Sober Hindsight

Sunday 28 Sep, 2014, 12:19pm by Mrs D 18 comments

Sober Hindsight is one of my favorite things about living alcohol-free. I talked about this in my Bubble Hour podcast… and also just mentioned it when replying to a member in our ‘Members Feed’ this morning.

Sober Hindsight is something you only really experience when you’ve got a few sober weeks under your belt, and you’ve managed your way through some rough times without drinking.

In other words you dealt with some shit raw – without numbing yourself with booze.

It’s hard work doing this right? Especially when you’re newly sober because your brain is screaming for it’s usual coping mechanism.  “Aaarrrggghhhh!!!” you scream internally…’Give me some relief! Poor me! Poor me! Pour me a drink!”.

But if you resist, if you don’t pour yourself a drink, if you dig deep and grind your way through the shit without reaching for that lovely numbing liquid (which really isn’t lovely at all but a false, temporary fix).. and the shit gets dealt with or fades away.. and more time passes… then sober hindsight is your payoff.

It come a good few weeks after the event … so you’ve got to have a decent amount of space between you and the shit… and you’ve got to have calmed down again and still be not drinking. If that’s the case and you’re thinking back over that tricky time, hopefully you’ll start to realise you feel quite remarkably resolved about it. Or at least better than you usually would if you’d boozed your way through like usual.

I was gobsmacked when this first happened to me. Just by being sober through a huge upheaval and properly feeling my way through it meant that I felt more resolved about it, calmer about it. I had a better understanding of it.

It was when we had to relocate cities and I was newly sober and didn’t really want to move. I cried and cried and cried and cried and cried my eyes out. I was in a lot of emotional pain.. deeply sad about leaving our lovely community rich with friends and family. I was absolutely gutted and bawled for days. Honestly, it was intense and really hard work.

Then we moved.. time went on and things started calming down in the new city … and suddenly I realised that while I was still sad about the move, having cried so many tears over it meant I felt ok. Better than I expected myself to feel. It felt like I’d honored my feelings by shedding so many tears and that alone made a huge difference looking back. That alone was enough.

Simply by fully experiencing the deep uncomfortable emotion associated with our move, I felt better about it. I’d still moved cities.. I still miss my friends and family terribly, but because I honored  those feelings it felt ok.

Honestly, you just have to try it to know what I’m trying to explain. Stay sober though a tough time and for a while afterward – and then hopefully looking back you’ll understand what I’m trying to describe here.

Has anyone else felt this way? Tell me if you’ve experienced Sober Hindsight. Have you ground your way through some shit without booze and now looking back you feel quite resolved about it? I’d genuinely be interested to know if others have experienced this….

Love, Mrs D xxx


  1. It has only been a few days but the emotional upheaval I was in over Ebola in Texas and my daughter being in the medical trenches as an ICU RN there has passed without a drink and in no small way due to the support I had here at Living Sober. I was fearful, and angry at my husband as he retreated into himself and was curt and dismissive of my very understandable fear. As a RN of 40 plus years I know how fallible humans working in hospitals are and do not believe the US healthcare system is so “ready” to face this crisis. So I felt the fear, did what I could to rationally present my suggestions to my daughter (get the hell out of ICU!!) and confronted my husband with how his behavior was not doing anyone any good. He spoke with my daughter and came out of hiding so that was good. Now I can look back and be happy I was sober thru it. I felt my feelings (will be doing that again and again) and came through it sober. It is so rewarding.

  2. I can definitely relate to this! As so many wise folk have discovered, putting down the Cabernet does not mean that you will be farting roses from now on. Life is still sticky, uncomfortable, and sometimes downright painful. When you are done slogging through the mire of the early days and when the pain of being sober becomes much less than the pain of getting drunk, you will stay sober. Life moves forward and a new normal will emerge.
    Traveling is very difficult for me due to communication issues, the stress is sometimes overwhelming. A recent trip through the very large very hectic Atlanta airport was tricky. Dealing with transit security guards and dogs due to a bomb threat while unable to hear was dreadful, when my husband very nicely requested that we be allowed on the same line, it apparently raised some suspicion, we were then ‘treated’ to a ‘full Monty’ type of pat down, I was repeatedly yelled at because I was unable to follow their directions, It wasn’t until the flight home that I realized how hard this actually was to get through and how much more anxious and miserable I would have been if still drinking. I used to truly believe that it helped to ‘take the edge off’” but my sober hindsight has finally cleared my thinking.

