I’m guilty of saying “I’ve got this” to myself as affirmation and “you’ve got this” to others as encouragement, but those words should be used with caution. There is a natural progression from inspiration (“I can do it”) to astonishment (“I am really doing it!”) that can easily slide into complacency (“Easy peasy, no big deal.”) if we aren’t careful. Thinking “I’ve got this” shows the positivity and confidence we aspire to, yet it doesn’t mean we can let our guard down entirely.
I am not saying we have to stay hyper vigilant and afraid for ourselves long into sobriety, but rather that it is important to continue prioritizing our own wellness. Keep growing and learning, keep checking in on ourselves.
Thanksgiving weekend has just drawn to a close for readers in the U.S., and many of you may be breathing a huge sigh of relief for successfully navigating the tricky business of family dinners, large gatherings, and all the stress that can accompany the holidays. Oddly, the quiet times can be just as challenging as the great trials.
Even though you didn’t drink, if afterwards you continually replay conversations that annoyed you, or call up one family member to discuss another, or worry what people thought, or what exactly so and so meant, then you could be burbling away with growing resentments that can put you at risk of reaching for a drink – the familiar solution to familiar pain.
Another phenomenon that many readers write to me about is the feeling that making it through a big family dinner (or other event) without drinking must mean that there isn’t such a problem after all, and ideas of moderation emerge. This never works out well, and many people are thrown right back into the same awful mess with alarming speed. Those who have experienced this say that quitting after a relapse is harder.
Holiday weekends throw many curveballs – everything from misery to joy to plain old habit can be triggering. If you made it through unscathed I salute you. If you stumbled, I send love and encourage you to get back up and move forward. If you stayed sober and had fun, wow that is awesome. If you stayed sober but were kind of miserable to be around, ah well that’s okay too.
Whatever went down this weekend, tomorrow is a new day. Even if it feels easy, let’s all remember to greet each day with gratitude and fresh resolve to continue honouring ourselves and our recovery.
I know this is an old post, but I’ve been Hoovering up multiple posts a day and this one really struck me, so I hope it is okay to comment.
I got sober in college, and stayed sober for 3.5 years – just long enough to convince myself I didn’t have a problem. Well, fast forward a few years and I was right back where I started, hungover regularly, miserable, and beyond depressed. Got sober again, created an incredible life, became a professional athlete, and experienced 9 years of wonderful sobriety before deciding, “I’ve got this.’ I didn’t.
Drank for another 8 years, slowly devolving into the person who hides bottles, lies about the “pre-drinks’, and felt sick with worry and shame. I was able to keep it to (mostly) weekends, but that made no difference – ALL of the scary, obsessive, depressing behaviors were there. Even though I didn’t drink daily, once I had the first drink, I could NOT stop, just like it had been 30 years earlier when I was 20. NOTHING had changed.
I’ve had many years of sobriety, and just as many drinking, and the hardest part is to admit, “I don’t have this.”
Thanks for this wonderful resource. I love all your posts, and all of the comments. What a great source of support!
I am glad you are here 🙂
Very encouraging Jean. I often remember, then long for the days of alcohol being an ancillary and adjacent part of my life. I’ve found that it’s like a relationship – it’s nice for a while, but it inevidibly is something you want in your life everyday because it feels so good. I’ve tried so many times to “drink normal”, even by trying to keep my drinking to the obligatory 1-2 per day. I found myself schlepping through a few sober days to indulge in 4-5 at the end of the week despite knowing how unhealthy it is. Then I would wake up and state “this is it for sure this time!!!” take a couple of weeks off, start again lather, rinse, repeat. And this cycle has been going on for over 20 years. I’m on day 34 and while I’ve made it further before, my resolve comes from my faith and for the first time, sharing this with others. I can’t believe how strong I feel. No more hiding, onto day 35. Your blog and others (particularly Kate’s Sober Journalist blog) has been a tremendous source of help, thank you!
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I have been reading your blog for awhile, it is great you are reaching out to people and sharing your story. I have turned to alcohol and pills to escape the pain I have from my past. I know using is not the right way to deal with my hurt. I need to find the courage like so many of your readers have, to stop.
Hi Carrie – I hope you do reach out and find some support. I too struggled for many, many years with pills and booze (and more) and I can tell you that getting clean and sober has been the very best gift that I have ever given myself. There is a lot of support online – as you know by following Jean’s blog – but I also encourage you to reach out to somebody in your community who can provide some “in-real-life”‘ report. Are there any drug and alcohol services in your community? That’s always a good place to start. Or if you want, you can try an AA meeting – you can usually find a meeting list online and if you live in a city there are usually “women-specific” meetings – you will find much support there. There is also an online organization called Women for Sobriety. If you google it – you will see that you can connect with women online – it’s a very empowering program for women seeking sobriety.
I wish you all the best and hope that this season you give yourself the gift of getting well.
(I also have a website, blog and Facebook page called She Recovers – would love to see you there).
Corrie – sorry I spelled your name wrong in my first response and also made another typo – meant to say “support” not “report.”
Thanks, Jean, for your blog. I’m new at following your blog but have heard you so many times on the Bubble Hour. I’m a long term drinker and in my 60s. I just started my recovery and I’m doing it privately. I just reached a point where I don’t want to stay stuck in the daily drinking cycle anymore. I woke up and have had it. Thanks for your insight and I’ll keep following.
