Month 2: A different kind of battle

First week sober. Check First month sober. Check. Second month sober….. oh shit.

For me, day 40-45 of sobriety were far worse than my first few weeks of sobriety. There were a few days I drove past my favorite liquor store with one eye on the road and one eagle eye on the liquor store. It was far difficult for me during that time than it was when the physical withdrawals were occurring. One night I was on the verge of a relapse when I came across the comment on /r/stopdrinking on reddit by the user “offtherocks” which is the focus of this post today.

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“The second month is harder than the first because getting sober and staying sober are two completely different things. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that if you got one month you can easily get two. The skill set required to complete the second thirty days is not the same skill set that’s required to complete the first 30 days. The game will change many times throughout your sobriety. People who have been sober for a couple years face completely different struggles than people who have been sober less than a year.

And then, because different people are good at different things, it’s not always true that the second month is “harder.” Think of it like running a triathlon. Good swimmers may excel in the first leg then struggle with the running. Good bikers may nail the third leg but struggle early on. The different stages of sobriety are as different as the different legs of a triathlon or decathlon.

I’ve noticed that a lot of people struggle around the 30-40 day mark. My theory is that it’s because the initial motivation for getting sober (avoiding the bad) only works for about a month or so. After that, you’ve gotta find a new motivation. For me, that motivation is gratitude. I stay sober because I am grateful for the good things in my life, not because I’m trying to avoid the bad. Problem is, the gratitude motivation hasn’t kicked in at 30 days. So the period you’re in now is a no man’s land. You’ve lost your existing motivation but haven’t found a new one.

It helped me to take note of the small perks of sobriety. For example, when I was drinking, I always avoided getting too close to people, because I was worried that I smelled like alcohol. So, when I interact with people now, I take note of how nice it is to not have to worry about things like that. Over time, this practice helped me to switch from staying sober because I had to and staying sober because I wanted to.

Hang in there. Things do get better. But realize that the game has changed. The swimming leg is over. Adjust accordingly”

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One Response to Month 2: A different kind of battle

  1. Paul says:

    Well said, in terms of the difference in getting sober and staying sober. Staying sober obviously starts with…getting sober. And of course we relish in the positives of getting sober. We feel better, etc. But as you mentioned, many get restless. Some sooner than later. The new-ness fades and we’re left with “now what?” And that’s where people struggle. Some have programs of recovery, others find some other coping strategies / support. In the end, there has to be some sort of plan to tackle the things that like to bring us back – fears, boredom, unchecked feelings, “triggers” etc.

    Gratitude is awesome. I often rely on gratitude in many situations, especially when I am getting into self pity. So there is always something to be grateful for!

    Thanks for this.

    Paul

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