NINE MONTHS

Nine months sober and 6cm dilated. Feel like I’m giving birth to my life again. It’s pretty good, and I’ll name her Cathy.

So much has changed in such a relatively short period of time. It has been 3/4 of an entire year since this whole journey began. When I think of the time that has elapsed, it somehow seems to have passed by insanely fast and terribly slow all at the same time. The days and months begin to fly by at a warp speed while the emotional progress seems to crawl along imperceptibly, like thick sap down a tree. We always seem to measure our progress by marking days, months, years, but the work that we do doesn’t seem to comfortably fit into the container of man made units of time. As life begins to resume its normal breakneck speed, I continue to feel as if I’m hobbling along while everything and everyone passes me by.

A simple question pushed to the forward of my mind after hearing it several times on The Bubble Hour: Is this true?

Is it true that I’m being left behind by my peers and that I can’t have a successful career because I’m taking it easy right now? No. The success and accomplishments of others do not deplete some imaginary success pool that will somehow dry up and become empty by the time I’m ready to swim in it. Success doesn’t work that way. The world will not suddenly run out of opportunity for artists to present their work. No. It is not true. Continue taking it easy.

I’ve had to slow down quite a bit over the past six months. I’ve had to explicitly state and enforce boundaries for myself and for others. I’ve had to pull back creatively, socially, and return to a simpler state. I felt as if things were falling around me, and while never once did I come anywhere close to drinking, I knew that something just wasn’t quite right.

Things are better now. If we’re using these man made units of time to describe and mark our progress, I’d say that I feel six months sober now rather than the nine that it actually is. What I mean is that at around six months, when my friend passed away and everything went to shit, I mentally and emotionally feel as if I reverted back to an earlier place, like the floor fell out from under me and I slid all the way back, like I was in some fucked up emotional live action game of Chutes and Ladders.

I am grateful for these nine months. I am grateful for the practice I have had in managing and coping with difficult things. And I’m grateful that I managed to keep alcohol from jumping down my throat.

I think the most surprising of all of the changes is the fact that I just don’t think that much about alcohol or sobriety anymore. At times, that is quite a relief. It seemed that toward the beginning I was constantly thinking about not drinking. I’d be walking down the street and just think, “I’m walking down the street. I don’t drink anymore,” or I’d be falling asleep and think, “Going to sleep without having drank tonight. I don’t drink anymore.” It was CONSTANT. But now there are entire days that go by where I barely consider it.

I recognize that this relief from the obsession of alcoholism and recovery can also be a curse. There is a very fine line between accidental apathy and the prolonged blindness that takes hold leading up to a relapse. Remember, I’ve lived it. So I’m working on inserting myself back into the fold in various ways to keep myself plugged in, connected, and aware of my disease. It takes a concerted effort to make recovery a part of your life, and I definitely could do a better job at it.

Still, I’m finding it increasingly difficult to write about recovery or my experience. It isn’t for lack of trying. I’ve sat staring at a blank WordPress page many times over the past month wondering what it is I had to say. The truth is, I’m living a somewhat calm and basic life these days. I’m reading voraciously. I’m spending time with my dog and boyfriend. I’m going to work and attempting to pay down debt. I’m just BEING without alcohol and without very many thoughts about alcohol or recovery.

But I think I could stand to have a few more thoughts about my recovery than I currently do. For these reasons, I’m going to get some meetings in. At the very least, my Sunday morning. But perhaps more. I also think I’m ready to start meeting with someone regularly to begin unpacking stuff more deeply. So fortunate for comprehensive insurance that will help me with that.

Overall, I’m GOOD. I feel fine. But I know I can feel even better and I’m ready to work on that.

25 comments

  1. Congratulations on nine months AND for digging deeply. When I was drinking, I wanted as much as I could get. Now, in recovery, I am the same. I want the BIG BUZZ in sobriety, as I’ve heard someone say. Go for it. Godspeed, fellow traveler.

