363 Days

I love those people who introduce themselves at meetings as Dave, Grateful Recovering Alcoholic with 282 days. I imagine Dave with 282 tiny notches on his bedpost, but it’s more likely he has an app. I knew I was coming up on a year this week, but I only know it’s 363 days today because of google and the sobriety calculator I found.

I don’t feel happy or relieved like I thought I might coming up on a year. That might be because it hasn’t passed yet, but I doubt I’ll feel much different in a few days. I thought about it this morning and the thing about a one-year anniversary is that it dredges up a lot of bad memories.

I remember acutely what it was like to stop drinking. I remember how hard it was that first week, physically and mentally. I remember how sick I felt drying out. I didn’t go to rehab or get anything from my doctor, though I should have at least done the latter. I was afraid she would insist I go to rehab and I couldn’t fathom this as a mother of little kids and a full-time employee. It’s not that I was in denial of my problem…I just didn’t want anyone else to know how bad I’d let it get.

I remember when that Monday came around that I’d decided I’d stop drinking. I had told my husband the Friday before “I’m going to stop drinking on Monday but I want you to leave me alone until then.” I didn’t go on a bender or anything, but I didn’t want to hear his concern over how much I was drinking. That’s what the end was like for me. It was pretty pathetic, and I’d had enough of that.

Except that when that Monday morning came around, I realized I couldn’t just quit. I had two drinks that day, the first one strong and spaced out over a long period of time. I imagined it like an IV drip that kept me from laying on the floor in a pitiful lump. It did nothing to stop my stomach from churning or my body from trembling just enough to make my eyeballs feel like googly eyes. It did help me through an incredibly long day. My last drink was a lukewarm Yuengling in a can that I pulled from a case in the garage. Do you know how hard it was to stop at that and not pad out for another and just quit tomorrow instead? You might know.

My impending one-year anniversary reminds me of where I was one year ago, and it was not a good place. It took about another day for the shakiness to leave and several more for the mental terror to go away. If that sounds melodramatic, I’m sorry because I don’t know how else to describe it. Drying out was like a black hangover with bouts of irrational panic and overwhelming sadness I was determined to keep private. I wasn’t even mourning the loss of alcohol, which didn’t truly come until many months later.

About a week after I stopped drinking, I went to my first recovery meeting with a sober friend. That was the beginning of my sobriety, and the start of an upward climb. In the early days, I replaced my old drinking routines with new rituals. I’ll write about those later this week. I want to do something more positive to celebrate one-year, but it feels important to start at the beginning, which was really the end.

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12 thoughts on “363 Days

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  1. My early days are a blur now. I remember the first day, I was shaky – more mentally than physically, second day I knew that the day after that I was going to talk to someone for help and that was like the huge ball of fear in the gut – and in the past I’d get rid of that by… oh shit that is what I’m trying not to do. Third day I called them and they saw me almost there and then. I opened up and was actually honest – I felt I wasn’t really there. Next day – panic – I ran away pretty much but a phone call got me back. Next day was first where I was assessed for rehab. Next day I told my boss and my kids… oh hell that was heart breaking, my daughter tears in her eyes thought I was going away for good and never coming back…

    Good grief – all those emotions back again – now I know what they are/were then I was just battling through a minute at a time.

    Congrats on the 363rd day of your sobriety – hope you have more to come 🙂

    BTW if Dave has 282 notches on his bedpost he is having a hell of a better recovery than me!!! Does that not mean what it means over here? Obviously – LOL

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      1. Right I see – so glad I was getting such a resentment against Dave… hang on I presume Dave doesn’t even exist- You know step 11 says conscious contact with God… sometimes I struggle with conscious contact with reality you know!

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  2. This post ties in with so much of what I felt back then too. My first year came and went without deep meaningful change (for example, I didn’t feel like I’d arrived!) but I was relieved to mark the date. Especially when some people I know experience depression with their first anniversary –

    Thanks for sharing!

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  3. I didn’t go to rehab either. The first week was hell. The remainder of the month, rather hellish. The following months, scary. But we just soldier on, right? I am very proud of you. Some people in the rooms don’t like to make a big deal out of these anniversaries, but I make a huge ass deal out of them. It is the day we are reborn and I’l be damned if I’m not going to make a celebration of it. The month leading up to the day is often spent in reflection of the final days and months leading up to my last drunk. Its important for me to “go there’ in my head. As I have learned over the years, it is easy to forget what it was like when I was drinking. Hard to imagine for a newcomer, but as the years add up, we can begin to feel a little ‘cured’ if we’re not careful. My many relapses are proof of that.

    Keep at it, sober sister. You are worth every day you have accumulated.

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  4. Almost there! I love your honest account of how it was, what happened and how it is today. Not just in this last post, but in all of your posts. And I love reading your blog and look forward to each and every one of your posts. And you’re funny to boot!

    XXOO

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  5. Just stumbled upon this blog. Good stuff. Keep up the good work! My blog is at http://soberlawyer.com

    I’m approaching 6 months myself and can relate to almost everything you’ve said here. I’m of the high functioning, high bottom variety, so it’s taken me awhile to hit my bottom and get it. Always a work in progress.

    The last 6 months have been a mix of awesomeness, frustration, sadness, and proud-ness (not sure if that’s a word..). I forgot about post acute withdrawal, so thanks for reminding me. I learned about that at Hazelden when I went last year.

    I can also relate to your frustration with the “program.” I go to about 3-4 meetings a week. If I could eliminate steps 2,3,6,7 I would be fine! Ha HA! I’m not a god guy.

    Anyways, look forward to more posts.

    ~Dick, The Sober Lawyer

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