Tuesday 25 August 2015

It's All Kicking Off at Soberistas!

I love Soberistas. If you've never come across it, here's a link.

In my early days I spent about two hours a day reading Soberistas. It made me feel like I was not alone. The members helped me with my random questions, like is it normal to have terrible constipation when you quit drinking? (Answer: yes, totally). Soberistas was also my favourite distraction activity at wine o'clock.

I spend less time on Soberistas now, but I still dip in three or four times a week, and it's a great reminder of how hard those early days can be. How confusing. How angst ridden. It reminds me how far I've come, and how little I want to return there.

Every now and again I read a post from someone who's just taken the plunge, and I'm vividly reminded of myself. Like looking back at an old photo album (does anyone do those anymore?). Then I beg them to read Jason Vale (my hero), and post the link to this blog, hoping that they'll find me, and find me helpful in some way.

Anyhow, today it's all kicked off at Soberistas, as it does from time to time. Usually, Lucy Rocca (the founder) ends up wading in and saying something along the lines of "now, now ladies. We are all friends here. This is an accepting and non judgemental place. Calm down," like a kind but stern sixth form tutor.

Today's spat is about day counting. One of the members posted a punchy piece arguing that if you 'slip up' on the sober journey you have to re-set the day counter to 1. It's not ok to say, for example (and I quote)  'I am 1 year sober - minus 3 blips, 4 slips and a couple of shirt buttons'..... (Here's the full post).

Most posts on Soberistas get around five or six comments. A really good one might get about twenty. This post, in the last 14 hours, has had eighty-nine comments.

I've posted on day counting before (see Potholes in the Road). I used to count days avidly myself. If felt like a crucial marker, charting progress. Then I got to 4 months sober, and the individual days just didn't seem to matter any more. Now I count months (and that really is progress). I hope that one day I'll be counting years.

I read all the comments on the controversial post. Several things struck me.

Firstly, there are strong opinions on both sides of this debate. For some people the day count is sacrosanct, and the fear of going back to day 1 is partly what keeps them on the straight and narrow.

For others, it seems terribly unfair to suggest that a short 'blip,' after several weeks or months of sobriety, should negate all the good work done. Better just to pick yourself up, dust yourself off and keep going.

My view? I think we should all do whatever works for us. The crucial thing is to get there in the end, with whatever help, props, or large slices of cake we require.  We all have to learn the lessons for ourselves. We all have to go through it.

No-one can convince you, for example, that moderation is impossible. You have to work that one out on your own..... (often again and again and again).

The second thing I was reminded of by reading the comments is how terrified we all are of being judged. For us drinkers, the fear of judgement is one huge trigger.

We drank because we felt judged. We were judged because we drank. Terrible vicious circle. One thing we have to get used to when we quit is to drop this fear. The truth is that most people are far too wrapped up in their own lives to give a hoot about yours....

The third thing I realised, reading all the comments urging acceptance and peace, is how much we all hate conflict. Certainly I did. The slightest hint of conflict - even with my own children - and I'd reach for the bottle. Uh oh, all getting a little tense around here....better have a drink.

Funnily enough, we'd drink to avoid conflict and then, a few drinks down and BAM, uncontrollable rage. Suddenly you're chucking a mug at the husband because he's not helping you with the dishwasher! (see my post on Alcohol Induced Rage).

So, Laura, if you're reading this, I hope you're not worried about the s**tstorm! You've made people think, and you've distracted them from the Wine Witch. So well done you, and well done everyone, however you count, or don't count, your days....

Love SM x


  1. Ow. I think shitstorms like that are a bit of a problem. I'm rather robust myself and like a vigorous discussion, but I know that a lot of people are very fearful of conflict (as you mention yourself), and so it might scare them away from Soberistas or discourage them from writing something themselves for fear of being 'targeted'. That's just not what we need in early sobriety.

    1. Good point, as always, Ulla xx

    2. I must say, having meanwhile read most of the thread, that they all conduct themselves in a civilized fashion. I do think Laura is a bit out of line, telling people how to count their sober days, but ... well, no use rehashing it all here.

    3. Imagine the same thread if everyone was posting after a few drinks lol ;-)

    4. Like facebook on a bad night. Ug.

  2. I just read it, as a fellow Laura I just want to say it was not me! She actually does sound like the deputy head girl at my old school, the one who would make you walk all the way round instead of cutting across the grass.

    On a side note, have been reading SM but have new iPad so had to make new profile. I am the Belgian Laura who posted at the start a few times. x

    1. OMG Laura! You're back! I've thought about you often and wondered where you'd gone. SO glad you're here. You've made my day! Xx

    2. Sending some big hugs your way SM! Been reading, now the profile is created again you'll be hearing s bit more from me. Xx

  3. I am part of a Facebook based sobriety support group. These kinds of "discussions" come up regular
    Y. With the added hysteria and drama often found in drinkers (some people on threat group are sober long term, others are still trying).

    My lesson- I need to decide what is right for me and believe it. I don't need anyone else to agree with me. I do not need to argue or defend my position. Trying to prove I am right is a definite "issue" for me. One I work on. One way to do that is to close my mouth and step away from the drama. It is so hard, but one of the best lessons I have learned on my matt at yoga that has transformed my thinking. I can be right, and you can be right. Things are different for everyone.

    Watching it from afar shows just how destructive it can be.

  4. Agree with Anne. Learning to keep my mouth shut, and keeping out of any drama is the big lesson of my sobriety. When I was drinking, I was right in there with my opinion, wanted or not. It backfired on many an occasion.
    The biggest problem with online groups is that people often feel "detached" from their comments.They forget that a support group is exactly that - to be supportive. It's great to have a lively debate, but many people are in vulnerable positions, and it's often not a debate among equals.
    So far as "slipping up' and having one drink is concerned and resetting back to Day 1 - why would anyone be debating that issue at all? Day 1 or Day 1000, we are all in this together. No one is "more sober" than anyone else, same as no one was/is "more alcoholic" than anyone else.

  5. I agree with Anne and Wine Bitch.
    I no longer respond to drama posts.
    I do believe that everyone has to figure these things out themselves,
    I need to keep happy, healthy people around me.

  6. Holy moly sure was kicking off. Was reading it last night in bed which is when I usually try to check in with soberistas and your blog. Scared me as totally hate conflict too and always have. Whatever works folks we're all after the same thing. I don't really count but it's 100 days for me today (so my phone told me this morning!) and no blips ;-)

    1. Yay! Huge congrats EH! That's awesome! Haven't we come a long way?!? You rock! Hope you're treating yourself.... SM x

    2. Congrats EH! Feels good doesn't it! xxx

  7. Just found this following a link someone sent via Soberistas and then found you talking about this post. I think your diary is brilliant!!