is being sober a ‘mature’ thing to do?

from Vi (day 76):

“Dear Belle, this past week I have had the most painful cravings and what-ifs that I have had in the past 76 days–what if I drink at day 100? What if I drink at day 180? What if I get drunk this weekend? What if I get drunk when I go on a date? What if I get drunk when I go to a different country? (It’s beside the point that I don’t yet have a romantic interest OR a trip planned in the near future; these are clearly just thoughts wolfie is using to hurt me/tempt me back into drinking).

Plus I have had dreams about drinking. In one of my dreams I had a small sip of vodka while hanging out in a hotel room with a cute guy, then everything exciting about the dream — the possibility of romance with the handsome man, the hotel as a symbol of world travel and discovery — everything dissipated in favor of my drinking. It felt so real: the drunkenness, the fuzziness of the lights around me, the mistaken but earnest thinking that this, this feeling, this numbness, this was the meaning and the reason and the point of my life. In the dream I remember gulping down vodka, straight, wincing at the taste and yet feeling listless and desperately scheming to get more when I had emptied the bottle. All I could feel in my dream was the soft bouncy blanket under me on the hotel bed, the cool smooth small vodka bottle, the burn of the drink down my throat, the glistening red but fading lights in my periphery, and the dull thudding numbness gently pounding oblivion into my skull, making my movements flabby and confused.

When I woke up that morning my heart was beating so hard and fast. I sat up with a start and looked all around me, expecting to see evidence of my newly shattered sobriety. With a shudder of relief I lay back down. There were no bottles, no mess in my apartment. It was just a dream …

I wouldn’t say things are going well for me in sobriety, but I would say that I feel such a surprising maturity and dedication to it.

Actually maybe that’s part of what has been triggering cravings: the feeling of maturity I have right now in choosing sobriety. I worry sometimes that I am losing out on my 20’s. That I am losing a childhood. I am 24 and though I had a drinking problem, I only “partied” a few times, being for the most part a chronically solitary drinker. Am I being “too” mature?

I don’t think so, but I will acknowledge that perhaps this desire to live out my youthfulness adds to the severity of my most recent cravings. It will be okay. Thanks so much for all you do, Belle.”

me: ha. our brains do like to torment us with future things, like imaginary partners and imaginary vacations. your answer can be simply be “I’ll worry about that 5 days before the event. not now.” It does seem though – from this and from your dreams – that you do not want to restart. you’re not fantasizing about it. you’re worrying about how to keep yourself sober. and I think that’s an ok place to be. for me, I spent a lot of my first year sober worried that I didn’t ever want another day 1. and so I did more in terms of sober support than I might have, just to be sure I kept my car on the road.

and I’m not sure there’s something called “too mature” – I think there are people who realize that booze is an elevator that only goes down, and then step off NOW no matter where you are on the elevator. There are others who realize that booze is an elevator only when they crash further down. I know it sounds dramatic, but you won’t regret this going forward. you’re going to be so proud of yourself. you saw shit you didn’t like, you changed it, you grew and got better – and you aren’t hiding. you’re doing a real authentic version of you. and that should be celebrated. with one small half-slice of cake. and a candle. hugs

Vi: “Thanks, Belle. Once I get a private moment at work I’m going to print your email response to me and fold it into my wallet for comfort and insight in random moments or when waiting at the bus stop.  I especially appreciate what you said here: “you aren’t hiding. you’re doing a real authentic version of you.” Thank you, so much, for noticing. It’s hard. It feels totally worth it, but sometimes, yeah, it’s tough!  Day 80. Feeling good. Feeling full of life and purpose. Even if I’m weary. Perhaps even especially because I’m weary.”



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

  • Oh what an inspiring post… do sound pretty mature for your young years…( I guess now you’re only 28?)
    How I wished I’d managed to get sober even 15 years ago….I think I spent far too many years thinking that I needed to have crossed some imaginary line before I “had” to stop completely. And my inability to control my alcohol intake ( and my shame in my obsessive thinking over it) I thought was a character flaw that I needed to work on. Certainly in my early days of drinking I NEVER considered sobriety as an option as that was only for alcoholics and people who just didn’t like drinking. I liked it way too much to stop and believed that it enhanced my life and made it more interesting and also more manageable.
    It’s easy in hindsight to think I should have given up years ago….but maybe I needed to experience this process in order to be completely sure that I can’t consume any alcohol , if I want to go forwards with my life. It only takes away from me… adds nothing.
    I suppose we all have different journeys…..
    But I did enjoy reading your email and I hope you’re still doing ok….

  • What a post! Drinking dreams… I’ve been sober almost half your life – holy COW!!! Seriously I got sober when you were 13 – that blows me away!
    I still get those dreams, rarely and they’ve changed over the years. I’ve not had one in a few months now but I can pretty much guarantee I will get one and it’ll feel real, I’ll wake to dread and fear that it might have been real or it is the precursor of it being real all sweaty and panicked. Enjoy your sobriety and don’t worry about maturity vs fun vs romance vs whatever… be who you are and want to be … i.e. sober and intelligent and on the basis of this post very very wise

  • These comments are so great, I’m not sure what I can add besides my voice to the chorus: I’m twice your age and 47 days sober, and I wishwishwish I’d done it sooner. I squandered so much of my time and health and safety and treated some people really badly (especially myself).

