What a difference 2,192 days makes

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52,608 little hours. 3,156,480 minutes. 189,388,800 seconds. Did I spend them all well? Certainly not. But I spent them all sober, and that has made all the difference.

I never thought I’d get to 6 years sober and think boy, that went fast. A good part of me wasn’t convinced I’d get to 6 years at all. I’d heard the cautionary tales of relapse and how vigilant one needed to remain at all times and that made it seem harder than I was capable of.  A future without summer beers or celebratory cocktails wasn’t one I could easily imagine, nor did I want to. But I stuck to each day which turned into months and then somehow six years. Time is funny how it slips past and takes care of everything, including us.

Somewhere between years 3 and 5, I noticed a shift from feeling like I’d made a real sacrifice in giving up alcohol, which invokes all sorts of fearful, complicated responses in sobers and drinkers alike, and realizing I never needed it in the first place.

Alcohol was a filter I used to mindlessly slip on when I wanted to feel more of something or less or occasionally nothing at all. I rarely wanted to feel what I was already feeling, which now strikes me as odd and sad. Once I removed the filter and kept it off awhile, I saw everything more clearly. It was a blessing and curse because the view was raw and sharp, not unlike getting glasses for the first time and taking a good long look in the mirror. Every imperfection was there for examination. Sunsets and kittens were equally clear, so it wasn’t all bad, not at all.

The other thing about removing the filter was I got to feel again which, as you know, is a mixed bag. Sometimes I love my family so much I’m sure my heart will explode into confetti. Sometimes I care about people or issues I am in no way obligated to care about, which is both reassuring and baffling.

Anxiety doesn’t go away. I wish I could say it did, but I’m 99% sure that’s why I took so well to drinking in the first place. Why would it leave when I’ve fed it my whole life? These days I notice it and think “I feel anxious” or else lonely or bored or weary. I put a name to it and realize it often has nothing to do with current circumstances but triggered by an old memory or not eating or sleeping well or mysterious moon cycles. I don’t own a mood any more than I own the weather. This too shall pass, they say, and goddamn it they’re right.

I can still go out to dinner and make small talk at a party and fall asleep and have sex (not in that order) and go on vacation and get through a stressful day or the holidays. I can handle being happy or excited or bored or worried or angry or sad. None of these things make me think of a drink anymore. (But oh, they used to.) Sober is mostly easy and second nature and sometimes fantastic and finally okay when it’s not. 

There are still a number of ways to numb out, and I’m intimately aware of most. A cupcake may not be a keg, but I can’t really seem to be able to handle myself around either. This disappoints me. I figured by 5 years sober I would have shown my sweet tooth (precious, adorable) to the door with a chuck of the chin and knowing smile. Same with the perpetual two-minute smartphone circuit, which my dexterous fingertips train hard for even though it never awards much. This year I’ve experimented with letting things go and I can tell you it feels different than the fifteen dozen times I’ve done it before.

Sober isn’t a cure all but I think it’s better than that. We are not meant to numb our spirit to the point of dysfunction, and there is deep and meaningful reward once we stop doing this to ourselves. We get to feel alive again, which is something drinking used to do before it stopped working. This time it’s real.

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63 thoughts on “What a difference 2,192 days makes

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  1. I don’t drink alcoholically but many of things you mention relate to me. Mood swings, love of cupcakes, loving my family. Anxiety. Menopause has been really challenging for me but I feel like I’m coming out of a big woods. The clarity is better, I’m calmer, and less stressed out.
    Six years is awesome my dear. You’re an inspiration. xoxo

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I’m glad you can relate, Joanne. Thank you for reading and commenting…it shows me we can relate and connect even when the topics aren’t necessarily the same. Menopause sounds delightful…can’t wait ๐Ÿ˜‰ Glad you’re coming out of the woods.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Bravo! You can never know the alternate universe of yourself, but in my case I don’t think things would have gotten better if I’d kept drinking. When I want a drink, I remind myself what that universe would look like. Being sober, I have the mental capacity to do so. Congrats again, and thanks as always for describing your path so eloquently.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I don’t see how it would have gotten better for me. That subtle shift to realizing I wasn’t missing out on anything has been a real help. Look at all you’ve accomplished sober. I’m still thinking about that amazing book you wrote.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. “We are not meant to numb our spirit to the point of dysfunction and there is deep and meaningful reward once we stop doing this to ourselves.”
    Beautifully written! I’m 13 months in and thank you so much for your honesty ๐Ÿ™‚ and your story…

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Sigh. Tried to stop a couple of weeks ago. Made it a week and then had a day where I was at war with myself over the thing while we had people at our house for a BBQ and I didn’t like to be at war with myself while people were, and then somebody did something that annoyed me … and I’m back at it. My nightly three beer a night habit that turns into more on weekends.

    Maybe your post is here today for a reason.

    Congrats to you. You are an inspiration.

    Liked by 6 people

    1. Parties where you’re the host are tough. I hope you’ll give it another shot. It gets easier, I promise. Stock up on LaCroix or your favorite soda and even better if you can tell at least one person you’re not drinking for accountability. I get where you are…spent a good bit of time there myself.

