Yesterday I’d fallen into one of those predictable but still somewhat surprising holes I forget to look out for. Blame it on post-vacation letdown or post-sugar crash or moon cycles or who cares really. I’m human. Sometimes I figure the veil has finally lifted only to reveal that I suck.
Then I checked my neglected blog email account and found a message from someone asking for any tips about the basics of, you know, how exactly does one not drink anymore. And then I remembered clear as day what a therapist told me when I was in this person’s shoes.
First you have to build your sober support system.
I always liked the sound of a Sober Support System. It sounds efficient and strong and not terribly complicated. I still had no idea how to build one at the time, so I asked.
My therapist told me to get to AA. I did. This isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, and there are plenty of non-step support groups too, though availability varies depending on where you live. If you know someone else who doesn’t drink, reach out to them. Chances are they’ll be thrilled to hear from you and happy to help!
Once you get to a sober support meeting, you’ll meet other people going through the same thing. You’ll meet newly sober people like yourself and you’ll meet others with a little time under their belt. If you’re like me, you’ll relate to a lot of stories and feel much less alone and more filled with hope.
If you can’t do in-person meetings right now, there are also online resources and support groups and forums. You can connect at any time and meet a wide variety of people going through the same thing.
(Note: I know I’m missing some good resources and plan to build a page with links. If you know of any helpful sober resources not included, please share in a comment!)
Just pick something or a mix of things and stick with it and build from there. The first thing you pick doesn’t have to be a lifelong commitment, no matter what you read or hear or fear. You can use any blend of resources, as long as it works for you.
The key is getting through today without a drink. Because you know what? I’ve never once regretted not having a drink. Not once in 1,116 days have I ever woken up and thought “man, I really missed out by not drinking last night.” Not once. Before I quit drinking, I’d lost count of mornings filled with nausea, dread and regret. They all bled together like one big never-ending hangover.
So build up your sober support network and don’t drink. That’s it for now. Both of these things get easier over time. Each time you get through a tough/happy/bored/anxious day without drinking and practice leaning on others, it gets a little easier to do the next time.
It takes time, so be patient with yourself. I drank for decades, and progress has built slowly over several years, with plenty of room for improvement. No rush, no real end goal in sight. Today I’m enjoying the scenery.
And I’ve yet to meet a friendlier, more helpful bunch of people than other sober people. If you’re not sure where to start, email a few sober bloggers (like me). Seriously. We want to help and it feels good to pay it forward.
Don’t worry, you’ll see what I mean one day.