50 days and why i decided to count this time

I’ll just skip the apologies this time, the ones you deserve and the ones I feel for not writing in such a long while.

Today I have 50 days. I realized this sort of by accident. I knew it was coming but the stress at work and home and within me have all conspired to shift my focus away from sobriety.

Yesterday was the beginning of a much needed 2 week holiday. I need it. Yesterday we took the electric car to Italy, a stressful venture indeed, but one that ended up okay. There’s not enough infrastructure here to really support these trips, and we made a couple of navigational errors that could have ended up disastrously. We coasted into the first available charging station in France, in Monaco…literally on our last sparks. When we got there, there was no power! Prince Albert is supposedly a big environmentalist so he’ll get a strong letter from me. It’s hard enough to plan trips around the charging stations that are available without coasting into one and finding it useless! Ha. Luckily there are 2 in Monaco and we made it to the second one as well, but because of parking we had to block a lane of traffic for half an hour. The police came to shoo us away but let us be after we explained. Maybe they’ll let old Al know about the non-functional station. ๐Ÿ™‚

OK enough of these little details! While we were shopping yesterday I had the first really strong urge to drink I’ve had during this sober trip. I was so beaten down emotionally after my last drinking spree, I haven’t been too tempted (outside of the first week or so). But yesterday I was slammed with the thought that I could just drink through Christmas and maybe that would make it all better. So here I am, back here as fast as I can get here.

Emotionally I’ve been struggling. We finally have an appointment mid-January with a psychiatrist who will look at our whole family dynamic and at each of us individually. The first one we tried focused only on Olivia, and while that is definitely important, I feel strongly that her problems are our problems are her problems and that this business needs to be treated holistically. More and more I get the feeling that having depressed parents just might possibly be contributing to my child’s depression. Ya think?

Slowly over the last few weeks she has gotten better. Thank goodness. But it was a really rough ride, especially for her, and especially for her teacher. I’ve never really gotten better. Everything at work has just exploded (for better and for worse)…and I had a huge realization this week that the only thing I really have control over is how I react to all of it.

All this to say that when we see the psychiatrist in January I’m going to ask about some options, including medication. When I was at the school Christmas show/party this year, feeling absolutely awful, I realized that I was feeling exactly the same way last year. And when I start looking back farther, I realize that I’ve been depressed for a long time. So it’s time to ask for some help and be open to anything. I mean, just “working on myself” and “trying to stay positive” simply isn’t doing the trick. The last time I tried medication was about 12-14 years ago and I took Paxil. I didn’t like that I just felt completely separated from all of my emotions. But that would be better than completely losing my mind on a regular basis and leaving emotional carnage all over everyone I love.

During all of my attempts at sobriety this past year or so, simply not drinking has lifted my awful mood, and usually fairly quickly. This time that’s never happened for any extended period of time. So. Yeah. I think I need more help.

So. 50 Days. I should feel celebratory and happy and proud of myself. In some ways, I do. But all I am really hoping for is to get to the point where I am not merely surviving or coping…the number of days is a bit of an afterthought to be honest.

Speaking of day counting, I’ve gone through lots of iterations of thinking around this. Riding on Empty has a great post about it, and I’ve wanted to throw my thoughts in about this for my current trip. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Everything he says there, about the danger of being so emotionally tied to a certain number, or looking back, or fearfully looking forward at the possibility of ruining EVERYTHING over a drink…I believe all of that is true. I chose not to count days for quite awhile and I think that really worked for me. For awhile.

When I got the message that I’d been blogging on this site for a year, I wrote a post about the number of days I had remained sober during that year.ย  I was literally shocked to realize, after counting everything up, that I had been sober for 75% of the days of that year. I had been so busy beating myself up for all of my failure that I didn’t notice how well I’d actually done. And truthfully, I believe now that every day, week, month, year sober just adds that much more power to our ability to stay sober.

I have a tendency to get really legalistic about a lot of things, and sobriety is no different. But I think this time I can honestly say I’m not really that tied to the days. For me it’s not about that anymore, thank God. What I can say is that because it’s been SO difficult for me emotionally this time, I am a lot more scared of taking that first drink. Maybe this is the level of fear/respect I need to have around alcohol, I don’t really know. But if I needed a new day 1 tomorrow, I hope I wouldn’t throw away all the great experience I’ve had, every great sober day I’ve had, just because I was “back” at Day 1. A sober day is a sober day is a sober day, and any sober day is one in which I and everyone in my life wins.

