365 Days! I did it. This is a screenshot of my day counter app. In the beginning, I referred to my counter app all the time, and recently, not as much. Today I wanted to always remember what it looked like on May 12, 2015.
For the past week, I have been trying to outline in my head the profound one-year journal entry I had hoped to post here, which would be full of wisdom and insight, to help me in the future on tough days, and to help others. But my thoughts have been everywhere, and they are not flowing in a very organized fashion. So, even though I have not posted since around Day 300, I am going to make several posts this mid-May, until I can satisfactorily cover all that I am feeling and thinking as I hit one year.
I look forward to sharing here in these entries to come what really worked for me, what I did on the toughest days, what I have learned in Year 1, and what I hope and plan to do going forward.
Yahoo! I did it – one year! OK – thanks – I had to get that little celebration out! Last March and April, I had many stops and starts.
In early April 2014, I started reading excerpts from some books (Unsmashed and Dry) and I also Googled “moms and drinking” or something to that effect. On April 2, 2014, I discovered Unpickled‘s blog. I was fascinated and so relieved that somebody else, a mom, was out there who had been struggling with a wine habit and had successfully quit. And she had blogged about it since March 2011. So there were three years of entries there as of April 2014, which I read in one sitting. Next I discovered Mrs. D‘s blog, who like me was a stay at home mom with three young kids at home, and Belle’s blog. I was fascinated and mesmerized and inspired.
I decided on April 2 I was done. That lasted a few days. Then April 16 was my next Day 1. That lasted a few more days until Easter (April 20). The next few days did not go so well. April 27 was my next Day 1. I made it all the way until Mother’s Day weekend when I convinced myself I deserved a drink. All the while though, during the month of April and early May, I was reading and discovering more and more blogs. People were so kind and supportive of each other. And I learned what the 100 Day Challenge was. Could that be real, that a woman named Belle (Tired of Thinking About Drinking) would keep count for you, and be your sober pen-pal, no strings attached? And her whole premise, and so much of what I read, stressed “one day at a time” as the key to sobriety.
So what was different about when I decided again on May 12, 2014, that it was my last day of drinking? Why did it work that time when I failed the prior times? Here are the reasons it worked: 1) taking one day at a time; and 2) not trying to do it alone any more.
This time, I reached out to Belle, and asked if I could sign up for the 100 Day Challenge. When I got my spot, I took the pledge. That gave me accountability. I followed her advice: 1) that I would email her every day that I was alcohol-free that day; and 2) that I would just focus on today, every day. The goal in the beginning was 100 Days and then we could see what happened.
I also started to comment on the BFB and other blogs instead of just lurking. Interacting with others online was huge for me. And I started this blog. Even though I was too nervous to make it public at first, it helped to write. And when I opened the blog publicly, it also really helped to get supportive comments. I also directly emailed another person who I saw commenting on a lot of the same blogs and the BFB. She responded and we are still in touch regularly. Having a direct connection with someone else really helped. So now I had Belle and I had another friend I had “met.”
Slowly but surely, the days on my app were getting higher in number. And drawing from the wisdom of my resources, I kept telling myself, “Stay here at today, one day at a time. I will not drink today.” I read a ton also – my two favorite books on the topics of women and wine -“Drink: The Intimate Relationship Between Women and Alcohol” and “Mrs. D is Going Without.”
Another blog that was very instrumental for me was the 6yearhangover blog. He reached a year in April so I am just a few weeks behind him. It really helped me to read and comment on a blog whose days were close in time to mine. Plus, his blog made me laugh at loud in May and June, when my mood was pretty low most days, and it was taking everything in me some nights not to cave and have a glass of wine. The best cure for those nightly cravings was to read a blog entry, or a chapter from one of the aforementioned books, and go to bed!
In the summer, John at 6yearhangover offered to start a Gratitude Group for some of his readers. He was in one already and it was working so he offered to get another group up and running (purely out of the kindness of his heart) for his readers. I am so glad I responded that I wanted to be included. He set up the group and helped us come up with guidelines. In the group, we post daily our gratitudes – another hugely important tool for me – and now 9 months later, I have a solid group of online friends who really understand what I am going through.
In the beginning, I faithfully emailed Belle as promised for the first 100 Days, and then the next 80 Days. After I got to 180, I had to decide, if I wanted to keep going. By then I had such a good thing going with my Gratitude Group that I could not imagine dropping out. And I was really liking how I was feeling! More on that tomorrow, but I was getting hooked on not drinking! So I pledged to 365 Days. And I took the holidays one day at a time and every day since.
In mid-January, I was feeling like I really needed to talk with someone in person other than my husband. I started to see a therapist. That has been, for lack of a better word, so therapeutic, for me. I have not held back with her – I have been honest about everything. We are really digging deep. It is so good for me.
I also regularly listen to podcasts, including countless hours of The Bubble Hour. I laugh along with the hosts and their casual manner makes me feel like I am on the phone with them. Listening to Tara Brach, suggested by Mrs. D., has been so helpful. And I joined Mrs. D’s Living Sober site when it was launched.
While I have looked up meeting schedules for AA and Smart Recovery many times, to date, I have not gone to any recovery meetings, except for one which I went to in support of a relative in the summer of 2012. I can definitely see myself going to meetings in the future. One of my favorite blogs now is The Miracle Is Around the Corner, and I always look forward to reading Josie’s summary of her Monday meeting that she chairs. Finding a few good meetings to attend, and perhaps working the 12 steps, or working through the principles of Smart Recovery, is something I am seriously considering as I enter Year 2.
I will need to keep my motivation strong. And I have learned in the past year this was too hard for me to do alone. Reaching out and interacting with others tipped the scale in my favor. It gave me accountability and support. And I’ll never forget what my relative told me way back in the summer 2012. He said, “They say if you can stay sober for one year, it will change your life.”
I have taken one day at a time, and relied on the kindness of strangers for support, and I am now at a year. And I feel like my life, how I feel about myself mainly, has changed very much so for the better. My future is so much brighter. I will go into more detail on these points in my next post.
This post – the intended takeaways are: taking one day at a time and reaching out for support were the difference makers for me after May 12, 2014. 365 Days since my original post, I am posting here again on May 12, one year later, and I am so grateful.