The longer I go without alcohol, the less brain space it takes up. But occasionally a thought or craving will appear and, though fleeting, the intensity is surprising.

It’s been nearly eight years. Eights years! I spend most of my mental energy on things like kindness, honesty, service, and finding my glasses. But yesterday, tidying after a weekend of company, I felt a ZAP of wanting while handling the recycling.

I am generally comfortable being around normies drinking normally (which, I constantly say on The Bubble Hour, should be considered ABNORMAL because alcohol is addictive).

My rules are simple: I don’t buy it or pour it for others. I don’t handle the empties, more out of sassy contempt for stupid alcohol than anything. My husband is quick to considerately buffer me from theses tasks, anyway.

Our company this weekend was low-key and didn’t drink much more than a glass with dinner. We had a wonderful visit and lots of fun enjoying snow and sunshine. I was neither stressed nor triggered all weekend.

After everyone left, my husband and I busied ourself with our typical after-company routine. I cleaned the kitchen and ran the towels through the laundry. He did his usual things but failed to notice some empty wine bottles on the counter.

I’d seen them the night before and wished they were gone but knew he’d get to them. When they were still there the next day I said to myself, “Oh for heaven’s sake, just rinse them and toss them in the recycling.” No big deal.

Except. They weren’t all empty. There was some white wine left in one and the moment I discovered this I had a vision of swallowing it greedily, alone in my kitchen.

I paused ever so briefly before pouring it down the drain to acknowledge that I’d just made a choice.

Eight years in, every day, consciously or not, I make a decision.

I don’t have to be sober. I want to be sober. I get to be sober. I choose to be sober.

If you’re struggling, take heart. It does get easier. Don’t be discouraged to hear that cravings never go away entirely, because that’s not necessarily a bad thing. It’s just a reminder to never take our freedom and health for granted.