    I’m incredibly proud of how soon you figured yourself out. I also have to say that you’re also a terrific writer! Very best wishes to you!

  • Dear Vi,
    if you have the obsession, which I am assuming you do, it only gets worse, never better if you continue to drink. And it gets harder to stop the train each time you get it started. I have to tell myself everyday that my brain is lying to me about alcohol. About the romance, about the enjoyment and benefits, about all of it! If you have a problem with alcohol there is no such thing as being too mature in your decision to remain sober, even at the ripe old age of 24. That is your Wolfie talking nonsense. There are no benefits and the cost keeps increasing over time. You are absolutely doing the right thing!

  • I don’t know if sobriety, per se, is mature or not. I’ve known a handful of “straightedge” types who were sober but complete drama-fueled train wrecks otherwise.

    However, being responsible with alcohol use IS a mature thing to do. And if a person can’t use alcohol responsibly, for whatever their age or reason, then the most mature choice for them to make is the choice of sobriety, which is what you’ve done.

    Vi, you have the rest of your life to decide to drink again, should you so choose. But you will only have the freedom of your 20’s ONCE. And I can tell that your dreams are far too big to fit inside a shot glass!

    • This comment is amazing! Too big to fit inside a shot glass.
      I’m 26, on Day 8, and relate so much to Vi. Wondering if I’m going to be missing out on so much of ‘life’ by stopping so early. But thank you for this comment!

  • I didn’t drink much in my 20s and I had a fantastic time! When I did drink I pretty much always got drunk and I can’t stay that made life more enjoyable. What then happened was that in my mid 30s I started to drink every day and it was downhill from then on until last year. You’re bright enough to know you’re better without booze and you can trust your judgement on that 100%. Good on you, and congratulations on Day 80!

  • Ditto for Carly Dear Vi! I drank heavily in my twenties partied a lot and guess what? I wish I was sober all that time, not even one drop of alcohol was worth it. The hangovers, ‘OMG what have I said and done’s, the constant need for it, self esteem problems because I could not deal with them since I kept drinking and partying instead of accepting me as who I was and enjoying life fully. I remember the constant regrets, it was soooo hard. I would have loved to meet Belle by then, I had no idea not drinking was even an option. At 36 and 210 days in sobriety, I am so proud of myself, my relationships have changed for waaay better, almost no self pity and no hangovers! It’s soooo good to be sober ? my only regret is that I wish I had met this community when I was 18..seriously.

  • I am almost 40 and am 6 months sober. In the beginning when I was wrestling with my choice not to drink I also worried about “denying” myself – – but on the other end of the spectrum: my worry was that I am going to deny myself my golden retirement years – I always imagined myself at 65 sitting on the porch with a glass of wine all day, knitting and sewing and being so content to do (and drink) whatever I wanted whenever I wanted.

    It seems completely silly and ridiculous now, just typing it out.

    You will be so, so, so grateful for your decision. You will never regret the drinks that could have been.

    • MFY. I resonated with your comment about denying yourself in your retirement. As I move towards retirement (I’m 46) yes, I have to change my thinking of what it will be without wine on the porch! But it was probably a wake-up call about aging that prompted me to stop drinking. I won’t be sipping wine on the porch if I keep drinking everyday now. Thanks for sharing.

  • Darling girl, you are getting MORE out of your twenties because of this fantastic, life saving choice. So many of us wish we could tell our 24 year old selves to try sobriety before things get more serious. I wasted so much of a time that should be exciting and vigorous and full, when you should feel completely alive and awake and enjoy navigating all the hilarious and messy bits of figuring out who you are and what you want. Drinking will actually STEAL your twenties from you. But you’re too wise and mature to believe the Wolfie lies. You are on a fantastic path. And sober you is going to have the best time on romantic adventures across the world because she’ll know who she is and what she deserves, and she’ll have a ton of cash from not buying booze! Keep it up!!

  • I think you are being insightful
    You have so much opportunity to grasp with sobriety.
    Life is awesome when we live it fully. Don’t let anyone convince you that means getting trashed and partying it away.

  • Dear Vi,
    Your post is very inspiring to me because you are moving forward in spite of it all. Meaning, your age, your thoughts of missing out, your maturity. As Belle said, your elevator doesn’t have to go crashing down to the ground. You got off on the right floor for you and you are walking toward fun and adventure in your new sober life. No more vodka burns for you. Congratulations on Day 80! Way to go!

  • I wish I had been as mature as you are at 24 and had an ounce of your insight. I didn’t get it till I was in my 60’s…oh well, at least I finally got it. I wish I had understood earlier what alcohol was robbing from my life. What you are doing is so positive and the rewards keep coming. Life is just fine without booze.