One Year

6 + 6 = 12

The first six months were tough. The next six months flew by. I have made it through the first year of living without wine.

Last night we marked the occasion by going out to dinner with a few dear friends who have been close to me through this journey. When the server asked if anyone would like a drink before table my friends and husband all froze and glanced at me. “Uhhh….”

“Don’t be silly!” I said. “This is a celebration. Go ahead and be sure you drink a toast to me!” I turned to the waiter and ordered a non-alcoholic beer. “And could you please bring me a nice wine glass for that?”

His eyebrows flew up quizzically. “A wine glass for your beer, M’am?”

“Yes,” I answered winking, “it classes it up a bit.”

“That’s smart,” he said, more to himself than to me.

I’ve given up on virgin cocktails or listing out ingredients when ordering (“club soda with a shot of grapefruit juice and a half-ounce of grenadine”). Non-alcoholic beer is easier to order, it comes in the bottle so I don’t have to worry about accidentally getting alcohol, and if I remember to order a stem glass with it it looks and feels elegant (well, elegant enough).

The goal for me is not to approximate or replace the wine. The goal is to have something ELSE that I will enjoy for what it is.

As my friend wrote on the beautiful card she gave me (along with a scrumptious box of chocolate covered strawberries): “Now you get to have fun discovering new indulgences!”

We had a great night – lots of laughs with friends who don’t care a lick what’s in my glass. They enjoyed their cocktails but no one was out to get tanked – our purpose was to celebrate my success and encourage more of it.

At the end of the night my friend’s husband asked, “What do you think now? You made it to a year – are you going to have the odd drink here and there or just keep on having none?”

It was a sincere question, asked out of interest.  He is curious about my journey but we haven’t spoken about it together that much. His wife knows every detail but I think he understands that I am guarded around others. I took no offence to his question. I knew he was not implying that I should or could be drinking. He just wants to understand.

“No, oh no,” I chuckled. “This is a lifetime decision for me. If I ever doubt that, all I have to do is look at a bottle of wine. I want it ALL,” I laughed. “And that’s no good. This way is so much better.”


  1. Hi unpickled, by this time you are 4+ years in your recovery, but I’m newly on mine. I posted on your March 2011 section as anonymous (with fake email), that was day 7. I recently had a relapse (1 day) -and felt horrible both physically and mentally immediately afterward. I was back home and decided to drink. The itty bitty shitty committee took the wheel, well really I decided to let it. I knew with every glass I sipped (total about 6) the guilt racked up. I was at “home” with my mother and her friends, there was a mix of binge and non-binge drinkers in the mix. Most were non-, I was lucid enough to look around and notice that most were non-, and I kept going back for more. While my mother is non-binge drinker she definitely encourages me. The function for her is that then she can either put me in the sock role and take care of me, thereby being the care-taker, or will label me, thereby perhaps feeling superior. Whatever her motivation it’s not helpful for me to try to figure it out. The next day she made mimosas and I could have easily said “whatever I relapse so ol go with it”, but instead I said no. Perhaps it was because I was hungover (I can’t stand the sight of alcohol when hungover). Later that evening we went to a friend’s house and said again no thank you, sofa for me please. My friends reaction was one of surprise, which is an indication of my past relationships ship with alcohol. My dear mother proceeds to announce to my friend and a visitor, someone we had just met, that I was probably still hungover from the night before (internal eye roll). In any event, all this to say that I navigated that situation and while uncomfortable was ok. A day from
    Today that will be a week, two days from today my almost daily drinking will be 21 days behind me ( i did not start my day count because I have done that in the past and it makes me feel defeated). Seeing your one year anniversary post makes me feel even more motivated to stay on my path. Today is Friday, one of the most urge filled days in the week for me, and I am ok! It is definitely getting easier, thigh I am anxious about tomorrow and the rest of the weekend, I go home for the holidays and alcohol will be pouring a plenty, so I have to hold strong and stay firm in my commitment. I’ll bring my beverages if choice and will bring an excuse (I’m on antibiotics) because I need to, I look forward to the day when I can just say no and not feel like I need to have an excuse, but for today this will do.


  2. Congrats indeed. I just stumbled upon this site, pretty awesome. Also, you hit it right on the nail Unpickled — stopping drinking is the beginning to getting to the core at what got us started in the first place. Wishing you a slow and enlightened recovery.


