, so pat yourself on the back. If you direct your question to Needyhelper@gmail.com I will address it there so we don’t hijack Kate’s thread. Lee

  12. Anonymous October 16, 2014 at 12:27 am Reply

    I’m celebrating 1 year of being sober today. It was tough, but I am proud of myself. I knew that if I continued drinking I was in trouble. I drank every day for years. I can’t imagine the money that I spent and wasted on it. I was athletic, so blew it off as I’ll just work out and burn off all those calories. I knew that I would have to stop, but kept putting it off “until later”. The years kept going by. The later came with my wife telling me that she was pregnant with my first child. I stopped cold turkey. It was hard. I went through anxiety and stress for weeks and had the craving for months. I did this for my family and my daughter. I wanted to be a better man, husband and father. It was the birth of my amazing little daughter Grace that opened my eyes to see that my life was more than just my own. I knew my wife deserved better, and that my daughter deserves this. When I see her glowing little smile and hear her cooing it was all worth it.

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