Sobriety is like a little car

I started writing about the ideas of early sobriety (less than 15 days) on Suzy’s blog, and also on Jen’s, but want to elaborate …

Right when you first quit, there are lot of questions, a lot of unknowns. part of why we ALL struggle in the first days is because it’s all so new, so foreign to how we usually live.

Questions like: “How will i go to a party and not drink? I won’t be any fun! How will i manage sober sex? Sober dating? How will i deal with stress?” and my personal favorite: “Is this no-drinking thing forever?”

And so on.

The initial question-asking stage of sobriety is deafening.  there are a billion things to consider. Or so it seems.

and yet, bit by bit, it gets easier. we read a few books and we  blog and/or read other sober blogs, and we comment, and maybe we do a meeting (or not). We run more (or not), we sleep better, we begin to feel more comfortable in our own skin.

in a few more days, some of hazy grayness starts to lift. For me it was around day 34 but i started off intending to quit only for a month, and so i farted around a lot in the first month with what-if ideas, and maybe everyone does that, or maybe you’re more focused than I was and your grayness will lift sooner.

Now here’s my metaphor:

Sobriety is like a little car, rolling downhill, that gathers momentum as it goes. But if you stop the car too soon (by giving up, by having just one drink), then you never get to experience the momentum it can gather with time, and you’ll just get to experience (repeatedly) the ‘starting over part’. which we agree, stinks.

it doesn’t take very long to feel better and to have a clearer head. so keep the car rolling, and feel your way through the grayness.

Sobriety is like a little car, and if you’ve got the little car already on its way downhill, however slowly, don’t do anything to stall. don’t change your medication, don’t suddenly quit your job, don’t buy a dog, don’t stop going to meetings. You want the car to keep moving, right? Downhill, yeah? Slowly gathering momentum. Don’t get impatient that other people don’t notice how great you are. Don’t confront your spouse about their radically different life plan. Not now. Not now.

protect your little sober car.

(and now, to mix metaphors) You need to walk around like a blind person with your arms outstretched, saying “don’t come near me with your drama, your shit, your demands. Stay the fuck away from me. I’m protecting me. See my outstretched hands grasping for the wall, grasping for something solid? Stay over there and gently guide me if you like, but do NOT dare come inside my arms-stretched-out space and fuck with my sobriety. Don’t tease me, don’t cajole me, and don’t bait me.”

(back to our regularly scheduled metaphor)

“Because i’ve got a little car of sobriety rolling downhill,” you say. “And some days it’s all i can do to keep going. but i ain’t pulling over. Not now, not for you. If this car stalls, it might not start again.”

Get out of my way. Sober car coming through …


I want to put this online, to hold myself accountable. I want to document the noise in my head. I'm tired of thinking about drinking. date of last drink: june 30, 2012

67 thoughts to “Sobriety is like a little car”

  1. Perfect perfect metaphors! Even mixed! I do feel I have gained momentum, (12 weeks) but still think I have not reached the full speed, free wheelin’, wind in my hair stage. I REALLY want to feel that! xx

  2. I’m picturing Samuel L Jackson getting sober in his little mini rolling downhill

    “The path of the righteous (sober) man, is beset on all sides (by blind people)”

    “Any blind fucker crossing the road in front of me, seeking to assert their lack of vision on my sacred life’s direction had better have fucking excellent hearing and fucking, and I mean Usain-fucking-Bolt like fucking fast reflexes cuz this little car, this little auto-fucking-mobile ain’t stopping for no-one.

    Stevie Wonder himself could stand in front of me waving his arms around wondering where I am, saying he misses me and all, and I’ll run him down with great vengeance and furious anger. And his guide dog too. And pop a cap in his ass just to prove the point. And he will know my name, for I’m a determined and righteously pissed-off mini-driving slurpy-sipping sober fucker tonight!”

    Thanks Belle, I feel much better now [feel free to edit or delete as required : )].