  3. I’m only a few entries into your blog, but I am so glad I found it. Not only because I am going through similar feelings and struggles with quitting drinking, but your prose is lovely. You write beautifully, and I am really excited to have this blog as a little companion for a while. Thank you, and I hope you are doing well!


  4. i’ve just read your entire blog in the space of two days. and it has given me so much hope. and has encouraged me to start my own documentation (day 7, hooray). and reminded me that i like sour drinks (unsweetened lemonade + black currant syrup + perrier). And it’s confirmed that us non-alcoholics can still give up alcohol for good reason. and that, at least for some of us, stopping is a choice that we make because we want to be BETTER. maybe we don’t feel better in the short term, but in the long run we feel gigantically, enormously better. thanks for the inspiration. if you could blog a bit about what your thought processes are now, when confronted with the choice of alcohol, it’d be helpful. Like, what does your committee say these days, and what do you say in return? hugs from us in the cyberworld 🙂


  5. Congrats indeed. I just stumbled upon this site, pretty awesome. I haven’t had alcohol in 16 years but in AA tradition, have been sober for 12 years. And you hit it right on the nail Unpickled — stopping drinking is the beginning to getting to the core at what got us started in the first place. Wishing you a slow and enlightened recovery.


  6. Well done Unpickled. Just found you as I start my sober journey – 23 days so far. Been reading your early days which sound just like mine currently are. So looking forward to my one year!
    Thanks for sharing your story, you are amazing!
    Cleo xx


  7. Congratulations!!!!
    Since we share a sobriety date, I hit my one year too…and don’t it feel grand?
    I remember thinking when I started that I would do it for a year…and if I could make it for the whole year , well, obviously I don’t have a problem! I mean, I couldn’t even make it a day prior to this year.
    So crazy how our minds work…so wonderful how our minds work now!
    I am so grateful and happy to be sober today, and just as gratefl and happy that you are too!



    • Hello hello and CONGRATUALTIONS to you as well! I can’t believe it has been a year – that sounded like forever at one time but it flew by. I still feel very protective and cautious about my sobriety, even though I am also solid and certain. It’s a funny mix. Between the health benefits of sobriety and the emotional benefits of working through the junk that fuelled my drinking, I am a new woman! I makes me so happy to know that you are celebrating the same. Many blessings. Keep on keeping on!


  8. It is absolutely wonderful to read about your 12 months celebration and your remarkable accomplishment! It is so very inspiring and I love your attitude towards sobriety, CONGRATULATIONS – keep going strong! 🙂


  9. Thank you for sharing so much, and congrats to you Unpickled! Now I feel like going back and reading more about your journey, as I start mine. Also, although you said you were tired of listing out ingredients in restaurants, could you share a few here? The soda, grapefruit, grenadine concoction sounds great, and any other delights you could share would be appreciated. It can’t be long before bar tenders get savvy with these requests, but until then, soda and lime can become tiresome…
    Again, kudos to you!


    • Hi, I’m not pickled, but I’m a fan. From one newly sober to another (I’m 82 days sober), I have personal experience with this drink ordering ordeal. I find that simple works. One of my favorites, club soda, splash of cran/orange. If you can keep your order to two items, it’s very effective.


  10. Many congratulations. I am so happy for you. Sorry to be a pain but there are two things I want to put out here:

    The AA collective experience tends to be that non – alcoholic wine and beer can still contain enough alcohol residue to cause a problem. Maybe some people are more sensitive to this than others, but it is something to bear in mind. I have alcoholic friends who are happy to cook with alcohol or eat things like christmas cake which has been fed with alcohol. I don’t think I can do that so I avoid even cooked alcohol as much as I can.

    Also, the AA collective experience (and my personal experience) is that once we have crossed the line there is no going back. We can never drink like normal people. Like you say, we want all the wine, all the beer. And if we do try (going out we in AA call it) we find that the disease has progressed within us while we were sober. We rapidly end up in a far worse place than we were when we first got sober. We don’t start again from the beginning as it were. Normal people can’t understand this.

    Thanks for your blog and sharing your journey.


    • Please don’t apologize – you make an important point. Reader should be aware of the dangers around alcohol in food as well as beverage options. I have created boundaries for myself as well – while de-alcoholized beer seems to be okay for me, I won’t even consider a glass of de-alcoholized wine. That’s a major danger zone. I will deglaze a wine with wine and cook out the alcohol, but I would never touch a rum cake or liquor-filled chocolates.

      The important thing, it seems, is to understand one’s own boundaries and to guard sobriety with loving determination. Thank you for making that clear.