  2. Great to hear from you. Congratulations on 9 months! The pregnancy analogy is a great one. While I have to admit that I was worried about you sometimes and hoped to see a blog entry, in reading this I totally get it. I think it was a great idea to slow down and focus on yourself and your small circle around you. And now you have a plan to keep focused on your recovery while also living your life, personally and professionally. That sounds really good for you John! I am grateful to have met you on the blogosphere; and I am happily a month behind you at 8 months. I can relate to so much of what you say. Especially when this world does not cooperate with your plans, and somebody close to you dies, that shakes you to core. You got through that without drinking though, and that is so good. And you’re coming out in one piece on the other side of tragedy (and the holidays). You should be very proud of yourself. Keep going. You’re really doing this!

  3. Such a wonderful and timely post! I was thinking about you yesterday, wondering how you’re doing. Like you, I have been going days without even thinking about sobriety. Last night, I was reflecting on where I am in life these days, how far I’ve come, the memories of the dark drunken ally so far behind me (or are they?). I’m so thankful for the moments when I remind myself just how much I’ve accomplished in my 8+ months. It may not be as much as the “normal” person can accomplish in 8 months but it’s not a competition. It’s about me, healing and finally closing the door on alcoholism. No I won’t forget those days, but I don’t have to think about them everyday either.

    Best of luck to you. I’m glad you are doing well and continuing on your journey of sobriety.

  4. I’m at month 8 and with you on the voracious reading. It’s nice to have my brain back for personal use again. I’m also taking it super easy whenever possible. I thought I would be 10 times more productive after quitting drinking, but recovery needs to happen on so many levels. Rest and contemplation are quiet victories. Congrats on 9 months!

  5. Good to hear from you! I think the way you’re going about this is very good. I remember the first six months of my sobriety I had to just be in the comfort of home, the routine of work, and the arms of my loved ones.
    The hard part of working on yourself comes with time. I absorbed everything I could about just being a non-drinker and getting comfortable with it.

  6. congratulations on 9 months!! I totally relate to so much of what you wrote, even tho I’m just shy of 5 months. I find that days go by and I haven’t thought drinking and sobriety. such a relief bc I honestly thought the obsession would never lift.

    you sound fantastic and I’m so happy you’re enjoying a quiet calm life with your love and your dog. so nice. stay well!

  7. I’m only 16 days in- and I’m weepy and wanting and thinking about drinking constantly. Can’t wait to go a day without it being this all consuming. I haven’t seen anyone socially since I stopped-I’m dreading valentines without champagne…
    I just feel lonely and deprived. Can’t wait to get on the other side of this.

  8. Love your blog and this post in particular related to me. I’m slowly accepting that staying sober means I have to avoid things that stress & overwhelm me even if it means that I’m not working toward that promotion at work. the position I have pays the bills and it’s OK if I’m not in management. my goals for the next few months are: 1. dont drink, 2. dont lose my job, and 3. find an alternative form of stress relief (now that booze is off the table). my job isnt too crazy right now, but it would be great if I could have some good sobriety under my belt along with an established healthy stress management habit (perhaps exercise?!?) when work does get overwhelming. i’m on day 6. blogs like yours keep me inspired. any advice is appreciated.

    1. Hi Blondie,
      I spent the first 6 months writing these three things at the top of my journal entries for goals for the day 1. Stay Sober 2. Keep Working. 3. Relax (very similar to yours!) At the end of the day I allowed myself to feel proud for keeping my job (even if I wasn’t giving it 100%) and MOST importantly that I was not drinking! I started complimenting myself and not being hard on myself. I reward myself with treats such as new lotions, flowers or tea. Sometimes I would add in other small goals such as taking a walk or cleaning out a shelf in the pantry. I think you are definitely on the right path. Be easy on yourself! Be very proud of yourself, what you are doing is very very commendable! With time you will start doing more and more but do not stress about that now. After many many attempts at sobriety I’ll be 500 days next week. It really does get easier and my lists of dally goals have grown but only because I have taken it very slowly. Treat yourself kindly and with respect!

  9. I am 9 months sober today and feel that sliding backwards sensation.

    I can finally see the past clearly and just feel very ashamed and inadequate though finally facing who I was as a drunk and the effect of alcohol on my life.

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