Great article. I’ve found that running at night is starting to hamper my craving to drink. Hopefully sticking with my regimen I’ll be able to curb my beer habit for good. Thanks for what you do!
Thanks again, Jean, for posting something exactly when I seemed to need to read it! Complacency is so evil!!!!!
I like having our house alcohol free. It makes me feel safe.
Made it through and no compulsion or even “lingering notions!” I was truly grateful for a sober holiday. It was a mixture of hectic, even frantic with periods of calm. I worked at keeping my compsure and prioritized my sobriety. Now for the rest of the year!!
I am nearly 18 months sober (!) and feel as if things have become easy. I got a reminder a couple of weeks back, not from the holidays, but from supervising a group of eight-year-olds on a trampoline (next time I will say no!). The desire to drink was very, very strong afterwards, and I could have easily walked to the corner store a block away and gotten a bottle of wine. But I didn’t. I ate a good dinner and dessert, made tea, had a hot bath, and watched TV. The urge passed. I am proud of myself and also reminded that I need to be vigilant.
Very well said!! Bravo and thank you 🙂
Great post Jean…I in the camp of people who navigated Thanksgiving well, but am spending some time now a few days after going around in my head about things I said, and how certain interactions went, etc. I am working to keep my hyper-active mind in check as I can really beat a dead horse all in my own head…so onward with the holidays…keeping self-care and sobriety as a priority! I have decided to begin waking up each day and spending some time reflecting on gratitude and purpose (kind of like praying, but not exactly)…it’s really helping keep me focused and grounded and grateful.
I’ve found the same thing! I don’t mind being around drinking, but I CANT be around drunkeness. Way to go on 7 months!!! And cheers to new sober healthy traditions.
“…then you could be burbling away with growing resentments that can put you at risk of reaching for a drink – the familiar solution to familiar pain.” So much truth here.
Aside from Thanksgiving, I saw someone yesterday who reminded me of my drinking days (and especially my final, nearly three month binge that nearly destroyed me and my family). I didn’t beat myself up or focus on shame–thanks in part to Brene Brown–but I also didn’t replay events or focus on the person. Whenever those thoughts came, I just flipped my mental channel. I used to swear that I couldn’t do that, that I was just wired to be an anxiety-ridden, obsessive person…and while I still have some anxiety and obsessive tendencies, I also have much more control over my thoughts now that I’m sober. Having made it through Thanksgiving sober (and recently, decorating the house for Christmas without anything stronger to drink than coffee), I’m ready to face the rest of the holidays.
ohhh…I’m getting ready to decorate for Christmas (first time sans wine)… This year I’ve invited my adult children and friends…and I’ve got one of those Starbucks machines that makes fancy drinks so we’re having peppermint lattes, candy canes, hot chocolate and I’m baking a tray of cookies and making a pot of soup…no time like now to start new alcohol-free holiday traditions!
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Yes! That’s what I like to hear. It’s sad to say, but at one point when I was baking a pecan pie from scratch (for the first time), I got out the vanilla extract…and remembered the time I chugged it. Ugh. How times have changed. New alcohol-free holiday traditions, indeed. That Starbucks machine sounds great.
Well done on seven months, Jill!
After almost 18 years of sobriety, I had lost all fear of alcohol. I never even thought about my sobriety anymore. I just didn’t drink. That was my life and a good one at that. Complete complacency disguised as running no program and believing I was completely beyond alcohol. The little devil was back on my shoulder.
For no reason, one night at a party amongst people I hadn’t been around before, I curiously and inexplicably accepted a glass of wine. For a year and a half, I kept a lid in it and never had more than two drinks at a time. Now I was really convinced. I could drink in moderation and somehow all those years had morphed me into a normal drinker.
For the next eight years I became a full blown alky drinker again, picking up a DUI, losing a short late-in-life marriage and erasing every iota of self-respect I had.
I’ve now been sober for 261 days, am happily out of Fear Jail – as I call active alcoholism, and am once again enjoying life, away from the routine misery of the drinking existence. Coming back after such a prolonged relapse has been a wonderful experience and I’m very fortunate.
But without any luck, I could still be out there. So as Jean says, please pay attention to your sobriety, keep it your #1 priority…and never forget where you’ve come from if you want to enjoy where you’re headed.
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Thank you so much for sharing this!
Great post Jean, it helped me a lot. I’ve been starting to think ‘I’ve got this’, I see that complacency can be dangerous. Thanks.
Totally agree. I’m at 14 months sober and now sometimes think “I got this” but never too far behind, I know I have to keep it a priority and keep myself in a good place because it could all go out the window in the blink of an eye if I make the wrong choice. Which is one of the reasons I read these blogs. Keeps me focused, gives me tools, and serves as a good reminder of what a hellhole it was to be stuck in that awful place, and why I never want to go back – as enticing as that drink might seem to be….SO not worth it!!
You are right jean. The mind can do crazy things.
I often find post event letdown a shaky time. Like I use up my strength for an event and then I feel down.
When I was still trying to moderate I often put on my sober face when out only to go home and drink alone.
Clearly that was a bad sign!
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This is so good!
I had a lovely Thanksgiving, as it was a quiet family affair.
This is my second Thanksgiving sober, and it was easier, partly because no one was drinking much.
Every day I need to be grateful for my recovery!
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