I only realised a few weeks ago that I was about to hit 1000 days sober. I have a little app on my phone that counts the days but I rarely check it now. So I got a bit of a surprise when I opened it, looked at my calendar, did some adding up on my fingers and realised the 1000 day mark was going to fall on New Year’s Day. What are the chances?! I’m convinced it’s a sign that this year is going to be a really, really good one.
I’ve been thinking about how much has changed for me since I stopped drinking. There’s so much – and all of it is good. If I knew back then what I do now, I’d have definitely stopped sooner. But I know how hard it is at the beginning, when your drinking is niggling at you and your gut feeling is that something isn’t right. And yet you still can’t quite get your head around the idea of not drinking again.
Perhaps you’ve promised yourself that you will make changes and it all starts today. Maybe you’re reading this through the fog of a New Year’s Eve hangover, trying to summon up the energy to follow through on your resolution. If that’s you, then I hope you go for it.
Here are a few things I’ve learnt during the last 1000 days.
Not drinking is the right decision. I thought I’d start with this one because at first I wasn’t sure it definitely was. As you know, sobriety is generally painted as a boring, prudish, punishment – something that only needs to be considered when all else has failed. Surely learning how to live a full and happy life without relying on a poisonous substance is a good thing? Yes, it’s hard at first but it gets easier. Of course it does. If it sobriety required full-time, herculean strength I for one would still be boozing. As it happens, these days drinking seems as alien to me as smoking or taking drugs. I have lost the sensation of ‘needing’ a drink.
The clearheaded, focused feeling of sobriety is addictive in itself. When I drank, I spent so much time simply treading water, going round in circles. I drifted from this idea to that, unsure of what I really wanted. Living free from fog and confusion day after day makes it so much easier to carve out a life you actually like.
All the things that bother you in early sobriety will go away. I spent a lot of time at the beginning wondering if people would notice, wondering what to tell friends … I even started panicking about what would happen if I ever got married. Never mind the fact that I wasn’t in a relationship – I was preoccupied with what I would do about the toast on my wedding day! In early sobriety, thinking long term is really scary so my advice is don’t do it. Just trust that everything will work itself out.
It’s easier when you get some help. Trying to get sober on your own is like attempting the Sunday crossword by yourself. You’ll struggle over clues that someone else will get straight away. So make it your mission to get out of your own head, soak up new information and seek out help. You are investing in yourself and your future. Keep experimenting. It’s not enough to say, ‘ok well this time I’m going to try harder’. If you keep doing the same thing, you’ll get the same results.
Being quietly rebellious is really fun. Drinking is what people do to fit in. It keeps you under the radar, one of the sheep, one of the gang. Early sobriety feels like wearing a neon sign on your head and I for one, didn’t like it to start with. Yet after a while your perspective changes and being different feels kind of cool. We live in a world where supermarkets sell booze right next to the bread and milk. Every advert for wine tells you it’ll make your life better. By choosing to live sober I am rebelling against those messages and that feels good.
We don’t need to drink in order to feel accepted and liked by others. Alcohol may appear to oil the wheels and turn you into a social butterfly but it’s never very authentic. It glosses over too much. We shouldn’t have to drink in order to stomach spending time with friends. I’d rather have the real deal any day.
All the things that you think drinking provides you with are already inside you. That’s the real secret. But you don’t discover that until you take the booze away. You’ll also be rewarded with better skin, more energy, more money, quality sleep and a general sense of awesomeness. So hang on in there – it’s more than worth it.
Happy New Year everyone!
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Love this, especially the last reason. All very true! Yes, it’s very hard in the beginning, but trust me that it does get easier. Much easier, the farther you get away from day 1. So to anyone reading this on day one, just do it for today. Keep adding those days up, and you WILL find that damn voice in your head quiets down and life will get so much better
Thank you! Happy New Year 🙂
Fantastic site, just what I need at the beginning of my AF journey. Only on day 3 but will count every single day as the beginning of the rest of my life. I’ve wasted 30 years to the poison. It’s not going to consume the next 30. X
Thanks! I loved and needed this. Four months today. Getting better every day!
Thanks Kelly – and congratulations on your four months!
This is the first New Year’s day that I woke up without a hang over. It feels great! And reading your post this morning was a perfect complement to what I’ve been thinking about. Thank you!
Happy sober 2016!