      • I’m a year behind in finding your sight. I honestly love the way you view things. To guard sobriety with loving determination is key, all of it to me. I am more familiar with my own boundaries and I just want to stay happy and safe. Not just physically but emotionally as well.


    • There is no such thing as a normal person ~ ‘normal’ is a baseline we use to judge people and how far we believe them to be from our value systems. Alcohol in cooked food has evaporated, there is no alcohol left by the time you eat the meal. Non-alcoholic beer has so little alcohol in it that in some cases you would need to drink 100 bottles to equal one regular 5% bottle but because of food regulations the alcohol content must be stated though, of course, it is better to avoid anything that might cause you to make associations to a substance you wish to avoid. Do you avoid cough/cold medication? Many of these contain alcohol.

      Drinking too much alcohol is not a disease, not an illness, not an addiction ~ it is a choice, a choice we made when life seemed to much to cope with that this seemed the only solution. To call it anything else is to require a scapegoat, to choose impotency…see it’s not my fault, it’s because of x/y/z….it may not be a fault but it was/is our choice and we must become accountable. We could have chosen another option but our past experiences tend to take us to one substance over another whether it be food, drink, over-thinking, heroin, OCD, even exercising too much. The best possible path is self-awareness, learning to understand what occurred, almost certainly in our childhood, that led us to form these pathways that now influence us so profoundly. From this we gain knowledge, learn, grow, become mindful (Buddhism/psychology), we recognise the triggers, we learn to form new cognitive pathways that allow us not to follow this habit (almost everything we do is habit) but to choose another healthy end option as a reward not alcohol etc as the ‘reward’. Rats, in laboratory settings, will choose to go back to a habitat that gives them an electric shock rather than chooses a new situation they are confronted with (see abusive relationships/substance dependencies). We choose what we know, we normalise what we know, we fear anything else yet what could be worse that what we are already experiencing? AA keeps all its members forever at the mercy of the substance, forever in a relationship with their dependency – who would do this so that 20/30/40 years on you are still defining yourself and life in terms of something you no longer do, do you change dependency from alcohol to dependency on the group/system that pretended to offer you a way out? No, you choose freedom, control over yourself and your emotional landscape, you research how/why you found yourself in the dark place, you talk with an expert if necessary, you learn, you change, you find your new path, free of all the nonsense in the world.
      See Charles Duhigg’s book, The Power of Habit ~ right at the beginning, a woman in a complete mess turned her life around, not by changing habits but rewards. All the dependent areas still lit up in MRI scans she just chose to reward her habit cycles with healthy options – not a cigarette, a marathon.
      See Dr Tom Dow – Diet Rehab ~ dopamine/serotonin levels ‘control’ our behaviour – these ‘feed’ our habits, prevent us from breaking out of our cycles and keep us stuck with our mantras ie I’m not good enough/I’ve failed etc.
      All research assists moving towards a new life, a new us, but more importantly freedom.


  11. Congratulations!!!!!!!!!!!! Fantastic. How great. People ask me if I’ll ever try alcohol again in the future ‘like in five years?’ they say.. to which I always reply ‘nope. i’ll never touch alcohol ever again’. Why would we do all this hard work to tempt fate with that twisted liquid (not to mention our twisted brains?!). Plus, we don’t need it! Your dinner last night sounds lovely xxxx


    • I totally agree with you, Mrs. D. When I hear things like that I realize that they just don’t understand where I am with alcohol. And that’s ok. It’s not their business anyhow.


    • I used to drink a lot, I was an every day drinker for sure. And because of it I found myself online shopping my money away, and always posting stupid things. But there is this new product called the i-drunk. It’s a USB breathalyzer so you can plug it into your computer and it will let you browse facebook and twitter but not post, and won’t let you go to certain sites unless you are sober enough. It really helped me restrict myself into sobriety in the beginning. It’s really neat and even if it’s a little stupid or a crutch… it helped.


  12. Oh my goodness I am so happy for you. I wish you lived in my city – so that we could hang out and talk. I can’t recall where you live, but if it’s in Denver then write me – you know how to reach me. You are such an inspiration. I’ll hit 90 days next week, and when I look back to my first post to you it seems so long ago. Congratulations and welcome to your new life.


    • I would love that, too. Sadly I’m a long ways away (western Canada). My family and friends have been amazing but I would love to have a coffee buddy who is on the same path. Thank God for Twitter – any time I reach out there are so many who answer the call.


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