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Four weeks sober – an update and some thoughts

Old 03-29-2015, 04:12 AM
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Four weeks sober – an update and some thoughts

Update:

I’m 29 days sober today. This is not the longest I’ve been sober in the past 7 years, but it is the most calm I’ve ever felt. No cravings for the past 10 days at least – walking by the huge alcohol isle in the supermarket creates zero emotion for me. I see (and inevitably hear) drunk people on the streets on Fridays and Saturdays, but feel no need or wish to be part of the pack.

My brain has regained its sharpness. While I don’t know is this is the best it will get, it sure feels nice to be able to engage in complicated and unfamiliar tasks at work without the sluggishness and brain fog that was there beforehand.

One thing I’ve done differently from previous tries at sobriety, is taking a tea-spoon of cod liver oil every day and I do feel it has given me more energy to go about my daily business.
I look forward to the future and don’t dread it. Plans form in my mind and I feel now the motivation to carry them out one by one.
I am calm with the fact that I’m an addict – addiction changes nothing about my personality, ability or chances of finding success, unless I let it beat me.

Some thoughts (especially for younger people who come to SR):

These are just my own thoughts and my perception, what I’ve experienced and how it has affected me – neither is this rooted in rigorous scientific research nor should the following be taken as sure-fire advice that works 100% of the time.
Since I like reflecting on things, I thought I’d do a Sunday morning writing session here on SR. The weather outside is dark and gloomy, but I have a warm cup of tea, my head isn't throbbing from a hangover and I feel like writing for reasons other than work

I’m 25. I have my whole life ahead of me, but I have been destroying it without fail for the past 7 years (with one exception of 9 months of sobriety for academic reasons) by poisoning my mind and heart with alcohol. During this time, I’ve lost friends, girlfriends, academic opportunities, the little money I had, large swathes of my self-respect and the worst – my calm. But right now, I’m writing from a good place.

When I first came to SR, I was overcome with the support I received and I am deeply grateful for this to everyone who offered help. But (and I hope no one is offended by this, because it is not meant in that way!) I also soon noticed that the people giving advice are much older than me. Which is great, because as far as addictions go, experience is the best teacher. With this said – a 20 something does not yet possess all of that knowledge – and we all sincerely hope they never will. Telling a 25-year-old that he or she can NEVER do something EVER again (drinking, drugging) feels like it’s detrimental to the initial recovery process. While it is absolutely true, it is not perceived as such by the recipient. At least, that was the case with me. There is a significant difference to the meaning of ‘never’ for 20-year-olds and someone who is close to 50.

For the longest time, what put off the start of my recovery and kept my boozing going, was the inability to change the thought process that went along with alcohol. I would not and, at times, simply could not accept that I will never be able to take another drink again. And, to be honest, I still haven’t accepted that particular notion. What’s different, is that it does not bother me, because I can do whatever I want, really. I can dye my hair bright red, I can walk down the street completely naked and as such, I can also drink. The question is, do I want to?

For me, it now comes down to the consequences of my actions. And it’s ironic that, for a drinker, regardless of age, 25 times of being so drunk out of your mind that you do not control your speech and deeds is not sufficient enough to make the change. BUT that one time, when you were drinking, didn’t offend anyone all that much, didn’t pass out and the hangover wasn’t all that bad is more than enough to reinforce the thought that you can pick up the bottle with no horrible consequences in sight. So here’s a non-exhaustive list of consequences that, if acceptable for you, makes abusing alcohol ‘your thing’:

• Languishing in bed, mentally paralysed from a night of heavy drinking. The room smells like something died there. That’s also how you most likely feel – like death warmed up.
• Dreading that small indicator light on your silenced phone. Why? Because you only have a vague recollection of who you called, texted or messaged last night. There’s probably some stupid status update somewhere on your social media account as well.
• The feelings of guilt, shame and disappointment, because you once again had a choice to make at the bar. Every cell in your body is telling you that you made the wrong one. But this feeling fades away, right?
• Wondering where you’re going to get the money to buy food, because those ‘hotties’ at the bar were really worth spending half of your pay. They didn’t come home with you, because you got way too drunk and probably have no memory of ever arriving there yourself. Optional alternative – there is someone lying next to you, but he or she is not actually the person you’d like to be lying there. That person has left you.
• Drunk or sober, you have no energy to do the things you get genuine enjoyment from. Going to lectures is for nerds, right? You can always call in sick at work, right?
• The concept of ‘self-respect’ has eluded you for a while now. Since the world is unfair, has dealt you a bad hand, then it is obviously the world who’s to blame for all this mayhem that seemingly never ceases to surround you. If only you could figure out a way to get back at the world …
• You cannot remember the last time you laughed without a bottle in your hand. That only happens when you’re out drinking. Weirdly enough, crying comes more easily now without a bottle in your hand.
• Planning your future is something not worth spending time on. You live in the moment, right? You take yourself to the edge of knowledge and have adventures daily … Even though you’re actually just sitting alone on your balcony with a cocktail in your hand, listening to sad songs and dreaming about ‘what could be’.
• You want others to recognise you for the great, fun-loving, respectable person that you truly are. Somehow they don’t believe you (or in you) anymore. This baffles you to an extent, but is no reason for any real concern. You can always change. Tomorrow.