So why do I count? It’s simple. I’m just curious about where I am in the sobriety journey. For instance, based on the past year or so, and my many attempts, I know I have a trouble spot usually around 40-50 days. Not that I want to hide under the covers during this time, but I do want to be aware. I want to be able to notice any thoughts or behaviors that might indicate I’m more likely to take a drink on my typical moment of whimsy.

Ouf I think this is a truly awful all over the map post. But I’m sending it out there anyway!

How are you doing? I want to know. And I’ll write another post in the next couple of days to talk about the hoolidays.

Much love and light to you…D

12 thoughts on “50 days and why i decided to count this time

  1. I know there is a lot of different thoughts about counting and there are a lot of different types of people on the sober journey so i get it.
    I came into sobriety thru AA, so counting was part of the deal…
    well, kind of counting.
    In AA there are milestones…30, 60 and 90 days, 6 months, 9 months and a year
    The fact is that I only counted those first 30 days, and then that was it. After that..the 60 days came on the 21st of the next month, 90 the 21st of the next and then on thru that first year. Now I just look at years and march 21 is my sobriety date.
    And that’s the way most of the folks I know did it in AA…
    the idea is that we all only have one day, so the keeping track in the first year is helpful because it sets goals and also there are little “chip” rewards…
    but it’s the daily slog, that one day, that matters, and certainly after your first year.
    That works for me.

    50 days is wonderful. The insight that this is the time when you start to waver is even better…you can be more aware. the willingness to get help is fantastic.
    All of this shows a level of surrender and acceptance that is THE most important thing o this road.
    Keep going Dinah! Doing great!

    Liked by 3 people

  2. 50 50 50. It has quite a nice ring, Dinah. I count. Or rather, my app counter counts. I don’t look at it as often these days, but the accumulation on non-drinking days is satisfying. Almost to 365! And yet, my life isn’t magically wonderful. It took not drinking for me to realize how strong a hold the depression had/has on me. I suppose there was quite a bit self-medication going on. I’ve been on the antidepressant almost six weeks. We upped the dose, reaching max six days ago. Unless it starts showing itself within the next couple of weeks, I’ll be trying something else at my next visit. In my experience, they do help. The trick is to find the right one. Good for you for adding more tools to your sober toolbox. Way to try different!


  3. Dear D,
    Congratulations on your 50 days. ๐Ÿ™‚ Cool. ๐Ÿ™‚

    I used to be Very Much against counting, because it gave me the idea of being in prison, that is where one counts days. By now I’m thinking: one likes counting, the other one not. I use counting as information. Like if I read something awesome, some insight happening to people I like to compare with my own process, see if there are similarities. Like there seem to be pink clouds in the beginning, but also a lot of social anxiety; how do I tell them I don’t drink? And; how do I behave at a party amongst people who know that I drank? Also I think to see a lot of anger towards life, spouses and family in the beginning – at least for those who are comfortable with writing about it. But that might be a special focus of mine. I’m thinking that what pops up when people (i!) sober up is (part of) the reason why they (i!) were (was!) drinking in the first place. Also, I am thinking that after a year or so there is this mellowing down phase, things start to be less black and white. Maybe I should read a book on it at some time? ๐Ÿ˜€

    The point on ‘the only thing one can control is how we react’ – that is so cool. I’ve just only seen a glimps of that concept. I’ve been sooooo reactive all through my life. Gheghe, I find people who can do so very, very adult. ๐Ÿ™‚ Never thought it might, one day, I would be in the position where I would be able to dream that one godgiven day, it might also come to belong to my skillset. (un?)Fortunately my current work environment forces me to first check stuff out and not react immediately. However, no promisses. The whole concept of not lashing out is pretty much ‘out there’. I guess it has to do with feeling safer, taking myself more seriously so I don’t have to be on guard so much?

