never / forever

This is a common worry that I hear from sober penpals:

“I worry about the idea of never being able to have another drink again. I know I am better not drinking, I just don’t know how I will be able to NEVER have another drink again. Even the thought of it …”

Do you want to know what I think?

When I first quit drinking, sober bloggers would tell me that I would eventually stop thinking about alcohol.

Well, I thought they were exaggerating (or flat out lying).

I’d think, what if at some future time there’s a death – are you telling me that I won’t want to drink then?

A long-term sober girl said “yes, that’s what happened to me. My father died and I didn’t even think of drinking.”

She didn’t even think of it? Really?

Cuz when I first quit drinking, man-o-man, I thought about NOT drinking all day every day.

Does this desire really stop? Yes. It really does. No lying.

One thing that really helped me was when I finally figured out that I didn’t have to tell wolfie that I was quitting ‘forever’.

Wolfie hates the word forever. Forever just seems like too long.

And then wolfie will say something dumb like “if you’re going to quit forever, you might as well drink more now and quit forever later.”

Instead, maybe you can override wolfie and you can think about it like this (like I did):

I’m quitting drinking for now. I know I feel better without it. I know that my life is fuller when I’m sober.

That’s it. Nothing about never / forever.

When I first quit, I’d make a deal with myself to get to a certain milestone, and I’d allow myself to decide if I wanted to continue being sober or not.

Like, my first goal was to get to day 30 – and when I got there I decided to stay sober ‘a bit longer to see what happens’.

I hit 60 days sober, and something pretty weird happened. My daily mental obsession about NOT drinking had eased. Considerably.

When I became sober penpals with a squillion people, I heard day after day that they too were experiencing the same thing – something shifts after day 60 and the mental obsession eases dramatically.

Wolife pokes his head in periodically, sure, but by day 60 I was always able to say, ‘I’m not drinking for now. I have too much to do. Too many things to accomplish’.

At around 6 months, I was able to say to myself things like I’ll just stay sober for another month or so, and see how I feel then.

(By the way, I felt GREAT.)

OK, this is getting long. Let me wind things up.

Right around my one year soberversary, I figured that OK, one year is long enough, right? Maybe I’ll stop being sober now.

But by then, wolfie was pretty darn quiet. That thing that I had been promised, you know the ability to have shit happen and NOT think about drinking … I’d arrived there.

Wolfie was quiet and I had NO desire to wake him up.

So yeah, here I am today. Any time I have a weird periodic twinge where wolfie says “maybe just one glass,” I say to myself:

You’re not quitting forever. You’re quitting for now. You can drink again in 23 years when you retire.

And I have to tell you, as ridiculous as that sounds, it works for me.

Thankfully my brain is just not very smart. Wolfie says “Never?” I say, not never, just later. Wolfie says “fine.” And then I move the goalpost.

That’s how I’ve managed to get to here, 2+ years sober.

hugs from
me xo


PS. The only way to really believe this entire blog post, is to hang out with sober people. Listen to what they say. Watch how they live. If you don’t have any sober friends in real life (I don’t), then you hang out with sober people online, or virtually. Like by reading this blog post πŸ™‚ Hello, this is your virtual sober friend speaking! and getting emails from me (almost daily, called micro-emails).

PPS. More ideas about the idea of never / forever here.


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 like this. Not forever. I can start to drink again any time I want the choice is mine. Always remembering, of course, how my days were when I did drink. Wait! I barely can remember those days, sadly… Starting Day 18 today and today is not the day I start to drink again.

  • Belle I love this. This is what’s been working for me, I’m over 4 months sober and I never say never, just not now. You’ve helped me so much with this. Now I’m just focusing on 6 months and then perhaps a year and then who knows after that… But I will never say never, that’s just too overwhelming for my little brain. I just know that I like this sober thing better.

  • Thank you for this post. I’m on Day 10, and I don’t have too many sober friends (some who don’t drink that much, but not really many completely sober friends), and it really helps to see so many people out there have the same messed up thinking process that I do.
    Actually, I think a lot of people I know have this thinking process, but we are the ones brave enough to try to change it. All of here need to give ourselves lots of credit for trying, there are far more who don’t.

