When sober gets old (Guest Post)

Thursday 3 Dec, 2015, 8:27am by Mrs D 15 comments

This guest post comes from my dear friend @suek. She writes brilliantly and is always full of such wisdom and warmth.  I will be publishing another post from her soon that follows on from this one – offering practical suggestions on how to approach life after sobriety.

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@suek. So you’ve made the switch to sober. That’s brave and amazing, and you know it. But 100, 200, or even 500 days down the track the novelty’s worn off, and you’re sitting there feeling a bit blah, a bit empty, perhaps even a bit disappointed. Wasn’t this supposed to be the Best Thing Ever for your life, to quit drinking? When you were boozing, didn’t you wake up thousands of times groaning, “If only I wasn’t such a looser boozer my life would be so much better.” So why isn’t your life so much better?

You put in all that effort and slogged through the brutal early days, you made it through your first Christmas and birthday and anniversary and work conference and Friday drinks at the office. You told your family and friends. You signed up for online support. You did it all right, and stayed sober. So what’s going on? It can actually feel like sobriety has let you down. You put in all that effort, and it’s ended up being blah and boring. A bit nothing.

Is this what’s happened with your sobriety? And if it is, how can you turn it around?

When I look around the sobersphere, I see two fundamental attitudes toward living sober.

You can approach living sober as simply giving up drinking – you cut a destructive substance out of your life, and leave it at that. Good riddance to bad rubbish.

OR

You can approach living sober as a chance to trade-in your crap boozy life for a new and better life.

The people who take the second approach seem to have an easier time being and staying sober. They’re the ones whooping it up about how much better their life is now. They seem to be cruising through. It’s easy to be mad at them. How come they get to be happily sober?

It’s not because they’re better or stronger or more privileged than you. It’s because they do some things that help make their sober life better. They probably do all sorts of things, but I’ve noticed three very clear habits of happy sober people;

1) They remember clearly the hell they were in.
2) They are very thankful to be out of that hell.
3) They make it a priority to do something different with their time and money.

Want to get on a happier sober track? Here’s how you can start.

Step 1: Remember clearly the hell you were in

When you start thinking that sober is boring and you probably could start drinking again, the first thing you need is a big reality check. You need to remember, very clearly, why you’re sober now, and why you’re even having this conversation with yourself. Why did you join Living Sober? Why were you motivated to stop drinking? What was happening in your life to make you think you had a problem? If you’re clear about those things, I believe you’ll be far less likely to start drinking again.

If you kept a journal or blog when you first got sober (or before you got sober), read it whenever you get the blahs. It will quickly remind you of why you don’t want to go back there. If you don’t have a record of what was going on in your life when you felt you needed to quit, make one right away. Here are some ideas for how to do that:

• Use the Living Sober “Sober Stories” blog post questions to write your own Sober Story. Mrs D has given us a fantastic Sober Story template there, so write down your own answers to the interview questions, and use it to remember why you’re sober.
• If writing isn’t your thing, get out your phone or computer and make your very own “why I quit drinking” audio or video. Make your own Bubble Hour show!
• If you’ve got a good sober buddy, get together, talk frankly about your drinking and sobriety, and record the conversation so you’ve both got a record of it.
• Dig up an old photo of you passed out at a party or doing something mortifiying. A collage would be even better.

Whatever it is, make sure you have an honest record of why you quit drinking. Then when you think “this isn’t worth it, I’m over being sober” promise yourself you’ll have a quick stroll down memory lane to remind yourself why being sober absolutely is worth it.

Step 2: Be very thankful you’re out of that hell

Gratitude changes your attitude. I promise you. Every day, write down at least one thing you’re grateful for about being sober. Even better, write down three things. I don’t care how mundane or repetitive you are. Just do this. It will re-train your brain to stop being nostalgic about the good-old-bad-old-days. It will also teach your brain to value and respect why you’re sober. You will start to feel fundamentally different about being sober. You’ll start looking forward, not backwards. You’ll start focussing on the benefits, not the losses. This is seriously good stuff.

Step 3: Do something different with your spare time and money

You have to get off that couch, and do something different. Basically, it’s time to make over your habits. When we’re drinking, we get stuck in ruts that support our bad habits, we don’t expect much of ourselves, and we make sure other people don’t expect much of us either. We spend the bulk of our time and money and energy on this limited life. Drinking and addiction can also totally strip away our confidence, our capabilities, our curiosity and our will to do pretty much anything except drink or use. Being sober means that over time you get a load of your personal resources back. You immediately get your time and money back, and those resources alone can make a huge difference to your lifestyle.

So what are you going to do with all the time and money you’ve saved by not drinking?

Read more from @suek here: Life After Sober

© 2015

15 comments

  1. Sue, you brilliant woman. This came at a great time. I’m on Day 507, doing well but had a blah week-end where I had thoughts of drinking beer. Breathed through it, got busy at work, don’t need that crap in my life! Thanks for writing it and thanks Mrs. D for posting it! xx

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  2. Sue, such an accurate and profound essay. You have to had to live IT, to be able write it, not easy, however this exemplifies who you have become , and gives guidance to all of us, we should be grateful. One thing we lose sight of when sobriety becomes NORMAL.. As people, humans, we were not meant to drink alcohol. It is not a normal part of life to drink alcohol. Alcohol has to be added to your life. Your life without alcohol IS your normal life. Alcohol in any form is a mind altering chemical depressant, it is not meant for your body, it,s toxic, a poison, your body wants to reject it, which is why we feel like sh……t after drinking. There is nothing healthy in alcohol, it,s been sold to us, as something we need to buy into , when we don.t, not at all. I am an alcoholic, .and i live a normal life, i can,t escape from myself or life. You have your real life, that,s your GIFT. When alcohol is ruining your life, it has to go. Then you can have your TRUE life .

