Sobriety is like a little car

I was writing about the ideas of early sobriety (when we are less than 15 days sober) on someone’s blog, but want to elaborate here …

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 …


sober art. for support. thanks to mr.belle, who supports me. you support both of us. then we send you art in the mail. it’s win-win-win-win 🙂
if booze is an elevator that only goes down, you find the exit. and sometimes the exit is in french.


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

  • I’m writing this for the 1st time. I’m on day 2, a Saturday. Day 1, Friday night, was OK. In reading your book. I love this analogy of the little car. Wolfe is screaming at me to drink.

  • I just joined the 100 ay challenge (again) but this time with coaching support here. This blog post – though I read it before was sent to me on my day one, and its funny because I have been fixing up my car – and other things around the house when I am sober and it feels soooooo good. My car is getting new leather seats and I have an appt to get the dents out too. I am now going to call it my “new” momentum car ( though its not little, it is mighty fine). 🙂

  • Thanks to you, Belle, I´m on day 409 today. I really couldn´t have done it alone.
    Your metaphors also helped me with quit smoking and still help me, dealing with my depressions (not as a cure, of course and everyone experiences it differently, I know. But for me, it works!).
    As I go on with this sober journey I realise, that I used alcohol as a medication and so it´s connected. When I feel overwhelmed for too long I lose my strength. This is the time, Wolfie is slowly waking up and – if I keep going at the same pace- it´s only a matter of time until I can´t make it out of bed anymore.
    But now, without the alcohol added (to manage the overwhelm) I can react as soon as I feel too in over my head. I can stay one day in bed, my arms stretched out to keep other peoples dramas as far as possible, instead of weeks. Or months.
    I´m living a new life and I think you should hear that as often as possible 🙂

  • I imagine wolfie standing bij the side of the road calling me to pull over. But as I go faster he gets behind and his voice becomes softer and softer. Until I am at high speed and don’t see or hear him anymore. Bye bye Wolfie.

  • Today is Day 1 for me. Read Belle’s book in the middle of the night last night when I couldn’t sleep after drinking many beers. Love the car metaphor…I’m just pulling out of the starting gate and beginning to roll downhill. I emptied all of the beers I had left in the house and am feeling hopeful. This just in: My neighbor just returned my chainsaw and left two cold beers beside it outside my garage. [Sigh] And so begins my 100-day journey…

  • Hi, this is Day 3 for me. About two weeks ago I commented that I was on Day 1 and starting over again, but that didn’t pan out. Belle, I’m reading your book “Tired of Thinking About Drinking” a second time and just came to this part about momentum and it hit me right between the eyes! I have never looked at it this way before. I’ve always thought to myself “oh, it’s only just Day 3” and tell myself I can’t get too cocky. But thinking about it as you describe like a little car rolling down a hill and just starting to gain momentum helped me to realize that I’m on my way and gaining momentum and I don’t want to stop now. I want to keep going and feel the wind in my hair as I roll down that hill and never want to stop. I had the worst Day 2 I have ever experienced, as I’ve done this many times. My stomach felt sick and I only slept a couple hours the night of Day 1 and Day 2 was spent mostly on the couch or walking around in a haze. But I slept through the night and Day 3 feels really good right now. I know it will probably be a few more days before I’m feeling totally well physically, but the car is moving downhill with no stop sign in sight! Thank you Belle.

  • I love this. “Stay the fuck out of my way”. I’m on 3 days. And feel exhausted. I don’t sleep at night. But I’m not gonna stop the car for the 100 time

  • I love the sober car metaphor! In the beginning it felt selfish (Wolfie’s excuse really) but I finally gave myself permission to be the blind person- I realised I deserved to drive out of the hazy grayscale and start living again. Thanks for this post- sage advice.

  • This is what I needed to hear today. “Don’t come near me with your drama, your shit, your demands. After a disastrous Friday night, I asked my best friend to help me stay sober, the next day she invited me for drinks on a patio. Subsequent conversations about my quitting drinking went like this…”one or two drinks on the weekend with your friends is fine.”…..”Come our tonight,…no?…. ok, I’ll come over with a bottle of wine”….”I feel like I’ll never see you”. Arms are outstretched, so glad I found a place of support. Hope to find a sober tribe to connect with as I’m expecting that my current friendships will not survive my sober journey. Day 10 and my little car is rolling.

  • Day 40. I love this post. Read this my first week not drinking.

    I think about this post all the time – “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”.

    Whenever I feel overwhelmed, stressed, that everything is getting to much, I picture me with my arms outstretched, telling the world to stay the fuck away from me, that I need to take care of myself. Then I use my tools, stop the cycle of overwhelm, and give myself a treat.

    Thank you for this gem.

  • I did a 30 day alcohol experiment and failed 2x, last night I decided its now or never and I am very grateful for this blog and Catherine Grays book which was my catalyst last night to stop for good – So back to day one in my little sober car!

  • What a great first read for yet another day 1 for me. Wonderful to remember when I get tempted. I am going to keep my car going… no matter what!

  • “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.” i hate day one…

  • Wow, the day 5 part…thats where I am it’s Saturday 4pm and I just keep thinking just go and get 1 bottle wine, what if you just drink on Saturdays, that won’t be so bad will it? But I’m not going to let the little car stall now. STFU Wolfie. Keep rolling!

  • I bought a new car the day I was discharged from bankruptcy. My cars had been repoed. I’d gone 9 months without a car (I lived in the woods far from things. I also gave up drinks when they took the car) the money I saved from not drinking was the down payment on the new car- a red Jeep. Things were good, for a month. Then I started drinking again and my Jeep broke and I didn’t t fix it until I went to rehab 13 months later. I’ve had my Jeep back now for 5 months, I love it. Why wouldn’t I have fixed it earlier? Excuses. Now I’m the car. I’m
    Gonna fix it!

  • I really like this little picture of me in my sober car. I am on day 21 today. Last night I went out for a meal with my husband and he had a lot of questions. Will it be forever? What about new years eve? What about me drinking? What about sex if I have had a drink and you haven’t (we have been together about 15 years now and have had plenty of sober sex so that was a bit funny). I told him the analogy about if your friend or partner is running a marathon it does not mean that you have to, but its nice to have some support and that worked s treat. I think this will be a good one to share too. Many thanks x