    1. I know I’m a couple of years late to this awesome exchange but it is EXACTLY what I needed to read today. I am two weeks fresh in my decision to take a break from drinking. I can’t bring myself to say “forever” but I also don’t want to let myself off the hook. My little car is rolling slowly and I am feeling good. I’m going to protect its progress and let it pick up more speed. When I am tempted, I’ll narrow my eyes at my trigger and channel me some Samuel Fucking Jackson.

    2. I made Siri read the above and to sober car metaphor to me several times to help me through my witching hour. Thank you ❤

  3. Excellent metaphors and true at every stage of sobriety. Not that some things don’t get easier with time but there will always be the risk of stalling and encountering dangers to our sobriety. I love your clarity!

  4. love this metaphor… i just got a new sobermobile today and gonna start heading down that hill… and i’m not stopping this time.

  5. Love it. Great post. Great comments – go Paul! Love the metaphors .. both of them. I do feel like that…like this gritty phase I’m going through is a bummer for sure but it ain’t stopping my little car from rolling. I think .. what I’ve learned since becoming sober .. that these gritty phases are what living is all about .. natural ups and downs, I never had them before because I was kept on an even keel with wine. But I’m going to keep on rolling baby.. keep on rolling…

  6. oh yes, this makes perfect sense! And I initially thought that if it stalled you would just start it back up, but that could also put too much stress on the engine. Now, I see that stalling is a non-isssue because if you have enough momentum, just pop it into neutral and keep rolling. Brilliant.
    And another thing, I always use the metaphor of getting to the top of the mountain as the goal…but maybe getting back down to the bottom is just as much an accomplishment. hmmm.

    1. suzy, you could also see it as a snowball rolling down hill, that gets bigger and faster as it goes … but snowballs don’t stall (often) so the metaphor sort of ‘freezes over’ at that point : )

  7. You know what else? The longer you stay sober the better your car gets. I got me a mid sized baby now with air conditioning and power windows. I’m holding out for a Beemer.

    Great post, fantastic metaphor and keep that little car rolling.

  8. Love this!!
    glad i found it (or was sent here, actually)
    I’m aiming for the private jet, personally, but my car will do for now, thank-you-very-fucking-much!

  9. Probably my favorite-laugh out loud- I totally get it post ever! Well, so far…your journey is my comfort reading right now. I’m lacking confidence and “Samuel L. Jacksoness” now (day 9–feels more like hour 216 to be exact), but I am SO looking forward to it!

  10. You need to walk around like a blind person with your arms outstretched, saying “don’t come near me with your drama, your shit, your demands. Stay the fuck away from me. I’m protecting me. See my outstretched hands grasping for the wall, grasping for something solid? Stay over there and gently guide me if you like, but do NOT dare come inside my arms-stretched-out space and fuck with my sobriety. Don’t tease me, don’t cajole me, and don’t bait me.”

    ^ ^ This ^^ Tears pouring down my cheeks. 21 days sober and in tight protection mode. No more failures. Please, God.

  11. DAY 2…Just read your little sober car metaphor and its a funny little visual that speaks to me on a few levels. I hope I can do this. My drinking over the past few years has morphed (I was going to say “evolved”, but that implies a positive development!) from 2-3 glasses of wine a night to a bottle and a half. It’s a habit that started from a love of the taste of wine to (dare say “obsession”) fueled by boredom and and enjoyment of the buzz that comes from too much vino. Like others, 5:00 pm couldn’t come soon enough. And, being an early retiree at 55 (now), it became 4:30…then as early as 3. Not cool.

    So, I am going to try to eat the elephant one bite at time, day by day. My goal is 30 days of sobriety to start, until I can wrap my head around the idea I will probably never enjoy a responsible relationship with alcohol again.

    Reading you blog and others like it helped me feel less isolated…that others struggle with this and succeed. This is so inspirational.
    BTW…had the crappies first night’s sleep with no booze. I hope this improves!

