One year ago, on August 20, 2014, I reached my 100 Day milestone. Outwardly to those very few (probably 3 people) who knew I was doing a 100 Day Challenge, I did not proclaim that I would keep going on this journey for another year. Really, I did not know myself at that time. What I did do is pledge to Belle to get to 180 Days. That would take me to mid-November, past my birthday and a Disney trip I had been planning for my family. 180 Days would also give me momentum into the holidays I thought if I decided to continue. While I felt fairly confident this time last year that I could make it to Day 180, I did not know at 100 Days whether I would pledge beyond 180 Days. As 180 Days approached, I was still a bit undecided. I remember asking Belle if I could then pledge to 300 Days. She responded that the next pledge would be to Day 365. I pondered and took the plunge.
I made it to Day 365 and it felt like a huge milestone for me. Well because it was! I had not gone 1 year without drinking alcohol in a very long time! I carefully planned and drafted 4 posts in honor of my one year mark. Writing those was exhausting but so worth it. I have looked back on those entries often this summer.
While this is my first post since then, I have continued to stay alcohol-free. And while I don’t count the days in my head any longer, I periodically check my day counter app. I planned to write a post on Day 400 but it did not happen. (I did change the color scheme of my blog though around that time). And then I planned for Day 450 but that did not happen. I did not have the motivation as I reached those days. But today, I have the motivation to write here.
Among countless other things I have learned in the past 465 Days, I have learned that blogging does not come easy to me. I feel self-conscious about what I write. I worry about revealing too much where somebody in my real life would figure out it was me if they discovered this blog. But would that be such a bad thing? I honestly used to worry about if I died suddenly and my husband found this blog and discovered this secret identity of mine. So as 1 year approached I made sure I told him about my viatoday blog, my gratitude group, my pledges with Belle, etc., my Via gmail, and yahoo accounts.
He was totally supportive. He was proud of me for finding something that has really worked for me. I don’t know if he’s ever come to read this blog but he knows it is here. He knows that through a combination of online resources, I have been able to string together 465 days of sobriety – my original 100 Days plus an entire year!
And I know this too – I am doing it – I am still on my way every day! Many of my fellow bloggers have said similar things. Find something that works for you and leave the rest. I have found that taking one day at a time as much as possible works. I have found that being part of a small gratitude group where I can post something quick almost daily really works. I have found that using this blog as a place where I can post on a less regular basis, but when I am really inspired to share with a larger audience, works. And this blog has become a place I can come back to myself and re-read my own words and learn from my own journey. I have found that reading others’ blogs really helps as well as memoirs and books I have previously mentioned. And while I am not part of a program, I have found that reading the materials of AA and Smart Recovery really helps. Listening to podcasts (The Bubble Hour and Tara Brach) while doing housework or when I am feeling lonely or vulnerable is extremely helpful.
And I started therapy, which has been such a gift to myself, as there have been some really tough moments in the past 465 Days.
In the past year, there were some unexpected deaths. Earlier this month, my father-in-law died. My family and I are still reeling from this. Before him, in the past year, there were several acquaintances (five people I knew between the ages of 40 and 50) who died. These individuals were not my best friends – but people I knew – and their deaths affected me because of the closeness in age to me, the young kids left behind, and the cumulative effect of their deaths from various causes – some sudden and some through long sicknesses. Last September, a friend’s father committed suicide.
While I don’t want to go into detail here on these matters, what I do want to share here is that I am really relieved I did not use wine as a tool to cope. I am following Tara Brach’s advice of letting the feelings come, riding the waves, feeling the hurt. And I am following my own advice of taking one day at a time.
I happened to notice on my app day counter the other day that it was Day 461. In doing the math, I realized that August 20 would be Day 465 and I started thinking fondly back to my Day 100 a year ago. It has been a journey indeed – and not an easy journey all days – because really so much has happened. But there were lots of happy moments for sure. For example, we had a great Disney trip last November and an awesome ski trip in December/January. My daughter made her First Holy Communion in May and her proud grandfather was by her side most of the day.
I am so glad that none of these moments over the past 465 Days (happy or sad) are forgotten or hazy because of alcohol. And I am relieved to know that none of my conversations with people or emails to them over the past 465 Days were in any way influenced by alcohol, especially when some of these individuals were in the toughest moments of their lives after losing loved ones.
So this is where I am at Day 465. This is not the most upbeat of my posts I know but I felt inspired to check in to let people know I am still on my way today. And while I cannot promise forever, and I know my posts here are farther apart too, I am still taking one day and a time alcohol-free and still striving for the many goals I set back in May 2014 and setting new ones. I have gotten so much better at not procrastinating, although it is still one of my major issues. But in this year of great loss to so many people I know, the question, “Why put off until tomorrow what you can take care of today?” has really taken on greater meaning. As much as I have wanted to curl up in a ball at times (and some days I did just sleep late because I needed to), and as much as I have wanted to say “F- it” and have a glass of wine other times, I am finding the inner strength to push through these times. And I am still learning and expanding my horizons every day and attempting to stay true to my word of year 2015 – growth. So I will try to check in again around Day 500, or sooner, if I feel so inspired.
Have a good day. Remember every day is a gift. And today is the first day of the rest of your life!