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Doing Sober Time

One of the benefits of following many sober blogs, groups, and pages is the abundance of reminders we can receive on a daily basis about our ultimate goal of living an alcohol-free life. One of the negatives is the abundance of reminders we can receive on a daily basis about our ultimate goal of living an alcohol-free life. There is an incredibly fine line separating some of the positive reminders from some of the negative ones in the recovery process. Something that has occurred to me lately is the, arguably negative, reminder of time. It seems to be one of the overarching themes in recovery. Now, don't get me wrong, as I have said many times throughout my blogs, if something is working for you then it works, and congratulations. I just can't help but challenge some of the things I hear when they do not make sense to me. One of those things is the undying need to remind ourselves of our time served.

Think about it. When you tell someone you do not drink, what is one of the first things they ask you? "How long have you been sober?" Or, "Why don't you drink?" These two replies sound a lot like something you may hear in prison. "What are you in for?" Or, "How much time did you get?" Why do we act like we are doing sober time when in fact we are actually receiving a gift. There is nothing negative about sober time and the sooner we realize this the sooner we will begin enjoying our time served rather than simply enduring it. There are many correlations we can make to the idea of time served, and none of them hold a positive connotation. When we use the abundance of time to describe something, we are generally describing something unenjoyable. Rarely do we say something like, "I had the most amazing time, it lasted forever." No, generally we say things like, "I had the most amazing time, it went too fast." The abundance of time is usually perceived like this, "I had the worst day, it lasted forever."

If we perceive time to be passing slowly, it passes slowly. If we perceive

time to be passing quickly, it passes quickly

Not to be too brash, but if our sober time is dragging, we may not be doing it right. think of a time when you had something incredibly important looming in the future. When you focused on how many days until the event arrived, how long did time appear to pass? It felt like an eternity, didn't it? Now, when your life got busy and you forgot about the looming date for a little while, how quickly did time appear to pass? It passed quickly. Why? Time is a funny thing. For one, time is a man-made construct, it doesn't really exist. And two, it relies almost entirely on our own personal perception of it. If we perceive time to be passing slowly, it passes slowly. If we perceive time to be passing quickly, it passes quickly. Is there really any difference in the amount of time passing in either scenario? No. The same number of seconds, minutes, hours, days, months, and years passed whether we perceived it to be passing slowly or quickly. How we perceive time is a choice and so is how we experience it.

This brings me to the ever-popular idea of counting days and even the concept of one day at a time. Again, if this is working for you, then keep it up, you are doing amazing and I am proud of you. If, on the other hand, you are new in sobriety and anything I am saying here resonates, then keep an open mind, and let's see where this takes us. I have been a large proponent of NOT counting days for quite some time now which, of course, is ironic if you know my sober beginnings. For those of you who do not know, I began my sobriety by writing a sober blog every day and I did so for the first 101-days of my sobriety. Each blog was titled, "Sober Day __." Later, I published those first 101-days of my sobriety in a book called, "Alcohol-Free Straight Up with a Twist; A 101-Day Journey Toward Easy Sobriety," all of which are dependent on the idea of time. Nevertheless, even though the beginning of my sobriety was largely dependent on time and counting days, I remember very distinctly feeling relieved when I wrote my first blog after those first 101 days. It was called, "After 101 Days of Sobriety." I was happy and relieved to let go of the titles revolving around my sober days.

All I know is I do not drink, and I haven't for quite some time. Put that on a chip

Since that day, I have never posted about my sober days again. If I am totally honest, it is tempting because I know I would get a barrage of internet love if I did, but I personally prefer just knowing I am doing it on my own and I am doing it for myself. I didn't post about my six-month day, my year day, or any other day because I honestly do not know when they occur. All I know is I do not drink, and I haven't for quite some time. Put that on a chip. Have you ever heard of object permanence? It's the understanding that an object still exists even when it cannot be seen or heard. It is part of the child development stages. Basically, it is the point when peekaboo no longer works for a child because they know you are hiding. Well, if we looked at early sobriety as a child, then object permanence, or sober permanence would occur when we stopped feeling the need to count our days because we know our sobriety still exists whether or not we focus on or count the days.