  12. You are so inspiring !
    I am now on my 5th day sober and it has not been to bad so far. I have made it to somewhere between 50 and 60 days before so I know it gets a lot easier . That is what is keeping me going.
    Tonight is going to be hard though. We are going out to local social club for dinner with another family. The club provides a free bus there and back and we always get this and drink lots of wine. The friends we are going with are big drinkers, as is my husband.
    I am going to drive tonight instead of getting the bus. I am really struggling to just not cave in and call and book the bus and have a few wines ! After reading this though I am going to drive and enjoy coming home sober and getting a good sleep. I will wake up feeling refreshed and go to my fit boot camp at 6.30am. I will feel great after that. Then I will takes daughter to her horseriding class and enjoy watching her. I honestly don’t know why I am even thinking about drinking tonight when I know exactly what would happen. I would come home and continue drinking after everyone goes to bed. Stay up until goodness knows when drinking alone, then stumble into bed. Fall asleep ( pass out) , wake in the morning feeling anxious and panicky, husband would be in a mood due to my snoring ( only do it when drunk ). I would have forgotton chunks of the evening so would be worrying if I offended anyone.
    I would have missed fit club as I would either still be drunk or feel terrible.
    I would go to horse riding but instead of enjoying watching my daughter I would sit there trying to control the waves of anxiety.
    I think the first scenario is much preferable ! So Fuck you Wolfie, this little car is going to keep moving Thankyou 🙂

    1. I agree. fuck you wolfie indeed. sober chicks don’t have time for wolfie. got stuff to do. Horseback riding! how super fun …

    2. I feel just like what your saying about family and friends this day 2 for me tried many times before and I’m going to a big event this Labor day weekend so I have to be strong I hate feeling like this I go on binges none stop with bottles of wine and than the hard stuff I am going to be strong and thank you I found your site

  13. Wonderful metaphor. I’m on day 4 of the 100 day challenge. Its my 4th attempt so I’m all too familiar with the concept of my little car stalling. I really sick and tired of drinking though, and this time I am committed to seeing the challenge through.

    I’d like to give up for good but at this stage “for ever” seems more than my brain can process so I’m focusing on 100 days.

    Its great to be able to jump on line and make contact with others in the same boat. Makes me feel i’m not alone and in no way am i unique with my struggle.


  14. This is Tracey in CA. Day 5…not so easy today but my little sober car is on the move, albeit slowly. In addtion to being a newbie to sobriety, also a newbie to blogging. Trying to start now. After a terrible fall on Sunday after way too much wine during my brother’s visit to town, I’m officially done, done, done. I will be following may of you on the various stages of your journey. little sober car is on the move, and I embrace the journey. Buckle up and enjoy the ride.


  15. I don’t even know why I drink anymore. It does nothing for me. I don’t drink daily. Maybe 2-3 times a week. But when I drink, it’s at least a 12 pack. But when I’m not drinking, I feel incredible. And by day 2 or 3, I’m craving it again and wake up hating myself. I don’t know how to do this. I keep telling myself it’s mental. It’s a conscious decision to drink. So if I can convince e myself so easily to drink, why can’t I convince myself not to?

  16. when you drink it’s wolfie making the decision, that is gold! amen to that- no wonder it’s taken me so long to quit drinking. just been listening to wolfie. now on day 10 whoop whoop guess I’ve made it this far like twice these past three years. health, happiness, real life with true emotions and joys here i come

  17. Absolutely love yr metaphor, and esp.:

    protect your little sober car.

    Because, yes, no matter (1) how we feel about ourselves or (2) how anybody has treated or is treating us, we are VALUABLE and nothing is more worth protecting than the process (sobriety) that alone will enable our functionality and — dependent upon that — our true happiness some day (sometimes sooner, sometimes later).