      Like

      1. I said something to one of my sons a couple of weeks ago. It was mean. What was worse was that I only had a very fuzzy memory of whether I had actually said it. I told him and my wife the next day that I was done drinking. A week later they invited people over at the last minute. I was already battling the urge and when I got home I paced back and forth I was so tied up in knots. Then my wife did something that pissed me off and …

        I will try again. Your story gives me hope.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. As someone said to me many years ago, we don’t have to live like that anymore. I hated that feeling of what did I say or do, that nagging regret and not feeling in control. Plus it never actually made me feel better or soothed those raw edges longer than a moment.

        Liked by 2 people

  5. LOVE this!
    Congratulations on 6 years….

    “Sober isnโ€™t a cure all but I think itโ€™s better than that. We are not meant to numb our spirit to the point of dysfunction and there is deep and meaningful reward once we stop doing this to ourselves. We get to feel alive again, which is something drinking used to do before it stopped working. This time itโ€™s real.”

    That’s perfect…it’s better than that and its real. Life finally lived.!

    Liked by 5 people

  6. Congratulations on your anniversary!

    There is so much I could relate to in this post. The most though, was the “feeling feelings” again. Or was it for the first time? It may have been really for the first time. At least, feeling them at the right time for the first time.

    This is an incredible tribute to the simple sober life. Nothing more, nothing less. I’m grateful you shared it today and I got to read it.

    Liked by 3 people

  7. Amen. I am living. I used to feel I was biding my time, waiting to die.
    Not very joyful for a 40 year old woman.
    After 3 1/2 years My anxiety remains as well. I don’t like accepting it, but I try to.
    And I have my other coping mechanisms that include shopping and yoga. At least they are healthier…and I recognize when I am using them.

    6 years is awesome.
    Thank you for sharing that.
    Anne

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I like that you mentioned yoga and shopping. They are both healthier coping mechanisms, for sure. I shop more responsibly now than I did years ago, so sobriety has helped there too. Thanks for sharing, Anne.

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  8. Thank you, thank you. Your post came just at the right time. I’m 59 days sober (yeah me!) and have had a fairly easy time of it….until a couple of days ago. My husband is away for a couple of days and I found myself plotting how I could drink while he’s away, he’ll never find out. No one will. And then I can carry on not drinking when he returns. Yikes! Crazy thinking. I KNOW moderation does not work for me. Your post just reminded me of all the positives of being sober. Gosh, I love waking up. I love reading before bedtime. I love feeling clear-heading and steady. I love being sober. And I will not “numb my spirit to the point of dysfunction.” Thank you for your very timely reminder.

    Liz

    ________________________________

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Congratulations Liz! 60 days tomorrow, woohoo! Very good to be aware like that. Those thoughts are sneaky and scary but totally normal. Travel by my spouse was tough for me too and I forced myself out of the house (gym, meetings, shopping) in the early days because it felt more dangerous at home. Now I look forward to the break in routine and time with just my girls and we go to the movies or out to eat. Filling the time is half the battle in early sobriety. You’re doing great!

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  9. Hearts exploding into confetti! Love that.
    And of course, congrats on your 6 years, my friend! Woo hoo!
    I too don’t feel that I have “given” up booze. If I did, I would be jonesing often. It was meant to be, and the acceptance that comes from that soothes me. I rarely have to fight it. And when I do, it comes and goes before I realize it.
    Now sugar…well, you and I have been through this before, and I love that line about not being able to manage around a keg and a cupcake! I am on week 8 of no sugar, and let me tell you – HARD at times, easy at others. So not sure where that will go, but certainly will do my best to keep at it because like the booze, I just do so much better without it. But then again – CUPCAKES…lol.

    You are amazing, and I love your writing and I love your spirit, and please continue what you do best – shining that crazy light of yours.

    Hugs
    Paul

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh sugar. 8 weeks, huh? I am so close to getting to where you describe, minus at least 8 weeks I guess, but you know what I mean. It helps to hear some days are easy and others not. Thank you for reading and writing (all these years) and for being you.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Oh …. feeling feelings and right now I am feeling excited to have known you these blogging years of your recovery. I’m celebrating with you, in spirit, because one person’s success is all our success. (Or is that “successes” ? HMMM If anyone has the correct grammar it’s you or Mark. LOL.)
    Enjoy your beautiful day and your beautiful life.
    Much love and hugs, Lisa

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Lisa! Yes, you are one of the very first bloggers I followed. I even recall you once commenting on the filter thing, or how sober is unfiltered, something like that. And I vote for successes because let’s draw attention to it. I love the sentiment you expressed here. I didn’t do it alone and couldn’t have.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Huge congratulations on six years! That’s such an inspiring post. I would have loved to have read something like it when I was searching for help online for all those years
    I just needed to know that someone who got my story had found peace and joy in being sober and you write it so perfectly
    Thanks as always for sharing your journey
    You deserve a cupcake or two ๐Ÿ˜‰
    Carrie x