If the aforementioned is totally OK for you and causes you no anguish, then I suggest you go and have a beer. If this made you look at your current situation, knowing there are others out there willing to share their experience and offer help, then SR is the place to be 
Having said all this, I recognise my own humanity. I no longer feel the need to make a promise of ‘Never drinking again!’ to the world and everyone around, simply due to the unnecessary pressure it would put on me (and it has failed me in the past). Who are you going to be sober for? Someone else or yourself? This is not to say that I am not an addict – I am.

But this doesn’t bother me. My brain is wired a bit differently from those that do not take so easily to alcohol and other drugs. This is a physiological fact that needs no mulling over. It is what it is. And therefore, even though I cannot control when a craving will be triggered, I can arm myself with the most effective tools of countering those cravings. When I feel the notion of ‘I think it’s okay to drink now, I’ve been sober long enough’ at some point, I can always play the tape through. Revisit my memories and experience, the consequences alcohol entails. And then no longer feel the want to drink. I’m not powerless before alcohol or any other drug. I am a resilient, adaptive and intelligent being. And so are all of you!
Learn to love yourself first and foremost. Everything and everyone else will follow. And when you do, alcohol simply won’t have room in your life anymore. The effect of NEVER is neutralised and alcohol becomes more of a non-issue with every passing day.

Thanks for reading!
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Old 03-29-2015, 05:32 AM
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Congrats on a month sober kkik
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Old 03-29-2015, 06:12 AM
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kkik5,
I can relate with quite a bit of what you've said here and in other posts I saw from you. I know you were seeking other lawyers/people in law school in other threads as well as younger people. I'm 29, so maybe don't completely fit the bill as I'm 4 years older and I work in finance, not law, and am getting a graduate degree in that field (again not law), but I consider myself to be someone that works a lot with my mind.

Anyway, the thought of "forever" is truly challenging, maybe moreso to a single person in his/her 20s vs someone older with a spouse and kids, I do think it's still valuable advice. All the older people on here drank in their 20s and beyond and can at least attest to the fact that you simply don't grow out of alcoholism. It may change it's form away from the bar/party scene and you may need to try to hide it from your kids/spouse, but my hope that finding a spouse and having a family will cure my alcoholism since I'll be accountable to them has been set straight by those on here that have shown I'd just become a different type of alcoholic. That's why I'm on Day 39 and trying to quit forever.

I'm trying to use my relative youth to my advantage. I haven't YET suffered any health consequences related to my alcohol binges (not a daily drinker), BUT I have been hospitalized for being passed out drunk in places I shouldn't have been. I've not had a DUI YET, BUT that's more attributed to the fact that I live in a big city and don't have the need to own a car. I haven't lost my job YET or suffered any real consequences of my drinking at work, BUT my ability to fight through hangovers and get in on time cannot last forever.

Great job on 29 Days! I think you are doing the right thing by coming on SR and typing out your thoughts. Thinking about sobriety every day has made it easier for me to stay sober. When I got one month last summer, I wasn't active on here for the final two weeks and wasn't really thinking much about sobriety, so when the opportunity came up to drink during the USA/Belgium World Cup game, I went for it. Successfully moderated and then was pretty good all summer, but then things spiraled out of control again with blackouts and general debauchery.

Saying "forever" to never drinking again is hard. But I think you'd agree that saying "forever" to never having to spend a day in bed hungover isn't too hard. Or checking your outgoing texts, phone calls and social media pages for stupid stuff.