    And to wrap it all up: ““Because i’ve got a little car of sobriety rolling downhill,” you say. “And some days it’s all i can do to keep going. but i ain’t pulling over. Not now, not for you. If this car stalls, it might not start again.”

    Get out of my way. Sober car coming through … ”


    (Me: A grateful recovering alcoholic thanks to AA, for more than a quarter century)

  18. Belle, you are so inspiring , I just cried when I listened to your welcome audio, actually made it real. Today is my day one, and feel I can do this, Wolfie is a bully, and I am a better and stronger person than he is, a bully is not going to rule my life.

  19. Love it! I’m 98 days sober and coming up on my 100 day mark of sobriety. I’m so scared that I’m am just going to be like, “ok awesome I reached 100 days but what now? What more do I have to be proud of?” I guess the days and the count shouldn’t matter so much to me. I find my self seeing the positive in everything now that I’m sober. If I have a bad hair day I think “at least I’m sober” or if I hit a deer at least I’m sober. I feel like I can accomplish anything and I need to remind myself, daily how great I feel sober especially compared to those dark, wretched drunken or hungover days. Instead of just being known or looked at as the “slutty drunk”, I now feel respected. Most importantly, I now respect myself and am so proud of myself for how far I’ve come. I cannot and will not turn back now.

    1. Congrats! I definitely identify with the “at least I’m sober” thing. That inner voice is so much nicer if I’m sober 🙂

  20. I’m on day 5. Wine time is fast approaching. I’m reading these blogs to get inspiration and my car is rolling downhill. I’m drinking a diet coke. Thank you, i will make it to day 6 I’m sure of it. (I’m having a very difficult time reading the f word so much though)

      1. For the past 5 days I’ve been able to not drink wine because I have been very protective of myself. Avoiding situations where I could. Now it’s the weekend. One of the wonderful things we do with friends ALOT on Saturdays is take our boats out and eat dinner at a restaurant on the lake. We have done it for years with families and its part of living in this community. We have friends from out of state visiting so guess what, we are ALL going boating. This is my weak place. Help, help

  21. “Protect your little sober car”. Yes. I’m on Day 1 again. I can’t seem to make it to a month. I seem to test myself constantly with whether I can withstand not drinking in this situation, or on this bad day.
    But I need to protect this thing for now, this fragile thing, and stop testing myself.
    Alcohol has been a method of coping with bad days for more than 10 years. And I have to relearn how to look after myself without it – no small task. Thanks for your blog Belle!

  22. “don’t come near me with your drama, your shit, your demands. Stay the fuck away from me. I’m protecting me. See my outstretched hands grasping for the wall, grasping for something solid? Stay over there and gently guide me if you like, but do NOT dare come inside my arms-stretched-out space and fuck with my sobriety. Don’t tease me, don’t cajole me, and don’t bait me.”

    Note to myself, Learn this off by heart and say it many, many times, every day, guilt free, vibrant and alive I am rolling down that hill!

  23. I came across the name of your blog, Belle, and it resonated fully with me. I want to stop spending my hours thinking about that darn wine.

    I just read through your first month and, as I’m round out my day #1, I can see I have a long couple of weeks ahead of me. I’ve been tired all day today, got nothing done.

    My first thoughts are, “I want to be normal. I want to go out once in a while and have a glass or two of wine with dinner. I don’t want to drink a full bottle of wine every night and wonder how to secretly dispose of the bottle the next morning.”

    Maybe I can do that, I don’t know, but maybe I can’t or won’t want that any longer. I don’t know. But I’m glad I found you, Belle. Thank you for this.

    Wish me luck.

    1. i think it’s totally ‘normal’ to not do things that make you feel crappy. it’s normal to move away from things that make you feel regret and sadness and that give you grim hangovers. it’s pretty normal to take good care of you. that’s what normal is. normal isn’t consuming shitty booze and wondering why you have side effects 🙂 if you know what i mean! hugs from me

  24. I like the metaphor. Anne Lammott has a good and similar one that she applied to writing. She writes that developing a sory is like driving at night. You can’t see your destination, only what’s in front of you. You can only see the next turn or stop sign. But you’ll get to your destination if you keep moving forward!