    1. I concur with anonymous below… what a beautifully expressed powerful and simple idea.. ” When you are done slogging through the mire of the early days and when the pain of being sober becomes much less than the pain of getting drunk, you will stay sober. Life moves forward and a new normal will emerge” Bravo @QuietlyDone xxxx

    2. ” When you are done slogging through the mire of the early days and when the pain of being sober becomes much less than the pain of getting drunk, you will stay sober. Life moves forward and a new normal will emerge.”
      Wow. A powerful and simple idea – beautifully expressed.

    3. @QuietlydDone sorry not up to much at the mo but ‘farting roses’ made me giggle. That hasn’t happened for a long time. Thank you.
      PS If I want to buy milk, yoghurt, non lacy drinks etc at my local supermarket I have to sidle past the wine and then again as I approach the checkout where all the special offers are. Haven’t quite mastered that yet.

  3. I’m doing big sober hindsights right now actually. Lately I have been really wanting to drink, last night I made a decision to start again, I was done with being sober.
    WHY WHY WHY I keep asking myself, why do I want this drink.
    I was feeling lost, disappointed, restless, unloved, extremely sorry for myself, hence to desire for a drink. I didn’t and I won’t but at 91 days I’m beginning to really see a pattern forming, I’m feeling stuff which I don’t always understand but it’s not a good place to be so drink takes me somewhere else. Only now I know those feelings don’t change and most definitely don’t go away and in understanding what I am feeling and then understanding why I am empowered again and strong.
    I may not resolve anything but I am at least okay and haven’t made it worse.

    1. Hello,

      Something, I really try and remember is, when you’re an alcoholic, drinking is only fun for the first 10 mins.

      I relapsed at over 100 days and it’s not that I beat myself up for that, I just truly thought it was such a waste. I realised that being sober means more to me than drinking. I find it helpful to write down the reasons I love being sober. Number 1 being, I’m learning to take care of myself and I like that.
      Happy sober days,

    2. @freebreezi this – THIS!! “I may not resolve anything but I am at least okay and haven’t made it worse’..

      Yes!! We don’t have to fix things but we don’t have to make them worse either.. and the more sober days that go by the more calm we get about most things .. I did anyway.. there is no exact path for all of us sober people but this has been my experience. I love this comment and I love having you here xxx

  4. Yep, I get you :D Yesterday was one of those days that I just want to forget. I felt extremely depressed and despondent. The sky was grey and my newly operated knee was aching and I just felt miserable. Consequently, I did a pretty good job of making my family feel miserable too. BLEH … And by evening I did think “crap, crap and triple crap – I need a drink!!!!!! The only thing I knew to ease the mental anguish.
    I thought of your blog that I had read in the morning and I thought, yeah this is what Lotta is talking about. Getting through a shit day and resisting alcohol. I did do it, I didn’t enjoy it and was in tears by the end of the day. But survive it, I did and I feel better today.
    Thank you MrsD – you are a gem xxx

    1. Hey @madandsad this is great… and now even more days later how does it feel looking back at that tough day and having got through it without booze. Hopefully you’re clear about what was going on.. or at least not AS confused as you would have been if you’d numbed your brain to oblivion with booze… all that numbing has such a cumulative effect.. this is what I was so surprised about when I got sober.. even though I was a ‘high functioning’ boozer and my drinking was always after 5pm and I was holding down my life ok etc etc… the overall numbing that I constantly did through most of my days had a massive cumulative effect on how I experienced all of life. I never knew! Part of the reason I love being sober so much.. my whole experience of life with all it’s wide open space is soooo different and ultimately soooo much better even though being raw is tricky sometimes. This is a long reply. Goodbye xxx

  5. Hi Mrs D. I can relate. Public speaking has always made me nervous. Thus you can guess my solution to this: I would get sloshed the night before so I could sleep,and on the day, have a few more for ‘Dutch courage’ before the event. I now realise that it’s OK to be nervous before a speech. But it is not OK to be nervous and ‘under the weather’ as well. One actually makes a lot better and credible speech without the alcohol.

    1. Oh yeah @elliot I can relate.. .public speaking is something I’m only just starting to do and it does make me nervous for sure!!!!!! I like that you say ‘one actually makes a lot better and credible speech without the alcohol’.. I just figure I have to talk as if I was talking to one person.. because really a crowd is just one person many times… xxx

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