One Year Sober: Sobriety Journey Update
I reached a full year of sobriety on December 2, 2018 and to say it was spectacular is an understatement!
To realize after 17 years of trouble that I finally celebrated a year without any alcohol passing my lips was such an amazing moment – I’ll never forget the feeling I had when I woke up that day!
My husband treated me to a lovely dinner at my favorite restaurant on the beach, and it was as delightful as it sounds!
But in terms of blogging about it and writing my one-year sobriety journey update, it brought about much unexpected confusion.
You see, normally I give a quick (or long – let’s be honest) update about what I learned each month. The highs, the lows, lessons I want you to take from it, and move on.
But this time was different.
How Do You Even Sum Up One Year Of Sobriety?
I guess if I was to just do a “month 12” update it would have been okay. But I intended to provide a very deep, very thorough piece including everything valuable I learned and tried in that year.
So, in the week leading up to the big event, I revisited every blog post, every sobriety-related e-mail message, my social media accounts, my gratitude journal, affirmations, goal lists, voice notes… every artifact I created to keep me sane and sober for a year.
The goal was to be able to reflect on it all and lay it all out on the table for you.
Well, what I discovered was over 30 specific points that I thought you should know! 36 to be exact.
That Was Going To Be A LONG One Year Sobriety Post
I struggled for a while about how to lay that all out.
I asked my husband what he thought of an epic 12,000-word blog post going over everything I wanted to share, and he said he thought it would be okay if I made it jump pages… like maybe every 1,500 words you press an arrow and the next 1,500 words is on a separate page.
When I asked a friend, she said something like that would better be broken up in to parts. Like in once-weekly installments.
Someone else said I should just keep it cute and do a month-12 sobriety update. Not a one-year extravaganza.
All these ideas sounded okay and doable but when I sat down to create content for them… it fell flat for me.
It wasn’t right.
The Resolution To Sharing One Year Of Sobriety
I really struggled with this for a while because honestly, this blog is meant to share and help as many people as possible, and I do try to avoid talking too much about my experience as much as I can.
Except for the journey updates.
The journey updates are very personal, and they are the only place I give myself license to talk a little more freely about my life and what’s going on with me as a person, not me – the person who is essentially relaying the results of a series of experiments surrounding not drinking alcohol.
So, I wanted to do what felt right, to me!
Analyzing All The Data From One Year Sober
As you might imagine, there was just so much information in front of me that it was hard to process. But I finally figured it out!
I took all those points I was going to share individually and realized that really, they could be grouped into just a handful of major categories. Like each point was important on its own, but separately they didn’t really mean all that much. The categories tell the story.
THAT realization was exciting!
It meant that instead of a questionably long EPIC post that would be overwhelming for me to write (and for you to read), or a single update broken up into several weeks, or some other “meh” format… I could simply share everything I learned, did and felt was important in just 5 main topics…
And going forward those will be the topics of not just this one update, but the ENTIRE website!
Because you know what? This do-it-yourself (DIY) approach to sobriety just means you don’t go to meetings. It doesn’t mean you avoid working to break those chains that restrict you from your dreams.
So, for my one year sobriety update, I present the 5 categories — or dimensions — that sum up everything I changed, tried and upgraded to reach the relatively easy, fun, positive state of sobriety that I enjoy today – and can very confidently make the recommendation to anyone who seeks the same, try these things first!
5 Dimensions Of Focus For Positive Sobriety
What I found through my nearly 2 decades of struggling with alcohol was that swearing off the alcohol and vowing to “never drink again” was the easy part. Putting down the drink itself doesn’t really take much effort. The problem is that once your last sip of alcohol is swallowed, the rest of your life begins. So, what next?
I didn’t see that all those years and couldn’t really even put my finger on it until looking over the past year in the way I did, but the key to what I now call “positive sobriety” (quitting drinking and being happy about it) is in being able to answer that question in a very specific way.
To do this, to attain positive sobriety, you need to answer, “what next” in these 5 dimensions, or areas, of focus:
1- Tackling Your Mental Health
If you expect to attain positive sobriety, you’re going to have to get your mental health in check. That looks different for everybody, of course. Some of us have serious issues with things like depression and anxiety, while others may have an easier go of it.
I can’t tell you exactly how to get your mental health in check, but I do believe there are things all of us can improve to give us the strongest chance of success.
I’ve already written a bit extensively on some of these topics, but I plan to go even further in the future with others.
In a nutshell, however, in the past year I’ve tackled, conquered and beaten out the following items in the mental health category, and I think they are worth considering if you’re trying to beat alcohol too!
- Stress management and relief
- Knowing if/when to go to therapy or counseling and actually doing it (or being willing to do it) if you need to
- Dealing with the threat of relapse or coping with relapse if you fall
- Replacing addictions after quitting alcohol
- Navigating the pink cloud of sobriety with ease and grace
- Sharing your experience as a form of therapy
2- Infusing Your Mindset With Positivity
Depending on how your religious beliefs lean, you may want to call this “spirituality”. I tend to shy away from using that term because the goal of developing a positive mindset is supreme here, not simply leaning on a higher power to fix it, while you walk around still miserable.
There are plenty of deeply religious people living very unhappy lives. That’s not the point.
The point is to take actionable steps to intentionally shift your baseline state of being to lean toward the positive. It just so happens that the way you do this might look a lot like some of the things you’d do if you were trying to connect to a higher source.