    • agreed. we’re on the ‘road’ to self-improvement. some people don’t even know there’s a road, let alone know how to get on it …

  • I really needed to read THIS today. Day 1 for me. Again. I did 90 days (not even realizing I was on 90 days things were going so smoothly) and then my son got into some serious trouble and I said fuck it, just tonight, then I’ll quit again. That was back in December. It’s been starts and stops since. But reading this, all the tension just fell out of my body. PERFECT. Tomorrow will be tomorrow, but I feel “safe” for today realizing that I’m not saying forever…just not today.

  • I have struggled for years – often lucky to even manage ONE day without drinking. I’ve been kicked out of my house several times when things got bad and husband even filed for divorce (while I still somehow managed to keep up appearances to the outside world for the most part). Well, the second to last time I managed 2-1/2 months before I decided I could drink a little and no one would know. Of course that turned into a little more and eventually it escalated and I was caught and kicked out again (with divorce looming on the horizon). So, one more time I went to an SLE (sober living environment) and I think I really took it seriously this time…just finally had enough of what it was doing to me and my life. And quite honestly, how fucked up the whole thing was. I just had 6 months on Sunday, which I find truly amazing. I still hear from wolfie…”NEVER drink again!?”…”just one beer would be really nice on a hot day”…etc. BUT, I find that the “forever” idea can be handled better if I look at it like you suggest here…I’m doing this for now and it’s working. I can always decide to drink again down the road if I think it’s a good idea (good idea? ha) but it gets me through – and now that I have 6 months which took me forever to get here – I really, really don’t want to throw that away and have to start all over again. I have learned a few things. It’s much harder to start over and get back on track, than it is to just stay on track once you’re there. And that damn little wolfie voice is just trouble and is very tricky at presenting itself in a number of different ways to get you where it wants you. Sorry that got so long – I LOVE this blog and am so glad I found it. Thanks to all of you!

  • Coming up on eight months and chiming in. Miracles happen. The thought of a drink repulses me now. Like the idea of anchovies on a pizza or eating raw oysters. Yuck. I am clear headed and feeling good and getting healthier and there are real wonderful juicy possibilities in my life now. I would not trade my sobriety for anything.

  • 16 days ago I couldn’t even contemplate a week sober let alone 30 or 100 days. Forever would be almost guaranteed to send be to the bottle feeling naughty and rebellious. I just had to see where today took me. After about 4 days I had a week in mind. On day 16 I can see 30 days on the horizon but I’m being really careful not look at the horizon too much just in case I trip up on something right under my nose.
    Flossie x

  • I find myself going back and forth. “I can never drink again” brings about some anxiety. But, the minute that anxiety hits, then another inner voice rebuts with, “see, you’re anxious, which means you’re an alchie, which is why you can never drink again”.

    I think somewhere in here, I know that my reality is I will never drink again because I know I will pick up where I left off, if not worse. But, when that makes me anxious, I just really concentrate on NOW and today and, like you said, how GOOD it feels.

    It sooooo helps to read posts like these that normalize my fears and thoughts. And proves that it works. Thanks!

  • Dear Belle,
    Now that I am retired I say, “You can have a drink when you are 80!”
    Works for me!

  • Hey Belle, and everyone else πŸ™‚

    This is such a good post! This is exactly how I’ve been feeling and struggling with!

    And it reminded me of when i quit smoking, which I managed in the same way: I’m happy now, so I’m doing this now but I’m free to do whatever I want. Which was not smoking.

    Now it is not drinking. Trying things different. Thanks for your perspective belle <3


  • I can finally say I get it now. I’m closing in on 6 months and I finally go days & days without a thought about drinking. I do use the delaying tactic and once I hit my goal I am feeling so great I don’t want to destroy what I’ve gained by drinking again. Wolfie is a sneaky SOB and does whisper quietly that its ok to have one. He promises that it will only be one but with the support from Team Belle & Company I am so much stronger and recognize him for the liar he is.
    And “nonsmokingladybug” I NEVER get the urge for one EVER. The very smell bothers me – it has been over 20 years since I lit up and I don’t miss them at all.

