Staying Sober After Two Years

It’s been a while since I’ve written on the topic “How Do I Personally Stay Sober.”  I question, as I’m sure most sober bloggers have at one point or another, if there is an end point for a blog that started as a journal on what life looks like as you get sober.  Because, after a while, THANK GOD, life gets pretty mainstream.  So then what?  Does the blog change direction, and head off into a non-recovery sphere?  Does the blog start rehashing?  Or does the blog meander off into retirement?

I don’t have the answers to those deep, soul-searching questions, but I do know this:  recovery does not have a graduation date.  There is no point in time where I cross a finish line, wipe my brow, and say “great job on that sobriety thing” to myself.  I need to hone and improve the exercise “muscles” I’ve been developing for the past two years, and I need to do it for the rest of my life.

Having said that, day-to-day life in my third year of recovery looks very different from day-to-day life in my second year, which looked very, VERY different from life in my first few months of recovery, so I thought I’d write about what I’ve held on to, what I’ve let go of, and what I’ve modified within the last two years of recovery.

Year One

  • Four things, every day:  pray, go to a meeting, talk to another in recovery, not ingest a mind-altering substance
  • Started a blog, and wrote at least 5 days a week, which helped to clear my head, and helped connect me with still others in recovery
  • Found a sponsor who took me through the 12 steps of recovery

Year Two

  • Two out of the four daily activities done daily (praying and not ingesting mind-altering substances); meetings attended, but not daily, speaking to others, but not daily
  • Blog posting went down from 5 days a week to 4, then 3 days per week
  • Made myself available to sponsor people within the 12-step program

I will not be so presumptuous as to put bullet points for year three, as I am not even two months into it, but I can say that I am currently in a state that has me at my most serene about my sobriety thus far in the journey.  That is not to say that I will not get up from this computer and be hit with something that challenges me, but what has me feeling peaceful, feeling confident, is the awareness that sobriety is my first priority.  And it is in that internal commitment that I find the confidence to say I will go to bed sober tonight.

I used to worry that my decline in meeting attendance from year one to present day is a slow descent back into addiction.   Or that when I do attend a meeting, and someone talks about doing the 4th step inventory for the third time, I worry that I am not as committed to sobriety as I should be.  What’s nice is that I have an answer, a response to those negative thoughts, that calms me in an instant.  Wait, let me go a step further back:  what’s nice is that I have those concerns at all!  The fact that I’m doing mental pulse checks is leaps and bounds more advanced than my previous, let-things-happen-and-then-react-to-them-emotionally-and-inappropriately, way of dealing with life that I once employed.

So what do I do, day to day, that has me confident in my sobriety?  For sure, the one thing I have maintained and developed is my relationship with a Higher Power.  Call it a habit, call it superstitious, but my day does not feel like it has started right unless I get down on my knees and thank Him for all the past sober days, and ask Him for another one.   That connection has deepened over time, and I hope that I will continue to develop the connection, because the rewards have extended far beyond sobriety.

While I don’t attend meetings as regularly as I once had, I do have commitments to my 12-step program that keep me accountable, and keep me connected.  I would imagine that there is an ebb and flow to meeting attendance, as life circumstances change, but I feel no doubt that I am as invested as I need to be right now to be comfortable with my recovery.  A gentleman once wisely said to me “if you stay in the middle you won’t fall off the edge,” and for some reason that stays with me, and I work to keep myself in the middle of my 12-step Fellowship.

Possibly the most important thing I do, on a regular basis, is self-evaluate, and do the very best I can to keep myself in balance emotionally.  Whereas once I would have been completely without the skills to identify what I was feeling at any given moment, I now have self-awareness.  I can now put a name to the feeling I am experiencing in any given moment.  And if I find myself leaning too far in any direction, I work to bring myself back to center.  Whether that work is getting to a meeting, talking to someone about what’s on my mind, or just shooting up a quick prayer, I make dealing with my feelings a priority.

What I do know is that I’m in recovery from a progressive, fatal disease.  What I don’t know is what could trip me up, and have me thinking it is okay to pick up a drink or drug.  So I treat things as if they could be potential dangers, and I ask myself, “Can you stay sober?” for anything that has me out of balance.

Today’s Miracle:

When I reflect on my journey of recovery, I am overwhelmed by the miracle of consecutive years of sobriety (even if it is just 2!)… beyond my wildest dreams!

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Posted on March 13, 2014, in Recovery and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 15 Comments.

  1. What a tremendous accomplishment! As always, you inspire me!

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  2. Amazing! Thank you so much for writing everything you wrote today. You could be reading my mind! Thank you for validating my thoughts about my own recovery. 🙂

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  3. “Recovery does not have a graduation date.”

    Just brilliant. Genius!

    Thanks. I’m posting that one on my bulletin board…

    Sherry

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  4. I too sometimes feel I am not as committed to my sobriety as I should be…then I stop…who is saying that? My alcoholic thinking!!! And that is a sure way back down the abyss. Thank you for sharing your journey 🙂

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  5. Ahh, the comforts of sobriety. It’s very cool, very inspirational. And amazing. I am so very happy for you! What a great journey, this is, when I look back I see the changes and I am at ahhh, too. Have to pinch myself some times. And I love that last line there – so I treat things as if they could be potential dangers, and I ask myself, “Can you stay sober?” –

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    • Shoot hit the button too fast. Anyway that line is crucial for me. That is the one thing that I have constantly kept myself totally honest about – can I stay sober? Simple. But crucial. Thanks Josie. Hugs. And ps spring is on the way, I can feel it!

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      • Thanks Maggie, and I like yours… I do think that sometimes… I feel like I need to pinch myself too!

        Spring should be here already, dammit! But I’m heading out in less than a week, so I’m really hoping it has officially moved in by the time I’m back!

        Thanks, as always, for the comment(s)!

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  6. Love this, Josie. It is nice to have those concerns, agreed. I do find I compare my methods for staying sober less than I did a year ago…way less than two years ago. I worry less that not doing something means I’m backsliding. Though that worries me too, if I’m honest. I know this is a sneaky, destructive thing we’re dealing with here. It is an ever changing balancing act, and it sounds like you’re doing a beautiful job of staying on top of it and being open and aware. I’ve always admired your approach, every day more so.

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    • Thanks for saying so, I appreciate it! I think you summed it up perfectly… a balancing act: not overly confident, not in a constant state of anxiety that we’re not “doing it right,” just evaluating on a regular basis that we’re doing all we need to keep this disease in remission. Thanks for the comment, and I think you’ve got the balancing act down yourself!

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  7. I’ve found at 2 and a half years that there are certain thoughts that pop into my head that tell me I need to check in with myself. Those thoughts are usually related to thinking I wasn’t that bad. Ultimately, not drinking is my choice and as soon as I own that choice, I’m back on track. Great post Josie!

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