Stay strong. Good job on 29 days.
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Old 03-29-2015, 07:26 AM
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I agree nymets. Of course those who have more years on their side can attest to a lot more than we do. I've never known myself to be a person who learns from others' mistakes, though. But obviously, this, recovery and most of the circumstances are so different for people, that there is no one particular way of thinking or being that suits everyone.
What I've found most helpful on SR is the forum section where people share their stories when they've been sober for a year. Because I can relate to real-life events, it is more difficult with abstractions.
It's the same for me - although I've had trouble going to class (all the hangovers and the ensuing anxiety, shame etc) - nothing serious has happened with my health, now my job and my ongoing university studies. But the signs were very clearly there, meaning the signs as to where I was headed if I decide to continue.
The only thing about getting that 'Never drink again' quote is that it includes no explanation as to why someone should do that. For a person that has been around the block more than a few times, it's more about coming to grips with the state of thing. For someone troubled by the effects of alcohol abuse in the earlier days, the lack of an explanation is probably what leaves that vacuum between an introduction and a conclusion.

Some years back when I was contemplating giving up the drink (for good), I simply overwhelmed myself. Because alongside quitting drinking, I envisaged a total remake of my entire life. Eat healthy, work out, read more, be social etc. The usual drunken daydreaming, really. But I failed, because I overburdened myself.
Another thing was the difference between want/need. I felt I needed to be sober (meaning it was for something else, not for sobriety itself) and as soon as the obligation was done, I relapsed. It was 9 months to the day and there was not a single doubt in my mind that I wanted to drink. This time around I want to be sober for sobriety's sake. I enjoy all the benefits it brings and do not see it as an obligation. Hence my calm (which I didn't feel the last time around).

But as I said and as we know, it's all different for different people.

Thanks for the good wishes!
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Old 03-29-2015, 09:57 AM
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Fantastic kkik!! Keep pushing through!!
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Old 03-29-2015, 02:13 PM
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Nice work on the milestone. I'm glad you made the decision to become alcohol free and are reaping the benefits.
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Old 03-29-2015, 04:12 PM
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congrats on a month k5
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Old 03-29-2015, 04:30 PM
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Good post kkik - congrats on the milestone too
I also soon noticed that the people giving advice are much older than me.
LOL I was 25 once too - I promise

D
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Old 03-29-2015, 04:57 PM
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I'm 25 as well, I haven't posted in awhile, but I logged on after reading your post just to say nearly every word connected with me man... my eyes got watery... which is saying a lot...thanks for your post
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Old 03-31-2015, 02:46 PM
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It's April 1st here. So it's now a calendar month!

Thanks for all the replies, much appreciated!
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Old 04-15-2015, 12:31 PM
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Hi everyone - haven't noticed, but day 46 has come and gone for me. Being sober has stopped feeling 'weird'.

I've read on here and experienced it innumerable times myself, the situation where you say "No, I don't drink" and how it, for some reason, makes you feel awkward - but I found at least one place where it always feels awesome to say that! And that place is at your doctor's.

"Do you drink?"
"NO!"
"Awesome. Good for you!"

On the negative side. Every once in awhile I have a nightmare, in which I have been drinking or am drunk in a party situation. Always takes a moment to realise that your actually sober after waking up, because the brain simply replays events you've been through so many times that it doesn't even feel like fictional anymore. All in all, a scare and some cold sweat is the only real consequence as opposed to what would happen if I'd really been in that situation.

All in all, conciously, I have zero want for alcohol. It still isn't generating any cravings for me or making me miss the 'good ol' days'.

Good luck to everyone!
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Old 04-15-2015, 12:42 PM
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Great post kkik5! Really enjoyed reading it. I'm late forties now but so much of it chimes with my life both when I was younger and now.
Great work on getting and staying sober. Inspiring stuff!
Best Wishes
C
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Old 04-15-2015, 03:54 PM
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kik5, your post speaks to me enormously. I think your approach to drinking prior to your sobriety is very similar to mine, and we seem to have suffered much of the same consequences.

Especially the thought that 'when I get myself in a more stable situation, I will sort myself out'. I thought this had happened to me for a while - I was in a relationship (only 6 months) and during this time significantly reduced both the quantity and frequency of my drinking. We parted due to me permanently leaving the country, and I thought I was still ok as when I was back in my home country I continued with more controlled behaviour. Then what I described in the first post of my recent thread happened. All these months of more sensible drinking, and then a big bender which resulted in by far my worst ever hangover/withdrawal.

I guess the recovery has to come before the stability and not the other way around.
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Old 04-15-2015, 04:20 PM
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Thanks Member!