  • Great post Belle… just shared the link on our site ( so our members can come visit you here and read.. hope that’s ok. And hope you are well and happy in your fabulous new apartment! xx

  • I felt same way when I quit smoking, all of a sudden there was the realization that I will never have a cigarette again and it it hard. It’s one thing to think from day to day, but that forever thing is a different ball game. Now I am fine with it, looking at 9 months smoke-free. Sometimes I look at a cigarette, like the fly looks at a spider net. In the right moment it looks tempting for a short while, but I do know it’s just a deadly trap. Smoking is just not an option anymore and after 35 years of smoking, I believe there isn’t a cigarette left that I haven’t had πŸ™‚

  • As I read this my heart leaps as I read the words describing the ‘not forever’ and an icy hand of fear grips my heart when I read about facing times when I would expect to drink. I notice that I opt not to think about those times, that I will deal with them when they come. So I am going to copy and paste all your reasons for ‘not forever’

  • Thank you. It helps to know that being patient and waiting helps. Something will eventually change and the struggle will lessen (hopefully go away). Forever is a long time. Too long.

  • “Forever” is a long long time. It scares the crap out of me, but then again, so does the thought of drinking. It wasn’t pretty. It was sad. Really sad. I fought so hard to moderate, it didn’t work. I know in my heart that if I have one drink today that it will turn into 8 and a sleepless guilt filled night and another day one…. No thanks. I think if rather be sober, even though Wolfie occasionally pays me a house call. Thinking through the chain of events to come after that first drink is what really motivates me. I know how that story ends. I don’t want that to be my story.

  • What Belle said is true, true, true. I drank every night almost for over 40 years and knew for at least 20years that this was probably not a good thing…probably not because I couldn’t imagine life without diving deep down into the bottle. Was I depressed, angry, f—ed up? You bet. July 25th, a year ago, I started the 100 day challenge. It has been the most transformative journey and Wolfie moved on half way through. When I think about having “just one” (an impossibility for me), I think “why would you do that?” I am no longer depressed every day, angry sometimes (normal) and if I am f—ed up it is in an adorable, charming way (ok, I’m biased). It really does get better, easier and so much more joy comes into life. I am so grateful.

  • Belle- Good stuff! I went out with friends last night to see the Black Keys in concert (2nd sober concert and I love it more than being buzzed, no multiple bathroom breaks, waiting in line for beers). Everyone had drinks before, during and after the show. Once I got past the initial “why are you not drinking?” questions I was free. I was able to drive my friends safely home, I remember the concert, I got up early this morning to do yoga and off to work the rest of the day. The old me would be searching for advil, having to pick up my car downtown, spent too much money on drinks and cabs and not focused on work.
    Day 22.

    • YES YES YES … I love sober live music … I see the show, I hear the show, I don’t miss the show in line for booze, potty or to puke. AND I wake up feeling great about the show and myself the next morning. MANY MANY bands are sober, (thank goodness WHO wants to see a DRUNK BAND)??? It’s not 5+ years of sober shows and I never think about drinking when there … what a great change and great relief!!!

  • Thanks ! this is a great way to look at not drinking “forever.” I enjoy hanging out with sober people, I am using them as my role models ( and they don’t even know it!) Life is great at day 91 and I can’t wait to see how much better it will be by my one year soberversary.

  • @8 am Saturday morning this is exactly what I needed to read. Worried about making it through the dreaded Saturday night…. Going to keep this email handy a hit Wolfie with it tonight. 5 1/2 weeks in I feel so much better. I am able to cut my antidepressants in half!!! Thank you Belle, you have helped me get my sanity and happiness back!!

  • Interesting wolf speak, ghegheghe. πŸ™‚ It keeps amazing me how inventive wolves are. It all sounds so very logical, until I get to the last check: does it make me drink? Yes? -> Wrong, beware.

    On forever: while feeling my way back into life I found that I get a serious panick attack when thinking of forever. So I gathered that was not a road I should walk because it did not feel helpful.

    Anyhow, I am not in forever, I am here and happy that I quit. πŸ™‚

  • Thank you. It helps. And I guess this works for so many things. Another way of saying: Be here now, live in the present. Thank you Belle.