Well done Elizabeth – I’m really pleased to hear this! Happy new year 🙂
Thankyou so much, I needed to hear your good advice today. 5 months sober and Christmas and new year have been a real struggle for me. I’ve resisted and I’m proud of myself but i felt so dissappinted that it was a struggle. You’ve given me new strength today, thankyou Kate xx
It’s great that you made it through Christmas Jayne – you should be proud of yourself. There are lots of sober firsts in sobriety and your first Christmas is a big deal. 5 months sober is a brilliant achievement x
Reading this newsletter and realizing I’m not alone in this. I feel like head is so messed up that drinking always seems like the right answer. Today is day 1.
Thank you for the encouragement!
Well done Jody, the decision to name day 1 is a massive step. I felt liberated by it and with each passing day a huge sence of achievement.
Thanks Jody – good luck! x
Great post Kate
2 years on Sunday for me since I joined the sober revolution.
I’ve lost 5 stone in that time and saved 5k
It wasn’t easy at first but nothing worthwhile generally is though it’s probably one of the best decisions I have ever made.
Happy New Year
Wow Mark you’re a great advert for sobriety! Congratulations on your two years – impressive stuff 🙂
This post is wonderful! 366 days sober here!
Well done Abby! Hope you celebrated your 1 year anniversary in style!
Somehow I’ve got through Day 1 and two parties. French lemonade doesn’t taste very good. I must find another substitute. Ideas?
Amazing post thank you Kate! ! This was my first sober NYE in 18 years. My resolve has never been stronger. Love the rebellious point of this post the most. Happy new year and congrats on 1000 days ❤❤
This post is giving me hope! It’s early days for me and I have so many worries and fears. But everything you’re saying here makes so much sense! Also, it was great waking up on NY day without a hangover!
You should could hart beats. A much stronger, and more profound reminder of sobriety time. Last time I checked ,I had 97 000 000.
I love the quietly rebellious reason, suits me very well! Congratulations on 1000 (and 1) days, that’s awesome. I’m a fledgling at 26 days.
Day 2 for me (again!)… trying to more actively seek out help online as I’ve been lurking for too long & need to step up. It’s busy in my head & I need to read this…especially the bit about it getting quieter in there! Thanks.
Congratulations on 1000+ days of sobriety!!! Thanks to you and your article for the BBC I’m 707 days alcohol free! Thank you x
Wow that’s amazing! I’m really glad that article helped. Congratulations 🙂
I fell off the wagon and I did drink at Xmas time, after being sober for 3 months. I did not drink to excess and I finally understood that drinking does not make the occasion – you do. I will continue on my sober journey as I know full well the potential to binge drink once I have that first drink is always present. Not having that first drink is the only solution to not binge drinking for me. I had plenty of occasions leading up to xmas and NYE where I was sober and had a great time. I have slayed a lot of my sober social dragons!!! I feel confident about a sober 2016.
It’s so good to see other people coming round to the idea of sobriety… I have tried before and failed, largely because I could not admit to myself that I had a real problem and that there was no way I could ‘control’ my drinking(when I did control my drinking I didn’t enjoy it!)
I have been sober since 2nd of January this year, I’m 33 and ready to give it a proper go this time. It is so reassuring to see that you have managed 1000 days and that you are feeling fab! It’s a great inspiration for me, and I’m sure for others too. It feels really daunting looking out from where I am!
Happy New year to everyone at sober school.
Keep up the good work, it’s really appreciated.
Well done! I’ve just given up after 27 years of drinking (and recreational drug habit). You have inspired me with your blog. I can do it and I’ll read these tips to give me strength. Thank you x
Congratulations!! You are amazing!! 1014 days today!! Keep those numbers ticking up 🙂
Loved this! I’m approaching 1000 days myself – will hit the magic number on 4/15/16. All of the bullet points are things that I’ve felt/discovered along my journey. I’m actually getting married in three and a half months and I remember in early sobriety wondering about what I would toast for my wedding. That’s the last thing I’m worried about now! There are so many options of non alcoholic, and DELICIOUS beverages to fill my sparkly glass with! If it weren’t for my sobriety, I wouldn’t have found the love I have for myself – which in turn means I wouldn’t have found the love I have for my fiance. My sobriety has changed my life, and I hope to never go back to what it used to be. <3 <3
Congratulations Jenna! I hope you have some big celebrations planned 🙂 All the best for your wedding too! x
Thank you so much!
Thank you so much!
Hi Kate, what app do you use to track sober days? Thanks
Loved this, it’s a good support. I’m 100 days today so it’s still early days, but everyday I feel stronger.