For me it is about my current state of mind. I mean, I know alcohol is everywhere out there and my friends occasionally complain about their hangovers to me, but I currently feel zero interest or, for that matter, lack any real reaction to it. I simply don't want alcohol or anything that comes with it.

Over the 6-7 years that I did drink since turning 18, I'm sure now that I didn't work half as hard on other things than I did on turning a blind eye to what alcohol was doing to me (or would continue to do, if I let it). Sure, when the first real signs appeared that something was wrong, e.g. friends giving you the 'look' when there's a bottle in your hand etc., I knew that alcohol was trouble for me. But I still wanted to consume it, because I felt that I could overcome these issues.

That's the whole point for me. I felt that I needed to stop, but I wanted to actually continue. Right now, I don't want to consume alcohol and so the need part has become irrelevant for me. First 2-3 weeks I had cravings, but now I have none. But still, I don't rule out ever having a drink again - there is no real point in doing that, for me at least.

As long as I don't want to drink, I won't and it's no problem. Should it change and the want returns, then I also know that I'll drink, no matter what the amount of 'need' would be. Past experiences taught me that.

I take sobriety as it is. I am fully aware that I do not consume alcohol, so subconciously I avoid situations where not not consuming might become an issue of sorts. Yet, I don't (anymore) make sobriety the sole focus of my daily life (nor that it ever was completely - you're just more careful in the very beginning). For me, thinking about it too much has not ended well in the past.

Hope you're well!
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Old 04-15-2015, 04:29 PM
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I always thought:

a) Maybe it will sort itself out or become manageable with either age, a relationship or a proper 9-5 job which prevents getting drunk the night before

or

b) I have time to make my plans to stop drinking and work out the best approach for me, and situation to do it from, because I still have some distance before crisis point.

If I think as a rational human being, my latest experience now tells me:

a) Even if it does become manageable for a while due to one or more of these reasons, that does not mean that it cannot also crash

AND

b) I might be a lot closer to crisis point that I think.

I now make the full admission that I will never be able to drink normally, and that crisis is inevitable if I do not stop (and might not be long down the line). Now I need to focus myself on finding the strength to actually do it (stop I mean).
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Old 04-15-2015, 04:45 PM
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glad to hear you are still adding up the days k5.keep it going
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Old 04-15-2015, 04:47 PM
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Keep on keeping on your doing exellent
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Old 04-15-2015, 05:14 PM
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@LBrain and soberwolf - thanks!
@Member - I see the similarities in our thinking now (at least I think I do :P), that concerns the 'hiding your head in the sand' part. For me, there was always a significantly greater sense of urgency when it came noticing signs that 'maybe I can moderate my drinking', eventually they became surefire lifelines for me, that actually always failed. And on the flipside, black outs and disorderly behaviour were 'work accidents'. It just happens, right? And these outbreaks were my way of expressing my true feelings of sadness, disappointment, heartache etc. etc. The logic was that drinking isn't the real problem , the hundred things that led me to the bottle, were. At some point everyone understands (I think, at least to an extent) that they're pulling the wool over their eyes. It then becomes about your reaction to the understanding - whether you make the necessary changes or let it slide and return to the contemplation a couple of years later, with the problems now being far worse than before.
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Old 04-15-2015, 05:21 PM
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You know the funny thing? I think I actively made the decision to 'make myself' into an alcoholic. For my first two years at university, my first two years of real freedom, I WANTED to be known as the heavy drinker, the hard boozing troubled intellectual. Most of my literary/artistic heroes were alcoholics and I wanted to be like them. What a terrible way to think! Well, I guess I need to unmake myself. A reassuring thing is that many of these literary/artistic heroes did recover, though usually after drinking for many more years than I. I guess a not reassuring thing is that many of them also died.

Another note, being an alcoholic I naturally frequently surrounded myself with other alcoholics. The vast majority are less 'binge drinkers' such as myself and more 'every-day drinkers'. I made them feel better about their problems because I got drunker than they did, they made me feel better about mine because I could take days off whilst they couldnt. Thinking about them now, even though some have managed to achieve things in their life despite their problem, I am not sure I am now envious of any of them.
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Old 04-19-2015, 03:14 PM
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50 days sober as of right now! Still a bit tired from my two weeks long illness, but other than that I'm feeling great. Mentally I feel renewed and my long-lost ambition is creeping back in - I want to accomplish things once again and push myself to become better at what I'm already doing

Thanks for everyone who has supported me thus far. Your presence has been of immense help
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