But the higher power is NOT the focus, nor is it necessary – which makes this approach attractive to those who reject AA for the “higher power” reason. The only thing that’s necessary here is you desiring and willing to focus – intentionally – on shifting your mindset to the positive.
Here are some ways – higher power or not – to get there:
- Releasing all expectations (either positive or negative)
- Practicing mindfulness and living in the moment
- Practicing gratitude for all the things (no matter how small) you already have in your life
- Forgiveness of yourself and others
- Body positivity and loving yourself including (not in spite of) all your flaws
- Positive self-talk every single day (be your own best friend)
- Keeping your mind open to new possibilities
- Letting go of old stories and beliefs that don’t serve or uplift you
- Practicing affirmations
- Guided meditation
- Deep breathing
3- Focusing On Personal Development
Personal development is a HUGE category encompassing many smaller topics that are also still huge. One of the reasons I struggled so hard with the direction of my website is that I felt I was a little scattered at first – why on a sobriety blog would you also have a section for personal finance, for example?
In examining all the things that I worked on in my first year sober, I realized something.
If you expect to have a positive outcome, you need to upgrade and set goals and clean up ALL areas of your life. You absolutely can not enjoy a happy sober life if your finances are in ruin, if you’re in a job you hate, if your home and life are a total, cluttery mess. These things WILL pull you back to the drink because you’ll feel the need to escape.
Here are some general personal development topics you, too, might consider repairing, changing or upgrading to achieve your own state of positive sobriety:
- Goal setting
- Time management
- Efficiency (stop what’s not working for you)
- Courage (step out of your comfort zone)
- Declutter & Organize
- Personal Finance (cancel old payments, set your budget, pay off debt)
- Career Development (learn new skills, update your resume, find a new/better paying job, start a side hustle)
4- Managing Interpersonal Relationships
Most people who consider quitting drinking alcohol work themselves into a frenzy in the beginning – and with good reason.
If you have a circle of drinking buddies, it can be paralyzing to think how they’ll react or treat you once you tell them you’re not going to drink anymore.
If you and your husband have been drinking together for years, and you suddenly want to quit – how will that make him feel? What does that mean for your relationship?
At your job, you’re usually the first one to suggest going to the bar to celebrate a big win or a coworker’s birthday after work – then you start to decline those invitations, what will they think?
Navigating interpersonal relationships is a BIG DEAL, and if you expect to enjoy sobriety on any level, you’ll have to make some considerations, adjustments and plans to keep them well-oiled like a fine tuned machine.
Here are a few things for you to consider:
- Letting some people/relationships go
- Meeting new people who uplift and inspire you on your new path
- Realizing most people don’t care about your drinking
- Realizing it’s okay to stay private about your sobriety (and learning how to gracefully bow out of drinking)
- Learning to put yourself and your needs first (the power of “no”)
- Getting your husband on board
- Finding your support system or tribe
5- Prioritizing Self-Care
Finally, like personal development, self-care is a HUGE and very broad topic that encompasses many different elements.
Just like I struggled with why a sobriety blog would have a seemingly disjointed personal finance section, I couldn’t make peace with why I had this ENORMOUS (sometimes overshadowing) weight loss and intermittent fasting component.
But again – when analyzing why my past year in sobriety was so positive and successful – self-care came up, and yep – that includes taking care of your body and your beauty!
Weight loss isn’t the only dimension of self-care you need to consider, however. Here are a few ideas:
- Diet & Exercise
- Celebrating sobriety milestones in healthy, meaningful ways
- Developing new hobbies and interests that light you up
- Caring for your physical beauty (skin care, hair care, clothes that make you feel good, makeup if it makes you feel pretty)
- Overall health (getting enough water, sleep, regular doctor/dentist appointments)
- Relaxation/Pampering “Me Time” (this is VERY important no mater how busy you are… and before you say ‘I don’t have time’… remember you once found tons of time to drink and recover from drinking… you can find time to pamper yourself, sober, instead)!
One Year Sober – A Positive Sobriety Experience
So, I get it. It sounds like a LOT to focus on ALL these areas, right? And you know what – it is! But the key to finding happiness and success in it all is that you – like I – get to pick and choose exactly how you focus on all these things!
There’s no one right or wrong way to get there.
If you hate meditation, don’t meditate! Pick something else.
If the idea of starting a gratitude journal turns you off, record audio snippets in your phone instead!
YOU get to decide HOW you upgrade and change your life… you’re the creator and designer of this amazing project called “your new sober life”. Only select activities, exercises and goals that you find fun, and that’s how the “work” feels easy!
Going forward on this website I’m going to be sharing even more tips, tricks, exercises, worksheets, stories, videos, books and anything else I find helpful – but you don’t have to use any of it if you don’t like it and if it doesn’t work for you.
Anybody who tells you there’s ONE way to approach recovery is either lying to you or trying to sell you something.
If you really want the best recovery experience, try EVERYTHING. Throw all you have at it, because it’s your life, and your story.
I’m just here to help you recreate and share it.
If you haven’t already, enter your details below to gain access to my sobriety resource library and subscribe to my weekly(ish) newsletter.
I’m so fired up about ALL this and wish there was more time in each day, so I could share even more ideas with you… but alas… all good things take time!
I can’t wait to get to know you better and to hear what you have to say! So, join my mailing list, check out my YouTube channel, or leave a comment in the box below.
A happy, sober life is probably even closer than you think.
Let’s create yours, darling!