Three things that helped me quit drinking and stay sober for 100 days

1. I somehow executed this Jedi mind trick where I told myself I was done with drinking, and I believed it. 

I don't know how else to describe it, other than that I just honestly felt ready to be done. The internal voice had prepared me, all the other signs had led up to this; I was not just ready to stop drinking, but I was excited to be sober. It didn't feel much like a loss to me, but the opportunity to gain. 

That doesn't mean it was easy. I was breaking a pattern I'd kept for over 20 years: drinking most nights, drinking weekend days, drinking to celebrate or commiserate, drinking because work was hard or the day was easy or because the store sold alcohol or the fair sold alcohol or the beach/movies don't sell alcohol but I can pick up some before or carry it in a coffee cup so you can't see it's actually Chardonnay. There was not a time or occasion that alcohol didn't fit into for me and I thought about it constantly. 

That said, I didn't have a single night of the white-knuckled cravings I'd imagined. I had moments, sometimes long moments, of wanting, usually when I was driving home from work, and would have, in a prior life, stopped to pick up a bottle. But then, I'd get home and not miss it at all. That surprised me. I'd spent countless evenings in the past debating from my living room whether I should go get wine, which would usually end with me heading to the supermarket in shame. Now, I didn't want it but my brain was still telling me it was time to get some.

Weekends were the worst. January and February were rainy and gloomy, offering few opportunities to go outside. Typically, I would have started drinking in the late afternoon or early evening, just to give myself something to do. Without that, I felt a vast emptiness and almost desperation thinking about the hours looming in front of me. I saw friends and worked out and did what I could to keep myself busy, but it all seemed so pointless without a drink as reward. I just feel like I have nothing left to look forward to, I remember crying to a sober friend, who reassured me otherwise. My heart knew that wasn't true, but alcohol had always given me such a lift, a purpose for getting through the one thing so I could do that thing, I didn't know what to do with myself. So, I just sat through the feelings until they passed. Even among my despair, I didn't really want to drink. Never once believed drinking would make me feel better. 

I know this is shitty, probably unfollow-able advice for anyone looking to get sober, unless they too woke up in the same - what I consider miraculous - mindset. But it's the single biggest reason I think I've stayed sober so far, so there it is. And who knows, I'm only 100 days in, I probably shouldn't give advice at all.

2. I read.

I loved reading as a kid. Would devour library books and novels passed down from my parents. But as I got older and started incorporating alcohol into my evenings, I mostly passed time in front of the TV or computer. I thought wine amplified the entertainment.

Reading is the one thing I never did when I was drinking: after one glass, I couldn't follow along with the plot, and I never stopped drinking at one glass. So when I needed to disrupt my regular routine, do something I wouldn't associate with drinking, reading was the perfect solution. It's worth noting, I found myself drawn to addiction memoirs.

Here's the list of books I've read since January:

Secret Bad Girl: A Sexual Trauma and Resolution Guide by Rachel Maddox - I'd heard the author on Andrea Owen's podcast talking about Somatic Experiencing (SE) therapy and it struck a chord. I ended up researching SE and finding my therapist thanks to the book, so it was worth the read though not that well-written.  

The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo by Amy Schumer - This was a palette cleanser after the one above, and it was hilarious and deeply sweet. She uses some of the stories here in her new comedy special, but they're much funnier in the book. 

When You Are Engulfed in Flames by David Sedaris - I believe the author is sober, and I love him, but I bought this because it was $2.99 on Kindle. 

Bumfuzzle - Just Looking Out for Pirates by Patrick Schulte -  The guy I'd been dating in December had this book on audio and we started listening to it on our trip. The trip ended before the story, and this was a free download, so I finished it. 

How to Murder Your Life by Cat Marnell - This was brilliant and heartbreaking and I hate calling it a great read because it's pretty tragic, but it's meaty and engaging and everything you want from a book. I knew Cat a bit. I worked with her for years, pitching her products and meeting with her for appointments. Twice I brought my boss to meet with her and she was brazenly high both times. I didn't understand how that was possible at Conde Nast, and even after reading the book I still don't understand. But I have much more compassion.

Lit: A Memoir by Mary Karr - I thought she used a lot of unnecessary fancy language but the story was riveting, and I quickly downloaded her other memoir,

The Liars Club - The writing here was much more straightforward and easier to read; the story was just as riveting.

1984 by George Orwell - I actually had a hard copy of this sitting on my shelf for 10 years. It was a bit over my head when I bought it, but I knew I'd want to read it someday. Ugh. This was a hard, yucky, heavy read that hits too close to home in our current political climate.

How I Got Sober: 10 Alcoholics and Addicts Tell Their Stories - These humorous essays provided another palette cleanser. They didn't go very deep, but for $1.99 on Kindle, they were fine.

Blackout: Remembering the Things I Drank to Forget by Sarah Hepola - Probably my favorite of everything so far, edging out Cat's simply because Sarah's has a more optimistic ending. So well written.

Below Average: A Life Way Under the Bar by Lianne Stokes - Not addiction-related, but a memoir written by someone I went to college with and crossed circles with in New York, so a fun read. 

So yeah, reading.

3. I found a sober community.

And not through AA. Weirdly, the one thing I haven't done is go to an AA meeting. I don't have a good reason why, I just haven't gotten there yet. I can explore that more in another post. 

In my first month, feeling bored and maybe uncomfortable in my skin, I started Googling; to be honest, I don't even remember what I was looking for. But I found Hip Sobriety, a blog and way of thinking about recovery that wasn't focused on the AA/12-step model, and it flung wide open doors in my brain. I read through most of Holly's posts in one night; subscribed to the HOME podcast immediately. Realized co-host Laura had her own blog, which I subsequently poured over, and became really excited that there were people, women my age, talking about sobriety and recovery in a way that was beautiful and intelligent and provoking. I was hooked and stimulated and passionate about something... something that wasn't drinking. 

I listen to the HOME podcast all the time (it all comes back to podcasts for me!), working my way through the older episodes as new ones come out. Most of them are pretty long, so they last me through a few commutes. Laura and Holly often have opposing, but complementary takes, and I find myself relating to both equally. I don't relate to everything, but I'm learning, and feel this outlet has given me more hope about sobriety than anything else I've come across so far. I LOVE it. 

I do want to go to an AA meeting at some point, if for no other reason than to meet other sober people , but for now, this small community is filling that niche in just the way that I need. 

100 days today.