When I think about the first 30 days of my sobriety today I have an overwhelming sense of relief.  I don’t ever want to go through that again.  I mean, it was incredibly difficult to simply turn it off and stop drinking daily.  But that’s what I did.  I stopped.

I remember overwhelming fatigue.  Fatigue that hit hard in the middle of the day.  Most days of that first 30, I was down for the count for a solid 1 to 2 hours in the middle of the day.  Thankfully I work form home and so I got away with it.  I don’t know how I’d have dealt with it if I were in an office or on a job site.

I remember not wanting to cook dinner.  My routine was to pour my first glass of bourbon as I started cooking dinner.  By the time I was putting dinner on the table, I’d have had 8 ounces of bourbon.  I just didn’t know how to cook dinner without getting drunk.  Every time I cooked, I craved my booze.  I learned to get around that by drinking ginger ale or ginger beer while I cooked.

I remember “getting squirrely” when there were too many people around, and by too many people, I mean anyone besides myself.  People seemed to say all the wrong things.  Everything seemed to set me off.  I learned to make phone calls and go to meetings when those feelings hit me.  In reality, I just didn’t know how to deal, with anything.

I remember reading.  A lot of reading.  I read the Big Book.  I read This Naked Life, by Annie Grace.  I read twitter and found my #recoveryposse there, but I didn’t follow anyone, I just searched hashtags like #sober, #soberlife, #sobriety, and #xa — after finding that #aa got me all kinds of strange shit not related to sobriety.  I read blogs that I could find on being sober — most seemed to be written by women.

I remember going to meetings.  Every day,  whether I wanted to or not, I went to a meeting.  And I listened.  I shared.  I am not sure what I said made any sense, but people were kind.  And that made me feel better.  Sometimes someone could relate.  Sometimes someone had advice for me after a meeting.  Sometimes it was good advice.  Sometimes it was bad.  I learned over time to distinguish good advice from bad and if I wasn’t sure, I talked about it with others.

I remember lots of questions.  Should I go to 12 Step Meetings?   Do these people know that God has nothing to do with my sobriety? Should I go to a SMART Recovery Meeting?  Why aren’t there any Refuge Recovery meetings in my area.  Should I be in rehab?  Should I tell my coworkers?  Should I write about this on my blog?  Who can I trust?  Who can’t I trust? Am I going to make it through the next 5 minutes without a drink? Why am I so full of questions?

I remember going to a wedding of a fraternity brother two weeks after quitting drinking and being deathly afraid I wouldn’t make it.  I worried so much about it, I gave myself a migraine.  I remember when the ceremony was done there was a buffet table of Manhattans (one of my favorites) set out for the guests.  I remember getting a call from my sponsor while at dinner at that wedding and my friend saying, “who the hell is calling you? Everyone you know is here.”

I remember having “normy” friends over for dinner and not serving booze.  No one questioned it.  We played board games and laughed.  We talked about real things, like you know, what was going on in our lives.

I remember drunk dreams.  Dreams that I had slipped and had one, but not told anyone.  Dreams where I was living a lie.  I still have those dreams sometimes.  They are a good reminder to check in with where I am in my recovery.  Usually, there’s something that I should be doing that I’m not when those dreams come these days.

I remember thinking that I just might make it as I approached 30 days. I remember feeling a great deal of hope because I was doing something to fix what had been broken for so fucking long.  I remember the feeling of relief that came when I picked up the phone and called another alcoholic or when walked into a meeting.  I remember realizing that I was not alone.  I remember  reconnecting with the world and suddenly realizing that there is a lot to be said for having fun without booze.

It’s been 10 months to the day since I first admitted that I was an alcoholic.  My life has changed for the better in many, many ways.  I have reconnected with my family.  I have reconnected with my creativity.  I have learned to get through the day without losing it (most days).  I have eased up on meetings — I go often, but not every day.  I came out to my friends and family and started writing this blog.  I’ve met people in real life who I never would have spoken with if I weren’t sober.

I am grateful that I stuck with it.  I know that I haven’t “graduated” but things have gotten so much easier.  If you’re in your first few months or even your first 30 days of sobriety, trust me, when people say that it gets better it does.  And if you stick with it, before you know it, you’ll be living a life that you can barely comprehend.





16 thoughts on “Remembering the first 30 days…

  1. Awesome Damien. Just hold on a minute though… It’s about to get real. And bumpy.

    Let me know when it happens and I’ll let you in on what’s happening. Nothing to worry about, it just gets interesting for a bit.

    Liked by 4 people

      1. It will but this next rough patch will be a little tricky. It happened to every sober person I’ve ever known, right around a year (mine was nine months in). Like I said, nothing to worry about, just keep your wits about you.

        Liked by 3 people

  2. Damien, Have you ever heard Father Tom W speak? Years ago I was at a big AA “spring fling” yearly event and he was one of the speakers….he said that the early weeks and sometimes even months of sobriety are like walking around without your skin on and all of your nerve endings are exposed. I’ve never forgotten that. It gave me such compassion on those I love who battle their way through for any time of sobriety.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. This is a great recap. I can’t believe you went to that wedding with two weeks. At my two weeks, the doctors allowed me to have my shoe-laces back. I’m so glad I followed those same hashtags and connected with you man.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Yeah, the wedding was a serious challenge, but I had my wife by my side and a plan including an exit strategy. I’m glad you followed those hashtags and we connected too, there have been times when your tweets and writings have really resonated an saved my ass.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Very real feeling snapshot of the first 30 days. Yeah, the wedding would be brutal. And the cooking (somehow still haven’t reclaimed my former love for it…maybe one day). Congrats on your 10 months.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. That’s a very real, honest post. It rings a LOT of bells. I know I would have been too scare to go to a wedding 2 weeks in ! Well done on your 10 months, that’s really fantastic 🙂. Lily 🌷

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank for you kind words, Lily.

      I nearly canceled on the wedding, but it was really important to me to be there with my friends. They’d dated in college, broken up, graduated, lost touch, been married and divorced, and reunited by chance in their mid-forties. There were people there who I’d not seen in 25 years! It wasn’t easy, but it was worth it in the end.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Great post! The first 30 days can be treacherous. I always got a bit squirrelly around the year-mark, as well. I went to as many meetings as I possibly could for the first several years. Just don’t forget where ya came from!
    Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 3 people

  7. Yes – the sleeping! I was always knackered. Luckily I was out of work, so either I was at meetings or in bed (or eating a bag of cookies in one shot). And as far as the drinking while cooking – bloody hell, me too. One of the hardest things I had to do Damien was to cook and NOT drink at the same time. It was an automatic thing – once I got into the kitchen, the booze was there. It was a hard habit to crack. I ate take out food for a bit so I wouldn’t have to face that one.

    Anyway, thanks for this, Damien. I loved it, and could relate to so much. So much fear, apprehension, etc. What a difference this all makes.


    Liked by 2 people

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