I quit drinking eight months and two days ago. Since then my whole life has changed in more ways than you can imagine.
I went back and re-read some of the milestone posts along the way and thought I'd compile some highlights of the journey.
Here you go (if you click on any of the headings, you'll get the full post):
100 days sober
What could I have told myself 100 days ago? I could have given her a list something like this:
1. You will sleep more, and better, than you've done in years, but will be more tired than you can imagine.
2. You will discover that hot chocolate has magical healing powers, and that there really is a point to alcohol free beer.
3. You will feel ten years older and wiser, but look five years younger.
4. You will have to start to hate yourself before you can learn to love yourself again.
5. You will discover a passion for cleaning, tidying, weeding, sorting and clearing out - both literally and metaphorically.
6. You will obsessively read everything you can find about alcohol, alcoholism, and anything else beginning with 'alc'.
7. You will find that some of the really big hurdles (like parties) can be easy, but some of the small things (everyday stresses and upsets) can be terribly hard.
8. You'll find that that knot of anxiety you lived with for years was caused by the drink, not solved by it. Your best friend was actually your worst enemy.
9. You will become an obsessive navel gazer (not to be confused with a naval gazer - someone who stares at seamen). You'll constantly wrestle with questions like 'Who am I? Who was I? How did I get here? Where am I going?'
10. You will meet some incredible fellow travellers along the way. People who will make you laugh, cry and think. Hugely strong, brave and inspirational people sharing your journey.
Four months sober
The first few weeks did make an immediate difference. I was less puffy, I had clearer skin, shiny hair. I was sleeping brilliantly. I was less toxic.
But the changes kept coming. Now my whole being feels different.
It's like everything is starting to work together better. My body tells me when it's tired, or hungry. I get cravings for food that I later discover contain nutrients I need (see my post on PAWS and vitamin B).
If I drink a bottle of cold water on a hot day I can feel my cells re-hydrate. And, most intense of all, I feel all my emotions (anxiety, anger, elation, boredom etc) and am learning how to deal with them.
Perhaps most people are this in tune with their bodies and minds all the time. Perhaps they take it for granted. Maybe it's only because I lost the ability for so long that I see it as so miraculous.
Six months sober
Now I realise that you use 'one day at a time' until you no longer need it. It's there to stop you worrying about forever (which, in the words of Prince is a very long time) until you can cope with it.
And now, my friends, I can.
Now, after six months, I can truly see myself never drinking again. It doesn't scare me. At all. It's liberating. Exciting. Miraculous.
I'm not, I hope, being smug, or over confident. I'm totally aware how easy it is to fall off the wagon and end up back at Day One. I read stories about people like me doing just that all the time.
I also know about the ups and downs. This time next week I could easily be a shivering wreck again.
But, the point is, right now I am no longer scared. Or miserable. Or feeling denied.
So, if you're at the beginning of this journey, then listen to the King from Alice in Wonderland:
"Begin at the beginning," the King said, very gravely, "and go on till you come to the end: then stop."
Seven months sober
If we can't see the joy in the ordinary, then how on earth can we teach our children to find it?
Being sober is more 'ordinary', but that is its joy. I've had it with the artificial ups and downs of drunk.
And, you know what? The extraordinary really does take care of itself.
Just you wait and see....
And here I am at eight months sober, older, wiser and more battle scarred. And I feel like I've discovered the biggest lesson of all about being sober:
You have to learn to cope with regular life without alcohol, because only then can you stay afloat when life decides to throw you lemons.
More on that one tomorrow.
Love SM x