This is also why I do not like the idea of one day at a time either. While I know it works for many people, for me, it's a time bomb. I say this because to tell myself I only have to make it one day gives me a quick and easy out if I do not make it that one day. "Well, I knew one day was a stretch so..." I prefer the one life at a time approach. This is where I choose life over my addiction and live in a manner supportive of that decision for the rest of my life because I know I am worth it. Is this oversimplifying a massively complex and worldwide problem? Sure, but is it possible? I am here, and many other people whom I have met are here to tell you it is not only possible but it is also plausible if you give yourself permission to believe it. The problem is you have to let go of all those preconceived notions accompanying the negative aspect of social media and recovery in order to accept this as a potential reality. If you do, you just may find that your sober time is no longer felt as time served, but time that is finally lived. And, guess what? You deserve it, too.

Too often I hear people telling others what their experience should be

As we all know and have heard countless times, sobriety is an individual and personal journey. We all experience different things throughout our process and we all require different things to succeed in our sobriety. With that said, it is important for us all to allow each other to find our own paths and walk the lines we need to walk in order to know what our individual journey looks like. Too often I hear people telling others what their experience should be, how it should feel, what struggles they will experience, and whether or not they are doing it right. While I know we are all trying to be of service and help others in sobriety, sometimes, it may not help as much as hinder someone's progress.

Imagine someone new on their sober journey. They are doing really well and feeling strong. They wonder if what they are experiencing is real because they never thought they could quit drinking so easily. They decide it doesn't really matter because right now they feel good. In a conversation with a sober friend, they tell their friend they have found sobriety to actually be quite easy. The friend chuckles at them and says, "Oh, just wait, it gets harder. You are simply on a pink cloud right now. Give it time, it will get much harder." They shrug off the comment and continue living their sober life, but with one difference. Now, they have this nagging feeling deep down in their core questioning their experience. They go through each day waiting for the other shoe to drop because they now know what they are experiencing is only a fleeting moment of misperception. With each passing moment and experience, they wait for the struggle to come, and guess what? It finally comes because they knew it would, and they struggle just like their friend said they would. Later, someone approaches them with a similar experience of an easier time with sobriety and they say, "Oh, just wait..."

You were not tainted with the negativity surrounding other people's struggles.

You found your own way

Now, let me tell you about my sobriety. I began my sobriety feeling really good too. It was not hard for me because I engaged in some really helpful activities along the way. I wrote about my experience, exercised, took on some new hobbies, and generally changed the way I looked at alcohol and my relationship with it. I knew I no longer wanted it in my life, so I behaved in a manner that supported that desire. Sobriety was easy for me. One day, I met a man, Bobby C. who had been sober for thirty-five years. He asked about my experience and I told him how easy things have been for me. He asked a few questions and then came to the following conclusion. He said, "You know why sobriety has been easy for you? It's because you were not tainted with the negativity surrounding other people's struggles. You found your own way." I remember distinctly saying to myself, "that makes so much sense." At the moment I met him, I was just starting to interact with the sober community more and I was beginning to hear all the horror stories associated with other people's sobriety. Bobby's comment justified my feeling and I have been able to ignore all the negativity encircling sobriety ever since. My sobriety and my sober time have continued to be easy and enjoyable.

Remember, we have a choice in how we experience our time served. Whether it is in life, our job, our relationship, the dentist's office, or sobriety, we can change how we experience time and therefore how we experience these events. Undoubtedly, someone who began reading this blog didn't even finish reading it because they felt I am way off base with my feelings regarding the potential for easier sobriety. As I said earlier, we all have individual paths on this journey. If what I am saying does not resonate with you, I encourage you to stay on your path or find your own as well. If what I am saying resonates with you, or even if you simply wish it did keep an open mind in your experience. Seek out and find information and people who support what you WANT your sobriety to feel like. Listen and learn from everyone, but only adopt what feels right for you in your soul. Choose how you experience your life. Choose how you experience your sobriety. Choose to enjoy your sober time.

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