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Congrats on six years, that seems like an impossible amount of time. I am coming up on two months, but I don’t feel like I’m seeing anything more clearly yet, or feeling anymore “alive.” I was looking forward to that, but maybe it takes longer to reboot than I thought. Anyhoo, good insights in this post, and I especially like the line “I donโ€™t own a mood any more than I own the weather. This too shall pass.” ๐Ÿ™‚

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I think it absolutely takes awhile to settle in, and it comes in stages, gradually. I don’t remember feeling “alive” early on, honestly. Nearly two months is a big deal and I hope you know that. (Many feel the first three months are the toughest for a number of reasons.) I’m glad for you because it’s led to so many rewards I couldn’t have imagined in the early days, subtle but positive shifts in thought and action…it’s the gift that keeps giving.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Hurray for you! Six years is awesome. You were one of my first “cyber” friends and always encouraged me. I’ll be 4 years next month. Congrats, Kristen, as always your writing is wonderful. Have you started that novel yet?
    Sharon

    Liked by 1 person

  14. โ€œSober isnโ€™t a cure all but I think itโ€™s better than that. We are not meant to numb our spirit to the point of dysfunction and there is deep and meaningful reward once we stop doing this to ourselves. We get to feel alive again, which is something drinking used to do before it stopped working. This time itโ€™s real.โ€

    So encouraging and your post gives so much hope! Thank you. I’m on day 10 and this will give me the thing to hold onto on this day.

    Thank you so much for sharing. Congratulations on your 6 years

    Liked by 1 person

  15. First off, congratulations! Second, I so relate to this post – even to the sweet tooth! It’s quite a journey isn’t it? And no, as you said, not a cure all. I still have my issues for sure. But I am so grateful for my sobrietyโค๏ธ

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Just wanted to say congrats…amen to all that…and have a cupcake if you must, don’t feel bad about that. You won’t wake wondering what happened the next morning ๐Ÿ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Marvellous post, thank you. It is an ongoing privilege to see you grow and develop in sobriety. I’ve been following you for over three and a half years now and it is always good to hear what the terrain is like up ahead. Congratulations on six years!

    I heard something really interesting the other day which gels with what you’ve written here. It might have been Anne Lamott, but sorry can’t quite remember for sure. Anyway the speaker said that it wasn’t that she didn’t HAVE difficult moments, difficult emotions to deal with – but that when she had them, she recognised them more quickly and had better tools to deal with them so they lasted often only moments. I thought that was really helpful.

    I am writing this mid morning lying on my bed eating chocolate as a brief escape from a hectic stressful day. That’s something I would never have given myself permission to do when I was drinking!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Aw, thanks Primrose. It has been a privilege to follow your progress and path as well. And yes, that’s it exactly. I remember people with more sobriety than me saying that life didn’t get easier sober but it somehow felt better. And because it hadn’t happened yet to me, it sounded like a hollow sugar coating. But I get it now, I think, and yes, it’s worth it and it’s much better.

      Liked by 1 person

  18. Congratulations, Love! I am so so so happy our paths have crossed. As I’ve said many times before, the words you write resonate with me. I just read Love Warrior by Glennon Doyle Melton and she speaks to the un-numbed feelings and “sitting still with the pain” once she quit her many addictions. It was eye-opening and inspiring.

    I do need to know one of your secrets – you mentioned this:

    “This year Iโ€™ve experimented with letting things go and I can tell you it feels different than the fifteen dozen times Iโ€™ve done it before.”

    How? How have you been able to do this? Instead of getting easier, I am getting worse at letting things (people) go. You could bottle up your method and sell it. I’d buy that sugar all day!
    xoxoxo

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Michelle! We may be talking about different kinds of motivation to let something go. I’ll give an example. I kept my Facebook account but don’t post or read anymore. (Exception: when I need to stalk a local business or event) Going on all the time just left me feeling worse about humanity, and I felt relief once I stepped back, you know? I’m not missing anything and that’s a good part of why I am able to do it. Downsizing might work better for us not terribly social types, though. It depends on what brings reward and energy and what depletes us, I suppose. With letting individual people go, that’s more complicated but usually we know the answer in our hearts.

      Liked by 1 person

  19. I couldn’t be happier for you than a dancing ape on an orange juice high or a cute monkey in a Sherpa coat lost in Ikea.

    No, our spirits are not meant to be numbed. Life is beautiful when we can feel the highs and lows, for in doing so, ironically, we come to know balance and appreciation and, ultimately, serenity.

    Beautiful and poignant. โค๏ธ

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Cgi oranges are the best ๐Ÿ˜‚ I wondered what happened to Darwin so googled him. He’s living at an animal sanctuary in Toronto, “learning to be far more monkey than human”. I feel like there’s a analogy for sobriety here, like we were once sherpa-coated macaques gazing forlornly through an automatic door. Couldn’t have gotten to the sanctuary without you, dear friend.

      Like

  20. Really just a perfect post. Congratulations!! You hit all of the points that resonate with me as well – especially that shift of not being able to drink today to not having to drink today – a really big psychic shift.

    Like

    1. See, but every single sober person starts out feeling the same exact way. At no point do any of us feel like super heroes, but eventually it gets easy enough to maybe seem that way. Promise.

      Like

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