    And man, those questions! I remember wondering how I could be sober if I needed to raise a toast on my wedding day. I was a year from having a date, let alone a wedding! Those questions can lead me to bad places.

  25. I am on sober Day 5 and my little sobriety car is already picking up speed again.

    Previously I had remained sober for months as I was training for a marathon. At the weekend however, I decided I wanted to celebrate completing it with my boyfriend. I let all those months of clear mind and body slip away from me as I crept back into my old habits. Because I had not drunk for so long the drink affected me more and I became a mess.

    I lashed out at my boyfriend repeatedly and turned into a horrible monstrous version of myself. I feel like I have failed. My boyfriend has now said he can’t go on with my aggressive drunk states and has said he has to walk away from me after two years.

    This is going to be difficult, but I have no other option but to keep this car moving. I don’t want to go back again. I am going to keep reading this blog to motivate myself and hopefully I can extinguish this demon inside of me and get rid of alcohol from my life for good.

  26. Day 18 in my little car…my friend who is also driving turned me on to this site! Glad your here, I have been getting in and out of my car for three years, this time I’m done with drinking. I know this blog site will help.

  27. Day 5 and speeding down the hill with the top down! Everyone better get out of my lane, I’m on a roll and so happy to find this blog, belle and this motivation. thanks so much!

  28. I love this metaphor! It all feels so fragile in the beginning. I know if i just keep going I’ll get stronger, been here before you know. I will keep this visual of the little car rolling downhill in my mind forever! Thank you!

  29. I absolutely love this! My poor little car has been doing loop-de-loops and faced a few hills for about 5 weeks every time it started gaining momentum but is now just starting to roll on down that big hill.
    I think I will get this: “don’t come near me with your drama, your shit, your demands. Stay the fuck away from me. I’m protecting me. See my outstretched hands grasping for the wall, grasping for something solid? Stay over there and gently guide me if you like, but do NOT dare come inside my arms-stretched-out space and fuck with my sobriety. Don’t tease me, don’t cajole me, and don’t bait me.” printed out and tape it to my forehead. Or maybe just stick it on my fridge 😀

  30. I’m not about a little car rolling downhill. Been there. I’m going uphill, hoping not to stall. Going downhill, you can coast, pop the proverbial clutch. Nope, not me.I’m going up that hill, so I can see, from the top, that I don’t want to go downhill again.

  31. i so freaking LOVE this!!!. Both metaphors, for sure are SPOT ON!

    My little car is on day 21 today, gently rolling down the hill (in first gear, I must say…) but I’m taking in the sights as I start this journey and I see LOTS of flowers and fun down the hill ahead of me. :o)

    1. Trish-so im sitting here at the kitchen table reading this blog and totally relating to it on a real fucking level right now. My good friend led me on to this blog and i cant thank her enough. Amazing work you are doing!!! Thank you…thank you!! Im on day 5 of my challenge to not drink alcohol anymore. My son’s dad recently got temporary full custody of our son and now my sobriety means so much more because i have a reason not to drink. I feel like a human being prone to fallacy again. And that’s ok! Maybe on day 100 ill forgive myself for the mistakes my drunk fuck up mess self made. Hmmm.

      My wolf is still begging me to just have one and i know i can find it …and then i think of my son. Not worth it….blah… i cant wait to see his smiling face again…and i can cry now without my American Honey friends that made me feel like i couldnt cry without embarassing myself. Thank you for listening. 🙂

  32. Best blog ever! Such clever writing – succinct and captures the feeling and stressors of this journey exactly. I’m at the end of day two and feeling good. I’m more worried about day 10 – but will roll over that bridge when I get to it in my little sober car.

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