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  3. Wow, Your post really resonated with me….as did behind-the-sofa s comments. I’ve done the hard yards and mostly have no urge to drink -10 more days and I’m 500 days sober (a staggering thought). But I’m very aware that I need to make an effort to do the next step and try and find the me I was, or at least develop a few more layers of interesting to the me I am now. Complacency is lurking, so I am going to focus on your three steps. They make sense and you write in such an accessible and relatable way -thank you!

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  4. I appreciate this post. Simple ideas and explained well. I am struggling with 3 though. I think I ended up addicted to shopping, whether it was browsing in charity shops, or shopping for something specific, because I was lonely & bored. Now I have too much clothes/stuff in my house and need to declutter!
    I need to identify or try different things for my number 3. Still working on that one!
    And I fell off the wagon after 13 months after losing my focus so 1 & 2 are great reminders for me if I ever get to the blah stage again.
    Thanks @suek

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    1. Hi there @shivalingam, there’s another post coming that focuses specifically on number 3. I have struggled with shopping too. I never spent a lot, but I was always “on the hunt” for that thing that would make me feel happy/loved/fulfilled, and in our culture, it’s easy to believe that things, whatever things we’re obsessed with at the moment, will give us those feelings. They won’t. I also have too many clothes, neck scarves and sweaters especially, and I think I obsess over them because they give me a sense of warmth and cosiness that I have felt lacking in my life. More a sense of comfort. It doesn’t work for very long, of course. I do have some lovely sweaters though! Now I’m trying to remember to consciously feel cosy and looked after when I put them on!

      It was interesting to me that when we moved last, I took carloads of things to the salvation army and the tip shop, and almost all of them were things I’d bought there over the years!!

      If you want some inspiration for decluttering and keeping your house decluttered and lovely, the Flylady website is a fantastic resource. Mrs D is going to post the next article soon.

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  5. sober does get kind of boring sometimes and you get into a bit of a funk and think what’s the point I might aswell just drink again…. but yeah holding onto the horror of what drinking was like and how low you felt before does stop me from drinking… well it has done so far anyway… it’s a little tricky though when you’re bored and want to get some kicks and you’re longing for that rush that alcohol gives you and then to combat that you remember an example of an horrific episode you had when you were under the influence… what I mean is, it doesn’t really cheer you up or make you feel better… it stops you from drinking but in a way sort of confounds my misery sometimes… you’re trapped in boredom or in a funk and the thing that used to release that for you no longer works…. so yeah that’s when you need to find another outlet… not always easy to engage in something when you feel low though… anyway, thanks… nice piece, really resonating with me….

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    1. I can also relate to this… it is almost like a bad relationship where you glamorize the good and conveniently forget the bad. I also miss the “highs” and fun that drinking gave me… but I sure don’t miss the bottomless lows I’d often feel the next day and just need to focus on that! Great post and thanks for your thoughts.

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    2. You’re right @behind-the-sofa, sober does get kind of boring occasionally. I guess it’s not such a bad downside though, considering how boring it was being drunk and numbed out day after day!! There’s a followup post coming about ways to find another outlet — there are so many. Glad to hear from you. I always think of you when I’m selecting my Friday evening music.

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    3. @Sedgey ……..drinking certainly enlivens you and makes you more outgoing and social…. that’s why so much alcohol is consumed around the world… you feel great when you’re drinking… you feel like the world’s a nice place, you’re a nice person and anything’s possible…. of course we’ve all felt the downside to drinking and we’ve had to let it go because it got to the point where it wasn’t fun anymore…. it just became a nasty dependency…. I do miss the good parts of drinking though…. it’s definitely like losing a part of yourself… a big part of your identity… and sometimes when you’re bored or low or stressed it’s so tempting to have a drink… that’s the battle…. you’ve always got to keep your eye on the bigger picture….

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    4. Totally relate to this. I find myself often feeling flat lately. And I’m not necessarily bored, but feeling boring, not having much to offer others, if that makes sense. I don’t necessarily want to drink but feel I often had more energy and was inspired to do things when I was drinking. It’s a hard feeling to explain.

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  6. Thanks Sue, great insight into what it takes to keep sober for the long run. I’ve been reluctant to write down some of the bad times when I was drinking because I don’t want to re-live the feelings of shame, embarrassment and self-loathing, but you have inspired me to put it all down, honestly, on paper so the next time I’m triggered, it will be invaluable. Thanks again.

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  7. Thanks Sue. That is all SO true! I think it’s so easy to forget why we don’t drink…. particularly when we’re surrounded by a million people who DO! I’m going out today to buy some delicious sparkly AF drinks to celebrate with!

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  8. Gosh that is so good to read, thank you. I have read this now two mornings in a row and gives me a boost to start the day. I love the comment Gratitude changes your Attitude an easy little thing to say but so powerful..

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  9. Thanks so much Sue, great post as usual :-) One and two are fairly easy but still fussing with number three, will take your advise to heart!

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