- Newly sober. Here I was finding my way, wondering how long I could last. It was hard. I thought about it every day. Alcohol free time was counted in hours, progressing to days.
- Novice. Progress was counted in days then weeks. I experienced some of the amazing highs that come with freedom from alcohol, those psychedelic rainbow days where I felt invincible. It was still hard and my conversation was peppered by thoughts of 'oh, but I don't drink now'. The future felt scary but I acknowledged that yes, I was managing without alcohol.
- Improver. As time elapsed and the first months being AF clocked up I was learning all the time. Life was a series of 'firsts' as I went about my usual activities, experiencing them all for the first time sober. This was scary and each brought a challenge I wasn't sure I could succeed at. But I did. I took them one at a time and sure enough, it began to get easier. My thinking changed from 'oh but I don't drink' to 'It will be fine, I'll drive…' and I stopped considering whether I would be drinking or not, my default was that I did not. Ever. I thought about it much less and had a Friday night where I almost forgot it was Friday Night!
- Intermediate. Between six months and a year of sobriety the novelty had worn off. I'd blogged about the benefits, supported and given support, been through most of my 'firsts' and now took the clear head and masses of weekend time for granted. I no longer had great highs but neither did I have terrible cravings. I stopped feeling sorry for myself and got on with life the way it now was. I was still reluctant to imagine my AF life too far into the future. It still overwhelms me with a sense of impossibility. This period culminated in my first sober birthday. I thought this would be a fantastic day when I marked my great achievement but instead I actually forgot it was 'the day' until the evening and I did not feel I deserved a pat on the back. I felt that it had taken me long enough to wake up and smell the coffee, long enough where I'd repeated the same mistakes over and over again.
- Experienced. this week I've had to count up how long I have been AF when someone asked me. (18 months). I had two social events and, wait for this, I was looking forward to remaining sober! I was surprised and shocked in equal measure and never, ever, would have believed that I would ever honestly prefer not to have a glass of wine when it was offered. THIS, I feel, is true progress, to a new state of not just accepting but really embracing the concept of sobriety; feeling it is a positive choice I continue to choose as opposed to a life sentence I am serving. Then, a true first. Someone was put in touch with me, by another sober blogger, as we live close to each other. The 'newbie' needed to speak to someone real, in real life about their attempts to give up alcohol and would I meet? It was a big decision for me but all I could think about was how, three years ago, I wanted the exact same thing. I wanted to pour out to a real person all my ifs, buts, and failed attempts at moderation, and I wanted reassurance that I could do it by seeing someone who had succeeded. Someone agreed to meet me, more than once and left the door open. I got the feeling she would have preferred not to meet, but she did and I appreciate that to this day. I had not yet reached the stage where I knew I had to give up but it was a big step in that direction. I feel I owe it to something or someone to do for another what someone once did for me. I feel instead of 'paying it back' I'm 'paying it forward' and spreading the benefits. So I will meet this new friend and I will tell you how I get on!
Friday, 12 September 2014
Crossing the Chasm
I'm definitely at a point of transition. In the last week I've recognised another stage I've reached along the sober path. I'm glad because I have spent a lot of time without any further change or improvement and thought I had reached my status quo. But apparently not. To those who told me it would keep on getting better, I now believe you. Here's my sober path.