    Very happy to hear Olivia is feeling better. ๐Ÿ™‚ Must be quite a relief. ๐Ÿ™‚ For me, depression, at least the mild version I experience, is deeply uncomfortable and painful, but I’m thinking it has the function of being informative. Like it tells me that I don’t like how I’m doing Life? I can’t think of another function of depression, or? But ha! I think to also know that I can only say that because I currently am at the good side of the depression. I don’t think I would like to hear this at the bad side – but I have not ‘worked it out’ ‘yet’ (no, I’m still not lacking arrogance ;-), nor lacking in the dream department where I figure it all out :-)) And a little kid does not really have a choice like I (currently, at the good side of depression) (think) I do. It is work in progress and I am so very very lucky that I have a job where I can, at least about 5 hours of the time, think about this stuff and for the rest only me and a cat to take care of. Again, hats off for what you are doing, full time demanding job AND a family AND taking care of yourself. The other day I was crying over not having kids, the next day I realise I would not even be able to deal. :-/

    I wish you an your family a very very nice holiday in Italy. ๐Ÿ™‚ Well deserved rest and relaxation time I would say. ๐Ÿ™‚ Are you going to do a city or country side trip? Btw: if you set up an Avaaz petition on the electric thingies in Prince Als land I’ll sign it. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Love and hugs,

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Very glad you are at 50 days!
    I count, only because of one thingโ€ฆnot counting didn’t work.
    However, I don’t look at my count everyday.
    Just when I am writing a post, or on my month.
    Seeing a family therapist is important.
    You are right, the whole family needs support to see how all the pieces fit.
    Have a wonderful holiday!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Hi, Dinah! I think your point about recognizing your pattern is really important: something about 7 weeks is an issue for you and now you know. I also agree that having spent more time sober than drinking is a win. Like you, (and I replied to 12pk the same) I think the longer you stay sober the easier it is to stay that way because you have spent a significant period of time establishing your sober lifestyle. I hope you get to relax a bit during your break. Your electric journey sounds harrowing! Something to laugh about (well after it happens) ๐Ÿ™‚


  6. I love that you are also focusing on the cumulative time you’ve got under your belt, initially I made it three weeks but I still count the overall time as the time since I decided to go it sober even though at the present time my current period of being totally alcohol free is since Aug 1st. 75% of a year is an incredible achievement when you consider where you’ve come from and how hard you’ve worked on that in this time. Sober momentum really is real and you sound like you’re gaining insight into life pattern which in turn will give you strength to do this โค

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I’m glad you at looking at helping yourself. I know my own daughter has benefitted greatly from my personal recovery, which includes dealing with serious depression and anxiety.
    There are no easy solutions, but there are tools to try.
    I take cipralex. It has worked very well for me, and I still feel everything. Just not from a pit of darkness.

    Let your doctor help you. And keep moving forward.

    Electric cars. It’s too cold where I live for that. And everything far away.



    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for this…I have really wanted to ask what my friends who take antidepresssants are taking, and if they like it, and why. I agree, there is no easy solution to what’s happening in my life right now, but it’s time to try every tool. Life is just too short and my family is too important to waste another day feeling like this. I’ll research cipralex and figure out what its equivalent is in France.

      And yes, the electric bugaloo is always an adventure!


  8. Lots of positives in here, Dinah, and happy to hear even in the struggles there are some silver linings. I so applaud you and your husband addressing the whole household and not just your daughter’s behavior. Really. Huge, supportive steps of her and her well-being, while simultaneously hopefully finding better ways of being for all of you. … I was similarly away from meds for a long time due to the blah they made me feel, but as a vote of confidence, the experience has been much better this time around, life-threatening syndromes included (and no longer a concern). The doctor I go to is a better fit with a great attitude of finding something or some things that work for Me. Plus, the advancement/knowledge in the past decade has really made a difference in the approach, in my opinion. Congrats on 50 days/75%/all of it.* Happy to hear from you.


  9. There are different types of antidepressants, so I’d mention your concerns about not necessarily wanting one that will numb you. It helped me a lot in early sobriety, but I tried a couple for just the reason you described. Mostly I think the depression lifted on its own over time because I quit drinking.


  10. I appreciate your candor. I also like the reasoning for keep track. In the future, when the newly sober ask you how it was @ 60-90-120 days, etc. you’ll be able to tell them.
    I’ve been keeping track for over 20 years (in a row), because I was taught that people coming up behind me NEED to know that it’s possible to be sober and reasonably happy.
    Oh, and there’s been a lot of new antidepressants come along in the past couple of decades. My Dr. once told me that there’s no reason to put up with side-effects, now because there ARE so many good options.
    So, keep it up, friend!


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