My First 100 Days Sober
This is a huge milestone, a goal towards which many people work. They focus on it, it is motivational, something to achieve. I reached my first 100 days sober without even realizing it. For two reasons. The first reason was because after the first couple of weeks I stopped counting the days and just got on with my life and secondly I didn’t want to reach 100 days of sobriety and think, now what, or worse – I’ve done it.
At a local event I ran into a friend I hadn’t seen for ages “You look amazing” she said. “You’ve lost loads of weight. What’s the secret?” I told her that I had stopped drinking and when she asked me for how long I couldn’t remember so I guessed at about 4 months and had to look in my diary when I got home to check. Turns out it was 102 days. I couldn’t quite believe it. Where had the time gone? When did I stop crossing the numbers off the calendar?
I know a lot of people find this helpful but I find the opposite is true. It’s like you’re wishing your life away somehow and at the beginning if you set yourself this goal, it can seem like such a long way away and it feels scary. Of course, in the very beginning I was proud that I’d knocked off four, five, ten days with no alcohol in my life but as the time went by I didn’t want this to be the main focus of my days.
Jason Vale puts this very well in his book Kick the Drink Easily when he says ‘At what point did Nelson Mandela realize he was free from his imprisonment? It was of course the very second he was let out, the very second he stepped outside to freedom’ That was and is how I wanted to see my life, even in the early days. I was finally free from the alcohol trap and could finally live my life how I deserved to.
Of course, everyone is different and this approach can be really positive but it can also be negative. In one social online group I was in someone posted that although it was great seeing everyone’s achievements, when they posted their number of alcohol free days, it made them feel bad if they weren’t as far down the line and was actually less inspiring.
Also many people wrote, ‘back to day 1 for me….again’ and beat themselves up even if they’ve had 74 alcohol free days, they think that because they never made it to day 100 in one clear swoop then they have failed. This is not good because it can make you feel like you’ve achieved nothing and are not getting anywhere fast and in some cases it might even make you give up.
Each journey is unique and personal and we focus on changing your whole life for the better
In our social group we have a rule that we don’t publicly announce the number of alcohol free days we clock up as we are all at different stages of our journey. Each journey is unique and personal and we focus on changing your whole life for the better through the removal of alcohol and by adding long lasting good alternatives. You are already achieving something amazing the moment you sign up. And when you sign up it doesn’t matter if you’re still drinking, or if you already have a few days or indeed 100 days under your belt.
Equally people stop drinking during different stages of the program. Some find that after a week they are ready, others realize that they stopped at some point during the program but can’t quite remember when and others never give up completely but simply find the freedom to choose if they want to drink or not (more often than not they don’t but it’s not the main focus in their lives anymore)
The main thing though is that we never judge and it really doesn’t matter if you have a drink after day 6 or day 66 as long as you remain committed to your journey then you will get what you set out to achieve.
Another reason we don’t count the days is for the simple reason of when do you stop? At day 3482? And what happens if after 16 months or 22 years of not having alcohol in your life you have a glass of champagne at a wedding, do you have to go all the way back to day 1? Absolutely not.
I understand though that having some kind of reference is helpful and these are some of the things people use to help their motivation or celebrate achievement:
- How much money they have saved
- How much weight they have lost
- How many books they’ve read (and remembered)
- The names of all the films, theatre shows they’ve seen (and remembered)
- New places they’ve been to
- Sober holidays or sober events attended
Personally the achievements I’ve made and benefits gained have been:
Better sleep, losing weight, more cash, more relaxed and calm, doing an all night rock concert and waking up after only a few hours sleep feeling great. Learned new meditation techniques, reach my goal of 11000 steps every day (well, almost) in general just feeling amazing every day – from day 1 onwards! (I talk about how quickly you start to get better sleep in this post here)
The list goes on and on as it will for you so focus on the positive changes and good feelings and experiences. But please don’t count the number of days as you will run the risk of always counting and life’s too short.